From the potting bench…

We’re bringing the outdoors, indoors with a special houseplant edition this month from Adam Kirtland

For the last few months, I’ve helped you keep your outdoor growing space looking lush and healthy but what about those of us that love to create an indoor jungle? This month I’m bringing you my top houseplant tips and tricks to make your indoor rainforest thrive!

Know when to water
Learning how and when to water your houseplants has to be the single biggest issue when it comes to keeping them alive! Over time you’ll get used to how often they’ll need a drink, and each one of them is unique in that respect, but until then, how do you know when they need a top up?
The rule that I’ve got used to is ‘if in doubt, don’t’ and that’s stood me in good stead when it comes to overwatering, but there is a danger there of underwatering. If you think that it’s too soon since the last bit of H20 then leave it another week and then give them some of the good stuff. One really good tip is to touch the surface of the soil, or even to stick your finger in – just to the first knuckle – and then if its dry, give some water. But again, you’ll start to gauge how much they need over time.

There’s a hole in my bucket
Another fantastic tip for most of your house bound plant buddies is to keep them in a plastic pot with holes in the bottom, which you can then put inside a nicer looking, more decorative and slightly bigger pot. Think of the plastic pot as its home that you then just slip it into a better-looking pot for aesthetic reasons more than anything. Now, this won’t always be the best option – especially if you’ve got some huge houseplants, but for small and medium ones this is a great idea and I’ll tell you why.
As we’ve found out above, watering is a challenge at times and knowing how much to water is an even bigger guessing game. However, if they’re in pots with holes in the bottom this allows you to do something called ‘bottom watering’ – which on first glance, might sound a little odd! Bottom watering is essentially where you’ll fill up a large bowl or saucer (or even your bath if you’ve got a lot of plants) and rest the plants in the water until they’ve absorbed enough of it through the holes in the bottom of the pot.  The idea here is that they take on as much water as they need without getting waterlogged or staying too dry. This way you’ll also ensure that the full pot is watered rather than just the top layer.
It’s a good idea to leave them in the water for 10 minutes to start with and if you think they need more then you can go for another 10 minutes, and they should be good to go.

Grab that duster
When you’re cleaning your house you might not think that your houseplants need a little TLC too… but they really do! If you’ve got plants with large leaves such as Monstera, Colocasia or Philodendron then they’ll really benefit from a light dusting the next time you’ve got your duster to hand.
But before you go too mad, back away with that polish! The chemicals in polish won’t do your plants any good at all so just a quick skim over the surface of the foliage with the duster is enough to do the job. You might be asking yourself ‘why?’, but the answer is perfectly logical. Imagine for a second that you were a plant and all you needed to survive was water, food and sunlight (much the same as us actually!) and you were covered in a thick layer of dust. That sunlight would struggle to get through. By giving your plants a dust, you’re clearing the way for those rays to get in to help your plants grow.

You spin me right round
This one might seem a little odd at first but please, bear with me! I’m going to ask you to imagine to be a plant again, sitting on the windowsill looking out at all the outdoor plants and you’re reaching your stems and leaves towards the sunshine (now you’ve been dusted!). After a while your plants might start to look a little, let’s say, lop-sided as they stretch and crane to reach that sunlight but luckily there is a very easy solution to this. Give your plants a little turn.
Give them a quarter turn every week or so (more often if you want to) and it’ll help them to grow straight and give even light across the whole plant. Simple but really effective!
And there you have it – my top four tips for keeping your houseplants healthy and happy! Is there anything else you’d like to know about houseplants? Send me a question!

Next month…
I’ll be giving you something to do with the family as I bring you my favourite gardens and greenspaces that Birmingham has to offer. Real must-visit places!

You can follow Adam on Instagram @viewfromthepottingbench or listen to Adam’s podcast Tales From The Potting Bench for more gardening inspiration. You can also read Adam’s blog at