You CAN Take Care of Plants at Home

Houseplants clean the air, reduce anxiety and literally bring life to a room. And despite what you may have heard, a green thumb is not required.


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Best Plants for Rooms With Low Lighting

Houseplants

Photo by Johnny Miller

Photo by Johnny Miller

Not all rooms are blessed with tons of sunshine. Luckily, there are dim dwellers who thrive without it. 

1 Fiddleleaf Fig * It’s all over Pinterest because the violin-shaped leaves lend visual interest to any space. Impressively hardy, this plant can live almost anywhere, making it the darling of interior designers. 

Philodendron * An easy-care favorite with heart-shaped leaves and trailing stems, the philodendron has an uncanny ability to survive in very low light.

Maidenhair Fern Soft, lacy and lovely, this fern prefers partial shade, so there’s no need to periodically rotate it to a sunny spot.

Lemon Button Fern Aptly named, it gives off a lovely citrus scent when touched. A fondness for humidity makes this a good candidate for glass terrariums or your shower-steamed bathroom! (Go to familycircle.com/diy-terrarium for inspiration.) 

* Keep these plants out of reach of kids and pets.

Tools of the Trade
You may find it helpful to have these things handy. 

  • Watering can—lets you pour water right where you want it while avoiding delicate leaves
  • Cultivator—a hand rake that aerates soil and mixes in fertilizer
  • Gardening Gloves—keep nails clean and protect against any prickly plant parts
  • Pruning shears—cut more cleanly than household scissors
  • Trowel—a little shovel to dig holes and lift plants
  • Transplanter—marked with depth measurements, which makes transplanting easy

A Breath of Fresh Air

When NASA brainiacs researched the best ways to clean the air in space stations, they learned that certain plants are stellar at filtering out common toxins and pollutants that can result from household cleaners, synthetic fabrics, plastic products and more. The most effective: peace lilies  (pictured above), snake plants and florist’s chrysanthemums. 


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Best Plants for Rooms With Lots of Natural Light

Houseplants

Photo by Johnny Miller. Plant roots don’t like soggy soil. Terra-cotta pots help because clay absorbs excess water. Make sure any non-clay vessel has a drainage hole in the bottom.

Photo by Johnny Miller. Plant roots don’t like soggy soil. Terra-cotta pots help because clay absorbs excess water. Make sure any non-clay vessel has a drainage hole in the bottom.

No curtains, drapes or blinds, please—these plants want to soak up every single ounce of sunshine.

String of Pearls * Totally opulent, just like its namesake, this succulent truly looks like a long, beaded necklace and feels lavish in a hanging pot. 

Prickly Pear The classic cactus, with little spines and colorful flowers.

Ponytail Palm Long, lush leaves grow from the top of an hourglass-shaped bulb that stores H2O in its base, so you don’t have to water it very often. 

Hen and Chicks Their symmetrical rosette shape makes these quintessential succulents super Instagrammable. Hen and chicks naturally sprout new baby plants—even with minimal water intake! 

Aloe The pale green gel within the spikes is a key ingredient in nearly every post-sunburn skin treatment, but you can also bust open a leaf and apply straight from the source. Aloe plants require little watering.

* Keep this plant out of reach of kids and pets.

Soil 101

Hitting Pay Dirt
Your plants will thank you with lush growth if you situate them in quality potting soil. Look for a mix that contains peat moss or coconut coir, perlite or vermiculite, and fertilizer. Don’t assume a heavier bag is better—potting soil should be light and fluffy, not waterlogged or mixed with mostly sand. DIYing a big batch of soil versus buying the prepackaged stuff saves money in the long run. This homemade mixture suits a wide variety of plants.

How To

1 Thoroughly combine equal parts peat moss or coconut coir with topsoil and perlite or coarse sand.
2 Add 1 teaspoon lime mineral per gallon of soil to help neutralize pH level.
3 Store in a sealed container and moisten whenever you’re ready to use.

Fertilizer: Do or Don’t? 
Do! Apply every few months to ensure that your plants continually receive proper TLC, says Angela Staehling, author of Happy Houseplants. They especially crave nutrients during the high-growth period of spring through fall. Add liquid or powder crystal fertilizer to either water or soil—just follow the directions on the package. Wait about six weeks before treating a newly purchased plant—usually the grower will have fertilized it already.