A Guide to Houseplants with TerrainNovember 8, 2017
Want to welcome a new houseplant to your family? There’s more to it than haphazardly choosing one you’ve spotted while scrolling through Instagram. While it’s true that plants are less of a responsibility than other things you’d need to nurture (like a new puppy, for instance), adopting a plant requires some serious know-how and a lot of TLC.
The same goes for selecting them—especially if you like a fashionable windowsill. As with most things worthy of the “like” button, houseplants trend along with the times. And right now? The ubiquitous fiddle figs are on the out. (That’s not to say you should neglect your leafy six-foot friend, of course—but his #nofilter days are numbered.)
As the old saying goes, it takes a village to raise a houseplant (well—close enough). Lucky for us, our neighbors at Terrain are expert green thumbs. Here, senior buyer Melissa Lowrie shares five plants du-jour, as well as how to care for them. The best news? They’re all beginner friendly.
No two leaves are the same on this vining, bi-color beauty. “I love how graphic this plant is,” says Lowrie. “It acts as a piece of art when placed against a plain wall.” Like its name would suggest, the Mexican Breadfruit hails from southern Mexico and parts of Panama, meaning it thrives in warmer, humid climates. Don’t worry if your living room isn’t a South American rainforest—this plant just needs some shade, moist soil, and a cozy temp to keep it happy. Though flowering indoors is rare, mature plants might just reward you with a tropical, vitamin C-rich breadfruit, a staple in South Pacific cuisines.
-Light: Partial sun with lots of shade
-Water: Once the surface soil dries, saturate with water until it drains
-Temp: 68 – 86°F
-Size: 3 – 8’ indoors
-Price range: $50 – $75 for a 4” pot
White Bird of Paradise
This South African plant gets its nickname from the wing-like flowers it bares when in blooms. Because of its statement size—it can easily grow to over 10 feet—Lowrie likes using the White Bird to anchor an entryway or serve as the focal point to a room. It has dramatic, paddle-shaped leaves that thrive indoors, and its flowers sprout from moody, dark blue “tongues” that bud right below its leafy fans. This exotic plant enjoys the spotlight, so make sure to place it in a sunny spot.
-Light: Full sunlight with a bit of shade during midday
-Water: Keep soil moist and well-drained
-Temp: Above 60°F
-Size: 6 – 10’+ indoors
– Price range: $60 – $100 for a 13” pot
Chinese Money Plant
According to Chinese folklore, this round-leafed plant is said to bring good fortune and riches to its owner. Lowrie can’t vouch for that, but she can promise that the petite Chinese Money plant is perfect for your side table, desk, and windowsill. Although native to southwestern China, this leafy sprout has been quite popular in Scandinavia since the mid-1900s, thanks to a Norwegian missionary who shared clippings with his friends and family after a trip to the Yunnan province. It’s difficult to find the Money Plant for sale in the U.S., but Lowrie has some good news for its American fans. “Its nickname is the ‘Pass-It-On Plant’ because it throws off new growth that can be repotted and gifted to a friend,” she says. We suggest hitting up your Danish pals ASAP.
-Light: Indirect, bright sunlight (direct sun can burn its fragile leaves)
-Water: Let soil dry out before giving it another drink
-Temp: Above 40°F
-Size: 8 – 12”
-Price range: $25 – $50 for a 2” pot
Black Velvet Elephant Ear
Alocasia reginula translates to “Little Queen Alocasia.” One look at this exotic plant and you’ll know why: its rich, almost black leaves have a velvety appearance befitting of royalty. That means you’ll want to put this monarchical plant up on a pedestal—literally. “This one is best shown on a stand or elsewhere up high,” suggests Lowrie. Because it loves humidity, it will thrive in cozy locations where shade is in abundance. Try it in an accent corner in a scale that suits your home—they range in size from an unassuming 10” to a statement-making 2 feet.
-Light: Partial to full shade?
-Water: Deep but infrequent watering. Just make sure your soil is well-mixed and drained, otherwise the roots might rot!
-Temp: Above 40°F
-Size: 12 – 24”
-Price range: $10 – $20 for a 4” pot
The silvery, curved stripes on this South American plant make each leaf resemble a ripe watermelon. Its low-growing, compact size looks great no matter which pot or hanging planter you put it in, but choose wisely. Once situated in a new, well-drained home, it generally likes to stay put for a few years, cautions Lowrie. Time to treat yourself to that new ceramic pot you’ve been eyeing up.
-Light: Indirect, bright sunlight (direct sun can fade its color)
-Water: Let soil dry, then water liberally
-Temp: Above 40°F
-Size: 8 – 12”
-Price range: $15 – $30 for a 4” pot
Already have your plant picked out? Shop pots, planters, and more here.