The Garmentory Houseplant Guide
I am something of a houseplant-a-holic. It is the first thing people remark on when they visit my apartment, and a friend of mine recently counted all my plants. He came up with...fifty-two. So it’s a bit out of control. But I find caring for my little jungle to be incredibly soothing and rewarding, especially now that I’m spending so much time at home.
Looking to start your own little greenhouse? Or add to an existing collection? Here are ten of my favorite plants, trees, and vines—plus some gorgeous planters to house them in.
Currently, the most verdant, out-of-control plant in my house is a massive monstera that keeps expanding in all directions. I think it’ll take over my whole living room soon. But I won’t even mind because monstera deliciosa, with their dramatic Swiss-cheese leaves, are my favorite indoor plants. They’re reasonably hardy and will grow in vines, so you might need to stake them up. The pot you plant them in should be roughly the same diameter as the largest leaf.
These guys have become pretty Instagram famous in the last few years, and (at least visually) I can see why. Fiddle-leaf fig trees, or ficus lyrata, have big, lush leaves and skinny trunks that allow you to bring in height without too much mass. However, these plants are notoriously finicky and easy to kill. Once you find a spot where they’re happy—preferably in bright, indirect light so the leaves don’t burn; oh and keep them away from too much heat or too much cold—do not move them. Keep the soil damp, but not wet. And say a little prayer.
These are some of my favorite filler plants, and they’re also simple to care for. Pothos come in several varieties (marble queen and satin pothos are my favorite) and grow as trailing vines. They do well in lower light conditions. You can even take cuttings of a pothos plant and grow them in water to propagate them and plant new one once they grow roots.
Love houseplants but lack a green thumb? This waxy, leafy plant is almost impossible to kill. Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ for short) plants thrive in low light conditions and are extremely drought tolerant. You only need to water it once a month or so during the spring and summer, and once every couple months in fall and winter.
These are some of the most beautiful houseplants, in my opinion. They come in a number of varieties, all with intricate patterns and colorful leaves: zebra plants, calathea medallions, rattlesnake plants, and pinstripe plants. They’re tropical plants and therefore love bright, indirect light and humidity. Keep them healthy by misting them every few days and watering with the top inch of soil has dried out.
Another impossibly easy plant to care for, snake plants (sansevieria) have strong, architectural leaves and can grow up to several feet tall. They thrive in a variety of light conditions and are extremely drought resistant. In fact, you should let the soil dry out and stay dry for periods of time. I give mine a couple ounces of water every three weeks or so. When you overwater them, which I have often done, the stalks get squishy and fall over.
Have a ready source of after-sun protection and get a beautiful, easy-to-grow plant out of it. Aloe plants have long, fleshy leaves that, when cut, can be squeezed and applied topically to the skin. They like bright, indirect light (I store mine by my west-facing kitchen window) and like to have the soil dry out completely between waterings. Don’t let aloe plants sit in water, which can lead to root rot.
Palm plants add a lush, tropical vibe that can fill and liven up a blank space. These plants do need a substantial amount of light, so place them in your brightest room. There are many types of palms. I have a cattail palm with big, reaching fronds. My roommate has a tabletop ponytail palm with a bulb-like trunk. She named him Tony.
Similar to pothos in that they grow long vines, philodendrons have hundreds of species in a variety of shapes and colors. They’re extra easy to take care of and prefer low light, so they’re perfect to trail down from the top of a bookshelf or in a darker entryway. I have a couple heartleaf and Brasil philodendrons. On my current wishlist: a pink princess philodendron with variegated green and pink leaves.
I recently bought one of these iridescent purple plants and it’s now one of my favorites. The Persian shield seems exotic and ornamental, but because it’s a tropical plant it also likes warmth and humidity. Keep them near a window with bright, indirect light and, like a calathea, mist regularly.