The perfect addition to every home, houseplants bring beautiful lush life to a space and have a number of recognised health benefits. Give a living gift this Christmas (you could also give the gift of a potted Christmas tree), give an easy care houseplant – these five houseplants would make a gorgeous Christmas gift!
Silver Velvet Pothos, Scindapsus pictus ‘Argyraeus’, and Devil’s Ivy, or Golden Pothos, Epipremnum aureum, are colloquially referred to as Pothos but they are both in fact from different families. Often also confused with the philodendron, the Pothos has very similar care requirements and a similar amount of variety.
This plant thrives in medium to bright indirect light, and likes to be watered once per week. It cannot tolerate overwatering or draughts, so it is best to keep it away from windows (and radiators) and to feel the soil before watering. Like the philodendron, it can be trained to climb or trail, and propagates very well in water. It also likes to be fed twice per month in the summer, and is unfortunately toxic for pets and humans.
A great air purifier, the snake plant, Sansevieria trifasciata, thrives here in Scotland. Although native to tropical West Africa, this plant is incredibly versatile and can live happily in bright light or very low light, as long as the watering pattern reflects the amount of sunlight that it receives. It is very easy to care for and actually thrives on neglect, only needing an occasional watering once per month or so. It is also draught resistant, which makes it perfect for a hallway or close. This beauty does grow quite slowly, but can reach heights of 120-140cm indoors. They are toxic though to pets and humans.
If you are searching for pet friendly plants, the Calathea family is the place to look as they are nontoxic and safe around pets and humans. Bold and beautiful, it thrives in areas of high humidity so is perfect for a bathroom space. It prefers areas of bright indirect light and watering once per week or so. If a bathroom space or particularly humid room is not an option, mist it occasionally or position near a humidifier to increase the humidity in the environment. It is a rather fast grower, and likes to be fed once per month in the summertime to give it a boost.
English Ivy, Hedera helix, is a great plant for the bedroom because it is known to be an air purifier. It thrives in lower light areas, and only requires very minimal watering (every 10-14 days or so), but can handle neglect quite well. Beautiful as a trailer, it can also be trained to climb with very little coaxing. It looks amazing on a shelf, and really brings a magical secret garden effect to the room. Feed once per month in the summer to encourage thick new growth. English ivy is a toxic plant to animals and humans alike.
The peace lily, Spathiphyllum wallisii, is the perfect plant for anyone looking to transition from cut flowers to houseplants. The beautiful white flowers bloom year round, and the plant itself is quite spectacular. It can eventually grow to about 140cm indoors, and makes quite a statement! It thrives in medium to lower light, and will definitely let you know when it needs watering; the leaves droop quite dramatically when thirsty, but perk right back up a few hours after watering. It likes to be fed every other watering (usually about twice per month) to encourage new flowers to grow. It is a wonderful air purifier, but while most sources agree that the peace lily is not in fact toxic, it can be very bothersome to pets if ingested.
Emma Kelsey is the founder of Glasgow PlantMama, a houseplant business that offers houseplants, care tips, and workshops in Glasgow.