Wintertime is when Canadians are most deprived of the sight and presence of vegetation, which is unfortunate as scientific research shows that plants help with people’s well-being. For example, exposure to plants can help reduce stress levels and improve memory and concentration.
Fret not, there’s a quick remedy – indoor plants! Not only do they add to the beauty of your home, they also contribute to good health by making your home environment cleaner. Plants remove potentially dangerous chemical volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs that accumulate in your home are released by a wide variety of everyday objects, including cleaning products, paint, carpet, and more. Plus, there’s something about a living plant that instantly and magically makes any condo cozier and more comfortable.
So how can condo owners and residents make full use of plant benefits with little to no outdoor space? Indoor options are aplenty! Here are some facts and tips on making the most out of potted plants.
Contrary to popular belief, houseplants can be easy to care for – if you’ve got the right tricks up your sleeve. Whether a plant thrives depends on where it grows. Selecting plants that love your condo’s conditions will see higher chances of survival.
Light: Start by getting a sense of light. You can consider that your space has low lighting if you can comfortably read a book, magazine or newspaper most of the day without having to turn on supplemental lighting. A space has high lighting if objects cast strong shadows most of the day.
Did you know that any source of illumination will suffice for indoor plants, which is why plants are often seen thriving in cubicles lit only by banks of fluorescent lights.
Water: While it can be a challenge to manage the amount of light in your condo, you’ve got full control of hydration. Knowing how much to water houseplants is key. The general rule is to water most plants when the top three centimeters of the potting mix is dry to the touch. If you tend to forget to water, look for varieties labelled as low water as these withstand periods of dryness fairly well.
Temperature: Good news! Almost all common houseplant varieties like the same temperatures as humans do: 15C to 29C.
Drafts: By nature, plants aren’t used to blasts of hot or cold air, so it’s best to keep them away from heating or cooling vents, as well as drafty doors or windows.
Decorate with Houseplants
Once you’ve taken stock of your conditions and have a sense of which plants fit best with your home environment, you can then incorporate them into your décor. Traditionally, smaller plants are used on tabletops and larger plants are best on the floor, but the options are limitless with a little creativity.
Grow in Groups: A single plant looks elegant by itself, but feels more natural when it has a buddy or two, especially when you mix plant heights, colours and textures. For example, consider a trio of low-growing nerve plant (Fittonia ‘Frankie’), upright Madagascar dragon tree (Dracaena marginata ‘Bicolor’), and lush peace lily (Spathiphyllum).
Make a Mini Garden: While houseplants are typically seen growing by themselves, there’s no rule saying you can’t enjoy multiple plants in the same pot. Try underplanting a stately Ficus Alii with a rich groundcover of purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternata), or enjoy several varieties of no-fuss Red Aglaonema (Aglaonema spp.) together in a container.
Let Them Hang Out: If you’re low on space, consider hanging plants from brackets affixed to the wall or hooks in the ceiling. Suspended plants clear up floor space and keeps them away from children or pets. Some common picks for hanging baskets include pothos (Epipremnum aureum), English ivy (Hedera helix), and ferns.
Fill Empty Corners: Upright plants such as yucca cane (Yucca guatamalensis), fiddleleaf ficus (Ficus lyrata), and money tree (Pachira aquatica) can elegantly fill empty corners with texture. They’re also fabulous flanking furniture such as entertainment centres.
Shelve Them: One trendy way to grow houseplants is to display a collection on a shelf or shelves. This also gets them up and out of reach of little ones or furry friends. If done tastefully, placing plants together adds to the aesthetics of your home.
Direct Traffic: Larger floor plants, especially those that tend to grow tall and relatively narrow, such as majesty palm (Ravenea rivularis) and corn plant (Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’), can be used as informal room dividers between a living room and dining room.
Centerpiece Plants: Potted pieces are perfect décor for tabletops or side tables. Their lush greenery adds a much more welcoming vibe than sculptures or other pieces of art. Ferns such as blue star (Phlebodium aureum mandaianum), bird’s nest (Asplenium nidus), and rabbit’s foot fern (Humata tyermanii) can be especially effective because they’re so textural.
Make a Statement with Pots
Consider the statement your plants make, as well as the decorative element the pot can bring. Many houseplants are sold in inexpensive black plastic pots. They grow just fine in them, but a quick pot swap – either by repotting or sinking the plastic pot into a similarly sized vessel that’s more attractive – can create a spectacular look.
- Clay pots, also called terra cotta, are a classic choice that bring a warm, but neutral look to any décor. These are readily available in a wide range of shapes and sizes, so they’re easy to group together for a streamlined look.
- Plastic pots are lightweight and typically resistant to breaking. They come in an unlimited range of sizes, shapes, and colours, making them wonderfully versatile.
- Ceramic pots are usually glazed in rich colours and patterns. Like clay, they’re heavier than their plastic counterparts, but also more breakable than plastic.
- Metal pots bring a chic look to indoor décor. However, depending on the metal and finish used, they may be susceptible to rusting over time. You can often make them last longer by using a metal pot as a cache pot.
One important consideration to potting is proper drainage. It’s easiest to grow your houseplants in a container that allows excess water to escape. That way, moisture doesn’t build up on the inside of the pot where you can’t see it and drown and rot the roots.
Don’t want to deal with potting mix? You’re in luck! Air plants (Tillandsia) don’t need to grow in soil and can be hung from string, mounted on a wood plaque, or displayed on driftwood or branches. Maintenance is easy, too – just spritz them with water once a week or so.
Add plants to your home and be on your way to a cozier, healthier home with these easy tips.