Erin Thomas set up online plant company, Hopeless Botanics, during the first lockdown in 2020 and has never looked back. She is a firm favourite for her Instagram followers as she gives basic practical care advice for wannabe plant lovers.

For someone like me, who regularly kills plants as my technique includes throwing my leftover glass of water over them as I walk by, I need every bit of advice I can get.

We need your consent to load this Instagram contentWe use Instagram to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

Erin’s first bit of agony aunt plant advice is to bring it all back to basics of "water, light, soil, and temperature." Erin takes us through her top tips for your plants surviving to old age and gives us her recommendations for her un-killable plants.

If you get that far, why not go the extra green mile and buy the showstoppers she suggests?

1. Match your plant care to the season.
Expect growth to be much slower in winter, meaning you can water them less in winter.

Most houseplants like their soil to dry out to some degree in between being watered. The top of the soil might look really dry, light and crumbly, but you might find a seriously soggy bottom down below. It can take ages for soil to dry out in winter, and everyone's home is different.

A plant you watered weekly in the summer, might go three weeks or more now without water.

2. Move them as close to windows as possible.
Help them get light during these dark months. You might feel like the room is bright, but if your plant can’t see the sky, then it’s not getting any rays hitting its leaves.

3. Move them to warmer rooms if possible.
Your plants might do better if moved away from draughty doors, or out of rooms where the temperature might drop hugely overnight.

4. Mist more.
If your plant likes to be misted (some, like cactus, succulents, begonias do not), then try do it more often. It can offer temporary relief from the drier air in our homes.

5. Buy un-killable* plants (*come on, within reason)
Start off small. You don’t need to have a wheelbarrow full of plants. If you take too much on it will become a chore. Avoid small plants as these are not kill-proof as they are just starting off.

Perfect first house plants:


Aspidistras are known as the cast iron plant for a reason and will be the easiest plant you own. They are pretty unkillable. It can go without water for a month or more. It's can take shade and will often grow up to a meter tall.

Light: All plants need some light, but aspidistras can almost grow in the dark, making it an excellent choice for those hard to fill areas in deep shade. Any position is fine for this plant, except lots of direct sunlight.

Water: They are very tolerant of irregular watering, but if you notice his top two inches of soil are dry, it's time to give him a drink.

Philodendron Scandens

A totally underrated house plant. They have gorgeous heart shaped, glossy leaves and they are as hardy as they come. They trail beautifully down shelves. It relishes a bit of drought, and if any leaf does start to look funky just snip it off, there'll be plenty more in no time.

Humidity: Give him a good misting when you can, or a holiday in a steamy bathroom.

Toxicity: Philodendrons are toxic if ingested.

Chinese evergreens

They can tolerate lower light more than many plants, and they prefer if the soil dries out ¾ down the pot in between watering. They are slow growing, so will not take over your sitting room. We love clustering them at the foot of a larger plant, like a Kentia palm to create mini jungle vibes.

Toxicity: Mildly toxic if eaten. Keep out of reach of children and animals

Maranta Fascinator

This 'prayer plant' has deep pink veins running through its leaves and it takes on a weird and wonderful new shape every day. It splays out in brightness and folds upwards as the light disappears. Watch as it shoots out wild arms of unfurling leaves every few weeks.

Light: They grow best in bright (but not direct) light but will also do fine in a bit of shade.

Water: They do prefer lukewarm water and can sometimes get spots on the leaves in protest of the minerals found in tap water. Tap is fine, but if you can, mineral or rainwater is preferred.

Toxicity: Non-toxic.

Marble Queen Pothos

A firm favourite. We use it in living walls as it is so forgiving. It doesn't mind a drought and can adapt to lower light. It has beautiful leaves with creamy patterns running through it. Snip to keep it bushy or let the trails run on and on.

Light: They are shade tolerant and can survive in low light but will grow faster in medium to bright indirect light.

Water: They like their soil to be kept on the drier side. During the spring and summer, water well and then allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before you water it again. In the autumn and winter, let the soil become even drier before watering.

Toxicity: Pothos are mildly toxic to pets and humans.

If you want to be a showoff

Bird of Paradise

If you have a bright space and want to nurture a medium plant to thrive and eventually become a stunning focal point in a room, this is a great choice. This plant does love the sun but keep an eye it doesn't get scorched.

Water: Keep the soil moist but not soggy in the spring and summer, and water it when the top 2 inches or so of soil has dried out a little. Stick your finger in to check. In the autumn and winter, its ok to let the soil to dry out a little more.

Humidity: These plants like an increased level of humidity but they can usually cope in normal household conditions.

Height and Growth Rate: In warm conditions these plants can be fast growing and reach 5 to 6 metres tall. Indoors, they reach about 3 metres tall.

Monstera deliciosa

This giant leafy beaut also known as a swiss cheese plant can grow over a meter tall and the perfect plant to jazz up your zoom background.

Light: Monsteras do best in a bright room with mostly indirect light. Having them by an east or west facing window would be ideal. If it's getting leggy, it might mean it's not getting enough light.

Water: Water when the top few inches of the soil has dried out. Wipe the leaves every few weeks to remove dust.

Food: Feed once a month in summer and spring.

Tips: If yellow leaves appear, this may be a sign of overwatering. If the leaf edges turn brown, try increasing the humidity, misting the leaves and moving it away from any strong heat like radiators.

Erin Thomas is the founder of Hopeless Botanics, a houseplant shop in Dublin 8 that delivers beautiful gifts and plants nationwide. Check them out on Instagram and for pop up shop dates, some botanical eye candy, inspiration and care tips.