Living Home Décor: Our Favourite Low-Fuss Houseplants

grand designs long

Houseplants are a beloved staple of many interiors. The only problem is, sometimes they can be hard to keep alive. Who amongst us hasn’t accidentally killed a plant? (And who amongst those who have, have accidentally killed a succulent?) Keeping plants alive is a tricky task for those of us without a green thumb, at least at first…

Decorative Plants

For the most part, the main point of houseplants is to decorate your home. (They’re especially great for encouraging a focused, unstressed atmosphere in home study space styling.) Often when we think of decorative plants, we think of flowers, but there are plenty of attractive plants that don’t flower. (Plus, these look good all year, unlike flowers which bloom and then fade away.) Some of the best decorative houseplants are those that just bring a little natural green colouring to our interiors.

Rubber Plant

It’s important to note that the rubber plant isn’t actually rubber at all. The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) has that name because of its waxy-look leaves and from the sap that can ooze from the stems if they’re scratched or cut. This is one of the main drawbacks of this plant as too much sap can make a mess. The best thing to do to counter the problem of sap is to make sure the leaves don’t extend beyond the pot in which the plant resides. (And make sure not to eat the sap, of course.)

rubber plant

On the positive side, this plant is really hardy. In fact, if you don’t watch it the rubber plant can grow quite tall in just a year or two. This can be a great opportunity to get out the old pruners and start developing that green thumb. The rubber plant will happily grow with enough water (make sure the soil is wet but not damp and you’ll be fine) but it might grow more than you like. It’s a change to grow (pun intended) your plant-based skills without the risk of killing the plant.

Ivy

What we love so much about ivy is the way it’s just like Miley Cyrus; it can’t be tamed. OK well it can a bit, but it still looks a little wild, no matter what. We love popping ivy in a plant pot at the top of a counter, sideboard, or even a bedside table. (So long as there’s still a medium to bright amount of sunlight each day.) The reason this is such a good idea is that ivy loves to flow and fall down the sides of things. An ivy plant on the edge of your sideboard is likely to let its leaves taper downwards for a relaxed aesthetic. It’s perfect for your foyer styling to set an understated tone for your home.

ivy

If you’re not careful the vines of your ivy plant can grow too long and may get caught up underfoot, so remember to prune them when needed. And of course keep the soil evenly moist so this long, winding beauty doesn’t dry out. There are plenty of types of ivy that you might want to try out, but the English ivy is a classic staple as well as one of the easiest varieties of ivy, so it’s a good starting point.

Aloe

If you’re one of the unlucky few who have managed to accidentally kill a succulent but you’re willing to try again, the aloe plant is a versatile, pretty, and hardy plant to try out. Its long limbs can grow up to a meter in length if you let them for a big impact, but of course smaller varieties exist too, though their limbs will still stick out a bit. The long pointy leaves of this plant may make it look a little intimidating, but inside it’s a big ol’ softy. Literally.

Aloe house plant

The flesh of the aloe plant has really impressive soothing properties. That’s where we get all the aloe vera in moisturisers and lip balms, after all. Don’t over-water the plant as its liquid-y flesh keeps it nice and moist. And if you find yourself with a nasty sunburn, cut off a small section of the plant, and squeeze out it’s insides onto your burn for a natural soothing remedy.

Edible Plants

Much like the aloe plant, there are many plants that can actually add something to your household while also looking attractive. There are some plants with edible features that are better suited to larger spaces than smaller ones, of course. For example, a small flat might feel a bit crowded with a couple of apple trees. (Remember that fruits plants need at least two separate plants because they produce the fruit together – thanks, bees!)

Tea

OK so you can’t grow a tea tree in your home (it can grow up to 17m tall in the wild), but you can still grow smaller variants of the plant. Camellia Sinensis is the most common tea plant you’ll find, but you might want to search for a fully- or at least partially-grown plant rather than the seeds as the plant can take up to three years to grow to a point where you can start harvesting. By the time it’s large and bushy (maybe a meter tall) you’re ready to get your tea leaves. At this point your plant will be the perfect organic style accent to add some greenery to your space.

tea

Pick a handful of nice green leaves. For white tea: grab them before they’ve fully opened and leave them in the sun all day. Remove the stems and heat them over the stove for about two minutes. For green tea: pluck green leaves and leave them in the shade for about two hours. Put the in a rice cooker or roast them for a few minutes, then bake them for 20 minutes at 121°C. Brew immediately or store them in an airtight container before brewing. For black tea: roll the freshly picked leaves between your fingers until they turn dark. Then just leave them in a cool spot for two to three days before brewing immediately or storing in an airtight container.

You should be able to roll the tea leaves up to form the shape of tea we’re used to seeing when purchasing loose-leaf teas. Then just grab a good book (find our top Autumn 2018 recommendations here) and enjoy. Even enhance the experience by enjoying a book that matches your tea for a relaxed afternoon.

Strawberries

One of the most appealing things about houseplants is how they add colour to your space. But that colour can be more than just green, even if you’re not a fan of flowers. Big fruit trees might be out of the question if you’ve a smaller home, but smaller fruit plants are always an option if you’ve plenty of sunlight.

strawberries

Ensure the pot you’re using has plenty of drainage holes. (If you have a balcony plants like strawberries will thrive there and leave any accidental spills when watering outside.) Then it’s just a matter of making sure the soil stays moist enough and ensure no pests come and eat your delicious fruit. (Snails are notorious for loving strawberries.) After enough time, your plant should fruit and you’ll have fresh strawberries right at home.

Mint

Herbs are always relatively easy edible houseplants to grow so for the most part you can just choose the herb you like the most, but for example’s sake, let’s look at mint. The plants of herbs won’t grow proud and tall like the tea plant, or have colourful fruits like strawberries, so you might think there’s not a lot of aesthetic reasons to look into adding herbs to your home. That might be the case for some homes, but the more rugged, earthy, relaxed homes might find the perfect finishing touch in a potted herb on the windowsill above the kitchen sink, or looking out over the dining or living space. In addition to this, certain herbs (like mint) gently waft a nice scent throughout your house for multi-sensory appeal.

kitchen plant

Just like with strawberries, you’ll want to ensure your mint gets enough sunlight and as with most herbs housed indoors remember to keep the soil evenly moist. Following this you’ll have no problem growing your mint. In fact, it may grow too much, sprawling, taking over your entire kitchen until when you come back home from a weekend away everything is covered in mint. You can’t find your way to your bedroom, let alone the toilet and you’re really busting to go.

It’s easy to avoid this fate though, don’t worry. For the most part, mint only grows a little over a meter in a year, but that can still be too large in a compact room. Just make sure to choose the right size of pot when you first plant the mint and the herb won’t be able to extend its eager roots beyond the walls of the pot.

You’ll also want to harvest your mint relatively regularly. Young leaves have more flavour than the older ones. Just cut the stems about three centimetres from the soil. Pop the leaves in an airtight container unless using immediately. Find a variety of mint you like the sound of (there are even some cocoa mints) and get ready to enjoy home-made fresh breath.

Faux Plants

No one ever said that you can’t use faux houseplants! That’s not against the rules at all. After all, if you have a busy life, you’re rather forgetful, you want evergreen flowers, or you just don’t want a live plant then there’s no reason to look into faux plants.

There are a great many faux houseplants available. Plus, a lot of them that look even better than their organic alternatives. Faux plants are a great option if you want to have a home that’s always gorgeous. Less focus on the rugged, earthy vibe of houseplants, more focus on the beauty of them.

Paige Riddiford is a writer and editor from Sydney, NSW with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wollongong. When not writing, Paige is often found reading, baking, playing video games, playing board games with friends, or binge watching whatever's new on Netflix.