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Five trailing houseplants and how to care for them


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Trailing houseplants can add interest and colour to a room. Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk/PA
Trailing houseplants can add interest and colour to a room. Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk/PA

Trailing plants aren't just for outdoor hanging baskets and planters. Used imaginatively, they can create a stylish haven indoors too – but you'll need to pick the right plants for the right space.

And don't think ivy is the only option. There are so many other plants which can be combined or used as standalone statements to provide architectural interest and colour to a room.

Green and flowering plants, such as columnea and cissus, reinforce the sense of a big change of season, allowing the light through and muting the stimuli from outdoors, according to plant experts The Joy of Plants.

Here are some ideas for great trailing and hanging plants, whether you want to just let them drape from a shelf or suspend them in planters from the ceiling or a rafter...

String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus). Picture: iStock/PA
String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus). Picture: iStock/PA

1. String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

Also known as string of beads, this eye-catching plant produces strands which bear pea-like leaves, although it is fussy about watering, only preferring to be watered when the top 2cm of the compost is dry.

Plant it in good potting compost in bright, indirect light. If you want to increase your stock, cuttings of this plant will root easily when pinned to the surface of a pot of cactus compost. Keep temperatures above 10C in winter.

Sedum morganianum or Burro's tail. Picture: iStock/PA
Sedum morganianum or Burro's tail. Picture: iStock/PA

2. Burro's tail (Sedum morganianum)

This rich succulent, which produces thick stems of blue-green leaves that look like plaits, needs gritty soil and good drainage, sunshine and protection from extreme cold temperatures to thrive.

If you're lucky, in summer, small clusters of pinkish red star-shaped flowers may appear at the end of the stems. Don't overwater it, especially in autumn and winter, and avoid putting it in a bathroom or steamy kitchen because it won't like the humidity. In summer, ventilate the room from time to time by opening a window to allow it some fresh air.

Rhipsalis prefers dappled sunlight. Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk/PA
Rhipsalis prefers dappled sunlight. Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk/PA

3. Rhipsalis

There are many varieties of this cacti, which will happily trail over pots and down walls if put in the right spot. Unlike other cacti, it's not a prickly plant, instead having what almost looks like a mop of hair. It needs plenty of light but not direct sunlight, preferring dappled sunlight.

The mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis baccifera) is the perfect cactus for the bathroom, favouring humid conditions. It will need watering but don't let its roots sit in moisture. White flowers appear over the summer, followed by berries.

Climbing fig or creeping fig has beautiful heart-shaped leaves. Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk/PA
Climbing fig or creeping fig has beautiful heart-shaped leaves. Picture: Thejoyofplants.co.uk/PA

4. Climbing fig (Ficus pumila)

The climbing fig, or creeping fig as it is also known, is an evergreen self-clinging climber with beautiful heart-shaped leaves. If there's nothing to hold on to it will grow over the edge of the pot, giving you an attractive hanging plant, or train the tendrils along a shape to allow them to climb across a wall.

The plant evolves over its life: a young climbing fig has small leaves, while the leaves on a more mature plant are larger.

According to The Joy of Plants (thejoyofplants.co.uk), it likes plenty of light but not full sun. Don't place it over a heater or in a draught, and once it's in place don't move it because it doesn't like change. Cut the stems back if they become too long.

5. Ceropegia (String of hearts)

A relaxing atmosphere is strengthened by hanging plants, including ceropegia, with its strings of heart-shaped leaves. Again, don't overwater it because its skinny roots will rot. The best thing to do is to let this plant dry out in between waterings.

Place it in a sunny spot and new strands should grow in the direction of the light. Trim the straggly bits to keep it tidy, as they can grow to 1.5m long.

Pair it with tradescantia and rhipsalis in pastel-coloured knotted cloth and light pots. This enables them to extend and allows the leaves' various shades of grey and green to create fantastical veils. Just what you need to get through the darker days in a cheerful mood.


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