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Your Beginner’s Guide to Indoor Plants

If Clutter Healing® had to choose one non-negotiable home decor item, hands down it would be a house plant. I’m sure you’re already thinking, “but WHICH plant?” Don’t stress, we’ve got you covered.

Clutter Healing® went straight to the source and asked Christopher Satch, the Plant Scientist of The Sill, to give us the low down on which house plants work best for your lifestyle. Adding an extra oxygen producing green thing has never been easier!

Read the interview below!

Q: First things first: what are the benefits of having plants in your home, mentally and physically?

A: Without plants, there would be no animal life on this planet, and that includes us humans. We often forget that we are a part of nature, and that we both directly and indirectly interact with plants every second of every day.  Plants generate the air that we breathe, purify the air, boost mood and creativity, as well as destress us (and don’t forget the food that plants make for us!).  In the home, plants add that secret sauce that distinguishes a house from a home. Plants make living spaces more comfortable, less stressful, and again, clean the air!  

Americans spend 90% of our time indoors, and indoor air quality is known to be worse than outdoor air quality. Products that we interact with on a daily basis like paint, vinyl, plastics, rubber, carpets, computer parts and so on all degrade over time.  They release nasty volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air such as benzene and formaldehyde. Plants actually chemically clean the air by ripping these apart and releasing harmless inert compounds like carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas. Not only do plants chemically clean the air, but they also physically clean the air by acting as a dust cling.  There really is no bad reason to keep a plant around.

for the bedroom

Snake Plant

Not only does it claim a spot on NASA’s list of the top 10 air-purifying plants, it’s also is one of few houseplants that converts CO2 into O2 at night — something most house plants only do during the day.

Philodendron

A trailing houseplant with heart-shaped leaves that comes in a variety of beautiful variegations. They are particularly effective at absorbing formaldehyde.

for the office

Marimo

A fun aquatic desk buddy!  Compatible with Betta fish, they produce oxygen bubbles and release them into the air if getting enough light.

 

Pothos

Similar in aesthetic to the philodendron, the trailing pothos plant is effective at filtering out formaldehyde and extremely easy to care for. It has been nicknamed ‘the cubicle plant’ because of how tolerant it is.

for The Traveler

Aloe Plant / Succulents

Aloe soothes skin burns and cuts, and monitors air quality — an aloe plant’s leaves will display brown spots when the amount of harmful chemicals in the air becomes excessive. Place in bright light and water sparingly.  It’s a succulent, so can survive long bouts of neglect. Other succulents/cacti do just fine too as long as they aren’t too small of a size. The larger they are, the longer they can go without water.

the Pet-Friendly option

Air Plant / Xerographica

Pet friendly!  Although you can have other plants with pets, if your pet is a nibbler, you’ll want to get a non-toxic plant.  Remember, you can have any plant you want, toxic or not, as long as your pet does not consume it. Otherwise, opt for the air plants!

when you want more luxe

Cattleya Orchid

Not all orchids are difficult! Cattleyas just need to be in the sunniest window you’ve got, and they will bloom huge fragrant blooms once a year for a few months.  

Bird of Paradise

A large stately plant distantly related to ginger that graced the home area of Hemmingway. Surprisingly tolerant of many conditions- if the light is right. As much direct sun as you can give it indoors is ideal.

Q: What’s the rule of thumb when it comes to watering/taking care of your plant?

A: When watering, think of the soil as a sponge. If you water, and it goes immediately through the pot and out the bottom, you have not watered your plant. It needs to soak into the center where the roots are. Generally, you want the soil to become evenly saturated, then to dry as fast as possible. Water only when dry. For beginners, we recommend this method: Your plant should be planted in a pot with drainage. Place your plant in a bowl. Pour about ¼-⅓ the pot’s volume of water on the top of the soil, and let the plant sit in the flow-through for a few hours to a day, then drain the water. Do not add water unless the soil is bone dry a few inches deep. When in doubt, feel the soil!

Also keep in mind that light is food for plants!  Your plants should never be more than a few feet away from a window. Remember, they’re living things. If you treat them like a piece of furniture, they will die.  Succulents need to be in a directly sunny window, whereas something like a philodendron can go in a window that doesn’t get much direct sun, or a window that faces a building and only gets ambient light.

Q: How do you avoid gnats and bugs from surrounding your plant?

A: Remember, whether we like it or not, we’re a part of nature. Bugs are an inevitable fact of life, but that doesn’t mean that you need to have them living with you! Remember, the best prevention is to inspect any new plant you bring in, and keep it quarantined for a few days away from your other plants.  Spray with a hort oil or insecticidal soap just in case there are some insect stowaways. The best prevention is never introducing them and cleaning the leaves once a month to check for them.  

Q: What are the best places to get plants?

A: The Sill of course! A good tell of a place is whether or not they can tell you the names of the plants without looking at the tags! Places that know care more and care about quality. Big box stores don’t know much about plants and when you ask, they can’t tell you much. Always go to a reputable garden center or nursery.

Q: Any other helpful input/advice you may think is important for first-time plant newbies?

A: Remember that your plant is a living thing! If you don’t treat it as such, your care will be poor and the plant will die. Plants are complex organisms, but their care doesn’t have to be. There’s also no need to be intimidated by killing plants. That kind of experimentation is how you learn how to be good. Every great botanist has killed a few plants along the way to being excellent at plant care. Remember, to make a plant happy, recreate its natural environment! For example, succulents and cacti are desert plants, so to make them happy, blast them with sun in a sunny window, and water infrequently. For tropicals, water when the soil is dry and give ample light in a not so bright window.

Show us your indoor plants at @clutterhealing on Instagram!