It’s hard not to like plants. A vase of bright blooms, a village of small succulents by the windowsill or a leafy, potted plant in the living room instantly brighten and liven a house, even for non-outdoorsy people. And having plants in your home is healthy — because they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, they circulate fresh air throughout your home for you to breathe in!
If you’re looking for some new greenery or are a plant novice — maybe you’ve moved into a new apartment or decided you want to add some leaves to your space — we’ve got you covered. We spoke with Joe Ferrari, owner of Tend Greenpoint in Brooklyn, New York, about places to shop, plants he recommends, spots to put them and his tips for plant care success.
Where to Buy
Congrats! Glad you want to adopt some new leaves. Depending on where you live, you have a couple different options for purchasing:
Your Local Farms and Plant Nurseries
Do a quick Google search for “plant nursery near me.” If locations pop up, you’re in luck. Plant nurseries will likely offer a huge variety of plants at affordable prices. Some nurseries are often wholesale, which make them even better.
Your Local Farmer’s Market
If you don’t have any plant nurseries near you, there’s probably a farmer’s market. Joe says that many experts will often have their own tables and gladly answer any questions. And while you’re there, you can pick up some vegetables and fruits to add to your wellness aesthetic.
Your Local Bodega and Delis
Don’t discount these stores! While these plants might not be the most taken care of, Joe says, they are usually reasonably priced.
What You Should Buy
While plants aren’t pets, they do require some upkeep — they are living creatures after all! You’ll need to check up on them regularly. “When someone asks where they should start, I try to recommend plants that are right for the conditions of the person’s apartment or house,” Joe says. “So always taking into account light and just general environment.”
Snake and ZZ plants
Joe often recommends snake (Sansevieria) and ZZ (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) plants — even though they are basics, they’re rewarding because they’ll survive even if you forget to take care of them.
Succulents and cacti
Also great if you’re likely to forget you have living plants in your home. Succulents (and cacti, which are a type of succulent) are good if you don’t want to bring an overly floral feel to your home.
Florals (roses, sunflowers, etc.)
These blooms have the shortest lifespan, but besides cutting stems and placing in a vase, there isn’t much to maintain. However, if you want to keep a constant display of florals in your home, it can get expensive over time, Joe says.
Even if you live in a low-light environment, there are plenty of plants that can thrive in your home, Joe says — birds nest fern (asplenium), along with the snake and ZZ plants, are reliable choices.
We’re going to discourage purchasing fake plants — even though the convenience of faux greenery is attractive, you’ll get none of the health or wellness benefits that come with real leaves. Even if you are out of the house for weeks at a time, many plants can survive the length of your vacation!
How To Decorate
Honestly, you can put a plant nearly anywhere and it’ll be chic. But, in case you want some inspiration, here are a few of our favorite places to place our greens:
In your bathroom
You may have seen photos on Instagram, but there’s a reason people put greenery on their shower caddies. It’s a good spot because plants will get regular humidity, Joe says, and can often brighten up your mornings.
In your bedroom
There may be rumors that plants can bring bad luck to bedrooms, Joe says, but bedrooms are great locations. It’s a great way to wake up in the morning, for both aesthetic and health reasons!
Yes, bookshelves are for books. But, place a few small potted succulents or leafy plants in between stacks or along the edges and you instantly up the chicness.
You can really step outside the ordinary by draping your vines and leaves from shelves and ceilings. Hanging vines will add an ethereal, whimsical mood to your room.
How To Take Care of Your Plants
Plant care isn’t rocket science, but you need to be responsible. These are living creatures in your home that require care and attention, after all. In general, you should water based on how the soil feels when you dip your finger into it, Joe says. Your schedule shouldn’t be “I water my plant every Wednesday,” but rather “I check on my plant every Wednesday.”
Something a lot of people don’t know is that plants are dormant in the fall and winter — so be especially careful of overwatering. “They look like they are alive and kicking, and sometimes they do show some growth, but for the most part they just kind of stay and chill out for the winter,” he says.
When you do water, use a watering can with a slim spout, Joe says, and remember that it’s the soil that needs water, not the leaves — so don’t pour the water over the top of the plant. If you live in a dry environment, you can also supplement watering with some misting.
If you want to fertilize your plant, it’s only really needed in the spring and summer when it’s growing. One Joe recommends is Espoma, an organic fertilizer. And you don’t need any fancy soil for that matter either — as long as it’s potting soil (and preferably organic) you’re good to go.
And a final tip: make sure your plant is in the right-sized pot — your planter shouldn’t be more than 1-2 inches wider than the planter it was already in. Otherwise, you add too much soil, think the soil is dry when it’s not and risk overwatering, Joe says.
Are you a plant whisperer? Let us know your best tips in the comments below!
You can find Joe and Tend Greenpoint at: