A House Plant How-To for Bringing the Earth Inside
There’s a reason taking a walk through a park, a forest, or through our tree-lined neighborhoods makes us feel better, but in this day and age, staying inside our homes has never been more necessary and getting to those nature escapes has never been trickier. Fortunately for all of us, there’s a simple way we can bring the green that we love experiencing in the Great Outdoors into our house, and I’d beg to argue that it’s important to do this even when we’re able to go globe trotting to our favorite local, state, or national park freely again.
Enter: House Plants, the unsung heroes of everyday living that deserve more praise than we give them. Yes, having live plants in your home definitely helps it look easier on the eyes, but house plants have insane benefits that often go unnoticed.
At any given moment, your house plant can:
- Boost your mood
- Increase your productivity and creativity
- Reduce stress (which we could all use right about now)
- Help ward off of colds and flus (yep, could use that, too)
- Reduce noise levels (one reason why we use them in CD spaces!)
- Purify indoor air through absorption of toxins (cleaner air)
- Produce more oxygen in your house (better sleep)
- Reduce mold and dust in rooms with plants present
- Lower anxiety and lessen the severity of depression
Just one or two of these bullet points makes me want to sprint to my local plant shop and buy (even more) plant babies, and I hope it has the same effect for you! The benefits of plants could be talked about for days, but there are plenty of great articles on those already (check out the Sill as a personal favorite resource).
So now, lets pivot towards where to get started buying plants for your home! Whether you’re in an apartment or a 2-story house, whether you have a green thumb or a brown thumb, and whether you prefer the simple or the exotic–this guide should help you learn both how to get started with house plants, where to look, what to look for, and a few simple tricks-of-the-trade to get going.
I’ve broken this blog into 3 categories (because plants + their names can be overwhelming to even seasoned plant enthusiasts). We’ll cover Easy, Moderate, and Collector plants below. I hope you’re as giddy as I am–let’s get into the good stuff!
Part One: the Easy Guys
Yes, these plants are alive, which instantly adds a layer of difficulty if you’re moving from no plants or faux plants to real ones–but trust me (and the Common Desk design team), when I say that these plants really are a great place to start if you’re either a beginner or someone who hasn’t quite found their green thumb yet (*cough, cough: Nick Clark*). The following easy-care plants are beautiful, undemanding, and chock full of benefits.
Snake Plant: These guys are great to keep by your bed because of their oxygen-producing reputation. Added perk: they require very little natural light, so they can thrive just about anywhere in your home.
ZZ Plant: The Zamioculcas zamiifolia (what a name) is true eye-candy for your home, and it’s in this category because it has both low light and low water requirements. A win, win.
Succulents: If you’re a Texas native, this group is no stranger. Cacti, the Jade plant, and even the Snake Plant mentioned above are all in the succulent family, as is of course your standard terrarium-friendly succulent like the Leatherpetal. Moment of honesty: I struggle more with succulents than I do with other house plants on this list. So, they’re not fool proof, but they are a sound option!
Golden Pothos: You know those sprawling and lusciously green vine plants you seem to see all over the place these days? Meet Golden Pothos–often called Devil’s Ivy–one of the easiest house plants to care for (take note), ideal for hanging, AND one of the easiest to propagate (taking a cutting to make a new plant). It’s said that Pothos can help alleviate eye irritation after staring at a screen all day, making it a champion for all of us in the thick of WFH right now.
Chinese Evergreen: The leaves of this plant look hand-painted, making it both a personal favorite and a go-to for creatives. This plant not only filters oxygen, it also produces it–helping boost productivity and wellbeing in your workplace. New office plant, who dis.
Split Leaf Philodendron: Say that five times fast. This plant, also called the Monstera or Swiss Cheese Plant, is known for its iconic gaps. There are tons of theories on why the hole-in-leaf exists, but whatever the reason, we know for sure that its divide makes for an iconic indoor aesthetic.
Part Two: the Moderates
I want this article to really focus on beginner-friendly plants so no one gets jaded after purchasing the wrong plant as their starter kit, BUT, there are 2 popular plants worth mentioning that you’ve likely been eyeing anyway. They’re beautiful for sure, but they’re also tricky, so if you’re ready to move into the next phase of your plant game or just want a nice challenge to keep you entertained during quarantine, say hello to….
Rubber Tree: This one has increased in popularity significantly the past few years, giving the Fiddle Fig (mentioned below) a run for its money. Not only are they lovely, but they’re one of the best air purifiers (even NASA says so) because of how well they absorb airborne chemicals. It’s relatively easy to care for, but I put it in the moderate category because, with the right care, you can grow tall and be a jaw-dropper for your next house party (which might be a while, so use this quarantine time to your advantage!).
The Fiddle Leaf Fig: An icon, to say the least. You’ve undoubtedly seen a Fiddle Fig before, either at Common Desk, in magazines, or on your Pinterest feed. Its massive leafs make for beautiful, textural points of interest in your home, but if I had to give it a nickname, I’d call it the Fickle Fig because it’s extremely sensitive to environmental changes. Before getting a Fiddle Fig, do a little research to make sure you’re prepared to give it the TLC it’ll surely need to thrive, but if you’re up for a challenge–this one’s worth it! I personally invested in a new Fiddle Fig for my WFH adventure, so I’ll let you know how I fare!
Note: look for blogs covering special how-to’s on these, especially for the Fiddle Leaf Fig, before you purchase! The more you know here, the better.
The Finale: Exotics for Collectors
Some plants just deserve their own category. The following are full of personality, so if you’re someone who looks for quirk and spunk in your home decor, this is for you. For the sake of time, I’ll keep it short by just mentioning names and photos. But if you’re looking for a plant that can act as eye-candy AND a conversation-starter, look no further than here:
The Staghorn Fern: Our coffee shop, Fiction, made this plant its staple interior design feature AND the name of our house drink because of how weird and interesting it is. Perfect for hanging, this plant will wow your walls (and your crowd) from first glance. (Side note: go get a Staghorn Latte from Fiction; you won’t regret it!)
Alright, party people–by this point, you should have one, two, or twenty good plant options to bring home! I’ll leave you with a few parting tips from some of my fellow Common Desk staffers to hopefully set you up for success on your journey to plant parenthood.
- Buy a water (moisture sensor) meter: it’ll help you know when to water and when to not water your plants (read: most of the plants in this blog don’t love much water!). This is a game-changer for Fiddle Fig owners.
- Make sure you have proper watering tools, which of course includes a sturdy watering can, as well as a mister for more arid plants!
- Make sure you get the right pots–both in size and for draining. Many plants featured above need well-draining pots with holes, so do your homework on your plant pick before buying a pot!
- Different types of soil / potting mix work better for different plants. What works for a ZZ won’t be ideal for a succulent; take note!
- If you notice your plants attracting tiny bugs, grab a sticky trap.
- Propagate, propagate, propagate!!! This has truly become my new favorite hobby, especially while working from home. Not only does it let me grow plants on the cheap, it also makes for a really easy and cost-effective way to surprise and bless others.
There you have it, folks! If you’re in DFW, I couldn’t recommend shopping from these local small businesses more: Grow in Fort Worth (they ship and have great exotics!), Oasis in Bishop Arts (great for plant accessories), Ruibal’s in East Dallas + Farmers Market, Redentas in East Dallas, and Jade & Clover in Deep Ellum (for succulents / terrarium building!). Not only do these shops sell beautiful plants, but they’ll also be able to answer your questions way better than I could. I hope your new plant knowledge helps you destress, brings joy, and brightens your home during this season of social distancing.