As temps continue to drop, daylight hours dwindle and the weather takes an inclement turn across much of the Northern Hemisphere, it’s only natural that we find ourselves spending more time indoors – which means it’s the perfect time of year to add a few fresh touches to your abode.
In recent years the Danish concept of hygge – fostering warmth and cosiness within interior spaces – has gained traction, and brightening various rooms with living plants and greenery is another tried-and-true way to stave off those winter blues. In addition to being easy on the wallet and generally low maintenance to care for, indoor plants are a breath of fresh air, quite literally: all plants turn CO2 into breathable oxygen, after all, and many varieties are touted for their air-purifying qualities.
So whether you’re a city dweller with limited space or have a larger residence that would benefit from some eye-catching indoor greenery, here’s what you need to know about enlivening your interior spaces with plants.
First, Assess Your Home
While impulsive plant shopping is fun, it’s best to have a broader idea of what space you’re shopping for before you head to your local greenhouse or market to pick up a few new leafy companions or starter plants. Size up your entryway, living room, dining area, kitchen and bedroom for viable plant placement options, which could be anything from a window sill ledge to the top of a bookcase or shelf, perhaps an open wall space or floor area large enough for one (or more) free-standing potted plants.
How much sunlight (or lack thereof) a space receives is crucial to note, as sunlight-loving herbs or microgreens won’t thrive on a window sill that receives limited sunlight, while plenty of plants thrive in low-light conditions. And although most indoor plants grow comfortably in average indoor temperatures, you’ll want to choose heartier plants for rooms that might be chillier or prone to drafts. If you live in a climate that dips below the freezing mark during winter, be cautious about how close you place plants to windows – as there’s a chance the frosty chill from the outdoors could seep in through the glass – and steer clear of placement too close to heat vents, too.
What Plants Suit Your Life (And Style)?
Equally as important as settling on the perfect spot for your new plant (or plants) is considering their purpose. Are they the décor solution you’ve been searching for, to dress up an entryway or wall space? Or are you an avid home cook dreaming of an indoor herb garden to call your own? Are you envisioning something small and decorative – perhaps a terrarium, a tabletop bonsai tree, an elegant rosary vine or an arrangement of succulents? Or maybe something large and leafy? Areca palms, ficus trees, yucca plants and even potted eucalyptus make a statement in any room, while some dwarf citrus, fig and olive trees will actually yield a harvest.
Likewise, if you travel often for work or are too busy to water and check on your plants at least once a week, you’ll want to consider indoor plant options that are both hardy and low-maintenance; plants like sansevieria (which stores water in its thick leaves), all varieties of cacti and succulents, and air plants (which require no soil) all thrive without much attention. If you have pets, make sure that any plants you’re considering bringing into your home are pet-friendly; this can be confirmed with a quick Google search. Cats in particular are prone to chewing on greenery, and you’d be surprised by how many plants are actually somewhat toxic!
Indoor Plant Design Inspiration
Looking to add a few plants that do double duty as both mood-boosting air purifiers and serious statement-makers? Some of the most popular indoor plant trends today include hanging a grouping of macrame plant holders, artful arrangements of either hanging or wall-mounted air plants or succulents, and eye-catching vertical garden walls, which can be as minimalist or maximalist as you want. (As a bonus, hanging or wall-mounted design solutions keep your plants safely out of the reach of curious pets.)
While Pinterest is a gold mine for DIY indoor plant design inspiration, hardly any of those beautiful visuals come with practical, how-to instructions, which is why How to Window Box is a recommended read for any burgeoning green thumb. The first book from the dynamic duo behind The Horticult blog is full of brilliant ideas for growing virtually all varieties of plants imaginable in small places, from tropical plants to air purifiers, edible flowers, herbs and salad greens. For practical inspiration with a serious boho vibe, check out the Plant-o-Pedia on designer Justina Blakeney’s website, The Jungalow.
Caring For Your New Plants
The number one mistake indoor plant owners tend to make is overwatering their plants. While there are exceptions, most indoor plants prefer that their soil at least partially dries out before the next watering. While you might be inclined to err on the side of caution, overwatering causes harmful root rot. Feel the soil first; if it’s dry through the top layers, your plant is ready for a drink.
Also, learn to look for visual clues from your plants: brown or yellow leaves or leaf tips signal overwatering, while wilted, droopy or shrivelled leaves (and ultra-dry soil) indicate a plant is parched. Signs of new growth mean your plants are perfectly happy with their environment. And for a little extra TLC, indoor plants love the occasional misting with water from a spray bottle, even more so during the winter months when there’s less humidity in the air.