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Introduction

Need inspiration for the best houseplants that'll hang over a bookshelf or cabinet shelf? THE HOUSEPLANT DOCTOR™ has it covered with his Top 10 favourite indoor trailers below!


Three Quick Tips for Trailing Success

  1. Keep your trailing plant's soil on the dry side to life; only rehydrate once the top half of the compost has dried to avoid over-watering and root rot (common with training plants).
  2. Dust the leaves every month either by using a damp watery cloth or gently hosing the foliage down in the shower.
  3. Feed every third water with a 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser & prune once a year in spring by reducing the stem or vine's overall length by a quarter. Propagate the prunings as stem cuttings. 


Searching for suitable plants for your bookshelf? Book a 1-to-1 consultation with Joe Bagley, THE HOUSEPLANT DOCTOR™ & website author, to guide you with choosing the right plants & where to find them at their cheapest price. Available on iMessage/FaceTime, WhatsApp & more!



Which Houseplants Are Best For A Cabinet or Bookshelf?


1. Maranta leuconeura - Prayer Plants

Care Difficulty: Moderate 

Annual Growth: Slow (three leaves per year)

Watering: Maintain evenly moist soil, using lukewarm water when it's time to hydrate. 

Feeding: Every third water with a 'Houseplant' labelled product. Use leaf-sprays if you want, too. 

Pruning: Generally not needed.

Where to Buy: Garden centres, DIY stores & online stores.

Pet Friendly: Yes




2. Epipremnum - Devil's Ivy/Pothos

Main Plant: Cebu Pothos. Top Left: Marble Queen Pothos. Bottom Left: Philodendron 'Brasil'

Care Difficulty: Easy

Annual Growth: Fast (10-25cm per year)

Watering: Only rehydrate the soil once the top third dries out.

Feeding: Fertilise every fourth time you water the soil with a 'Houseplant' labelled product. 

Pruning: Not necessary unless you want to keep the plant's size controlled. In that case, during the spring prune the vines back by a third to promote a bushier appearance. Feel free to propagate the prunings in water to grow-on.

Where to Buy: Garden centres, DIY stores & online stores.

Pet Friendly: No




3. Tropical Cacti

Right to Left: Rhipsalis baccifera, Lepismium bolivianum, Pseudorhipsalis ramulosa

Care Difficulty: Easy

Annual Growth: Moderate (8-12cm per year)

Watering: Only rehydrate the soil once the soil feels dry to the touch. Mistletoe Cacti are excellent at being drought tolerant, so don't panic if you forget to water!  

Feeding: Every three months using a 'Houseplant' labelled product. 

Pruning: Not necessary.

Where to Buy: Garden centres, DIY stores & online stores.

Pet Friendly: Yes




4. Fishbone Cacti

Care Difficulty: Easy

Annual Growth: Moderate (6-10cm per year)

Watering: Only rehydrate the soil once the top third dries out.

Feeding: Fertilise every fourth time you water the soil with a 'Houseplant' labelled product. 

Pruning: Not necessary unless you want to keep the plant's size controlled. In that case, during the spring prune the vines back by a third to promote a bushier appearance. Feel free to propagate the prunings in water to grow-on.

Where to Buy: Garden centres, DIY stores & online stores.

Pet Friendly: Yes




5Syngonium - Arrow Head Vines

Main Plant: Syngonium podophyllum 'Robusta'. Top Left: Syngonium 'Mottled Mojito'


Care Difficulty: Easy

Annual Growth: Fast (10-15cm per year)

Watering: Rehydrate the compost once the top third dries out, avoiding cold water that may shock the roots.

Feeding: Every third water using a 'Houseplant' labelled product. 

Pruning: Not necessary, but you can prune the stems at any time of year to reduce its size (& propagate the cuttings).

Where to Buy: Garden centres, DIY stores & online stores.

Pet Friendly: No




6. Hoya linearis

Care Difficulty: Easy

Annual Growth: Slow (6-10cm per year)

Watering: Although this species can deal with dry soil, try not to test its tolerance as it may result in crispy foliage. Allow the top half of the potting mix to dry in between waters. 

Feeding: Every fourth water using a 'Houseplant' labelled product. 

Pruning: Similarly to Syngonium, pruning isn't necessary but you can cut the stems at any time of year to reduce its size.

Where to Buy: Garden centres (sometimes) & online stores.

Pet Friendly: Yes



7. Monkey Mask Plants - Monstera adansonii

Care Difficulty: Easy

Annual Growth: Fast (10-18cm per year)

Watering: Monstera are relatively forgiving if you over or under-water. For optimal growth, we recommend allowing only the top third of the soil to dry in between drinks.

Feeding: Every third water using a 'Houseplant' labelled product. 

Pruning: This isn't necessary, unless you're interested in reducing its size when overgrown. Cuttings can also be propagated in water to root and placed back into soil.

Where to Buy: Garden centres, DIY stores & online stores.

Pet Friendly: Yes




8. Christmas Cacti (+Thanksgiving Cacti)

Care Difficulty: Easy

Annual Growth: Slow (4-6cm per year) (The specimen above is 50 years old!)

Flowering Period: Autumn

Watering: Less is more with Holiday Cacti. Only hydrate its soil once it becomes fully dry; if in doubt, leave the watering for another day.

Feeding: Every fourth water using either a 'Houseplant' or 'Cactus' labelled product. 

Pruning: This isn't necessary due to its slow growth.

Where to Buy: Garden centres (in Oct - Dec), DIY stores (Oct - Dec), online marketplaces (Facebook, Gumtree, etc.) & online stores.

Pet Friendly: Yes




9. Spider Plants

Chlorophytum comosum (Left)

Care Difficulty: Easy

Annual Growth: Fast (10cm each year in height & width)

Watering: Water the compost once the foliage begins to either wilt or becomes grey. Don't over-water as its leaves and roots are fleshy (meaning they can hold moisture for a long time).

Feeding: Every third water using a 'Houseplant' labelled product. 

Pruning: Prune yellow/brown leaf tips and any dead leaves to improve its appearance. Propagate the 'pups' that appear on the stems. (Bottom-left of image).

Where to Buy: Garden centres, DIY stores, online marketplaces & online stores.

Pet Friendly: Yes




10. Common English Ivy


Care Difficulty: Moderate

Annual Growth: Moderate (8cm each year)

Watering: Keep the potting mix reliably moist, avoiding dry spells that may result in crispy leaves.

Feeding: Every second water using a 'Houseplant' labelled product. 

Pruning: Remove yellow or brown leaves that progress as the plant matures. The stems' overall lengths can be pruned back at any time of year to suit your desired size.

Where to Buy: Garden centres, DIY stores & online stores.

Pet Friendly: No




11. (Extra!) Tradescantia - Inch Plant / Wandering Jew

Main Plant: Tradescantia zebrina. Bottom Left: Tradescantia pallida.

Care Difficulty: Easy

Annual Growth: Fast (15-20cm each year)

Watering: Promote reliably moist soil, all year round.

Feeding: Every third water using a 'Houseplant' labelled product. 

Pruning: Remove any yellow or brown leaves to improve its appearance. The stems can be pruned back at any time of year to suit your desired size due to its rapid growth rates. Propagated the prunings in water to root.

Where to Buy: Garden centres, DIY stores & online stores.

Pet Friendly: Yes




12. (Extra!) Boston Ferns

Care Difficulty: Moderate

Annual Growth: Moderate (8-12cm each year in frond length)

Watering: Keep its potting mix moist at all times, avoiding any risk of drought.

Feeding: Every second or third water using a 'Houseplant' labelled product. 

Pruning: Remove yellow or crisping leaves that appear on the fronds.

Where to Buy: Garden centres, DIY stores & online stores.

Pet Friendly: Yes



Other honourable mentions for shady/low light bookshelves;

  • Asparagus Ferns
  • Rhaphidophora tetrasperma (Monstera Minima)
  • Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus verticullatus)


AVOID placing these plants on a shady shelf*;

  • Baby Tears (Helxine soleirolii)
  • Burro's Tails
  • Sedum
  • String of Bananas
  • String of Hearts
  • String of Pearls
  • String of Turtles

*due to the low light levels that shelves/cabinets typically provide. These plants need to be kept in a window or under a grow-light for optimal growth.



Book a 1-to-1 Consultation with THE HOUSEPLANT DOCTOR™

Need advice for styling your houseplants indoors? Book a video or message consultation with expert Joe Bagley, THE HOUSEPLANT DOCTOR™ (author or ukhouseplants.com). Choose between a ten or thirty-minute session & a platform of your choice (WhatsApp, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger or Zoom). Ask unlimited questions in one session, including queries on your dying/challenging plants, pests eradication, terrariums, repotting advice & everything in between! Available worldwide.



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