A Busy Girl's Guide to Greenery at Home
When you’ve got a full schedule before the workday even begins, it can be hard to find time to care for indoor plants. If, like us, you’re aching to buy a hanging planter or geometric plant stand, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. We spoke to Jacqueline Harrison of New York landscape design firm Harrison Green and created an easy guide to greenery at home. As the brains behind landscape projects at the Museum of Modern Art and Marc Jacobs’s home, she knows a thing or two about selecting plants for busy people. Read on for her top tips to choose, style, and care for indoor plants.
If you’re short on time and live in a small space, selecting a hardy plant is key. Jacqueline Harrison says to opt for one of these easy-to-care-for varieties that tick all of the following boxes: “They’re small, able to withstand neglect, beautiful, and willing to adapt to a variety of lighting conditions,” she says. In other words, this is her list of plants that can survive (almost) anything.
Bird's nest fern. “They offer bursts of lush, feathery foliage and look great in small groups with other plants,” says Harrison. “We often style them in matte or glossy round ceramic pots.”
Peperomia. “This is the perfect tiny tabletop plant for those in a very small space. They tolerate a range of lighting conditions and prefer to be on the dry side,” she says, so they’re ideal for those who forget to water.
Staghorn fern. These sculptural plants can live in small pots but need ample sunlight. “They are often available wall mounted so they can be hung as art, which they truly are!”
Succulents. When in doubt, choose a succulent. They only need to be watered once a week when the soil becomes visibly dry, and they require filtered sunlight.
Fiddle leaf figs have dominated the interior design world for years, but according to Harrison, they’re one of the hardest plants to maintain. “Fiddle leaf figs need full sun exposure, not just a bright window,” she says. “They require a very careful watering schedule because they like to be dry. They cannot have any standing water on their root system or it will rapidly cause root rot. In short, they are very fussy.” Have we convinced you? It’s time to move on from the fiddle leaf fig. Instead, try a rubber plant or snake plant.
Haven’t got time to head to a nursery for pots? Be adventurous with styling, and consider using existing décor in your house. “We often see people using baskets or old zinc orchard pails as decorative planters,” says Harrison. An added bonus: Using an item you already own, like a basket, is a fuss-free way to tie it in with your current décor and create cohesion.
We hear you: It’s hard enough to remember to water a plant, let alone mist! According to Harrison, it’s a necessity, and it's possibly the reason you haven’t had gardening success in the past. “Once a month is plenty. Mist and then wipe the leaves to keep it dust-free. When dust accumulates on the surfaces of foliage, it decreases the amount of light the plant is able to absorb and slows growth,” she explains.
If your last plant withered once you brought it home, you might be picking the wrong variety. Plants in full bloom might look enticing in the store, but they rarely maintain their good looks. “Select indoor plants based on the quality of the foliage, not the potential to flower,” says Harrison. “Flowers on any indoor plant will be fleeting, but foliage is forever.”
Hanging plants are a gorgeous way to utilize all your indoor space, but if you barely find time to brush your teeth (let alone water your plants), consider the logistics. Display them in easy-to-reach places, and think about drainage and waterproofing when purchasing a planter. “We always make sure to use a flexible plastic liner to give good coverage at the base of the planter. This will catch extra water and can be disguised inside the pot,” she says.
Have you got an indoor plant styling tip? Share your advice with us in the comments below.