Bringing the Outdoors In
How to brighten up your space
With many of us spending more time indoors it’s even more important now than ever to bring the great outdoors inside. Plants not only can brighten up space but are known for its air purifying qualities. Whether you have a green thumb or not, here are some ways to get started, from herb gardens to terrariums to what plants to buy.
FIFTY SHADES OF GREEN
There are some houseplants that don’t have an abundance of flowers or show-off foliage and will never be called colorful, but they are majestic and beautiful in its own way. All plants have flowers of some kind, except mosses, liverworts, ferns, and conifers. You might not see the flowers of some, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but flower they do.
Norfolk Island Pine: No flowers here, just graceful, soft boughs of delicate needles. But Norfolk Island Pines are not really pines. They are tropical and originally from the South Pacific. They thrive best in medium to brighter light and soil that is consistently moist (but don’t overwater).
Cast Iron Plant: This plant (Aspidistra elatior) lives up to its name. It’s very low maintenance and will be happy in semi-shady areas and even that corner of the room that gets very little light. They also don’t seem to mind air that is less humid, although they still will appreciate an occasional misting.
Snake Plant: Here is another virtually indestructible houseplant. The Snake Plant (Sansevieria), striking in appearance, with its long, pointed leaves, thrives in low light and very little water. It’s almost as if the more you forget about them, the more they thrive. Almost.
Cacti: Here’s a plant that, depending on which type you choose, can serve as a sculpture and a plant, especially the Barrel Cactus or Opuntia (Bunny Ears). The opuntia doesn’t have sharp spines, but watch out for its more subtle but equally painful “hairs.” Most cacti need a lot of light but, lucky for you, this time of year, some don’t. And, depending on which one you buy, you may even see its amazing flowers.
Boxwood is a good option for bringing the outdoors in. Put them in a location that has lots of direct sunlight and water only when needed. Boxwood can be trimmed to different shapes so you might be able to design a miniature topiary.
MINIATURE INDOOR GARDENS
Long for the variety a garden offers? How about an entire garden indoors, but in miniature?
Terrariums: Choose the plants wisely because these open or closed self-sustaining (ideally) gardens in glass and your terrarium will live long and prosper. Closed terrariums have an interesting history and date back to Victorian London. While they may have waxed and waned over the years in terms of popularity, they can be satisfying to put together and a joy to have in your home.
Table-Top Gardens: Whether an informal grouping of small containers (on a tray with a layer of pebbles you can keep moist for plants that require more humidity) or a larger planter that can hold an assortment of “like-minded” houseplants, these can give you a moveable option for having several different houseplants right on a table or desk. Some containers have double lives as a holder for small items or a smart-phone dock.
THIS SEASON, GROW SOME SEASONINGS
An indoor herb garden is a great way to have fresh seasonings right when you need them. Some herbs that grow easily indoors include basil, chives, parsley, thyme, to name a few. Be sure to use a container and soil that offers good drainage and place your little herb garden where it gets lots of sun.
Some of the above examples include plants that are often found outdoors, but that can easily transition to living indoors. With any (or all!) of them, you might feel like the outdoors have taken up residence in your home.
- Indoor heat makes the air drier and most plants need at least some humidity, so in some cases, you’ll need to compensate for that.
- With most plants, when it comes to watering, less is a whole lot better than more.
- The right container and right soil mixture go a long way to helping your houseplants thrive.
- Light is important and sometimes scarce inside the home in winter. All plants need some degree of light so if you are thinking of a plant for a specific spot in your living space, choose the right plant for that location.
- Be mindful about keeping these (some more than others) out of the reach of pets and small children. Parts of some plants can be toxic to pets and humans.
WHERE TO SHOP
Many of these plants might be available at garden shops, plant stores, or florists, and it’s always nice to shop at local businesses if you can. There is also the option of ordering online, and having the living decor delivered right to your home: The Sill, Bloomscape, The Little Botanical (in the UK only), UrbanStems, The Bouqs Company, Terrain, Pistils Nursery, Etsy, FTD, and Home Depot, which in addition to sorting their plant offerings by lighting conditions and size, has cat-safe plants and dog-safe plants categories.