It's simple really: Plants make people happy. So says The Sill, the houseplant delivery shop that prides itself on helping people find their perfect plant pals, no green thumb required. By following a few simple care instructions, they firmly believe that anyone can keep themselves surrounded by healthy, happy plants long-term. Beyond their beauty and design appeal, houseplants provide us an abundance of physical and mental health benefits. There's just something extra-homey about a house filled with living, breathing greenery. Christopher Satch, Plant Scientist at The Sill, shared with us his top five favorite houseplant varieties and basic care tips that will help every kind of plant parent be their best.
– The Sill's Top 5 Favorite Houseplants –
Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus). “If your bathroom has a window, you can do any epiphyte- fern, air plant, or orchid. These guys will love the humidity generated from showers and will return the love with lots of green foliage to match.”
Aloe (particularly Aloe vera, but there are other beautiful ornamental aloes like mosaic aloe). “If you have a hot, sunny window where everything else shrivels, a succulent like the Aloe is best. You can even be a little forgetful with this guy- aloes want to be watered when they start to shrivel/leaves curl, which is about once every 2 weeks.”
Ripple Peperomia (Peperomia caperata). “A classic lower-light plant that is quite vocal with its needs. If it droops, it may need more water or more light.”
Marimo moss (Aegagropila linnaei). “A no-mess plant that can’t be overwatered because it lives in water. Just give bright, indirect light, and you’re golden. The more light the better- just keep cool.”
Cattleya orchid. “People think orchids are hard, but if you treat these guys like air plants and blast them with light and frequent misting/soaking, then these will not only grow like weeds, but flower too with usually super-fragrant blooms.”
– Key Care Tips for Happy Plants –
Feel the Soil! “I can’t tell you how many times novice plant parents don’t feel the soil and make a watering mistake! Only water when the soil dries out about 2” deep. Usually the surface will look dry, but deeper, it’s wet. Also, note that if you blast your plant with more heat and more light, you will be watering more often. It’s about checking in with your plants every few days to see what’s up rather than setting a strict schedule.”
Give More Light! “Just because a room looks bright to you, doesn’t mean that it’s bright to your plant. Remember, during the day, looking into buildings from the outside- the windows look black, right? That’s because there’s not a lot of light indoors. Remember that rooms are like caves to plants, and light is food for plants. Your plants ideally should be near windows. They are living things, and just because they will look good somewhere in the home doesn’t mean that you should put them there. They are not furniture.”
What are the most common mistakes you see people make when caring for houseplants and how to avoid them?
I think that just because plants don’t talk or move as fast as we do, that people treat them like furniture. Plants are living things, and will respond to their environment. You can’t plop a plant somewhere just because you think it looks good - you have to actually place a plant where it will live! Light is food for plants, and the simplest thing to remember is generally the more light they get, the better they do. I also think it’s important to do a little research and ask questions when buying a plant. Too many people think that orchids and air plants are really difficult, when in-fact, they can be easy! They just need a different care regimen compared to potted plants. Think about the native environment of that plant to make that plant happy.
Any tips for using plants as a design element in your home?
“Mother Nature is the ultimate designer. There are so many plant shapes, colors, growth forms, and sizes all on the market today that there is a plant for every decor, and every style. Always place plants by windows. If you need something green away from the window, try a painting of a plant, or a vase that makes you think of a plant.”
What plants are best for beginners?
“If you are doting and tend to interact with your plants a lot, then ferns are good for you. If you are forgetful or travel a lot, try succulents or cacti.”
What types make the best office companions?
“Marimo moss balls and ZZ plants tend to do the best under artificial light, which is in most offices. Other aroids like pothos and peace lilies can tolerate the office lighting, but again, keep in mind that office lighting is generally not ideal for any plant. It’s just not as intense as sunlight.”
Photography via The Sill & Schoolhouse