Caring for houseplants - top tips for a thriving indoor jungle

Woman watering indoor plants in an apartment

The humble houseplant has been put on a pedestal, becoming an item du jour to spruce up our living spaces. From the meteoric rise of the fiddle leaf fig to the low maintenance Zanzibar Gem, indoor plants give life to empty corners of our homes, purify the air around us and bring nature within arm's reach. 

Caring for indoor plants can be tricky. Whether you're a foliage fanatic, or botanically challenged, Dale Arvidsson, curator of Brisbane's botanic gardens has shared his top plant care tips on how to keep your indoor plants alive and thriving. He's also recommended some of the best indoor plants for Brisbane homes. 

Get ready to reap the rewards from fostering your green thumb indoors.

Do your homework

While your Instagram feed might be filled with lush indoor jungles that have you green with envy, it is important to research the best plants for your household. Some plants can be toxic if eaten by children or pets or cause skin irritations, so always check if they're pet or child-friendly with a quick search online before introducing a new indoor plant.

Sun's up

Understanding where to place your plants in your home to get optimal natural light is one of the most important factors for keeping them healthy. Pot plants tend to get a lot less light indoors than their in-ground friends, and even low-light plants need time to adjust to their new home. To help them, place them in a spot where they will get a short burst of bright light, but not direct sunlight - a balcony, covered deck or windowsill is a great spot for this.

It's seasonal

As the seasons change, so does the level of sunlight coming into our homes. Help your plants thrive by moving them to new locations in your house based on the season. Not only will you get to enjoy a new indoor jungle view, but your plants will be protected from too much direct sunlight in summer (which can cause burnt leaves or can dry them out) and get more natural light in winter. During the cooler months, while the days are shorter, consider moving plants to windows, or give them a day trip to the balcony or lawn for a few hours of (indirect) sunbathing.

Try a little tenderness

You've welcomed new 'plantmates' into your home. They deserve a tender welcome to their new digs. Overwatering is the most common reason indoor plants die, so before showering your new potted mates, check the soil with your finger - most plants like soil that is damp, not wet. Feed your plants with fertiliser to keep them at their best all year, and wipe any dust off their leaves with a damp, clean cloth. Happy days!

Most popular plants for your indoor jungle

So you've done your research and scrolled through every #monsteramonday post and now you're ready to start your journey to grow a happy houseplant family. Arm yourself with this list of some of the best indoor plants for Brisbane homes.

Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)
As the name suggests, this is one of the toughest indoor plants and able to endure pretty low light conditions. The dark green, sword-like leaves give a sculptural element to admire. Keep on the dry side, out of direct sunlight, and regularly remove old leaves to keep this plant happy for years.

Air plants (Tillandsias)
These grow well inside as long as you place them in a very well-lit spot. During summer, you'll need to mist them a few times a week to keep them hydrated, but in winter you'll get away with a mist once a month.

Zanzibar gem (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
A great starter plant for those not known for their green thumb. Zanzibar gems are one of the hardiest plants indoors and can live happily in the same pot in low-light conditions for many years. Water them once or twice a month to keep their thick, glossy leaves growing.

Rubber tree (Ficus elastica 'Burgundy' and 'Tineke')
Make a statement with a rubber tree in a large pot in a well-lit corner of your house. The original dark green rubber tree is a native of Southeast Asia and is now available in a range of attractive colours - from the almost black 'Burgundy' through to the cheerfully variegated leaves of pale green grey and white of 'Tineke'.

If you need more intel before making your plant purchase, check out The leaf supply guide to creating your indoor jungle in Brisbane City Council libraries. Use the library catalogue to find this book.

Also, think about buying from your local nursery when you branch out to find a new indoor plant. Some small plant businesses do deliveries too!

Watch our video

Watch our short Top tips for indoor plant care video which covers the advice on this page in four easy steps.

Related links

Date posted:
Last updated: 30 April 2020
Topics: green