Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about light!
Out of the factors that plants need to survive, light might be one of the most important, as well as the trickiest to get right.
Once you understand how your plant works, you can see if they’re not getting watered enough, especially with plants that are expressive with watering, like the Spathiphyllum, or Peace Lilies.
When in doubt, bright indirect light is the best for indoor foliage plants. Start with that. Most indoor plants we have are tropical plants that live in the understory. That means they never get direct sunlight. They’ll usually get dappled light that’s mostly blocked by trees.
The best kind of light that some people have been saying is a Northeastern light. If you have a window that’s facing the Northeast, more Eastern than north I think, you’re golden. If you have a room that might be North facing, but you can easily read a book in that room without needing an extra light source, plants can survive in that room. Note that I said survive. If you can, place your plants right next to the window to get the most light they can get.
Western and Southern facing windows offer some great light, however, can be too harsh for a lot of plants if they are placed in direct light. In those instances, place your plants along the walls that don’t get light, or will get light for an hour or two. This will keep them from getting burnt.
I personally have a North facing window. It gets bright enough in my room, however, not bright enough for a lot of the plants I wanted to grow. I decided to supplement my light with a grow light. We can talk more about grow lights in a later post.
There are a ton of resources out there for you if you ever have questions. People in the plant community are quite happy to help and talk about plants, so reach out! If you have any further questions on light, please, don’t hesitate to ask!
You’ve figured out the environment you have and what kind of plant you can get, and went off and got your first plant.
First, congratulations! Growing plants indoors is such a rewarding activity, especially if you live in the north like I do. Winters can be brutal with no greenery and no sun. Having houseplants is a great way to stave off the seasonal depression that most of us will feel.
Now, you’ve brought your plant home and put them in a nice spot that you’ve specifically picked out for them. Now what do you do?
First thing I do is check the soil. If the soil is dry I’ll give the plant a good water. If it’s moist, I’ll leave it alone. If the soil is soggy, however, especially in a plastic nursery pot, I’ll repot it immediately.
Most plants do not like sitting in sopping wet soil. It will lead to root rot and your plant will die a slow death. People usually kill their plants because they are overwatered.
Second, I’ll make sure that the plant is happy where it is!
This particular step will take some time, a few weeks honestly. A plant may be unhappy in a certain location that you thought would be perfect for it. The only way to know is if you keep an eye on it and see how it’s growing. If your watering is consistent and you’re making sure it’s getting the appropriate amount at the appropriate times and it’s yellowing or dropping leaves, it could be a light issue.
Third, get to know your plants.
Figure out how it tells you it needs something. Some plants will curl their leaves, like Scindapsus pictus, others will droop altogether and look like it died, like Fittonias. Get to know your plant and see how it reacts to certain situations. You’ll find that plants are quite adaptable and quite resilient.
You are dealing with a life when you take care of plants, much like taking care of animals and other people. The only difference is that you don’t get to see right way if the plant needs something. It’s a relationship that takes time and cultivation.
One of the most rewarding times is when you see your plant sporting new growth. That’s what gets you hooked. You’ll end up living in a jungle in no time.
So, you’ve decided to get a houseplant and you have no idea which one to get.
Don’t worry, that’s normal. There are hundreds, if not, thousands of plants to choose from, all in varying sizes, shapes, colors, and of course, difficulties.
Lucky for you, here’s a list of really easy plants to start with. I chose these specific plants because they can go a period of time without water and they can survive in low light conditions. This is by no means a definitive list. This is a list of plants that has worked well for me, as well as other people.
I also live in Central New York, which can be difficult for a lot of plants. I do, however, have a grow light that is set at 12 hours, and also have a heater set at around 65°F with a daily misting of water, so my conditions are closer to an ideal situation, but still not the most ideal. There are improvements I can make of course, but I’ve found that my plants do really well because of the amendments I have made.
Now, to the plants!
ZZ Plant (Zamiocolcus zamiifolia)
This lovely plant is one of the most indestructible plants you can own. It grows upright with a dark green foliage. The good ol’ ZZ plant can survive more than a month without water and will survive in pretty low light conditions. If you can give this particular plant a few hours of light a week, you can leave it in a bathroom with no windows and it will survive. Don’t overwater this plant. It has large tubers in its root system and will easily rot out if you water it too much. Nick Pileggi, phillyfoliage on instagram and Nick Pileggi on YouTube, likes to say that you shouldn’t water this plant more than you pay your rent.
Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Golden Pothos, also called Devil’s Ivy, is a fast growing plant that does well in similar conditions as the ZZ plant. It can tolerate low light, and you don’t have to water them that frequently. The nice thing about the Pothos is that you can grow it as a hanging plant and let it cascade down, or put a pole or trellis in the pot and let it climb. It’s a fast growing plant and you can propagate this plant incredibly easy. If you look along the vine, you’ll see little bumps, which are the aerial roots. If you cut above and below that, you can use these nodes to propagate. Then, you can have a ton of plants!
Snake Plants (Sansevieria)
Snake plants are an amazingly easy plant to grow. It’s very succulent and prefers drier conditions. These plants can also survive in low light conditions and infrequent watering. They grow pretty straight up, which can give you nice vertical lines to break up a space. There’s quite a few different types that you can choose from so you can pick your favorite type and enjoy countless years with this plant.
Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)
If you want a plant that can potentially grow into a humongous plant, this is the plant for you. The beautiful Swiss Cheese plant, or Monstera deliciosa (most people will just call it Monstera) is quite an easy plant to grow. As it gets older, the fenestrated leaves (the holes and splits within the leaves) will get much bigger. These plants will take regular watering and bright indirect light. These plants will sprout tons of aerial roots as it matures so you’ll be able to propagate this plant pretty easily!
These four are easy plants. Now, when I say low light, I still mean light enough where you can read a book without an extra light. Any light lower than that most, if not all, plants won’t be able to survive for very long. Also, when I say “survive in low light” I mean survive. Plants will always need light in order to live. There won’t be any plants that can survive in no light. If you truly want a plant to thrive bright indirect light will be best. Try not to give any plants direct light or they may burn. Unless it’s a cactus. Those like direct light.
My advice, if you want to get started with a houseplant, is to go to your local nursery or greenhouse (not a big box store that has a plant section) and talk to the people that work there. They are there for you and will help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Other than that, take your time and observe. Growing plants is a science and an art. Really observe how your plants react to certain situations and get in tune with your plants. If you love your plant your plant will love you too.
If you’re like most people who want to start having indoor plants, you have no idea where to start.
Walking into a greenhouse is incredibly exhilarating, and intimidating. Everywhere you look, you see plants and it can be incredibly overwhelming.
First step: figure out your situation
By this I mean find out what kind of light you have in your home, what your schedule is like, and the overall environment your plants would be in.
Is there high traffic? Is the humidity super low? Do you have really bright light throughout the day? These are a few questions you’ll want answered before going to a greenhouse to pick up a new plant baby.
Second step: talk to someone
The best thing about greenhouses are the people that work there. The staff are knowledgeable, friendly, and ready to talk to people about plants. They are there to help you gain knowledge and become the best plant parent you can be.
Third step: choose a plant
So the staff person would probably have given you recommendations on plants based on the questions you answered. Now, it’s up to you to choose! Here’s a few plants that I believe are relatively easy to maintain for most people.
Mind you, I’m not a professional, but I do have some experience with house plants. Just a disclaimer, when I say low light, it doesn’t mean no light. All plants prefer bright indirect light. Some of these plants will survive in low light, but they won’t necessarily thrive.
Epipremnum sp. or Pothos plants are really easy to take care of. They can do ok in low light, and can be left alone for a while, so they can survive pretty dry conditions. Ideally, you’d want some bright indirect light, and regular watering when the soil dries up. But pothos do pretty well in low light. These guys will vine and cascade down and can be incredibly beautiful.
Philodendron species are much similar to pothos in that they can work really well in low light and dry conditions. This one is a bit harder because some Philodendrons require more humid areas, or more light, while others don’t need as much. Definitely do your research and ask before you purchasing a Philodendron. Some Philodendrons vine and others don’t. They do like bright indirect light, but they can survive in lower light. These guys can either vine or grow upright, depending on the species.
Zamioculcus zamifolii, or the ZZ plant is damn near indestructible. They can survive extremely long between waterings, due to their thick rhizomes that help store water, and is the plant that’s furthest away from my north facing window and is doing fine. Unlike Pothos or some Philodendrons, they grow more erect and have a more rigid appearance.
Sansevieria, or snake plants, or mother in law’s tongue, grow tall and erect, and almost look like a blade in some species. Sansevieria don’t need as much water as other plants (they are very succulent) and can survive in low light conditions.
These were a few of my first plants, and I think they are the perfect plants to get you started. If you love them properly, they will love you right back.
Fourth step: Enjoy your plant!
Now, it’s time to just love your plants! There’s something so calming about tending plants and just being around them as well. I mean, look at this place.
Who wouldn’t love to sit there and have breakfast, or do some work?
Plants can provide inspiration, creativity, mental and emotional well being, and a sense of fulfillment. Even having one or two can benefit you.
If you have any questions, please, don’t hesitate to ask! I would love to help you on your journey to becoming the best plant parent you can be!