Never kill a plant again with this expert tip for choosing a houseplant

Struggling to keep your house plants alive? This expert reveals her key tip for green-fingered success

Grey living room with plants
(Image credit: Future)

Choosing a house plant is not always easy but keeping one alive can be an even more daunting task. However, there is one simple tip that you must always remember if you want to achieve green-fingered success, according to plant expert Gynelle Leon, founder of PRICK, London’s first cacti and succulent shop.

Before buying a houseplant Gynelle believes it is crucial to think about where you want to place the plant in your home and then you will be able to figure out what is likely to thrive, according to how sunny or light it is in that spot.

She says: 'Find a plant that best suits your home environment instead. Or if you find a plant you like,  google the name before you commit to it. See what care it needs and how low maintenance or fussy it is.'

Pink living room with house plants

(Image credit: Future)

Gynelle opened PRICK - with more than 150 rare varieties of cacti and succulents - in 2016  and has since published her first book, Prick: Cacti and Succulents: Choosing, Styling, Caring. 'I was an avid houseplant collector and was looking for more unusual cacti and succulents,' she explains.  'I went to google to search for a cactus shop in London and couldn’t believe it didn’t exist so I decided to create my dream store.'

She believes cacti and succulents are a great starting point for house plants if you are not particularly green-fingered. 'They are very low maintenance plants,' she says. 'I particularly love their endurance and incredible diversity of form structure and shape. They are truly the plants with the most character.'

Living room with house plants

(Image credit: Future)

Gynelle, who fell in love with succulents after visiting Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh in 2011, recommends buying a good book that will offer advice on how to care for your house plants.

'Apart from my book, I would suggest ‘Houseplant Expert’ by Dr D. G. Hessayon. It’s great for all-round indoor plants,' she says. 

As well as cacti, there are a number of low-maintenance house plants to choose from which also look great.

A snake plant is one of the worlds most Instagrammed plants not just for its looks, but because it is easy to look after. The plant is known for surviving draughts so is perfect for almost any environment, particularly if you know you are likely to forget to water it regularly.  It has also been known to filter toxins in the air and grows well with low light.

Plant expert Gynelle Leon

(Image credit: Pluck)

Aloe Vera is another plant that is easy to care for. Not only that, its juice has anti-bacterial properties so can help heal skin conditions. Like a cacti it doesn’t need watering often and can thrive in extremely dry soil.

A spider plant is also one of the easiest indoor plants to maintain and has the ability to purify the air in your home. It only needs moderate light and can survive in artificial lighting which makes them perfect for areas like bathrooms. What’s more, they are extremely safe for pets and children. 

Busola Evans

As the Deputy Editor of Livingetc, Busola Evans works across both print and digital and specialises in kitchens, bathrooms and projects. She is an expert at explaining how to improve, extend and convert your home. Prior to her current role, she was Associate Editor on both Livingetc and Homes & Gardens. A journalist for more than 20 years, she has written for a number of newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Sunday Times Magazine and Grazia,  and was an interiors columnist for the London Evening Standard's ES Magazine.