Plants can help with our mental health, especially during this pandemic. However much we live in bustling cities and high rise flats, we can’t escape the need for green space. It’s hard-wired into us and, as this year has shown, we become edgy and depressed without it.

During lockdown we’re keen to escape into the garden or a nearby park and research shows that even looking out of the window onto a green patch is calming.

All this was easy in spring and summer but even a plantaholic like me finds battling winter rain and slithery mud offputting. If only the ducks would put themselves to bed during stormy evenings.

But we still need to connect with nature through the winter months and houseplants do the job as enthusiasts will tell you. I’ll not waste my breath trying to fire up folk who want a plant to be just an ornament.

But if you got the gardening bug this spring or live in a flat why not green up your indoor space?

As evergreens, tropical and sub-tropical plants are perfect for indoor growing. Green sits at the centre of the light spectrum, so is the easiest and therefore most relaxing colour for us.

Like garden plants, indoor ones can be as demanding as you like but if you’re a keen novice wanting to tend and interact with your charges, choose ones that aren’t too difficult.

You’ll find the RHS houseplant finder a great help. It gives detailed growing instructions for plants to suit anywhere in a room, together with lists of stockists.

Start by planning your display, choosing plants that sit well together, don’t just buy random plants to fill a shelf.

You could have a theme: the desert look, homing in on cacti; a lush tropical forest; prairie grasses; or a blend of finely clumping ferns and captivatingly pendulous fronds.

Light intensity is a fraction of that outdoors and varies hugely throughout a room.

Using a light meter this morning, I found on a bright windowsill in full sun the light level was approximately one third of that outdoors but provided 20 times more light than a nearby shelf.

So any plant that needs strong sunshine, like Echeverias, must go on a bright windowsill.

These are low-growing, but if you want some of the feeble winter sun in the room, don’t choose tall plants that snaffle the lot. Especially when many of us are working at home just now and need as much natural, not artificial, light as possible.

And you must decide whether you’re willing to move plants around the room.

Peace lily, Spathiphyllum wallisii, always needs bright light, but needs to be moved away from the window in summer when leaves would scorch.

Find out how much water different plants need, remembering that the best way of killing houseplants is to leave them to rot in a saucer of water.

Some, like cacti and succulents need virtually no water, and, apart from leafy herbs, plants usually need less than you’d think.

The surface of the compost should usually be dry and the pot fairly light.

It’s best to give pots an occasional good soak. If you can easily move one, plonk it in a sink of tepid, not icy, water and let the compost absorb the water. Then drain and return.

Some houseplants need higher humidity than you’d have in a living room or office. Regular misting and watering compensates for the dry atmosphere created by central heating.

As a final bonus, houseplants help filter the air, and large numbers can improve its quality by as much as 25%.

And dust them regularly to help the leaves photosynthesise efficiently.

Plant of the week

Asplenium nidus ‘Crispy Wave’ has slightly shiny bright green fronds that are ruffled at the edges. Needs indirect light and some misting when grown in a centrally heated room.