How to keep your house plants alive

Keeping actual, living things (other than yourself) alive in a student house can seem like mission impossible. Fluctuating temperatures during heating-feuds with your housemates, draughty windows and dark, dingy spaces all hamper a plant’s chances of survival, especially in winter. Thankfully, on the team at Go Volunteer we have our very own resident plant expert – Jon (also known as Grumpy Jon). If there’s a fact to know about a plant, fruit or vegetable, Jon will probably know it. We pestered him one afternoon and persuaded him to give us all his tips on caring for 4 of the most common houseplants – and now we’re passing them onto you.

Rubber plants


  • Light: lots of bright light, not direct sunlight
  • Water: once or twice a month during winter or when the soil feels really dry
  • Home: well-draining soil, well-aerated pot. If transporting into a pretty, new pot, line the bottom with stones to allow water to drain.



  • Light: lots of bright light, not direct sunlight.
  • Water: once a week in winter, twice a week in summer. Leave the plant alone when soil feels moist to avoid over-watering
  • Food: feed with plant fertiliser once a month
  • Home: great for hanging, just make sure your pot has adequate drainage


Chilli plants

  • Light: bright light, lots of sunlight
  • Water: water until soil is moist, then let soil dry out completely before watering again. Generally once chillies have grown, plant doesn’t need to be very wet.
  • Home: keep the plant warm, in direct sunlight and out of draughty areas. When chillies are shiny and bright you can pick them off.


Snake plants (mother-in-law’s tongue)

  • Light: Indirect light
  • Water: allow soil to dry completely before watering, usually every 2-3 weeks.
  • Home: snake plants need good drainage, so make sure your pot has holes in the bottom and a dish underneath. Tip the water away from the dish once drained to avoid plant sitting in water.
  • Fun fact: these plants are great for purifying air


We hope you put these tips to good use and manage to keep your houseplants alive this year. If you really love plants and fancy getting involved in some of our plant-based projects, then check out Cockle Park Farm, Easy Veg, The Wildwood Project or get in touch with Jon on to hear about upcoming events - we often have one off tree-planting sessions or nature tasks perfect for those with busy schedules. 


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