9 of the weirdest and most wonderful houseplants
- Credit: Alamy/ PA
Houseplants aren’t there just to look at. If you’re careful with your choices, you can see them move, emit scent when you brush your hands over them and even snap shut if prey lands on their leaves.
Houseplant lovers have captured the movement of many of the moving plants in time-lapse videos, and not all of them are just moving towards the light.
1. Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura)
The prayer plant, so called because it raises its leaves in the evening as though it is praying, is a great one to watch.
“Every night, the leaves roll up and you can hear them moving as well,” says Claire Bishop, head of houseplants at Dobbies Garden Centres (Dobbies.com).
“They are great plants for kids, as they’re not toxic. And the fact you can see the plant alive and moving gets kids interested,” she explains. “It’s one of the easiest plants to look after, but it actually looks stunning. It can double in size in a couple of months.”
Marantas prefer plenty of light, but not direct sunlight, along with well-drained soil and high humidity.
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2. Mimosa pudica
Also known as the sensitive plant, this one reacts to being tickled, as the leaflets close like dominoes if you run a finger down them or they are exposed to heat, while the whole stem collapses if you touch it firmly. It’s considered a weed in tropical countries, but give it plenty of sun and moderate watering, and you should keep it happy.
Closely related to the maranta, these increasingly popular exotic-looking plants, often with colourful foliage and striking shape, are also known as peacock plants, and are similar to the prayer plant in that most of them move.
“There’s a particular type called the rattlesnake plant, whose leaves open and close every day, because their leaves need the sunlight. They will open up every day and then close back up again to conserve energy when it gets darker,” Bishop says.
Rattlesnake plants need bright indirect light. Water them when the top two inches of soil have dried out and don’t use shine products on dusty leaves. Just wipe them occasionally with a damp cloth.
4. Venus fly trap
This carnivorous culprit is popular in homes, its leaves snapping shut when an unsuspecting insect climbs in to investigate and is promptly trapped in its vice-like grip and later digested. It’s fussy about its food, preferring spiders, ants, beetles and grasshoppers, with a few flying insects thrown in.
They need direct sunlight to remain healthy, otherwise their leaves will become weak and floppy. Plant them in a sandy, damp soil and water them with rain water, preferably sitting them in about 1cm of water, rather than watering them from the top.
Increasingly popular among houseplant fans, because of their unusual shaped leaves and distinctive veins, these beauties spring visibly back to life after a good water.
“There are a lot of really unusual ones out there. There’s a beautiful one called ‘Pink Dragon’ with pink stems and unusual leaves,” Bishop recommends.
You may not see it move before your eyes, but play around with a time-lapse camera and you should enjoy the vast movement of the leathery leaves overnight.
7. Peperomia Clusiifolia ‘Red Margin’
For those who prefer scent, houseplant specialist The Ginger Jungle (thegingerjungle.com) recommends this moderately drought-tolerant candidate, whose leaves smell like sweet pepper. It prefers to be kept on the dry side, especially in lower light conditions; so let the top of the soil dry out by a couple of inches before each watering.
Known as the Swiss cheese plant, this striking houseplant should make significant growth if you put it in moderate brightness but out of direct sunlight. Winter brightness is essential, otherwise you’ll get spindly stalks and leggy growth.
9. Oxalis triangularis
This plant is particularly active because of its striking reactions to light changes. As it moves in response to light intensity, its look changes dramatically. Film them with a timelapse camera, and you’ll see how much they move towards the sunlight over a 24-hour period.