Life-long plant whisperer Caroline Lange shares her love for houseplants—and which are easiest to care for.
Part of my affair with houseplants comes, I’m sure, from my mother, a landscape designer whose own houseplants trail their leafy arms along two thirds of the surfaces of the house I grew up in. She nurtures a wide range: herbs in neat pots, fuzzy African violets, amaryllis, Christmas cacti, philodendrons drippy with fat leaves.
My own collection began as a way to remedy the starkness of my college dorm rooms. Plants are mostly cheap, widely accessible, and very, very green—which is a refreshing contrast to dingy linoleum tiles, standard-issue pine dorm furniture, and college in New York. Plants are a happy reminder of the outside when your daily world is the intersection of the very gray Venn Diagram of college and New York.
My plants are from all over—some gifts, but mostly collected one by one from IKEA, plant stores, street fairs, the farmers market, or even the grocery store. I’ve never spent more than $10 on one, and yet they’re the things that most make my home feel like home, whether in a dorm or in the apartment where I live now. Smaller plants fill up empty shelves and windowsills, while larger ones will make an empty corner lush. They also soften sharp corners, and make a space feel lived in and loved. All you need is a little bit of light.
More: These five no-kill houseplants are great for first-timers.
Work on your green thumb with these inexpensive starter plants:
What houseplants have you had success with? How do you keep them happy?
Photos by author