When you live in a major metropolis, part of the deal is trading a bit of trees and greenery for soaring skyscrapers and amazing restaurants.
While New York and New Jersey have outstanding parks, your desire to be close to lush foliage may be best satisfied by adding some plants and trees to your home environment. Think your thumb isn't green enough to sustain another living being? Nonsense! Even the least attentive gardener can find a plant to suit his or her lifestyle. Here are our suggestions for plants that will brighten up your space while conforming to your skill level.
If You're a Homebody — Air Purifying Plants
If you work from home or just prefer Netflix to the Cineplex, your home air quality is especially important. In fact, the EPA ranked indoor air quality among the top five environmental risks to public health. Luckily, air-purifying plants (and even the soil they're planted in) are the perfect defense against city air pollutants. Spider plants are incredibly easy to grow and are great little air cleaners. Air-cleaning Ficus trees can grow up to 10 feet tall, adding a bit of vertical interest to a room while keeping the air crisp and clean. And snake plants, known as the hardest plants to kill, are great for beginning gardeners. Pro tip: Each of these plants prefers indirect sunlight, so move them away from direct rays to maximize their longevity and air-cleaning qualities.
If You're a Road Warrior — Succulents & Cacti
Life is busy and the world beckons. Luckily, there an array of gorgeous succulents and cacti that thrive even under the extreme neglect of a world traveler. If it can easily brave the infrequent rains of the driest deserts, a cactus will certainly survive the unpredictability of your schedule. Beautiful Agave, Aloe and Echeveria succulents provide smooth-coated options in blue and green shades, while small barrel and prickly pear cacti boast a classic spiny texture. Ready to take the plunge? This Etsy seller offers a number of gorgeous succulent assortments at great prices. Pro tip: You’re actually at greater risk of overwatering than underwatering your cactus. Stick to once a week or every other week, and be certain the water drains between waterings.
If You Lack Natural Light — Ferns
Not every home is blessed with daylong rays of natural light. Fortunately, there are a number of plants that can handle a little darkness. Our favorite, the lush and full fern, is a cheerful addition that lend a homey, retro vibe to any domicile. Place your fern friends in a knotted hanger from Urban Outfitters to up the 70s cool quotient. Pro tip: While they may not need an immense amount of sunlight, ferns do thrive in humid areas making a bathroom one of the best places to set them up.
If You Forget to Water — Dracaena
Despite your best intentions, it can be easy to forget your foliage on occasion. If watering slips your mind from time to time, Dracaena trees are dramatic and powerful plants that are surprisingly low-maintenance. And, with dozens of varieties — from the broad-leafed Dracaena fragrans (Corn Plant) to the spiky Dracaena marginata (Dragon Tree) — in various heights, you can easily find a Dracaena to suit your space. Pro tip: Dracaena can be sensitive to fluoride. If your tap water is fluoridated (in New York City, it is, but much if New Jersey is not), use purified water.
If You Love to Cook — Herbs
It is rare for the urban chef to have room for a whole vegetable garden, but with just a windowsill you can grow a wonderful herb garden instead. Chives, parsley and mint all thrive indoors, and hardy basil is a wonderful starter plant for beginners. Grab yourself a planter that fits your space — this one from Crate & Barrel comes with scissors for easy snipping — a little potting soil and some seeds, and you're on your way to adding fresh homegrown taste to your artfully prepared meals. Pro tip: Plant new seeds every couple of weeks to make sure you always have new herbs coming in.
If You Have an Impressive Green Thumb — Orchids
For gardening experts looking for more of a challenge, the bloom of an orchid is a mighty reward. With their delicate beauty and amazing varieties, orchids are the loftiest goal in houseplant care and nurturing. But be warned, these plants have a long history of inducing an obsessive fascination known as Orchidelirium. Pro tip: These finicky flowers have a number of requirements, chief among them is adequate humidity. A humidifier or daily misting may be needed to keep them in top form.