We all know the benefits of having a potted plant or a bouquet of flowers in our home. Not only do they add color and lessen stress, but they also purify the air and rid it of harmful toxins. Since there don't seem to be any drawbacks to bringing the outdoors in, why wouldn't someone do it?
Well, easy: They take care. "People need to realize that plants are living things. They grow, adapt, and respond to their environments, even our homes," says Christopher Satch, a plant scientist at The Sill in New York City. As much as it may seem like a trendy fig tree or a vase of peony blooms is akin to a side chair or a coffee table vignette, they're not. "If we stop treating plants like a piece of furniture or décor, we will be more successful with them," he continues. "Just because a plant looks good in a certain place does not mean that the plant will do well there."
Christopher says that the only way to know how to tend to plants—including how much light to give them and when to water them—is to go to a professional. And lucky for us, he's one. So before you turn your green thumb red trying to figure this out on your own, we asked Christopher for the best indoor flowers to grow right now. So look around your space for the right setting, go out and buy fertilizer, and prepare for patience. These are the eight indoor flowers that can finally make your surroundings feel more like an airy and comfortable home.
Where to Put It: "This is a lower-light option if you have either north-facing windows or a window that faces another building (which is all too common here in NYC)," Christopher says. "These can also be kept a few feet away from a bright window that gets blasted with sunbeams for a good portion of the day."
How to Keep It Alive: "Water when the soil is dry, about every five to 10 days," he says. "Timing varies with your conditions and the seasons, so check the soil before watering!"
Where to Put It: "This is another lower-light option for the same situation—north-facing windows or a window that faces another building," he says.
How to Keep It Alive: The same rules apply to an anthurium as they do to a peace lily: Water when the soil is dry every five to seven days. These might as well be neighbors on your window sill.
Where to Put It: "This is a full-sun option that belongs in windows that get sunlight for a good part of the day or even all day," Christopher says. "South-facing, unobstructed windows are best, but any place that gets a few hours of direct sunbeams will do.
How to Keep It Alive: "Water these when the soil is dry, which is usually about every five to 10 days," he says. "They tend to do best in terracotta pots."
Where to Put It: "These plants belong in windows that get only a few hours of direct sunlight," Christopher says. "For example, place them in east- or west-facing windows."
How to Keep It Alive: "Water with the usual timing, up to 10 days, or when the soil is dry," he says. "These seasonally bloom, but some varieties are ever-blooming."
Where to Put It: "These are a low-light option that can also be kept a few feet away from a bright window," he says. "Re-blooming requires a temperature drop into the 60s at night for about a month. These blooms last the longest of any indoor plant. If kept well, the plant can be in bloom for three months at a time."
How to Keep It Alive: "Soak them about every seven to 10 days, then let dry," Christopher notes. "You can spritz them as often as you want—they love being spritzed all over (especially the aerial roots), as long as you let them dry in-between spritzes."
Where to Put It: "Unobstructed south-facing windows are best for this full-sun option, but any place that gets a few hours of direct sunbeams works," he says. "These are ultra fragrant and hold their blooms for about a month or two at a time. Some varieties can bloom twice a year."
How to Keep It Alive: The same rules for the phalaenopsis apply here. Soak the flowers for a day whenever the plant is dry, and feel free to spritz them all over as long as you let the leaves dry between sprays. "Back in the day, these were used as corsage flowers," Christopher notes.
Where to Put It: "This is a part-sun option for windows that get only a few hours of direct sunlight," he says. "Some varieties are fragrant and hold their blooms for about a month or two at a time, while some varieties can bloom twice or even three times a year."
How to Keep It Alive: "Soak for a day when they look dry and then be sure to let them dry after," he says. "Spritz as often as you want, too, but let them absorb the water in between sprays."
Where to Put It: "Any place that gets a few hours of direct sunbeams is ideal," he says. "If you 'deadhead' the flowers, or pull them off when they start to wither, then they will continuously bloom."
How to Keep It Alive: "Water when the soil is dry," he says. "They do not tolerate overwatering, so err on the dry side."
Kim H-H, Yang J-Y, Lee J-Y, et al. House-Plant Placement for Indoor Air Purification and Health Benefits on Asthmatics. Environ Health Toxicol. 2014;29:e2014014. doi:10.5620/eht.e2014014