Finding the Right Plants for Your Home / by Didier Young

Since we finally finished redoing the bedroom and are still in the process of deciding what our office is going to look like, I decided that I would spruce up the living room a little bit. Quite literally in this case. I will be honest with you guys, I didn’t have the greenest thumbs before. I’ve killed quite a few succulents and a poor fiddle leaf fig tree before. So what business do I have to tell you which plants to get for your space? Well, it turns out that this time I decided to do my research before I went plant shopping.

First of all, if you’re a first time plant owner you might as well dismiss the idea of the fiddle leaf fig. Those highly aesthetic plants are quite high maintenance and do require a fair bit of loving. For starters, you might wish to lean towards a plant with a thicker leaf such as a snake plant or a Zanzibar gem. Those two specific plants require next to no care and will survive if you miss a watering or three. You could also start your plant collection with a few succulents or air plants where the main deathly mistake is simply overwatering. After a few months with those trainer plants, you are ready for a whole world of other indoor plants! However, there are three factors that you should take into consideration when plant shopping.


Light

One of the main life or death factors that will affect your plants is light. Most plants will do well in low indirect light and very few require direct sunlight (those tend to be your traditional garden plants). As odd as it may seem, tropical plants do tend to prefer shadier spots in the house and are sufficiently happy with a tiny amount of indirect light. My Bird of Paradise and monstera are examples of plants who are okay with those lower light situations. Other plants such as calatheas absolutely thrive in the shade and would not last very long in a well lit spot in your house. If you’re looking to greenify a brighter spot, I would suggest plants that traditional life in deserted areas with little shade such as cacti or other plants that double as outdoors plants such as a silver falls Dicondra.


Water

Now that’s another tricky one. I think that we have all been taught growing up that plants need lots of water to grow. While it is true that they do require water to survive, adding more water to your pots than the plant can absorb may cause root rot and subsequently lead to the death of your plants. Instead of routinely watering your plants, I would suggest investing in a soil moisture sensor meter to properly monitor whenever your plants need to be watered. That being said, most tropical indoors plants only need to be watered once per week. Another great indicator will be the colour of the leaves. Yellow leaves indicate overwatering stress while brown leaves might indicate poor watering habits. I’ve also recently learnt that watering with filtered water is preferred as most plants cannot handle the fluoride and chlorine that is typically present in tap water.


Heat

Living in Canada, heat is an important factor for both the survival of my plants and mine. This one is fairly even across the board. Plants usually like humidity and warmth so having your heater on during the colder months is a great idea. Don’t forget to give them a little misting of water from time to time to increase their humidity levels but make sure not to leave your babies close to the heater as they will not like that in the slightest bit. During the warmer months, you may be tempted to increase the air conditioning to keep your place nice and cool but your plants might not like that either. I’d suggest keeping your thermostat to around 20 degrees Celsius so it is cool enough for you to comfortably live in and warm enough for your plants to thrive.

That’s basically it! Plants aren’t super hard to take care of as long as you learn what they need. I am still learning more about them each day but it has been fun to slowly transform my home into a greenhouse so far.

-Didier