Which house plants grow the quickest in the UK?
I think that the main reason why I have so many houseplants is that
I have a problem they’re great as an alternative to more expensive home decor items. But houseplants, for the most part, have their origins in the tropics.
And to buy houseplants cheaply, you’re best of buying ’em when they’re babies.
So which houseplants will grow the quickest in the UK?
To answer this query, I’m going to largely rely on my own experiences, because:
- I live in the UK, in a small house with normal windows (i.e. no massive, floor to ceiling ones)
- I know which ones are super fast growing
- Without doing anything other than the bare minimum of effort
The quickest growing houseplants are, in my experience, Tradescantia Zebria (by miles), Spiderplants, Draecena, Asparagus Ferns (and Boston ferns actually), and aloes.
I’ll go through them each one-by-one, and tell you how quickly they grow, and the conditions under which I keep them.
Tradescantia Zebria – the Usain Bolt of plants
When I bought this, it was weeny. I actually have a crappy picture if it, because I wanted to look it up when I got home:
They went to live in my west-facing spare bedroom on the window sill. It has fairly bright indirect light all day, with a bit of direct light in the afternoon.
I check my plants with a moisture probe a couple of times a week, and this plant was always thirsty. I also nipped out the newest leaves to encourage bushiness – I used tweezers for this, because otherwise I’d just rip the leaves and it didn’t look great.
Recently I moved the Tradescantia into my living room to live on the hearth. The room gets lots of bright, indirect light in the morning that all the plants seem to love, but the Tradescantia is a couple of metres away from the window. This is apparently fine though because they’re still growing like mad.
To the point where they’ve been repotted twice.
During one of the repottings, I accidentally snapped a branch off. I just stuck it back into the soil and it’s fine. I can’t even tell which bit is the broken bit.
The first photo was taken on the 6th of May, and the second on the 11th of July. No bad for a couple of months
The spider plant I have in my south-facing hall window is growing the fastest by far. He was one of three that I propagated (back when I was a complete newbie), and he’s the biggest by far.
One of the others died (RIP), and the other one had to go back into a jar of water to grow bigger roots. That one is also in a south-facing window, but in the bathroom, so I’m interested to see if the humidity spurs him on to catch up with his big brother.
I have a large spider plant on my mantelpiece in the living room (near the Tradescantia) that’s pretty slow growing. I’ve had him for years and he’s…he’s been through some shit.
He went from being chronically neglected to being potted in a pot without drainage holes (if you don’t know why that’s a big deal then I IMPLORE you to read this post) and being tortured by overwatering.
It took him MONTHS to dry out. But now he seems to be back on track and I’m seeing a bit of growth.
There are approx. a billion types of Dracaena that all look wildly different but I think mine is a Dracaena Marginata. It’s beautiful, anyway. You can kinda see it to the left of this tragically overwatered aloe:
I’ll take a better photo one day.
See the brown tips on the leaves? I think this is from touching the windows – this plant used to live next to my spider plant in the hall window, but I’ve moved him downstairs so the leaves don’t touch the windows any more. He seems to be doing well.
This plant went from being about three inches tall in the spring to well over a foot. Impressive stuff. Like the Tradescantia, I’ve found them be fairly thirsty. He usually needs watering once a week.
Bear in mind that I keep both plants in terracotta pots, which does dry them out more quickly. As long as you keep on top of the watering, that’s no bad thing.
I kept my Asparagus and Boston ferns in my south-facing bathroom window and they went NUTS.
I bought my Boston fern for £3.50 on clearance because it was looking very sorry for itself. I kept it by itself until I was sure it didn’t have any pests or diseases and then I got the Asparagus fern.
I don’t really notice the Boston fern growing – it just got to the point where they were interfering with our showering habits (if you’ve ever being stroked on the bum, uninvited, in the shower before, it’s a harrowing experience). Both have since gone to live in the kitchen, where they can’t harass us.
The asparagus fern has a really cool growing pattern. It sticks out new stems that look like wheat, that gradually open up – kinda like one of those fake Christmas trees where you have to pull out all of the stems individually.
Ferns grow quickly, but they like a bit of humidity and bright light SOME of the time.
The UK is hardly tropical, but we have decent enough humidity in our kitchens for most plants. If you group them together then they can absorb the water that the others are transpiring (is that right? Transpiring?)
I have two aloes, a good one and the poor overwatered soul in the Dracaena picture above.
They grow quickly, but in a stealth way, so that you don’t notice until they’re pointing your eye out. Like my Dracaena, I’ve noticed that the ends of the leaves go brown if they touch windows, so I keep mine in the spare room a couple of metres away from the window.
It would probably grow more quickly if it got more light, but it looks healthy enough.
Don’t assume that because Aloes are desert plants that they don’t need watering. Sure, your plant can go for months without water and survive, but the key word here is ‘survive’.
That ain’t good enough for my babies.
I want them to THRIVE.
Which means approx. fortnightly waterings for the aloe. Sometimes it takes longer for it to dry out, sometimes, shorter – I assume it depends on the weather and the time in the growing cycle.
How to accelerate plant growth
Plants WANT to grow quickly.
Well, as quickly as they can.
In general, vines grow quickly (to get up to the rainforest canopy). Plants that live in extreme conditions (like cacti) grow more slowly.
But the better you care for them, the more quickly they’ll grow.
Keep them pest free
When you’re checking that your plants need watering (I do this a couple of times a week), give them a good look over. If they show signs of pests, then deal with them.
For preventative care, when you dust your plants (frequency of dusting varies, but I need to dust my rubber plant weekly) smear a bit of neem oil on your duster. It can interrupt the lifecycle of most nasty bugs.
Want to learn more about house plant pests (who doesn’t!)? Click here to read my article on those critters.
Water them properly
By which I mean don’t under or over water them. I have a whole-ass post all about watering. It’s here.
Give them more light
There are loads of plants that have a reputation for not needing much light, and it’s true.
In order for your plant to grow, it will need more light.
Yes, even pothos.
As long as they don’t have the direct sun beating down on them, most plants will grow faster in bright light.
If you have variegated plants (plants with bits of white on their leaves) they’ll need more light than their non-variegated versions, because the white parts don’t have any chlorophyll in them. If they don’t get enough light, the amount of variegation will reduce (or go completely). If the variegation disappears, then it won’t return, no matter how much light you give it.
You usually shouldn’t need to fertilise plants until you’ve had them for about a year. Only fertilise during the growing season.
Summer Rayne Oakes has a whole video on fertilising that I suggest you watch if it’s something you either struggle with or have never done before.
I also have a post on fertilising plants here, that’s easiesr to digest than Summer’s 40 minute video, but obvs not as in-depth.
Plants that are commonly said to grow quickly but haven’t in my experience
Every other plant blogger out there has pothoses growing like stink. I have a variegated one that hasn’t grown at all.
Not one new leaf.
I suspect that they were chronically overwatered when I bought them, and this is a recovery thing. I bought a heartleaf philodendron at the same time from the same place and that’s growing much better.
From this, I can deduce that either philodendrons are far more tolerant to being overwatered OR for some reason the pothos just looked dry to whoever was caring for it. To be fair, it did have a few brown leaves that have since gone. Probably actually caused by overwatering.
I was also promised that my ZZ plant and Rubber plant would grow like mad but nope.
I keep moving them around into different lights and making sure I keep them clean but it’s not happening.
I think my issue is (regarding the rubber plant) maybe you need to spend more than £3 on a plant to keep them happy? Also he was tucked under a shelf in practically zero light conditions, which is pretty much the opposite of what he would like.
The ZZ plant, as I mentioned in another pot was root bound in the extreme (she’d warped the plastic pot so much that I had to cut it off) so is probably taking her time to adjust.
Sometimes you just need to be patient, something that really isn’t among my strengths.
If you live in the UK and you need yourself a fast-growing plant, get yourself a Tradescantia Zebria.
As you can see, you can get a small specimen for A POUND. My one was from Morrisons (the Boroughbridge one – not all supermarkets, even within the same chain – are created the same with regards to stocking houseplants.
The best way to make plants grow quickly is to not neglect them. TRUE STORY.