Splash a new color up on the walls. Redo your floors. Buy a new couch. They might be on the long list of things you’d like to do to your house in 2020. But you know what should be at the top of that list? Buying new plants.
So key are plants to the overall look and feel of the home that they made Elle Decor’s list of 2020 design trends. But we’re not talking about those faux, plasticky plants. It’s time for the real stuff.
“Going green with nice, real indoor plants helps give personality and another layer to a space,” Linda Hayslett of L.H. Designs, told them. “For a while, it seemed like everyone was going faux. But these days, it’s all real, all the time. “I can always spot a faux plant in a design. It may be great initially, but the character of a plant comes from how it organically grows. And faux plants will always remain the same and eventually get dusty.”
We could build a “best of” list based on popularity or pretty factor or 3,700 other categories, but, like anything else, it’s best to split the list into individual categories. Here, then, is our take on the best plants to incorporate now.
Most low maintenance
Many of us avoid having real plants because we lack a green thumb (guilty!). But there are some great options that take little effort to stay alive and look great. “Don’t be fooled by the beauty of the Chinese evergreen—beyond its handsome exterior is one tough plant,” said Real Simple.
“Justin Hancock, a horticulturist at Costa Farms, explains that this forgiving houseplant is great during the wintertime because it ‘doesn’t mind low light or inconsistent watering, as long as it doesn’t stay wet for extended periods.’ Its broad, decorative leaves are woven with gorgeous patterns in colors that come in a range of glossy greens, silvers, grays, and cream. Even the least experienced gardener can successfully grow the Chinese evergreen thanks to its hardiness. Cast aside any self-doubt, as Hancock reassures, ‘this air-purifying houseplant powers through the winter season and looks fresh and green all year.’”
The ZZ Plant is another great choice because it is “virtually indestructible.” In fact, “the ZZ plant will often do better if you leave it alone,” they said.
Best for your health
There is evidence that plants are good for you in a variety of ways, but one of the most potent is their effect on air quality. They can help counteract the effects of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and indoor air pollution. Spider plants are “among the easiest air-purifying indoor plants to grow,” said Greatist. Spider plants are also super fast-growing, so you can start with a small plant and watch it flourish, or even spin off “spiderettes” to spread throughout your home.
The ficus is another air purifying plant and a good choice if you’re looking for something that can grow large. An indoor ficus can get as tall as 10 feet, and is another low-maintenance option.
Easiest herb garden starter
An indoor herb garden is easier to achieve than you may think, especially when you start with something simple like basil. “A critical herb for cuisines around the world and a favorite pairing for tomatoes, basil is easy to grow indoors,” said Gardeners.com. “Pinch off individual leaves and add to salads, sandwiches and sauce. Make your own pesto. Plant seeds or purchase small plants and pot them in rich, organic potting soil. Basil loves heat and bright light, so give it a southern or western window or use a grow light. Avoid cool, drafty spots, especially in the winter.”
Make your place smell sweet, and look beautiful, with Azores Jasmine. “For intense fragrance, grow this jasmine," said DIY Network. "It typically flowers spring through fall, but tosses open blooms in winter, too, if growing conditions provide warmth and sun. Give it a spot near a southern-facing window. The perfume is similar to gardenia. Plants may be slow to bloom the first year. Just wait—the flower show kicks into gear as plants age.”
Jasmine is also great to grow in the bedroom as it can help promote sleep, but this option might be preferable. “Another great bedroom plant is lavender, which was named one of the best scents for sleep and relaxation by the National Sleep Foundation for its ability to decrease the heart rate and blood pressure, relax the mind and improve sleep quality,” said BedPillows.com. “Other studies have found that the addition of the lavender fragrance to your bedtime routine can also increase energy in addition to improving overall sleep quality.” A University of Maryland study “found that putting a lavender plant in the bedroom facilitates better sleep, boosts mood and reduces anxiety. To grow lavender in your bedroom, place it on a windowsill in direct sunlight and lean, dry soil.”