The houseplant movement is alive and well in 2019! Fueled by millennials, who purchased 31% of house plants last year, these portable potted plants are making a comeback. They are easy to move, easy to maintain, and bring nature inside for all to enjoy.
The most popular and hip indoor plants right now are tropicals, terrarium plants, and succulents – considered cool and contemporary because of their unusual shapes, sizes, texture, and color. Tropicals generally need more water and humidity to thrive. Terrarium plants are petite (usually tropical) plants, grown in a glass jar, that respond to high humidity and low light conditions. Succulents, including cactus, store moisture in their stems, are drought-tolerant but need good light. They come in an amazing array of colors and shapes.
If you want to be healthier, reduce stress and add some vibrancy to your home during the long winter months, include some fresh houseplants in your living space. Faux plants (dust collectors) are definitely out. Authenticity and “going green” are in! Houseplants not only add a natural beauty but clean the air, optimize air humidity and reduce dust. Many home-friendly plants on the market require little care and will give you years of enjoyment.
Here is a sampling of some hip houseplants to consider:
Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum): Known by its waxy, heart-shaped, long-lasting blooms, anthurium’s tropical “flowers” are really modified leaves, called spathes, in colors of white, red, pink, and salmon. This easy-care plant thrives in bright but indirect sunlight, and prefers temperatures between 75-85 degrees during the day, with high humidity. Water anthurium well, but allow the top two inches of soil to dry out before watering again. If you have small children or pets, keep anthurium out of reach since the plant is considered toxic when ingested.
Bamboo: Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana) is a popular gift that connotes good fortune in Feng Shui and is an almost indestructible plant that thrives in water or soil. Keep it away from direct sunlight and you will enjoy this Asian accent for years to come.
Bromeliad: Often referred to as “pineapple plant” for its spiky leaves, bromeliad has showy, long-lasting, vibrant blooms and beautiful, upright foliage. Bromeliads are epiphytic, like some orchids, meaning they grow in the wild, anchored to other plants or rocks and get their nutrients and water from rain and the air. Bromeliads are more tolerant than orchids of temperature fluctuations and haphazard watering and feeding, which is great for the busy homeowner. Put them in a south-facing window for best lighting conditions and mist them occasionally for added humidity.
Elephant’s Ear (Alocasia amazonica) – What can be more hip than growing an elephant’s ear! Known for its serrated leaves, stunning green color, and deep white or gray veins, this tropical responds to bright, indirect light, humid, warm, air and consistent moisture. Like many houseplants, this one is toxic, so keep it away from small children and pets.
Ferns: The lovely, arching fronds of a fern will always delight as a houseplant. A particularly hip fern is bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus). Like the bromeliad, the bird’s nest fern is epiphytic and grows in the wild on other things, like trees or rocks. The center of the plant looks like a bird’s nest, hence the name. It is prized for its unusual wavy and crinkly fronds. This fern thrives in low light and likes to be kept evenly moist, not wet, but is forgiving if you forget to water occasionally! Another favorite is maidenhair fern (Adiantum spp.), with light green, delicate feathery foliage that looks well paired with other plants. It needs consistent watering, humid, warm air and to indirect light.
Orchids: There are over 30,000 different orchid species in the world and over 100,000 hybrid strains. Orchids don’t seem to have common names but go strictly by their botanical names. Popular selections are phalaenopsis, dendrobium, cattleya, paphiopedilum and oncidium orchids. Orchids are a bit of a challenge to maintain. They need bright, indirect light for 4 -6 hours a day, near an east or south-facing window. The shapes and colors of orchids make them stunning additions to a home.
Succulents: If you want to showcase interesting textures, colors, and shapes and add a bit of whimsy, then growing succulents is just for you! These plants store water in their stems, leaves or roots and need little watering. They prefer bright south-facing windows. You are probably familiar with cacti, agave, and jade but there are dozens of succulents to choose from. Favorite selections include the ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) and the snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) known by the colorful name of mother-in-law tongue. Also try some of the sedums, haworthias, and echeverias. No kitchen should be without Aloe vera because the gel inside has wonderful properties to soothe minor cuts and burns.
Winter Care of House Plants: Houseplants do not need much watering during the winter. More plants decline from over-watering than under-watering. Water plants when the soil is almost dry to an inch deep. Ferns need a little more moisture, and succulents only need to be watered when the potting mixture is completely dry. For best results, check the watering needs of your specific plant.
Lighting is a crucial element in maintaining healthy plants. If you don’t have a sunroom or greenhouse, it is difficult to provide sufficient light levels in the winter for houseplants that require bright light. Try to place these plants near windows with a western or southern exposure.
Tropical plants will need to be placed where it is warm and humid during the winter. If you have a humidifier, put your tropicals nearby to keep them humid and happy.
Think “outside the pot” and utilize things that you pick up at a yard sale.
When a houseplant starts to become pot bound (the roots are wrapping around the root ball), move it to a larger container. Take this opportunity to search for colorful and unusual pots. Remember that anything that can hold water and has a drainage hole can be a great container. Think “outside the pot” and utilize things that you pick up at a yard sale. An old teapot makes a great container by drilling a drainage hole in the bottom. A collection of interesting, hip plants in creative pots can be a real focal point in your home.