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Looking after your houseplants

A-Z of Houseplant Care

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Anchor 1

Aloe Vera

See Cactus and Succulent for care

You can use Aloe Vera for skin care.  Just break of a small section of leaf and use the sap (this is what Aloe Vera gel is) on sunburn, itching, rashes.  Please note, this is not medical advice, and for proper advice please ask a pharmacist or doctor.

Aglaonema Silver Bay – Chinese Evergreen

Likes: indirect bright light, can cope with a bit of shade.

Dislikes: as with most houseplants, don’t let it sit in water.

Don’t allow soil to dry out, but make sure you don’t overwater either.   They can cope without humidity, but they come from humid forests of Asia, so they’ll thank you for misting.  May start to lose its lower leaves and grow a kind of trunk.  This is perfectly normal.  If they’re happy they’ll grow to a height of around 80cm.

Beware: these plants are toxic if eaten and can cause skin and eye irritation, so keep out of reach of children and pets and take care

when pruning (wear gloves).


Likes: bright but indirect light, warmth, moisture

Dislikes: getting it’s stems wet, dry

Quite a thirsty plant. Good indirect light. Likes a warm environment.  Is a thirsty plant – keep compost moist, but allow to dry out a little between watering.  Like most houseplants, it needs good drainage, and it doesn’t like it’s stems getting too wet, so water with care.

Anchor 2

Brighamia - Hawaiian Palm

Likes: bright indirect light

Dislikes: direct sunlight or deep shade

When the soil has almost dried out give it a really good water.  Keep on a pebble tray to keep the humidity hight.  In a centrally heated house, give it a misting too.  Doesn't like it too warm so don't put it near a radiator.  Pot up every three years into the next size pot up using Cactus and Succulent potting compost.

Cacti & Succulents

Likes: a bit of neglect, dry environment, plenty of light

Dislikes: wet, shade

Water infrequently.  They store water in their fleshy leaves/stems, so don’t need extra supply.  If a succulent is looking a little wrinkled, give it small amounts of water over several days, until it looks smoother.

Can cope with strong light (so good for windowsills)

Don’t pot up until cactus is obviously too big for its pot – toppling over or roots showing at bottom.



Likes: indirect sunlight, rainwater

Dislikes: direct sun, tapwater with high levels of fluoride (but this shouldn’t be a problem in Leeds).

Need a bit of attention but not too hard. Don’t let the soil completely dry out.  They don’t like extended periods of drought.  But be careful

not to overwater too, and don’t let sit in water as this may cause root rot.  Likes a bit of humidity, so place it on a pebble tray filled with

water.  They’re great for steamy bathrooms! 

Cordyline Rumba

Likes: bright indirect light

Dislikes: direct sunlight

Can cope with a bit of drought, but will do better if the soil is kept consistently moist.  Allow top of compost to dry out slightly before watering.  If possible use rain or filtered water rather than tap water to avoid brown leaf tips.  Avoid draughts.  Give it some humidity by standing on a pebble tray with water, and misting it.  A good plant for the bathroom.


Likes: warmth, humidity, light shade

Dislikes: draughts, dry air

A bit fussy.  Doesn’t like direct sunlight.  Doesn’t like drafts.  Does like warmth and humidity.  Water when top 2 inches of compost is dry.  Mist frequently.  Water whenever the top 2-3 cm of compost is dry.  Water sparingly in the winter.

Anchor D

Dracaena Marginata (Dragon Tree)

Likes: light shade, humidity

Dislikes: direct sun

Fairly easy plant, can withstand a bit of neglect.   Keep out of direct sun. Can withstand a bit of shade.  Water when top 2cm of compost is dry.  It likes humidity, so a pebble filled tray of water and/or mist a few times a week.

Ficus Elastica (Rubber Plant)

Likes: bright indirect light,

Dislikes: moving around

If you find a suitable spot for a rubber plant, it will thrive with very little care.  Don’t overwater it: in spring and summer water when top 2-3 cm is dry, in winter, very sparingly.   It doesn’t much like being moved, so find a spot where it can stay. Give it a bright warm spot, but away from draughts and radiators, and direct sunlight.  If it gets too big for it’s pot, you can pot it up into a slightly larger pot in the spring. 

Anchor E

Epiprimium (Pothos)



Fairly easy plant, 


Likes: warmth, humidity, a bit of shade

Dislikes: bright sunlight, cold, dry air.

In summer, water well with tepid water, but make sure the water drains away and it’s not sitting in a puddly.  Water more sparingly in winter.  Standing it in a water filled tray of pebbles will ensure it gets some humidity.  Does really well in terrariums where the conditions natural environment of the rainforest of South America can be imitated.

Moth Orchid

Likes: bright indirect light

Dislikes: direct sunlight

A really easy houseplant.  They have long lasting displays of flowers, and will bloom at any time of year, sometimes quite unexpectedly!  Keep them reasonably warm, in good but not direct light.  Water regular but make sure all the water drains away.  Repot with orchid bark every couple of years, never loam or compost.  Keep in a clear container as the roots can also photosynthesise.  Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust.  If it hasn’t flowered for a while, try locating it to a cooler spot for a few weeks.  It may then send up a flower stem.  Cut back the old flower stalk when all the flowers have fallen to just above the second node below the spent flowers. 

Monstera Deliciosa

Likes: bright indirect light.  Will tolerate shade.

Dislikes: direct sunlight.  Too much water.

Is a hungry and thirsty plant, but don’t waterlog it.  Feel once a month in the spring and summer.  Not keen on dry air, so mist occasionally and don’t put near radiator.Generally an easy plant to take care of.  Will grow massive if allowed to.  You may need to support it using hooks on the wall or ceiling or by using a moss pole or cane in the pot.   Cut it back if you are running out of space! 

Beward: The leaves are poisonous so keep away from pets and children.

Pachira Aquatica

Likes: bright indirect light

Dislikes: overwatering

Prefers bright indirect light but will cope with a bit of light shade.  Thrives under fluorescent lights, so good for the office.  They like to be kept moist,  but be careful not to overwater or allow to sit in water and this will cause root rot.  Give it regular mistings, or keep on a tray of wet pebbles.  It will like being in the bathroom.  It is fast growing and will need running and pinching out to keep a manageable size. 

Peperomia Polybotrya Raindrop

Likes: bright but indirect light.  They can cope with shade and even fluorescent light so great for the office.

Dislikes: direct sunlight.

Perfect beginner plant.  Water when soil has almost completely dried out.  They don’t like to be overwatered.  They can cope with a bit of

neglect because they store water in their leaves.  It’s a slow growing plant, but even when small, pretty showy.  Great for shelves and


Philodendron bipinnatifidum

Likes: bright light or light shade

Dislikes: direct sunlight, too much water, too much water

*Poisonous to humans and pets if consumed.*  Keep out reach of toddlers, cats, dogs etc.

Fairly easy plant to keep, but will need some space. 

Will grow huge if you look after it and pot it up when it gets too big for it’s pot.  Spray it occasionally and or keep on a saucer of pebbles filled with water.

Schefflera (Umbrella Tree)

Likes: warmth, bright indirect light

Dislikes: too much watering

Fairly easy plant to keep.  Prefers indirect light.  Will cope with a bit of shade.  Water well in summer, but allow top 1nch or so of compost to dry out before next watering.  Water sparingly in winter. Spray or keep on saucer of pebbles filled with water as it likes humidity. 

Syngonium Podophyllum (Arrowhead Plant)

Likes: warmth,  bright indirect light

Dislikes: soggy compost especially in winter

Needs a bright spot but not in direct sunlight.  Keep it in a fairly warm room that doesn’t drop below 7degrees C.   Keep the compost moist but make sure it’s well drained.  Don’t let it sit in water. 

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