Even with the pleasantly warm weather this week in New York City (thanks global warming), it's hard not to long for a little green right about now. With my notoriously black thumb, I typically shy away from growing houseplants and instead anxiously await the sprouting of my neighbors spring bulbs. Not this year. Intrigued by Home Depot's money back guarantee on plants--yep, they'll take them back and refund your money if your plants die--I recently tried my hand at indoor gardening. Walk into your local Home Depot or garden center and you'll be overwhelmed with plant choices. I certainly was, so I reached out to Marc Hachadourian, Manager of the Nolan Glass Houses at the New York Botanical Garden, for some advice.
"The key," Hachadourian says, "to selecting a houseplant is to look at your light conditions and choose a plant that will like those conditions." Most people who have trouble keeping houseplants alive don't realize they just don't have enough light for the plant they chose, he explains. Of course, there are tried and true plants, "survivors" as Hachadourian calls them, that will grow no matter how neglected. Take a look at his choices below and keep in mind the following:
Once you've got your plants home, you'll need to repot them. "You want a pot with good drainage," according to Hachadourian. "Replant into a vessel with no drainage," he warns, "and you run the risk of drowning your plant." As for where to put your plant: choose a spot with bright indirect light like an east or south window and avoid any places that get hot or cold drafts. On top of a radiator is just wrong and so is in front of a large plate glass window where the plant might freeze.
Sanseveria, also known as the snake plant for it’s patterned serpentine looking leaves, fits very well in contemporary homes. Years ago it had the unfortunate common name mother-in-law’s tongue. It will tolerate extreme neglect, high light or low light.
Pothos, a plant with marbled yellow and green leaves, will grow in very low-light conditions, and is amenable to periods of dry conditions.
The ZZ plant (also called the dinosaur plant) is a new plant to the scene and one that has quickly taken over the interior plant scape world. It’s indestructible—it can literally grow where there is no light—and has interesting leaves.
Anyone who has a mom or grandma who grew houseplants knows the spider plant; it makes babies on the ends of its flower spikes that look like spiders, hence its name. This plant will grow in very low-light conditions.