How to be a houseplant parent

Posted: 13th Dec 2019



With plants being the ‘in’ accessory for homes around the country, houseplant parenting is fast becoming a popular pursuit for millennials to indulge their nurturing side.

Houseplant expert and author Isabelle Palmer has teamed up with HomeStyle to reveal her 6 golden rules for giving your houseplants everything they need to flourish…

Choose a plant that suits your "parenting" style. Are you a hands-on or hands-off plant parent? How much time do you have to give to your plants? Are you up for a challenge? These are the questions you should be asking before you enter into the houseplant world. Some, such as Elephant Ear (which needs constant watering) or Calathea (which are sensitive to cold) can require lots of time and attention, but others need less. Do your research before you go to the garden centre as it’s easy to get carried away with a nice-looking plant, but that’s not much good if you haven’t the time to dedicate to nurturing it.

Too much attention may not be a good thing. Some plants want to be left alone. That may sound like a blessing, but it’s actually harder than it sounds. The plants that people often start with such as Cacti and Succulents can easily turn to a mushy mess with overwatering, so water sparsely and only give them a small amount once a month.

Remember, every plant is different. Do you live in a north-facing flat or a bright, airy loft? Different plants will thrive in different spaces, for example succulents such as Kalanchoes and Echerveria favour a bright, sunny spot such as a kitchen windowsill or a south-facing balcony, whereas snake plants, Pothos or Ivy work really well in bathrooms with low light levels.

Talk to them! Research has found that flowers can act as a plant's "ears" to help them detect the sound of approaching insects. So while it may seem a bit odd, if you want your plants to bloom brightly then a little pep talk now and then will not only ensure your plants know you love them, but will also help them grow… And no answering back!

Have fun with your plants. Green has been on trend, but colourful houseplants are set to make a comeback in 2020, and there are many colourful plants to choose from – African Violets can add a zingy purple tone to your scheme, and Kalanchoes come in a number of mood-boosting hues such as pinks, yellows and oranges to enliven the soul. If you want something a bit more subdued, the peace Lily has calming white flowers.

Don’t forget that plant-sitting is on hand! The conundrum for every plant parent is what to do with your treasured plants when you go away. How will you keep them alive? Can you rely on the neighbours? The good news is that plant-sitting services are now available and can even be paired with house sitting services - so there’s no excuse for leaving them unattended.

Isabelle Palmer’s top 3 "bomb-proof" plants


Ivy is one of my favourite houseplants for their delicate trailing form. Either pot them up or grow them in water for a more contemporary feel. They need little attention and provide a green splash in your interiors.

Cacti such as Angels Wings or ZZ plants are great too – they will thrive with little attention and are pretty bomb proof!

As a member of the succulent family, Kalanchoes (Flaming Katy) plants are a great choice as they will bloom happily for up to 10 weeks with just weekly watering. A great value, colourful starter plant.

Kalanchoe (or ‘Flaming Katy’) houseplants are available from florists, supermarkets and gardencentres nationwide. Kalanchoe care tips and inspiration can be found at Always Kalanchoe or on Instagram @AlwaysKalanchoe

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