Updated: Mar 9
Some of my very best friends raise children, work high level jobs, own a home, have a pet...but mention keeping a house plant alive and there is a lot of head shaking and palm sweating.
I'm the first to admit I don't keep a lot of plants around, but this is mostly attributed to the above average number of houseplants we had in our home growing up. There is nothing like your new friend coming over for a visit and proclaiming "wow, you have a lot of plants!"
But now that I'm older and houseplants are having a real renaissance (did somebody say succulents?) I'm hopping back on the bandwagon. When you look at the benefits of "greening" your living spaces with plants its easy to be convinced.
Back in 1989, NASA published The Clean Air Study which found that placing a houseplant every 50 feet in your home or workplace would reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and improve overall air quality. VOCs are released from everything: rugs to plastic grocery bags, paint, and even printed books and paper. Plants remove toxins like this and further "wash" the air of about 87% of VOCs every 24 hours.
Other studies have gone on to tout the benefits of houseplants including lowering blood pressure, reducing fatigue and anxiety, and sharpening focus. The NASA study even goes so far as to list the best plants for purifying your air with various palm and ficus trees, ivy, the peace lily, and the ever popular spider plant topping the list.
But if you're like me, you're convinced of the benefits of houseplants but are concerned your new ficus will have your home looking more like a dentists office. Fortunately there are hundreds of houseplants both green and flowering that can reflect your style and personality.
I've gathered a few charmers to get you excited about bringing a little green into your life again and reaping the benefits of cleaner air and maybe even less stress!
1. Pilea peperomioides
"Chinese Money Plant"
What could be wrong with a plant that sounds and looks like pepperoni? This photogenic beauty gives a great pop of color against light/white colored walls. It's easy to care for, preferring shady or mixed sun/shade either indoors or outdoors and only needs to be watered weekly. These plants grow pretty slowly which why they aren't seen in many garden centers, but luckily they are readily available online.
2. Ficus lyrata "Fiddle Leaf Fig"
There is no surer way to make your home look Instagram-worthy than putting one of these babies in your living room. I have personally requested one of these for Mothers Day. Extra bonus if you live near an Ikea. You can pick a fiddle leaf fig up for just $20! Fiddle leaf requires slightly more maintenance than your average houseplant, preferring a humid environment (break out that mister!), weekly watering and a full or partly sunny spot.
3. Adiantum "Maidenhair Fern"
Maidenhair is a graceful fern prized for its feathery delicate foliage. It likes a shady humid environment, so many people prefer to grow them in their bathrooms. This fern variety can be a little finicky but has amazing bounce back abilities if you neglect it for a few weeks. Fun fact: extract from the maidenhair fern is used in the manufacture of shampoo.
4. Fenestraria aurantiaca “Baby Toes”
It's hard to talk about houseplant trends right now without mentioning succulents. They are the epitome of low-maintenance plants, surviving in bright desert-like environments on little water. I love these "baby toes" for their great bubbly texture. In summertime they can even sprout yellow daisy-like flowers. Be sure to plant in a succulent blend soil and transplant to a pot that is at least 2" larger than the diameter of the succulent.
5. Tillandsia Xerographica Airplant
This is probably my favorite plant right now because of its versatility. The xerographica is sometimes called the queen of the airplants because it can grow up to 8-10" wide. I love to move my air plants around the house, tucking them into wreaths, different vases, or placing them on the lip of other houseplant containers. They need to be drenched in water every week and placed in a sunny environment to really thrive.
If you're still nervous about taking care of your houseplants, my best tip is to embrace technology. There are so many great plant care apps available like Planta and SmartPlant which do a lot of the work for you. Set reminders for watering, feeding, replanting and even get suggestions for plants based on your light conditions, geography, and skill level.