Guide to Indoor Plants

Like most things in life, hibernation is much more bearable when pretty pops of color are involved. This year, add a little bit of spring to your winter by picking out some indoor plants. They’ll freshen up the air in your home or office and even boost your mood. Having an indoor plant or garden seems daunting, with less sunlight and no rain, but it may actually be easier. To help you keep your plants as healthy and happy as you are all winter long, I caught up with Bronwen Smith, lead designer and owner of B Floral in NYC and Alayna Kanata, florist on BloomNation and manager at Glen Head Flower Shop, to get their expert advice.

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What To Choose

Walk into your local floral shop, and you'll have many options to choose from, but some plants work better indoors than others image: alayna kanata

Walk into your local floral shop, and you’ll have many options to choose from, but some plants work better indoors than others image: alayna kanata

When choosing plants for an indoor space, Smith advises looking for something that can sustain all temperatures (especially if your office has an annoying habit of being frigid one day and piping hot the next) and will live a while.

“Succulents and orchids work great for indoors,” she said.

Kanata agrees and also suggests thinking about the lighting. Green plants like spathiphyllums and Chinese Evergreens, ivies and tropical plants like bromeliads work well even in dimly-lit rooms.

“Bromeliads grow underneath a tree, so they like indirect sunlight in a warm environment,” Kanata said. “They’re used to not being watered too much because it only rains once in a while in that type of environment.”

Kanata loves ivies for brighter areas.

“They need more sunlight than other green plants,” she said.    

Pick the Right Pot

Pick whatever shape and size you want for a pot. Keeping a plant healthy relies more on the pot's drainage system image: saul metnick

Pick whatever shape and size you want for a pot. Keeping a plant healthy relies more on the pot’s drainage system image: saul metnick

In her shop, Kanata frequently gets customers who come in because plants really add to the decor of a home or office. Long Islanders are all about earning style points, after all. Luckily, it’s possible to do that and keep your plant alive at the same time.

To find a pot that works well for your home, bring photos of your room to the store with you or see if your local florist makes house visits like Kanata.

“You can choose any container that you like, we can make it work, we just want to make sure there’s a liner on the bottom or some rocks to make sure that when you water it, it drains properly,” Kanata said.

Having a good filtering system keeps the plant from getting over saturated, Smith said.

How To Arrange

Speaking of style points, let’s talk arrangement. First, consider the size of your room.

“If it’s a bigger area, we would never suggest one orchid, we’d suggest three to five in a beautiful container that matches your decor,” Kanata said.

Colorful orchids and bromeliads add pop to any room image: alayna kanata

Colorful orchids and bromeliads add pop to any room image: alayna kanata

Smith is a fan of mixing and matching different colors, shapes and sizes to add some pop and depth to a room.

“I like to use succulents of all different shapes and sizes and a cactus, which is a type of succulent, for some height and style,” she said. “Orchids and succulents come in various shapes and colors. If you’re doing foliage, add hints of white or red. Ferns are a great way to do that.”

How To Care For

Plants, of course, are not the same type of decor as a statue. They’re living things. Indoor plants tend to be a bit lower maintenance than outdoor plants, but they still need the right amount of water and light. Kanata says green plants should be moist to the touch. “When you feel it and it dries out, water,” she said. On average, that’s every three to five days.

Kanata recommends giving orchids a shot glass-sized amount of water every 7 to 10 days. Smith’s genius hack for orchid care: ice cubes.

“Put the ice cube in the soil,” Smith said, adding that watering once per week is also a must.

Plants are big fans of consistency.

Keep your plant healthy and room insect-free by not watering your orchids constantly image: dyad photography

Keep your plant healthy and room insect-free by not watering your orchids constantly image: dyad photography

“If you’re watering it 3 to 5 days, keep it like that,” Kanata said.

Don’t go overboard with watering or sunlight for that matter, warn both Kanata and Smith. Watering too much can damage the roots and make it impossible to bring the plant back to life, and putting it in direct sunlight will cause it to dry out.

Avoid Indoor Insects

Insects are a pesky problem when it comes to having indoor plants, and they tend to be a result of the aforementioned overwatering.

“The excess moisture really draws out the bug,” Kanata said. “If you see one plant in your house or in a flowering plant basket that has a bug or fungus, remove it so it doesn’t cross over.”

beth ann clyde

beth ann clyde

Beth Ann Clyde is a social strategist of Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email bethann@lipulse.com or reach out on Twitter @BAClyde.