From reducing stress and enhancing your well-being to improving air quality and promoting productivity, plants have a slew of benefits that will make you want to fill every corner of your house with one.
But the idea of keeping a plant alive can be scary, and oftentimes met with failure (we’ve killed one too many to know). Whether it’s the maintenance, lack of space, or limited light, apartment dwellers often find themselves overwhelmed when thinking of growing their green thumb in such an environment — but have no fear!
We visited the Junction’s very own Urban Gardener and spoke to their shopkeeper and plant-enthusiast extraordinaire Stephanie about all things PLANTS! From when to water them, what lighting they should have and whether or not your pet can eat them, we’ve got you covered.
Here, we break down the eight low-maintenance plants you need to include in your space!
1. Snake Plant — Sansevieria Trifasciata
Snake plants are one of the toughest house plants around and are perfect for the apartment-owning, barely green thumb. They thrive best in medium to bright light with some direct sun, but low-light apartment owners need not fret. They’re tolerant of all kinds of light and can withstand very little watering! You can water them infrequently, but just make sure the soil dries out almost completely between waterings. And be sure to keep them away from your curious pets, as they aren’t pet safe.
Snake plants are known to be air purifiers, and are even called “generational plants,” as they can last decades! Sisterhood of the Travelling Snake Plant, anyone?
2. ZZ Plant — Zamioculcas Zamiifolia
Another extremely tolerant plant, ZZ plants are a small apartment dwellers' dream. These gorgeous plants react well with many different lights, from bright light all the way to extremely low light conditions. This plant can withstand drought and only needs to be watered three times per month. And, as a bonus, it won't spill out into your space and sleep in your bed with you. With its dark green, glossy leaves and almost perfect shape, you may have trouble convincing guests it's real.
If you’re looking for a nearly fuss-free plant that will purify your air, this is the one for you. Just make sure your dog doesn’t get too close, as they are not safe for pets.
3. Dragon Tree — Dracaena Marginata
The Dragon Tree is a larger plant that will add lots of drama and flair to your space. It can grow upwards of 10-feet tall over time and look good no matter what. Tolerant to drought, this guy likes to be on the drier side, so in the summertime, you can get away with watering it once a week to 10 days, and in the ever-so-Canadian wintertime, you can water them anywhere between once a week to every 15 days.
An important thing to note when taking care of your (big) plant baby is that this guy doesn’t enjoy being in a spot that’s too bright. Aim to keep this plant in bright, indirect light or medium-light instead, and it will thrive. They are not safe for pets, so make sure Fluffy is trained to stay away.
4. Split Leaf Philodendron — Monstera Deliciosa
This rich green, heart-shaped, glossy leaf beauty is another easy plant to care for if you are a novice green thumb or just got stuck plant sitting for a friend. This tropical plant thrives in medium to bright light with indirect sun.
As the weather changes drastically in the Great White North, so will your watering routine. Be sure to water this plant approximately once every seven to 10 days in the wintertime. It prefers a warmer climate and a more damp soil rather than a dry or soggy one.
The great thing about the split-leaf plant is that just like an ideal partner, it'll be very expressive, telling you exactly what it needs. Just keep it away from your pets and you’ll have a plant friend for life.
5. Pothos a.k.a. Devil’s Ivy — Epipremnum Aureum
Photos taken by Hailey Levy at Urban Gardener.
If you’ve ever seen an apartment with leafy green plants hanging from the ceiling and thought #goals, you’ve most likely seen this one.
Another low-maintenance plant, the Pothos can withstand medium to low light, although bright to medium is ideal. They are also known for their air purification qualities and are very expressive. Not getting enough water? It will start to droop, so make sure you’re giving it a good dose of H2O once every seven to 10 days, give or take. It’s also important to note that they can sometimes get black tips if you overwater them, so be sure to check the rootball every once in a while for potential water saturation. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and, if need be, get deep in that soil in order to ensure it’s healthy.
This plant can be hung from the ceiling, put on bookshelves or even on top of the fridge. And here's Stephanie’s pro tip: if you’re renting and can’t drill holes, hang it from a curtain rod — so long as it’s protected from direct sunlight. These plants aren’t safe for pets, but if they’re hung high enough, you and your fur baby will be happy with your new roommate.
6. American Baby Rubber Plants — Peperonia Obtusifolia
Finally, a pet-safe plant! You didn’t think we’d leave you hopeless, did you?
Less is more when it comes to watering this plant, so allow for the topsoil to dry out completely between waterings and avoid overwatering whenever possible. The thick leaves on this plant store water, so once December rolls around, water sparingly without worry. It thrives in bright indirect light but can be put in medium light if necessary.
This plant is gorgeous and comes in many different varieties to liven up your space.
7. Zebra Plant — Haworthia
The Zebra Plant, named after its green-and-white striped appearance, is the cutest little succulent ever. It's totally safe for pets and is the perfect addition to a bathroom #shelfie. These plants thrive in bright to medium light and don’t require a whole lot of maintenance generally. Just ensure that it has moister conditions in the summer and drier conditions in the winter.
As with any succulent, avoid overwatering, but check for spongey or soft leaves to make sure it’s getting enough water.
The best part about these low-maintenance plants is that not only do they add a tiny pop of life to any room, but you can house quite a few without taking up what little space you have. You can also grow and pot them in virtually any adorable little container you have — just make sure it has the right amount of drainage.
8. Chinese Money Plant — Pilea
The Chinese Money Plant adds the perfect pop of colour to any minimalist, white-walled space. It's also another perfect addition to any space with a pet while requiring a low-maintenance routine.
The most ideal setting to grow your money tree is in bright, indirect sunlight, as direct sunlight will burn the leaves. Keep these plants evenly moist, watering them once every week to 10 days, with more watering during sunnier weather (Stephanie notes it can be as short as five days if it’s in a warm, dry spot).
Generally hard to find, Urban Gardener carries these unique plants. Sure, it won’t generate you any real riches, but it’ll turn your guests green with envy.
Urban Gardener is located at 1640 Dupont St., Toronto.