The Best Indoor Plants You'll Ever Grow To Spruce Up Your Home
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The Best Indoor Plants You’ll Ever Grow To Spruce Up Your Home

From the fabulous frilly to desktop companions, these easy care plants will bring your interiors to life

By Prue Miller
Wed, Mar 15, 2023 8:00amGrey Clock 8 min

We want plants, we love plants – but which plants will love us back? Here are the top 15 plants that will live happily in your home with the minimal amount of care. Some new wave, some old school, but all worth the effort.

 

Fruit Salad Monstera

The spectacular leaves of the monstera

Let’s start with the big guy of indoor plants, the big leafed Monstera. The easiest and least demanding of house plants that will give you the biggest bang for your buck. If you enjoy watching a slow reveal, buy a baby one, and watch as the leaves unfurl, eventually growing as big as 30cm. Bright light is good, but not vital. Water when dry – how easy is that?

 

Boston Fern

Nephrolepis exaltata, Boston fern, fishtail fern. Whatever name you know it by, this hardy plant does well indoors and contained in pots.

A long loved and robust fern that is coming back into vogue. Either in a stand, or hanging in a basket the ‘sword’ fern does require good watering (so hanging one high might be a pain in the neck), and thrives with a dose of liquid fertiliser, and the occasional spritz of water. They love light, but don’t let them get sunburnt. A super happy one can grow over a metre wide.

 

Black Velvet

Big green leaves of alocasia reginula black velvet

For absolute drama folks are looking to the black velvet plant – which looks especially stunning in a grey pot. It’s all about the leaves, so position in indirect light – but don’t miss out on a spotlight at night. New leaves start out green, and turn ‘black’ as they slowly mature, in direct contrast to white veins. A showpiece plant that can be a bit moody.

 

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

Also known as the snake plant, Mother-in-law’s tongue is loved for it’s tough, vertical leaves

Here is a vintage look that is coming back to us. The architectural shape of the stiff and fleshy variegated leaves offer a real statement to any décor. Plus, they are as tough as old boots and can be positioned in any indoor light situation and while they might occasionally sprout a small white flower or two, the metre long leaves are the star attraction.

 

Rubber tree

The Ficus elastic plant rubber tree is ideal for adding a little darkness to your indoor plant family

 

For a true mid-century look, you can’t go past a rubber tree, once the décor partner of starburst wall clocks and Parker lounge sets. Position it near a sunny window, and let it dry out between waterings. Pruning will lead to a bushier plant – and off cuts often survive as new plants relatively easily.

 

 

Devil’s Ivy

Devil’s Ivy is ideal for hanging pots and is super easy to strike from cuttings

For some reason these plants are always highly priced, when in fact they grow easily from cuttings. Go figure. However, these plants are vines that are born to run, and with little help will do just that, showing off shiny, heart shaped leaves on fleshy stems. The brighter the position, the more verdant the growth – but they can take a little shade. Prune for a bushy response, or even train up a wall trellis.

 

Peace Lily

The flowering Peace Lily or Spathiphyllum loves a window sill position

With all this leafy talk, it’s nice to look at the virginal white petals of the verdant Peace Lily.

These guys will live for years, despite casual care. No fan of direct sun, but happy to be in a bright spot, they let you know if they’re very thirsty by wilting at the speed of light. Can live for years, and enjoy being repotted – and may be split into two plants (or more) if you’re brave.

 

Jade Plant

The humble jade plant doesn’t like having wet feet but is surprisingly easy to keep in good health

Those chubby little succulent leaves are just the ticket for a hardy indoor plant. They do grow relatively fast, especially when happy. The weak spot is root rot – so do not show your love by overwatering. They are sun loving, and the more the better, and fit happily into a small container – they look 100 per cent better in a contemporary pot with white gravel as mulch. Fun fact: broken off leaves will grow a whole new plant if laid in moist soil.

 

 

Blue Star Fern

Blue Star fern (Phlebodium aureum) makes a great, leafy statement indoors

Fabulous muted blue/green fronds in irregular shapes makes this new indoor plant a very cool customer. It’s a goody for the bathroom as it tolerates lowish light and looks divine against white tile. Interestingly it’s an epiphyte and naturally grows on trees in the forest, so a standard potting mix won’t cut it. If you’re repotting, try an orchid mix.

 

Fiddle Leaf Fig

The fiddle leaf fig, Ficus lyrata, was the ‘it’ plant a few years back. It is still prized for its large leaves and vertical growth habit

Is it possible to be sick of a plant? This one has been the poster child for contemporary design for a decade – it’s a good-looking plant when treated well. So many were bought for instant effect and then abandoned like a cold chai latte, they have a bad rep. When thriving you can’t beat their deep green, big, glossy leaves. Fiddles play well with others – so if you can afford it, get a few together so they ‘self humidify’ . Position in lots of bright light, but  out of drafts.

 

Maiden Hair Fern

Maiden hair ferns love a little humidity

If a plant could be described as a babbling brook, this would be it. Masses of dainty leaflets, cute curly fronds, dense foliage – ideal. Kept away from drafts, out of direct sun, but well humidified (a spritz a day keeps the brown leaves away), they can grow to be, frankly, enormous. And like any true beauty, they look good dressed in any sort of pot. Good news is, if you think you killed it – just cut it back to the ground and put it in the shade – voila! It will come back.

 

Cyclamen

Cyclamens come in a range of colours and are ideal for adding colour during the winter months

Of all the indoor plants that give a huge performance, you really can’t top the Cyclamen when she’s in bud and bloom. Surrounded by pretty variegated leaves, the sturdy spires pop up in Autumn and winter with masses of flowers. They don’t like being in a hot room, and prefer being watered by drawing water from a shallow tray. They don’t last forever, but they give it heaps while they’re here.

 

Basil

Fresh basil in a pot on the kitchen windowsill makes harvesting leaves a snap

Yes, the fragrant and tasty basil can thrive on a sunny window sill, and you get to show off by snipping the odd leaf and adding it to your focaccia – or if things are going really well, your own pesto. It grows like mad, and needs to be kept moist but after that, she’ll just keep on giving.

 

Moss

A moss garden inside a glass terrarium is about as low maintenance as you can get

Odd, sure, but moss is a green miracle and quite mesmeric. You can find moss (or similar) at aquarium shops, then add gravel and stones and soil in a terrarium sort of container – but the lid does not have to be perfect, and huzzah! Your own Zen world. Once it gets going, it really is a matter of spraying with water and offering it a couple of hours of morning light. Very cool.

 

Orchids

A table of blooming moth orchids is a beautiful sight, although they can require special care.

So many to choose from! Dramatic, exquisite, statuesque – orchids are truly stunning if you are up for the challenge. Yes, this is supposed to be about really easy plants, but SOME people think an established orchid is just that. Again, light but not sun, proper orchid fertiliser, don’t spritz the blooms, but do take the time to learn all about them It’s worth it.

Which is the most beautiful indoor plant?

This will depend on what you value but for their beautiful flowers and trailing habit, it’s hard to go past the orchid family. Whether it’s the robust cymbidium varieties, the delicate moth or the stunning Sydney rock orchid, these stunning plants make a gorgeous display – and last a whole lot longer than cut flowers.

Which indoor plant purifies the air the most?

Since NASA published a study in 1989 on the effectiveness of indoor plants as air purifiers, there’s been discussion about which plants work best. Sadly, their ability to remove toxins has been overstated, but there are still plants that will benefit to your indoor air quality such the hardy Peace Lily, the Spider Plant, Mother-in-law’s Tongue and Devil’s Ivy.

Which indoor plant is the best for home?

This will depend on many factors, including how much time you spend at home, whether you have pets and how experienced you are at gardening but tough species such as Devil’s Ivy, Peace Lily, Rubber Plant and Monstera is a good place to start.

What is the easiest house plant to maintain?

All plants require some maintenance but more die from over watering than they do from too little care. Go for Peace Lilies, Spider Plants, Jade Plants and cacti for easy care, low maintenance plants.



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Should AI Have Access to Your Medical Records? What if It Can Save Many Lives?

We asked readers: Is it worth giving up some potential privacy if the public benefit could be great? Here’s what they said.

By DEMETRIA GALLEGOS
Tue, May 28, 2024 4 min

We’re constantly told that one of the potentially biggest benefits of artificial intelligence is in the area of health. By collecting large amounts of data, AI can create all sorts of drugs for diseases that have been resistant to treatment.

But the price of that could be that we have to share more of our medical information. After all, researchers can’t collect large amounts of data if people aren’t willing to part with that data.

We wanted to see where our readers stand on the balance of privacy versus public-health gains as part of our series on ethical dilemmas created by the advent of AI.

Here are the questions we posed…

AI may be able to discover new medical treatments if it can scan large volumes of health records. Should our personal health records be made available for this purpose, if it has the potential to improve or save millions of lives? How would we guard privacy in that case?

…and some of the answers we received. undefined

Rely on nonpartisan overseers

While my own recent experience with a data breach highlights the importance of robust data security, I recognise the potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare. To ensure privacy, I would be more comfortable if an independent, nonpartisan body—overseen by medical professionals, data-security experts, and citizen representatives—managed a secure database.

Anonymity cuts both ways

Yes. Simply sanitise the health records of any identifying information, which is quite doable. Although there is an argument to be made that AI may discover something that an individual needs or wants to know.

Executive-level oversight

I think we can make AI scanning of health records available with strict privacy controls. Create an AI-CEO position at medical facilities with extreme vetting of that individual before hiring them.

Well worth it

This actually sounds like a very GOOD use of AI. There are several methods for anonymising data which would allow for studies over massive cross-sections of the population without compromising individuals’ privacy. The AI would just be doing the same things meta-studies do now, only faster and maybe better.

Human touch

My concern is that the next generations of doctors will rely more heavily, maybe exclusively, on AI and lose the ability or even the desire to respect the art of medicine which demands one-on-one interaction with a patient for discussion and examination (already a dying skill).

Postmortem

People should be able to sign over rights to their complete “anonymised” health record upon death just as they can sign over rights to their organs. Waiting for death for such access does temporarily slow down the pace of such research, but ultimately will make the research better. Data sets will be more complete, too. Before signing over such rights, however, a person would have to be fully informed on how their relatives’ privacy may also be affected.

Pay me or make it free for all

As long as this is open-source and free, they can use my records. I have a problem with people using my data to make a profit without compensation.

Privacy above all

As a free society, we value freedoms and privacy, often over greater utilitarian benefits that could come. AI does not get any greater right to infringe on that liberty than anything else does.

Opt-in only

You should be able to opt in and choose a plan that protects your privacy.

Privacy doesn’t exist anyway

If it is decided to extend human lives indefinitely, then by all means, scan all health records. As for privacy, there is no such thing. All databases, once established, will eventually, if not immediately, be accessed or hacked by both the good and bad guys.

The data’s already out there

I think it should be made available. We already sign our rights for information over to large insurance companies. Making health records in the aggregate available for helping AI spot potential ways to improve medical care makes sense to me.

Overarching benefit

Of course they should be made available. Privacy is no serious concern when the benefits are so huge for so many.

Compensation for breakthroughs

We should be given the choice to release our records and compensated if our particular genome creates a pathway to treatment and medications.

Too risky

I like the idea of improving healthcare by accessing health records. However, as great as that potential is, the risks outweigh it. Access to the information would not be controlled. Too many would see personal opportunity in it for personal gain.

Nothing personal

The personal info should never be available to anyone who is not specifically authorised by the patient to have it. Medical information can be used to deny people employment or licenses!

No guarantee, but go ahead

This should be allowed on an anonymous basis, without question. But how to provide that anonymity?

Anonymously isolating the information is probably easy, but that information probably contains enough information to identify you if someone had access to the data and was strongly motivated. So the answer lies in restricting access to the raw data to trusted individuals.

Take my records, please

As a person with multiple medical conditions taking 28 medications a day, I highly endorse the use of my records. It is an area where I have found AI particularly valuable. With no medical educational background, I find it very helpful when AI describes in layman’s terms both my conditions and medications. In one instance, while interpreting a CT scan, AI noted a growth on my kidney that looked suspiciously like cancer and had not been disclosed to me by any of the four doctors examining the chart.

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