A houseplant can brighten up an otherwise dull apartment and introduce a vibrant bit of life in the cold winter months. Unique plants can act as living signature pieces, conversation starters and change the entire feel of a room. However, not every houseplant is cut out for apartment living. Many apartments suffer from lack of space, lack of light and thermostats controlled by unpredictable landlords. If your houseplants have a tendency to die on you, your apartment may be the problem. The solution is selecting low-maintenance plants that are compatible with the humidity, temperature and light conditions in your apartment. Read on for some potential apartment-friendly additions to your home.
Low Light Conditions:
If the one window in your apartment looks onto a dark alleyway or dim courtyard, you will need to select plants that do best in low light. Many plants, like the Chinese Evergreen or Snake Plant, thrive in low light. Before you visit your local florist or nursery to make your purchase, try to assess how many hours of light your apartment actually gets. Are there a few hours of good light in the mornings, or is the apartment mostly dark all day? Information like this will help the staff make better recommendations on plants that will do best with the available light in your apartment.
If plants that need more light seem more appealing to you, you can purchase small horticultural lamps for your plants from most gardening stores. A combination of incandescent and fluorescent lights will work well most plants. Depending on the needs of your plants, these lamps may have to stay on most of the day, so consider the impact on your electric bill as well. Consult with your florist or nursery for recommendations on how far plants should be placed from the light source as well as the strength of the bulbs you use.
Many apartments suffer from a lack of humidity. Plants differ widely in terms of the amount of humidity they can handle. Plants native to tropical regions do best at a humidity of nearly 90%, making them unsuitable for most apartments. Typical houseplants thrive at 60% humidity, while cacti and other plants native to desert regions do well at a humidity of closer to 20%. If the humidity of your apartment is too high for your plants, they can suffer from fungal damage. Plants suffering from low humidity may sustain damage to new leaves and buds.
Of course, you can change the humidity in your apartment by using humidifiers and dehumidifiers. You can also move plants to areas of higher or lower humidity in your apartment, depending on their needs. Bathrooms and kitchens are usually more humid that other areas. You can also double-pot plants in need of more humidity. Place your plant’s pot in a larger pot and fill the larger pot with peat moss (which can be purchased at your local nursery). The peat moss should be kept moist. As the water evaporates from the moss, it will keep humidity high in the immediate area.
There are a number of houseplants that are generally hard to kill. If you don’t have a green thumb, hardier houseplants such as the Spider Plant, “lucky” bamboo , and Pothos are easy to grow and do well in a variety of conditions. Just make sure that your prior misfortunes are not the result of neglect. Even sturdy, low maintenance plants need periodic watering, access to light and, in some cases, fertilization and re-potting.
An unusual or unique houseplant can be a real centerpiece for your apartment. Sometimes, just sheer size can make a big impression. Palms can grow to be quite large but are fairly easy to care for. The Lady Palm can grow up to 5 feet tall, while the Fishtail Palm can grow to 7 feet. Both of these plants thrive in bright light. The “Ponytail” palm is smaller palm with an unusual bulbous trunk and leaves that bunch out like the girls’ hairstyle for which it is named. More exotic houseplants with unusual flowers and shapes are available at most florists, but may require high levels of humidity and greater maintenance.
If you have a terrace, porch or a little extra space in your apartment, you can also create a small apartment garden. While unusual, an apartment garden is not hard to grow and can help make your apartment feel miles away from the city outside.