Hambrooks on Houseplants

As with everything in life, houseplants have come into and gone out of fashion many times over the years, although they are certainly having a ‘moment’ now.  What we choose to grow in our homes has changed too, with varieties of plants being developed to make them less difficult or less toxic, for example. 

At Hambrooks, we have refreshed our houseplant display in store to give you plenty to choose from.  From Alocasias to Zamioculcus, we have at least one plant for every room in your house!  Here is our general guide to choosing the right plant, looking after it once you’ve taken it home and our suggestions for characteristics you might appreciate.

How to choose the right houseplant

As with most plants, we all tend to pick a houseplant based on what we think is attractive, rather than the growing conditions we can offer it.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t pick a plant you like but it will have a greater chance of surviving longer if you also think about where you’re going to put it when you get it home!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

How much light will the plant get? Most houseplants prefer it bright but out of direct sunlight, as it can scorch their leaves. There are some that can stand direct sunlight for periods of the day as well as a few that can cope with much shadier spots.  Think about whether your plant is destined for a windowsill or a shady corner and choose appropriately.

How moist is the room the plant will be in? If you’re thinking about something for the bathroom, for example, choose something that would grow in the wild in a damp atmosphere. Otherwise, most houseplants prefer a little humidity rather than too dry.

compost, pots and feeds for your houseplants in stock at our garden centre

Do you want seasonal interest? Leaf colour, flower colour, berries/fruits and scent are all options so think about what your plant needs to bring to your room in each season. Bear in mind that flowers are only seasonal but, for most houseplants, their leaves bring colour and shape all year.

Finally, how much attention are you prepared to give it? If you enjoy regular watering, pruning or repotting, pick a plant that needs regular attention. However, if you’re busy, away a lot or just want to leave it to do its own thing, pick a low maintenance, slow-growing plant that will thrive on neglect!

Houseplants make great gifts, too.  Lasting longer then fresh cut flowers and bringing colour all year around, they are very good value for money.  Follow these links for more gift ideas for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas.

How to care for your houseplant

Every species of houseplant – just like every outdoor plant – will have different care instructions so please do check the plant label for specific needs.  However, the following are general rules of thumb that are a great start for most plants; it’s the rule of three don’ts!

Don’t over water.  Very few houseplants enjoy sitting in water; their soil will become water-logged and may start to smell, and you risk the roots rotting.  Most plants grow better with a good soaking, allowing the soil to become completely saturated, then drain away.  Don’t give them their next soaking until a finger pushed gently into the soil comes out feeling dry or the pot starts to feel light.  A light misting over their leaves occasionally will help keep them fresh and remove any dust.  Over time, you will learn how much water your plant thrives on.

Don’t over feed.  Houseplant food comes in such attractive little bottles that it’s tempting to add a few drops every time you water.  However, you may be doing your plant more harm than good – and it’s certainly likely to need pruning or repotting sooner!  Replenishing the compost in a pot once a year should usually provide enough nutrients to keep a plant happy.  You should only need to consider additional feed at times of year when they are flowering or producing seeds.

Don’t over expose.  As we’ve already mentioned, there aren’t many houseplants that will tolerate direct sunlight for long periods.  Even if they would grow that way in the wild, the additional factors of indoor temperature and humidity combined with the limited growing space of their pot are likely to mean they won’t thank you for it.  Plants that do like sunlight will be happier on a west or east facing windowsill, so they get some direct sunlight but not all day; others will prefer somewhere more shady.

Our pick of the pots!

Best for the bathroom
Alocasia amazonica ‘Polly’ is a lush but compact houseplant.  It is sometimes known as the ‘African mask plant’ because of the striking white veins on its dramatic, dark leaves. It enjoys being in a warm, humid environment and bright but indirect light.  Just be aware that it doesn’t like drastic drops in temperature: if it’s going to live on the bathroom windowsill, move it out of the draft when you open the window!

Best for winter colour
We don’t think you can beat indoor or florists’ cyclamen for a pop of seasonal colour and sometimes scent too.  They should flower for at least six weeks over the autumn and winter, sometimes longer given the right cool conditions and just enough water.  People often throw them away when they finish flowering but you can get them to reflower next autumn if you let them go dormant over the summer.

indoor or florists cyclamen with red, pink and white flowers

Best for year-round colour
We’d pick a Croton for its striking leaves, a colourful addition to any room all year round.  We can see why they are sometimes called ‘Joseph’s Coat’ as the leaves can be splashed with many colours.   They need plenty of bright, indirect light and a consistent temperature.  They like humidity, too, so mist them once or twice a week.  Be aware that they are toxic so best kept out of reach of children and pets, and wear gloves if you prune or repot it.

Best for air quality
Related to plants that grew when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Aloe vera are a simple but dramatic plant.  Their plump, spiky leaves store water and help filter air borne toxins, making them a positive contributor to your indoor environment.  (Their sap is also soothing on burns, if you’re prepared to chop off a leaf to try it!).  They are pretty hardy indoors with the biggest risk being over-watering.

Best for low maintenance
There is a good reason the Aspidistra is known as the ‘cast iron plant’ – it can cope with almost anything you throw at it (or don’t throw at it!).  The Victorians loved them as they seemed to cope with the smog of coal fires and gas lamps, as well as gloomy dark parlours.  It also loves being pot-bound.  Don’t let the compost dry out completely – or give it a good soak if you have – and wipe it’s leaves occasionally to keep them looking dark and shiny.

Also available at Hambrooks:

  • Asplenium nidus, the ‘bird’s nest’ fern
  • Azaleas, not hardy and flowering autumn/winter when grown indoors
  • Begonia
  • Bonsai specimens – pick a Ficus as a great starter bonsai
  • Cactus, a wide selection
  • Calathea, a variety of ‘prayer plant’
  • Ceropegia woodii variegata, the variegated ‘string of hearts’
  • Chamaedorea, the elegant ‘parlour palm’
  • Chlorophytum comosum variegata, commonly known as the ‘spider plant’
  • Citrus, several varieties
  • Cymbidium orchids
  • Hypoestes, the ‘polka dot plant’
  • Maranta tricolor, another ‘prayer plant’ variety
  • Monstera deliciosa, the dramatic ‘holey’ leaved Swiss cheese plant
  • Philodendron, with its heart-shaped leaves
  • Sanseveria, loving warm and dry environments
  • Zamioculcus zamifolia, the ZZ Plant, or Zanzibar Gem, a very ‘hip’ choice



N. Haggard 20 September 2022

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how delighted I am with my new garden.

Jon, my designer, listened to my ideas and delivered on everything I asked for. I wanted something different to any garden I’d had before, no lawn, no landscaping but packed with plants. He designed such a lovely secret garden, around a statement tree. And I have to commend him for his unwavering patience! I changed my mind a hundred times but never did he give me the impression that he was losing patience with my endless indecision. And my confidence in him led me to place an order for over £10k.

My landscaping team, Blade and Tony, were exceptional, from their work ethic, skill and knowledge, to the way they dealt with me, the customer. My standards are very high and I couldn’t fault them.

All in all, a very professional team of people. And it showed that they all care. I’m over the moon with the finished result. I will send you a before and after photo. Thank you so much.

A delighted customer.

G. Gray. May 2022

My front garden has been transformed by Andy and Bradley who both worked incredibly hard and I am delighted with the result. Andy had the vision and skill to turn my idea into reality and I can't thank him enough.

C. Haig Sept 2021

We recently had our garden landscaped by Hambrooks and I just wanted to pass on my thanks, not just for the outcome - which is superb - but for the professionalism of all the staff involved on the job who are all a credit to you company. Mike, Dave, Les and Adam.

H. Sharp Sept 2021

I just wanted to let you know how delighted I am with my new garden. Melanie was a delight to work with and the ideas she had have worked perfectly. Also Sheldon laid the patio beautifully and him and Dave were a pleaseure to have at my house. Quiet workers and polite.

B. Rendell April 2021

I would like to say how delighted we are with the work carried out. Mel, Paul and Tony all worked very hard, they totally took on board the specific need relating to safety as well as the general garden issues. Paul and Tony were excellent at consulting and discussing with me what I felt best in terms of the brief and adjusting if and as necessary, constantly pleasant and polite to deal with. Mel had picked up on particular issues from the first consultation and offered valuable advice. The outcome means a great deal less worry for me going forward.
Altogether a very positive experience and outcome which I would not hesitate to recommend to others.

Stephen March 2021

Dom and Adam's work (garden maintenance) is greatly appreciated. Dom really listened to everything we discussed very carefully and went out of his way to understand and then act upon that discussion. We are extremely pleased with the work done - both to the pond and pyracantha.


We have been coming to Hambrooks for years and it's our favourite garden centre because of its friendly helpful staff and a great selection of plants and trees and the garden design ideas.

“We wanted to write and say how pleased we are with our low maintenance garden makeover. We are very impressed with the attitude of your staff who were prepared to listen to our requirements. Your team John and Rick brushed up and left everything tidy at the end of the day. We now have a garden we can manage and it looks great. THANK YOU HAMBROOKS.”

Mr & Mrs Venables, Southampton. April 2019

“Dear Josh & Mike We just want to say you both did a brilliant job of designing our garden along with the guys who did the work who were amazing. A few weeks on its looks even better now some of the plants are blooming. Thank you!!”

Mr & Mrs Gazzard, Winchester July 2019

“To James, John & Rikki. Thank you so much, we are delighted with our new garden. We really appreciate the attention to detail, the high quality workmanship and the standard of the finished project. We are amazed at how John & Rikki resolved the difficulties of the site and by the quality of their craftmanship. It was a pleasure to work with them and thank you for making our ideas into something we will enjoy for years to come.”