How to Keep Your Indoor Plants Alive

Because we’ve killed one too many cacti in our time.

By: Naomi Nachmani

All right, let’s take a tally. Hands up if you’ve killed an indoor plant? Once? Twice? Maybe three times? And hands up if it made you feel completely incompetent and unworthy of nice things? Because, yes, we’ve been there, and the roller coaster of emotions is real, you guys. Despite our lack of botanical talents, we’ve wandered through enough incredibly curated plant-filled spaces (think this, this, and this) to know the magical aesthetic benefits of turning your home into a relative greenhouse—let’s just take a moment to appreciate all the Insta-opportunities. In an attempt to turn our leafy-green dreams into a reality, we turned to Adam Mallory and Davis Khounnoraj of cult Toronto floral boutique Crown Flora Studio to give us the lay of the agricultural land, from the best plants, to the best pots, to what’s on trend. Go forth, and may your cacti forever prosper.

 

THE BEST INDOOR PLANTS

“Snake plants, fiddle leaf trees, assorted ferns, and pothos are all good plants for the home. Plants produce oxygen, some more than others, and help keep the air clean.”

 

THE IDEAL SETTING

“Bright, filtered [i.e., not direct] light and good humidity will keep most houseplants very happy. Good soil and good drainage are also key.”

 

LIGHT = LIFE

 

“Natural light is always the best, but there are other options. Most large hardware stores and many online stores sell grow lights that definitely help. There are even grow light bulbs that fit into a normal light. There are some houseplants that can work in low light, but the options are very limited.”

 

HOW TO WATER

“It really depends on the plant. Air plants like to get completely wet and have no root system, but most common houseplants like to drink their water from their root system, so you should water into the soil. Also, using rainwater or distilled water is best for most plants, as tap water typically has things in it to keep us healthy, which plants dont like.”

 

HOW MUCH TO WATER

“Watering a plant really depends on the type of plant and the environment in which you place it. Most common houseplants need watering every seven to ten days. Cacti and succulents, however, like to dry between watering; and from November to the end of March, cacti need almost no water.”

 

THE BEST SOIL

“These days, people are adding activated carbon to soil to help rid plants of bacteria growth.”

 

DRAINAGE IS KEY

“I love clay/terracotta pots, as the material is porous and allows the soil to breath, keeping things healthier at the roots of the plant. Also, a plant pot with a good hole for drainage makes planting easier. One of the key tips is having good drainage [for your plants], whether it’s a hole in the bottom of the pot, or building [drainage in] yourself with pebbles.”

 

DO PLANTS LIKE COMPANY?

“Some say yes, and others say no. I think [placing plants next to one another] can be beneficial for some types of plants, and it can also help the owner not to forget about one plant that may be hidden in a corner. Most plants dont like being moved far, but sometimes rotating the plant can be beneficial.”

 

PRUNING TIME

“It depends on the variety, but the majority [of plants should be pruned] in the early spring just before growing season, or at the end [of growing season] in the fall.”

 

WHAT’S TRENDING

“There are trends in plant design: Typically large plants look great in large containers, but now people are playing with plant and pot proportions. A large container filled with several of the same type of small plants can look very modern.”

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN GONE FOR THE HOLIDAYS

“I always suggest getting a trustworthy friend who you know loves and has plants of their own. Place little notes with specific instructions on each plant, and if it is a cactus or succulent that doesn’t need a drink while you are gone, put ‘DON’T GIVE ANY WATER’ on it. We have heard many nightmare stories.”

 

KNOW YOUR SOURCES

“[It’s best to] buy from a reputable shop that loves plants and can give you good advice when you buy your plant, as well as help to answer any questions as it grows.”

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