Photo: Natalie Portman in Léon: The Professional (1994)
Buying plants online has become an easier (and more curated) experience since we were first introduced to Amazon’s plant store. With most of us spending a lot more time at home because of COVID-19, more people than ever are taking up indoor gardening. Hanging plants, succulents, and even herbs can be used to make your home look and feel less sterile, but the benefits don’t stop there. Sharing your space with plants can purify your air, reduce anxiety, and even improve concentration, all welcome antidotes to the stresses of life during a pandemic — and after one.
Here, we’ve combed through Amazon’s (continuously growing) selection of indoor plants to find the best in-stock options for plant-parents of all gardening levels. We’ve also considered plants that will thrive in many different types of spaces whether you have high ceilings and lots of light or just a few bare windowsills to fill.
The status plant that started it all and is still a best-seller. Former Strategist writer David Notis was once a fiddle-leaf skeptic but quickly found that among his other plants, this one “is an instant visual impact — a $35 piece of interior design that gets better every day.” Although this fiddle-leaf fig appears to be slightly smaller than the (currently out of stock) two-foot version that Notis bought, the plant grows best in indirect sunlight, meaning it can flourish indoors. Within the first couple of years, Notis’ design-y houseplant grew almost three feet in height.
While most of the status plant runners-up (namely the Ficus Audrey) are out of stock at Amazon, there are still some in-stock birds-of-paradise plants for sale, if you want your apartment to look like an East Village cocktail bar. Benito Gonsales, plant buyer at Saifee Hardware & Garden, says the plant is easier to care for than a fiddle leaf. “Just give it bright light and water it once per week,” he says, adding that you can get it to flower annually “if you take care of it.”
According to visual merchandiser Chikako Ishii Frank, there’s been a “pink plant” trend as of late, to which the pink-toned Chinese evergreen (a.k.a. Aglaonema) fits right in. It comes recommended by two plantfluencers, including Summer Rayne Oakes, author of How to Make a Plant Love You and host of the YouTube series Plant One on Me, who especially recommends the plant for somewhat-experienced plant parents “who can’t grow flowers in their home, because Aglaonema can really give a nice brightness of color.”
Another pink-toned floor plant is the rubber plant. Upon arrival, the shiny, dark, “burgundy” leaves will be smaller than they look in this photo, but they’ll grow super-tall over time.
One of the few houseplants out there to have had its own “day of the week” hashtag on Instagram — “#monsteramondays,” in case you were wondering — the monstera has been on the fiddle leaf’s tail for years now, and it’s still popular as ever. They can get really big, and they tend to grow out rather than up, so make sure you have a lot of floor space available. The irregularly shaped leaves are part of the charm.
Snake plants make for another great floor plant. They’re very tolerant of low light and infrequent watering, and since they grow straight up, they’re ideal if you want something that doesn’t take up too much air space in your living room. Plus, we’ve said that buying from Amazon is the most convenient and cost-effective way to get this plant.
We recommended the parlor palm in our roundup of the best pet-safe plants, so it would be a great option for anyone for whom that is a concern. The foliage is a little more delicate and detailed than that of your average floor plant.
The ZZ plant is one of our most stood-behind plant recommendations because it’s one of the heartiest and most foolproof species out there, and it also has a unique, almost Jurassic look. In the “before time,” David bought a ZZ plant while researching office-friendly plants and found that over the course of a year it doubled in size with nothing but overhead fluorescent light and infrequent waterings every week or so from a mugful of office-sink water. This 12-inch version will ship directly from Amazon in a white/natural-toned planter.
The Chinese money plant is also referred to as the “sharing plant,” since it’s known to sprout miniature “baby plants” out of the surrounding soil, which are easy to repot and share with a friend. The Costa Farms version of this plant, complete with a ceramic planter and mid-century-style wooden plant stand, is no longer available, but you can still get those same plant accessories separately on Amazon.
Peace lilies are quite possibly the best air purifier of all houseplants (a NASA study found that it removed benzene and formaldehyde from the air). They’re easy to care for, too. Senior editor Anthony Rotunno wrote about his beloved peace lily — named Marilyn — which moved with him to three different apartments. “It’s among the hardiest green things I’ve ever encountered,” he says.
And while the low-maintenance peace lily does indeed flower, it’s not quite the same effect as a blooming orchid. Orchids are by no means effortless — it does take some work to care for them — but we spoke with a few orchid experts who told us that orchids actually aren’t as difficult as many believe, especially when it comes to this variety cultivated specifically for its adaptability, the phalaenopsis “moth” orchid. You can get the plant the flower in an array of pots — including this white ceramic pick — or opt to get another one of Amazon’s many pots and planters separately.
If you’ve got a windowsill that sees at least six to eight hours of bright sunlight each, day you can grow your own indoor herb garden. This set comes with a nice mix of cooking and cocktail-making herbs, including rosemary, lavender, lemon balm, oregano, and chamomile. But if you want to just grow parsley or mint, they have those as options too.
Succulents are generally considered quite easy to care for as long as you can give them enough light, and they can handle sitting in dry soil for a while. This four-pack of assorted miniature succulents would instantly upgrade a sunny windowsill.
If you’d prefer something prickly, consider this four-pack of cacti. Although they can handle direct sunlight, cacti do need to be watered and taken care of or else they’ll die, which is exactly why managing editor Maxine Builder consulted with three cactus professionals about the best potting soil and fertilizer for your spiny plant.
Perhaps the easiest plants to keep indoors, air plants don’t need any soil and only have to be watered every two weeks. They’re great additions to windowsills without enough room for potted plants and can even be plopped down on a bookshelf that’s somewhat near to a window.
Aloe vera is a classic, easy-to-grow succulent, and, as a bonus, you can break off a leaf to treat cuts and burns with the gel inside.
Jade is another hardy succulent that can fit on a small but bright and sunny spot on your windowsill. It naturally grows into the shape of a miniature tree or bush.
This plant is also famously easy to keep alive and a fast grower, making it an ideal pick for new plant-parents. Erin Marino, director of brand marketing at the Sill, says you’ll know when the plant needs to be watered because the leaves have a “visible wilt,” but “they’re super-hardy, so they bounce back right away,” she adds. This one doesn’t come with a hanging pot so you’ll need to buy one separately. To help you find something nice we wrote about the best hanging planters.
We wrote about ocean spiders and named them one of the best hanging plants for new plant-parents. Baylor Chapman, a plant stylist and author of Decorating With Plants, especially likes how well these plants spread from the baby “spiderettes” that grow from the bottom of their leaves: “They can root in something else, so if you had one growing up over a window, it could root from pot to pot if you did it that way.” Plus, ocean spiders are at the top of all of our experts’ lists of pet-safe plants.
Another plant that’s easy to propagate and hang is the philodendron. “The tendrils can get really, really long. You can clip it back and start new little plants from your cuttings, or you can kind of just let it go crazy,” explains Jessie Waldman of Pistils Nursery in Portland, Oregon. This species is known as “cordatum,” from the Latin word meaning “heart-shaped,” referring to the plant’s leaf shape.
Closely related to the philodendron, this silvery variety is nicknamed the satin pothos. “It has a really matte, cool texture and pattern on the leaves, which people just wanna touch,” explains Waldman. The satin pothos is technically a scindapsus, not a philodendron, meaning it fares even better in low light.
This delicate-looking succulent grows in long strands that make it perfect for hanging in a window. String of Pearls don’t like drafty places and prefer bright indirect light. If you can find a spot they like, they will grow fast and easily. And they’re great for propagating, so once yours starts growing well, you can take cuttings to share with friends.
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