Adding a plant — or several — to your home doesn’t just add to the ambience. It’s also good for your health. Just ask Tiffany Wamsley Audette, who loves plants — and talking about them.
“My houseplants provide a lot of activity, taking them in and out seasonally, watering often, tweaking their placement as a display,” says Audette, who does clerical work in Opp, Alabama. “Plants give their owners varying degrees of a sense of purpose, accomplishment, pride, identity, being part of nature.”
But before you sit a spider plant atop the kitchen windowsill or fit a fern next to the couch, know there are several factors to consider. Learn what plants are best inside the home, what’s easiest to take care of and the best spots to place them.
Finding what works
Houseplants produce oxygen while also detoxifying the air in the home. Research shows they deter illness, boost healing, keep air temperatures low, reduce airborne dust levels and can even boost productivity.
“There’s also the mental aspect of connecting with others in a positive way about a common hobby, as well as being on a constant search for additional information,” Audette says.
Some easy-to-maintain houseplants include the spider plant, the snake plant and the pothos, says Marc Hachadourian, director of the Nolen Greenhouses for Living Collections at the New York Botanical Garden.
“They are among the more widely grown for good reason, as they are durable and grow in a wide variety of temperatures, light levels and are adaptable to changing conditions in the home environment,” he says.
Barbara Kreski, director of horticultural therapy services at the Chicago Botanic Garden, says succulent plants also are popular because of their low maintenance. “They can go for relatively long intervals without water and are generally pretty sturdy,” she says.
But some houseplants require more upkeep. Hachadourian says the maidenhair fern requires a bit more dedication. And Kreski says it’s typically more difficult to maintain plants you’re growing for their fruit or flowers rather than the leaves.
“A lot of people have tried to save their holiday poinsettia plant and to prompt the display of colorful bracts in a second year,” she says. “Many of us find (maintaining them) to be a chore and choose to purchase a new, fresh plant each season.”
Placement is important
When it comes to reaping all the benefits of houseplants, make sure you have “the right plant for the right place,” Hachadourian says.
“Look at your conditions, including light, humidity, your frequency of watering and care, and then select a plant that will match and grow in those conditions,” he says.
It’s much easier to grow a plant in places in can thrive rather than force it to grow in less-than-ideal conditions. “Ideally, most houseplants would enjoy four to six hours of bright, filtered light per day from an east or south window protected from intense direct sunlight,” Hachadourian says.
Kreski says to put houseplants where you can see and appreciate them often. “Don’t overlook places like a bathroom counter,” she says. “Some plants thrive in the humidity. There are plants for even the relatively dark conditions of an interior part of the room away from windows.”
And if you’re ever unsure, consult a florist or a horticulturist at your local nursery. “Remember that plants are living things that require light, water and care to survive and are not inanimate décor,” Hachadourian says. “With some simple care, the right plant can grow and thrive for many years.”