Green-fingered guide to plants and flowers

Whether you live in a city flat or a rural cottage, there’s always an opportunity to get growing.

Girl running in garden

Adding plants to your home can help you relax and purify the air – plus they look beautiful.

The good news is that there’s always somewhere you can get growing. Add some pots to the driveway, hanging baskets in the porch or create flowerbeds, fences and trellis. We’ve rounded up some of the best plants for your home to help you get started.

Flowering plants

The UK’s variety of flowering plants is vast – thanks to past explorers who brought seeds and cuttings to our shores. From as far back as the Middle Ages we’ve loved flowers in gardens. The most common varieties include: daffodils, fuchsias, roses, orchids, daisies and peonies. With care and attention perennial varieties will flower for you year after year.

Growing tips – Plant in soil that is at least 6 inches deep in a place where they’ll have plenty of sunshine. When the plants are in full flower make sure to remove the dead flowers, as these weigh down the stalks. This is called deadheading. And don’t worry if your flowers look a bit sad during the winter months – they tend to hibernate over the colder months.

Succulents

Succulents are renowned for being easy-to-care-for house plants. And with good reason. Their large stems and wide leaves not only look striking but are the plant’s way of storing water, meaning they don’t need too much attention.

Aloe vera, stonecrops and painted ladies are popular choices for inside and outside.

Growing tips – Succulents take a long time to grow, so you may be better off buying a baby succulent from your nearest garden centre or flower shop rather than germinating from seed. As these plants are desert-dwellers they love places that get a lot of sunshine and small amounts of water. Grow in free-draining, slightly acidic soil.

Ivy

If you’re looking for a climbing plant for trellis, fences, archways, or even your walls, ivy could be a good option. It likes to cling to surfaces, so will happily grow vertically and it stays green all year round. Be mindful to keep under control. It’s a mildly poisonous plant and one that can spread quickly. If it’s on the walls of your house, make sure it’s roots aren’t doing any damage.

Growing tips – All you need is a semi-ripe cutting to get you going. Plant the stem in a pot of soil and water now and then. You should start to see it grow.

Herbs

Fancy your own kitchen garden? Herbs are a great place to start. Even in the smallest flat, it’s possible to grow a little herb garden for use when you’re cooking. They’ll also keep your kitchen smelling wonderful. Basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, coriander and dill are all easy to grow in just a little soil. They’ll stay green all year long and keep growing even when you pick them.

Growing tips – Herbs like it sunny with a bit of shade, so grow them on your balcony or under the shelter of a nearby plant. A little water, soil and some plant food once a month will see them thrive.

Cacti

Cacti are a form of succulent and will grow in even the driest and harshest of climates. The Christmas cactus and the prickly pear are types that flower and even produce fruits (in the right conditions). Just be careful not to get too close to those prickly needles.

Growing tips – Plant in free-draining soil and only give them a tiny bit of water. In the winter it’s advisable not to water them all. These are sun-loving plants, so make sure to place in a sunny spot where they will get the maximum amount of sunlight.

Learning to care for plants

Growing your own plants is very rewarding. It’s always good to check that you can give your plants the right conditions to grow well in. As you can see from the list above, different plants will need different things – from soil type, water frequency and sunlight. Choose the ones you like the look of and see if it suits your space and the time you can give it.

If you’ve got a busy schedule and live in a flat then some succulents, cacti and herbs can work for you and your space. While if you prefer to get in the soil and have your own garden, then you might consider a flower bed or climbing ivy.

Whatever you choose have fun with it.

You may also like

Eco Home Hub

Find out how to fund energy efficient home improvements using our Eco Home Tool, about Eco Home government schemes, and tips on how to make your home more sustainable.  

Eco Home Hub articles

Moving Home

Thinking about moving house? Find out more about what you'll need to do, what you'll pay for and get a refresher on all things mortgages.

Homemover help