Indoor plants are having a major moment right now. With tropical prints and pineapples taking shape in almost anything, this has transpired into real, living jungle-scapes. And with ample inspiration on mood board website Pinterest, ideas and layouts on how to style your potted friends has never been so rife.

Indoor plants and interior-scapes can be just as fun as landscaping outdoors. Along with becoming a major trend on the interior décor scene, there are also many health benefits of having plants inside your home.

Benefits of indoor plants

Indoor plants essentially do the opposite of what we do when we breathe: They release oxygen into the air and absorb carbon dioxide. This not only cleans and improves the quality of the air we breathe, but also eliminates harmful toxins. Extensive research by NASA has revealed that houseplants can remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in 24 hours. Studies have also shown that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity, reduce stress levels and boost your mood – making them perfect for not just your home but your office too.

An indoor garden can be a sanctuary from the outside world, and for many people it is a source of great pleasure. Whether you live in a small apartment, or a large house, surrounding yourself with nature and introducing plants into your home will create a soothing living space. As well as enhancing your mood, plants can also help with loneliness and depression as caring for living things provides purpose and reward, especially when they bloom and thrive.

Popular and hardy indoor plants. Click to enlarge.

Difference between indoor and outdoor plants

The main difference between indoor and outdoor plants has to do with temperature tolerance. All types of plants were originally outdoors, of course, but certain plants are now referred to as indoor plants, or houseplants, because of their low tolerance for cool temperatures, long lifespan and ability to thrive in containers. Plants grown inside are generally species that thrive in temperatures between 60 and 80 F. Most indoor plants that grow well in this temperature range are tropical plants and so enjoy warm temperatures and humidity, but do not require constant sunlight. Outdoor plants can tolerate a wider temperature range.

Indoor growing opens the possibilities to a wider variety of greenery because interior spaces are climate controlled, so plants don’t have to deal with fluctuating seasonal temperatures. However, many houseplants grow well with a “summer vacation” outside, especially here in Cayman with its perfect combination of humidity and breeze helping to fight off pests and fungal diseases. Place plants in a partially shaded location, as most indoor plants cannot tolerate full sun.

Certain outdoor plants, such as vegetables, can also be grown indoors. Keep these plants by a south-facing window so that they can absorb the required five hours of sunlight. Space-saving dwarf varieties of tomatoes and peppers and many types of herbs are best for an indoor garden.

How to take care of indoor plants

Pots and other containers are the most common way to display your plants indoors. Pots made of ceramic or clay with drainage holes are the best option when choosing your container and with all sorts of decorative designs available, it is easy to find something that enhances the interior of your home.

When it comes to planting, it can be easier than you think.

Tom Balon of Vigoro, a garden and landscape design company, says since most indoor plants are already in a plastic pot before you purchase, it is fine to put your new plant straight into a decorative pot of your choice, known as the pot-in-pot method. “Use Spanish moss to cover the pot and finish the appearance,” he says.

As many interior plants have a limited life, the pot-in-pot method makes changing your indoor plants much easier and cleaner. “When the plant gets close to having seen better days, you can simply just replace it. We do recommend using hardier indoor plants but they, too, may only last a certain length of time. In these cases, recycle,” says Tom. “Once a plant looks like it has had its day, plant it outside in your garden and it should come back to life. Just make sure you put it in a similar light location or acclimate it slowly back to the outdoors.”

You can also plant straight into a pot in your house. This is messier and more difficult to replace when it dies, but it may extend the life of the plant.

Top tips

Once planted, ask your local garden center or research the optimum conditions for your plants. For beginners, some of the most common issues with indoors plants are over-watering or too much sunlight.

Tom explains, “Many times when a plant shows signs of too much water, for example, brown tips on the leaves, one thinks it needs more water, and waters it, and the cycle begins.”

Most of the tougher plants only require water every one to two weeks so always make sure to check the soil first and only water if the soil is dry. It is better for a plant to droop a bit as it will always perk up from being too dry, but it can be difficult to recover from too much water.

Too much sunlight is also a common mistake for indoor plants. Since many are used to indirect sunlight, placing them in full sun can damage them. There are, however, some indoor plants that do require direct sunlight, such as succulents and cacti, so make sure to research your plants and their requirements.

How to style your indoor plants

  • Group smaller plants together on shelves or side tables. Terrariums are a popular way to display smaller plants like cacti and succulents. Keep tall, upright standing plants on the floor and use cascading plants on windowsills and mantlepieces.
  • Keep larger plants in empty corners to avoid obstructing views or becoming an overwhelming indoor jungle and, if possible, place them near the window to draw your eye to external greenery.
  • Choose plants with a similar palette to the interior of the room and play with textures to create depth. Darker colored, architectural leaves will enhance a moody space and delicate, light colored leaves will create beautiful, feather-like shadowing.
  • When choosing pots or baskets, use similar textures and tones to those in your furniture to continue the interior décor style.
  • When styling harsh, clinical spaces such as tiled bathrooms or kitchens, tropical plants will soften the space as will using natural fibers such as woven baskets to hold the plants.
  • Don’t worry about having too many plants. Layering adds depth to any room. For bigger collections of plants, experiment with layering color, texture, shape and size.