Flex your green fingers and bring the outdoors inside with some expert advice from Carine Seitz.
When spring is springing, there is no better way to celebrate than with plants. Bringing nature into your home can’t fail to energise you. Not only do they look striking and full of life, they actually improve your health: a 1989 NASA study found that houseplants improve air quality by reducing contaminants such as formaldehyde.
If your fingers are more lethal than green, then try cacti (they practically never need watering), asparagus fern (beautiful plants which are happy in dark corners and just need their soil kept moist), or yucca plants (stick them in a sunny corner and they’ll take care of themselves). Air plants are another option, they look great in a miniature hanging terrarium or round bauble and all they need is a fortnightly bath in tepid tap water for five to 10 minutes. A couple of clipped monster (cheese plant) stems in a big vase of water is another way to display foliage without committing to the full plant.
If you’re still not convinced, try fake plants. Surely the easiest in terms of maintenance, you literally need to do nothing to them at all (aside from some occasional dusting!). Granted, you won’t get the direct health benefits, but they look great. That in turn makes you happy, which is good for you! Fake plants are a million times more convincing than they used to be, and they’re perfect for windowless rooms or high-up spots which would be a pain to water. Display them in hanging baskets and on floating wall shelves. Also, use small plants to add interest to bookcases and mantels, interspersing them with other objects, candles and books.
You should also look for plant prints. Textiles such as bedding and cushions with leaf prints will add a stylish and Californian chic feel to your home. Plant prints lend a cool, modern touch, and you can make like the Beverly Hills Hotel by going for some banana leaf wallpaper to really make a statement.
TOP 3 plants to help you breathe easy
Rubber plant: An expert in removing formaldehyde from the air. Needs: bright indirect light, misting in dry weather.
Peace Lily: Especially good at removing benzene, a toxin found in cigarette smoke. Needs: not much sunlight, regular watering.
Mother-in-law’s tongue: Removes carbon dioxide from the air at night, making it ideal for bedrooms. Needs: not much! Almost impossible to kill.