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Savvy apartment dwellers know that not just any houseplant can thrive in their home. Apartment plants must be hardy enough to survive low light and humidity, yet need a bold look for a small space where every addition matters. These eleven houseplants can brighten up your apartment, help purify the air, release moisture, and may even inspire your decor.
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The spectacular colors of the rex begonia may change the way you think about houseplants. Funky pink swirls mingle with moody purples and smoky greens on foliage that sometimes looks more like stained glass windows than leaves. Puckered, hairy, and lobed leaves are the frosting on the cake. Rex begonias like moderation in all things: light, water, and fertilizer, making them perfect for apartment living.
Exotic orchids are popping up everywhere, but what about apartments? Maybe the closest fit for the small spaces of apartments is a plant with big color vibes. The biggest difference between caring for orchids and other houseplants is that orchids do not grow in soil, but instead require a chunky orchid mix that helps get air to the roots.
Moth orchids like the same temperatures humans do, above 60 F, but lowering the thermostat at night not only saves on energy bills but helps to trigger blooming. A tray filled with gravel and water will help with humidity, and a south or east window will keep your moth orchid perky.
Inexpensive and widely available, the philodendron is the first houseplant for many apartment dwellers. Large, heart-shaped green leaves tumble freely over the edge of a hanging basket, or, you may choose to train them up a totem pole for a vertical accent. The philodendron is perfect for the busy apartment dweller who doesn’t want to be precious about a fussy plant; a weekly watering and indirect light is all you need for years of lush growth.
Sometimes a houseplant serves as a visual reminder of something we had in our homes as kids. The spider plant was a popular houseplant specimen in the 1970s, and you can bring that retro vibe to your apartment today, as its attributes are still relevant: it doesn’t need much water, adapts to a range of light conditions (including artificial light), and can help fill out hard to decorate corner spaces in your home. For the full vintage effect, hang from a macrame hanger.
Succulent-obsessed apartment dwellers can’t go wrong with the classic jade plant, a gateway houseplant to other succulent varieties. The fleshy leaves grow in abundance on semi-woody stems that can be trained in a bonsai style, if desired. Get growing with your jade plant by giving it a spot in your apartment with bright light, and water only when the soil is dry. If you aren’t sure if your jade plant is healthy, inspect the leaves: grey leaves indicate a lack of sunlight, shriveled leaves indicate a lack of water. If things are going well, red-tinted leaves mean that your jade is the glowing picture of health.
Fiddle Leaf Fig
A common mistake in decorating small spaces is to fill them with small things. A large houseplant like a fiddle leaf fig makes a bold statement in a light-infused apartment. Lately, this has been the most popular plant out there. Universally loved by designers, it’s basically the “Friends” of houseplants: you see it all the time, and you’re fine with that. The large, sculptural leaves give heft and drama to an apartment living room or bedroom, but they need regular care to stay in tiptop shape. Water just enough so that the soil feels like a wrung-out sponge. If you have an aquarium and can use the water changes to irrigate your fiddle leaf fig each week, you will give your plant a nutrient boost that will replicate its growing conditions in its natural habitat.
If a soil-digging feline friend made you give up on apartment houseplants in the past, give the air plant a try. As an epiphytic plant, the Tillandsia grows nestled in tree boughs in forests, where it extracts moisture from the air on specially adapted leaf scales. As a houseplant, you can take advantage of your soil-free air plant in unusual containers, including glass orbs, teacups, or mounted to a piece of driftwood. Don’t abandon your air plant in a dark corner of your apartment; it’s still a living thing, and needs filtered light and a weekly water spritz.
English ivy is one tough plant: they tolerate the full range of indoor temperatures, high or low light conditions, and moist or dry soils. The traditional Helix hedra, with its dark green, toothy leaves is very attractive in an apartment setting. You can also find many English ivy cultivars with white or yellow variegation, puckered or ruffled leaves, or dwarf growing habits to suit your needs.
Bird's Nest Fern
A healthy fern is a big mood-booster in the apartment, but many ferns have high humidity needs that are difficult to keep up with indoors. Not so with the bird’s nest fern, which survives in low light conditions and average humidity. The leathery leaves of the bird’s nest fern are not your typical lacy fern fronds, but look handsome just the same. As an epiphyte, the bird’s nest fern requires a chunky potting mix that allow air circulation around the roots.
Are you intrigued by the name of the ZZ plant? The Latin name Zamioculcas zamifolia is a mouthful, so this peace lily relative also goes by the zuzu plant. These Africa natives are slow-growing, and do just fine under the fluorescent lights common in many apartment kitchens. Although ZZ plants experience a wide range of moisture conditions, they prefer to live life on the dry side.
Named for its winter blooming time, the Christmas cactus differs from other cactus species in that it does not like full sun or arid conditions. These plants grow in rain forests, so they appreciate dappled light and humid conditions. A steamy bathroom with a source of natural light or a splashy spot around the kitchen sink is the sweet spot for a Christmas cactus.
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