Our homes come alive in the details. A beautifully furnished room can be lovely to look at, but until someone lives in it and adds a special touch here and there, it will lack character, warmth. One of our favorite ways to add that life to a room (literally!) is with plants.
We are so lucky that our main studio is around the corner from plant purveyor wonder-women Ashley and Lindsay at the top-notch plant shop, Good Roots. Their shop is gorgeous, filled from floor to ceiling with the very best houseplants, in a cozy, welcoming space. If you are local, you really should pay them a visit. Dare you to walk out without at least two plants. We can’t.
If you are not an experienced plant owner, buying a plant can be overwhelming. A huge part of the benefit of buying a plant from an expert at a small shop like Good Roots versus a big box store is the advice that comes with it. Here are a few nuggets we collected from Ashley and Lindsay:
- First and foremost, do not put a square peg in a round hole.
If you have a specific spot in your house that needs a plant, get the right plant for the spot. For example, fiddle leaf figs are all the rage right now, but they are extremely fussy, needing very specific light and watering conditions. They don’t like to moved. Or ignored. Or looked at the wrong way. This is not a plant for the faint of heart. Or for sprucing up your newly remodeled basement.
- Shop for your light.
Building on the first tip, know where the plant you are shopping for will live in your home. More than any other care need, different plants can require radically different light. One of our team members has a giant sansiveria fernwood (a type of snake plant) that lives in one of the darkest rooms of the house, yet it flourishes. The same would not be true of a calathea, which needs an abundance of bright (but not direct!) sunlight to thrive.
- Leave that plastic pot alone.
Your plant comes in a plastic pot. Don’t remove it! Feel free to buy a gorgeous cover pot, but pop it right in there in its original pot. The built in drainage is very important for the long-term health of your plant.
- And finally, understand how to water.
Here’s where those all-important drainage holes come into play. Overwatering is watering your plants too frequently, NOT, as many may believe, giving too much water in one session. Each time you water your plant, you should see water flowing out those drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. This may seem like a lot of water. It’s not! Your plant does not want a spritz. It’s thirsty. Once you see water coming from the drainage holes, stop. Re-visit again in a week, or 10 days, or a month, depending upon the watering needs of your specific plant.
The ladies at Good Roots have plenty of other great advice and the plants in their store are all labeled with their care needs to help you along. Ready to shop? Here are some suggestions of plants that may work for you based on your plant-owner comfort level.
I can barely keep myself alive.
It’s ok. You’re in good company. We’ve all been there. Lucky for you, there are lots of plants that, as Ashley and Lindsay will cheerfully tell you, “want to be ignored.” Any of the plants in this gallery make good starter plants, are forgiving of missed waterings, and will tolerate most light conditions.
Marble queen pothos
I have a plant or two. They are happy.
Most of us fall into this category. Ready to take on something a little more challenging? These plants will need more frequent watering than those in the previous category, but are generally still forgiving of human imperfection.
It’s a jungle in here.
Go crazy. The sky’s the limit. Be prepared for the sometimes fickle needs of these beauties. May we suggest a spreadsheet for tracking your watering schedule? Your plant kingdom will thank you.
Ficus lyrata (aka fiddle leaf fig)
Burgundy rubber tree (ficus elastics)
Prayer plant (red maranta)
There are dozens of other varieties that fall into each of these categories. Find a local plant shop and let them help you choose the best plant for your space AND your plant-loving capabilities.
Check out the gallery below for houseplants playing the star (or sometimes just offering color commentary) at Park & Oak.