A new home and new plants - Monstera Delicious, Pilea Peperomiodides, Fittonia

Three weeks into London life and I'm only now sitting down to write a post. Since then, three new plants have joined my plant collection. They're nestled onto an east-facing window sill looking out over the 'balcony' where some winter pansies have been slap-dash planted on top of tulip and daffodil bulbs.

What I'd never imagined about urban gardening is how little time you have to do it. A moment there, a morning here - when you're out nine 'till five and the weekends are filled with rain, time to dead-head slips away. Feeling a leaf to check the water situation is pushed into milliseconds, instead of minutes. Time is precious, we're told. They never remind you that its also rare.


But the houseplants are doing OK with the minimal attention I'm giving them. The east-facing window is a god-send and some of them are growing fast in the dimming autumn light. My Wandering Jew keeps branching out bushier and bushier, refusing to trail artistically down the pot. The Sedum Adolphi's yellowed leaves keep twisting towards the sun, seeking out those last rays.

Up on the window this morning is the Monstera Delicious, a newbie. Bought from The Nunhead Gardener, it usually resides beside my bed but today it gets to feel the sun on its leaves. I have no idea how to care for it, bar sunlight, water et al. I think it will be a case of look and learn.


In its shadow two other new plants sit in small antique terracotta pots - an extravagance only the first days of a student loan will allow. A Fittonia, pinked up with green veins, overfills one pot,
 not quite yet settled into the compost. Next door, a Pile Peperomiodides, horribly overpriced, nods gently in the window breeze. A Chinese money plant has been top of my most-wanted list for a while, its circular leaves so crisp against the white wood sill.



Winter is coming. And no, you're not meant to think of Jon Snow when I say that. The watering is easing up and the growth of the plants is slowing down. In the last stray days of summer that filter through the autumnal chill, an occasional sunny day is a small blessing.

5 easy-to-grow houseplants for complete beginners

So you've been inspired by the green interiors trend and now you're on the look-out for your first houseplant purchase. You grab a luxurious-looking jungle grower, take it home and two weeks later, those gorgeous leaves are going brown.

Sound familiar? Whenever I chat to friends about houseplants, this is most people's sob-story describing why having plants just isn't for them. If this sounds like your houseplant backstory, the good news is there's still hope for your budding green fingers.

A number of houseplants have very specific needs and any beginner is going to struggle to keep them happy, unless they're blessed with a tonne of good luck. Instead, when adventuring into the green abyss of houseplant ownership for the first time, try sticking to these 5 easy-to-grow, beginner plants that you'll struggle to kill.


Crassula Ovata (Jade Plant, Money Tree)

The IKEA bookshelf of houseplants, Crassula Ovata is the plant that you'll find in abodes across the UK, largely ill-treated but sturdy and robust enough to put up with the abuses thrown at it. The thick, luxurious bottle-green leaves of the Jade plant identify it as a succulent - meaning it can withstand forgetful watering schedules. Architectural in its growth, jades can grow into small tree-like formations if you chose to prune them. But left alone, they'll easily grow bushy and tall with minimal help.


The basics for looking after a jade? Start it off on a good foot by planting it in a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom - this can be the plastic pot you planted it in. Try to remember to water your jade plant whenever the soil is completely dry (try sticking a finger in the plant pot - if your finger comes out dry, it's time for a water). Place it in a sunny window, if you can. If not, it can tolerate shadier pots but won't grow as successfully. Jades come in a number of varieties, including hobbit, variegated and dwarf versions - these can be harder to care for than the bog-standard money tree.

Chlorophystum Comosum (Spider Plant)

The pale green and yellow stems of the spider plant are one of the most instagrammable plants you'll find- and the good news is, this plant needs minimal attention. Grow it in a sunny spot, and try to keep the soil moist during the summer. As a plus, this plant is amazing at recycling polluted air, so will keep city flats freshly oxygenated for you.

Aloe Vera

Another popular succulent and yes, this is the plant you'll find in your aftersun care - you can even snap a leaf off and use the gel directly on a burn! Again, aloes need minimal watering (whenever the soil is completely dry) and only want partial sunlight. Aloes also pup really easily, meaning they grow baby aloes all around them, which you can remove from the mother plant and pot up separately - perfect for when you've found your green fingers growing.


Philodendrons

There are loads of different Philodendrons, but they all need roughly the same care, which amounts to not much. Although jungle plants, they don't like too much water - you should try to let their soil dry out between waterings, but water quite heavily when you do. They don't like bright sunlight so keep them in a partially-lit to shady corner. Their glossy green leaves are heavenly against a white wall, but try to remember to dust them to help the plant breathe.


Sanseveria, Mother-in-Law's Tongue

Another air-filtering hero, Sanseveria's will reduce pollutants in the air. They like full to partial sun and well draining soil (remember drainage holes!). This plant is really durable and likes to be on the dry side so don't worry about forgetful watering - just top it up now and again.

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Returning 'home' - Liverpool and Greenery

I haven't posted for a while. I'm sorry about that. A combination of faulty technology and a week long holiday in Liverpool has left me far away from my laptop and not thinking about this blog.

But here I am on the first of many grey September mornings, looking out of a sash window onto a green oasis, in Wavertree. I've come home.  My mouth is dry from one too many birthday cocktails last night and I need to get on with my day and find some breakfast. But I took a moment. Because the greenery caught my eye.



Liverpool is a strange city: loud when it wants to be, quiet at unexpected times. Fiercely proud but never afraid to laugh or cry, never arrogant. It runs on humour and strength, on northern grit and northern kindness. And above all, it's green. Green with trees and window boxes, rolling parks and single bushes shoved into paved front gardens. From every crevice and every pavement weeds spill out.

Scouse Succulents was started in a slug-infested, damp student house about 400 metres from where I am now. In between the stresses of university work, cultivating a little bit of Scouse greenery was what kept me sane in my last year of university.


Now I'm back, and everything is the same. The pride, the greenery, the quiet. Three plants line the window. One of them is a peace lily. Outside, the thick trees grow heavy with dark growth, the occasional autumnal leaf floating through the deep green.

Is elotation bad? Not unless you hate it. Sometimes it's just the plant helping itself.

It isn't quiet, but it is still. So very still. It feels like home. A calm that lets my shoulders drop and my lungs open. There's only 2 more days here. I want to stay longer.