How To Grow Green Plants Indoors

Green plants are frequently purchased by people who are compulsive gardeners and who cannot resist the satisfaction of growing a healthy plant and watching it thrive. The appreciation of the decorative qualities of foliage plants often comes later when they realize how much can be achieved and how much these plants add to their surroundings.

Most people begin by buying a few small plants which they dot around the house on windowsills or tables. However, a group of plants makes more of an impact than a few small ones on their own, and is also more beneficial for the plants. You can choose different varieties with contrasting leaf shapes and habits of growth, height and spread —you only have to make certain that each individual plant has the same needs as the others in terms of light, temperature and humidity. Alternatively, you can group together several of the same variety; this is particularly effective if the plant variety has dense foliage.

Large plants show their leaves off to best advantage when grown as specimen plants. A single, well-grown specimen such as the Silk Oak (Grevillea robusta) can grow to well over 1.2 m (4ft) in height. Its striking leaves add dramatic interest to a room. If the plant grows too large for the space you can cut it back at the top or remove the side shoots and use them for cuttings.How To Grow Green Plants Indoors

Shapes and shades

One of the greatest assets of green plants is the variety of leaf shape and the shades of green that are available, from the glossy cut leaves of the Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa) to the narrow elegant leaves of the False Aralia (Dizygotheca elegantissima) and the handsome pointed leaves of the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata). Colours range from the creamy-white and green stripes of the Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) to the mauve-striped leaves of the Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura) and the yellow-edged English Ivy (Hedera helix).

Foliage plants come in a tremendous variety of shapes and shades.

Varieties to grow

Variegated leaves

  • Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Japanese Cleyera (Cleyera japonica ‘Tricolor’)
  • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)
  • Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
  • Rosary Vine (Ceropegia woodii)

For cool rooms

  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Mind-Your-Own-Business (Soleirolia soleirolii)
  • Piggyback Plant (Tolmiea menziesii)
  • Polyscias (Polyscias balfouriana)
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
  • Sweet Olive (Osmanthus heterophyllus)
  • Wandering Jew (Tradescantia albiflora)

Large plants

Looking after green plantslooking after green plants

Many green plants do not demand a great deal of care. However, they all need nitrogen to form good strong leaf colour. Any compound liquid fertilizer will supply this, but for best results, buy one that has a higher proportion of nitrogen to the other components.

Plants with green leaves do not usually need bright light. Those with variegated leaves, however, may need bright conditions to maintain their colours and prevent the leaves becoming solid green.

In general, keep your green plants out of direct sunlight as it may scorch their leaves, but do not place in deep shade.

Temperature requirements will vary from one variety to another, but most easy-care green plants are happy at normal room temperatures as long as the temperature does not drop much below 15°C (60°F) at night or during the winter.

Plants that need humid conditions should be stood on moist pebbles and misted regularly when the air is dry—for example, in centrally heated rooms. Decrease watering in winter and increase during summer.

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Keep leaves clean by spraying them with tepid water.
  • Use a proprietary leaf shine to keep them glossy, unless the plant has matt leaves.
  • Put your plants outside in summer showers to clean and moisten the leaves.
  • Remove leaves that are withered, yellowing or affected by pests or disease.


  • Handle the leaves roughly, especially when they are young.
  • Spray dusty leaves with water. Wipe the dust off first with a dry cloth.

Plants that are grown for their foliage alone can be just as decorative and rewarding as flowering plants. They lighten surroundings and bring in the freshness of outdoors.

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