When it comes to decorating your new apartment, finding items that will bring life into various rooms without overpowering or cluttering them can be difficult.
Apartment decorating can also be tricky if your landlord isn’t keen on you putting holes in the walls to hang shelves, or letting you paint walls to match your personal taste. Adorning various surfaces with plants can create the pops of color for which you’ve been searching, taking your drab apartment from dull to exciting, vibrant, and cozy.
If the idea of buying and caring for plants gives you anxiety, consider this your opportunity to take a deep breath because there are plenty of plants that require very minimal care. With hundreds of options from hanging to potted, colorful to traditional green, ferns to succulents, and even the possibility of fresh herbs for cooking, there is sure to be a plant out there that’s perfect for your apartment home.
Here are a few tips on choosing the right ones for your needs, decorating with them, and even caring for them.
Choosing the Right Size Plants for Your Spaces
Plants come in a wide array of varieties, each of which has its own sunlight, watering, and space needs. Before you go plant shopping, determine the areas of your apartment you’d like to fill with plants. Measure the spaces, pay attention to how much natural light reaches them, and understand the surface on which the plant will be sitting.
Why is all of that important? You need to select a plant that will not outgrow the available space or need more or less sun than you have available. Potted lilies start out small in an approximately six-inch container, but they grow and expand to need giant pots in their lifetimes.
Peace lilies, cacti, paddle plants, aloe vera plants, bamboo, lavender, orchids, African violets, and other smaller plants can be planted once in a ceramic container and are then relatively easy to care for: Just add water.
The issue with sunlight is that it’s a kind of Goldilocks situation: Too much will dry a plant out and burn its leaves, and too little won’t give it the nutrients it needs and cause it to wither.
Certain plants — like philodendrons, Boston ferns, gloxinia, cast iron plants, peace lilies, English ivies, arrowhead vines, orchids, and spider plants — thrive in low light and will be fine being confined to a shelf, set in a corner, placed on a kitchen counter or dresser, or otherwise made at home away from windows.
Others — like aloe vera, polka-dot plants, begonias, moon valley pilea, dumb canes, and crotons — need more light and would do better near a window, on surfaces directly in the path of a sunbeam, or on a balcony.
You’ll also want to make sure to put a dish under your new plants to catch excess water. After all, no one wants to pick up that pot one day to find a water ring has ruined your furniture or apartment floors. Keeping your plants on level surfaces will help ensure that it doesn’t happen.
Eye-Catching Plants that Pop
After knowing your space, the next most important element is knowing what you want your plants to do. If you’re looking for simple green elements that will brighten up a room, classic options like peace lilies, small potted cacti, other succulents, snake plants, aloe vera, bamboo, and paddle plants are great indoor options that stay relatively confined to their containers while also providing a fresh look.
For greens that spill over past the planters’ rims, spider plants, ferns, Boston ferns, or Bird’s nest ferns might be just the thing for you. Their bright green leaves expand beyond a simple container, creating waterfall effects and added height elements that other, more restricted options do not.
If you want a bit more color in your life, lavender is a bright-light-loving plant with a purple hue, African violets add various other purple shades, begonias offer big and colorful blooms, Christmas cacti flower vibrantly in the winter, aluminum plants feature green and white leaves, and crotons’ leaves range from deep red to a very lively yellow.
There are hundreds of plants out there from which to choose, meaning there will be something for every color palette, too.
Herb Plants for Cooking
A fun way to bring extra color into your kitchen is to add live herbs to your counter or windowsill. Basil, cilantro, mint, thyme, lavender, rosemary, oregano, chives, parsley, and more can all be grown with very, very little skill.
In fact, if you’re impatient or aren’t sure you can handle the process of planting and caring for seeds, you can purchase some already-grown varieties at local plant stores. Keep these watered and under the right sun and temperature conditions, and you’ll have fresh herbs to cook some delicious dishes — plus a fresh decorative element adorning your countertops.
Plants that Need Minimal Care
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when taking a trip to a plant store, but don’t worry. Each plant comes with a card indicating its sunlight and watering needs, and you can consult with an associate who will help ensure you know how to care for your new green family members.
If you weren't blessed with a green thumb, or are embarking on your first attempt at caring for plants, several options require minimal maintenance and are very difficult to kill.
Aloe vera needs bright indirect sunlight and very little water, while cast iron plants are incredibly durable and do well in low light. Mother-in-law’s tongue likes low light and to be watered sparingly, and Jade prefers bright sunlight and to let its soil dry completely before re-watering.
Each plant has its needs, but once you know what you need to do, you’ll be off to the races creating a brighter and more vibrant home.
If live plants aren't your thing, there are plenty of faux options out there that look incredibly real. Guests would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a real and faux potted succulent, for example, and there are plenty of orchids and potted grasses that are almost identical to the items they mimic. Just make sure you keep them well-dusted.