a) Find out where your houseplant originates from, and try to provide those conditions as best you can
b) Choose houseplants that are suited to the conditions you have in your home
While most plants and flowers like a little sun, a little rain, a little warmth, a little shade, some have changed over many years to grow in extreme weather conditions.
Some plants can grow in very sunny hot dry areas - like deserts and savannahs - and some can grow in very shady warm wet areas - like rainforests and jungles. Although they like the extreme conditions they have adapted to, some of these plants and flowers can be grown indoors, if you look after them as if they were in the wild.
Here are some foolproof plants to try, which always put on a good show. Click on the thumbnail for a larger image, and click on the name for more care tips and information:
Hot, dry, sunny room
Conservatories are notoriously hot, dry and sunny; but other rooms in your home might offer these conditions as well. For plants with large, flat, green leaves they can prove problematic – but for plants that are specially adapted to desert conditions your home might well suit them perfectly.
These plants like a warm sunny place, with lots of light and air; some don't even mind central heating. Kitchens are often good spots if the plants are placed away from cookers or boilers. They often don't mind the cold (as temperatures in deserts can fall below freezing), but they really hate having wet roots. So although you should not forget to water them, they like their soil to be full of sand or grit to help the water drain through.
These plants originally come from areas like South Africa, Australia, and Mexico.
Dark, cool room
Many plants that come from jungle areas adapt to these conditions – living in the crowded canopy, or even on the forest floor, access to light is limited.
These plants like humidity - moist air - around them, so stand the plant in a dish filled with pebbles. Keep the pebbles wet so the water can rise up as steam around the plant in the heat of your room.
Most do not like sunshine as they normally live on the floor of the jungle, so find a semi-shady spot for them which isn't draughty or cold. A warm bathroom may be ideal! Most tropical plants like to be watered regularly, but some - like orchids - live in tree branches and prefer dryish roots.
What all of these plants like are damp leaves. Rainforest plants should be misted or sprayed with water often to keep their leaves damp.
These plants come from countries like Malaysia, Brazil and Hawaii.
There are plants that naturally thrive in boggy, swampy, waterlogged areas, or which really object to drying out, and some of these make fine houseplants for those of us a little heavy-handed with the watering can. If you overwater your plants – or even if you don’t, but fancy growing something a little different – these would be ideal for you.
A good tip for any plant that likes a damp soil is to ensure the soil remains “sweet” by adding a little charcoal to it. A couple of spent matches, a chip from a cold barbecue coal, or the end of a drawing charcoal stick will do the trick.