Houseplants for the Black Thumb

There’s a lot of research out there on the benefits of having plants in your house. When we breathe, we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. When plants undergo photosynthesis, they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They purify the air, pulling toxins into their soil. And then there are the obvious perks, like they’re pretty to look at. But not everyone, or every space, is cut out to take care of plants. They need care, water and sunlight, one or more of which might be in short supply in your house—in our old apartment, our living room was in the middle of the building, so it got zero sunlight. And the rooms that did get sun only got it for half the day. Enter the perfect solution for adding green to your space if you’ve never had much of a green thumb: succulents!

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The newest addition to our succulent family!

Full disclosure: I’m not sure if succulents have always been really popular among apartment dwellers or if they’ve had a massive spike in popularity over the last couple years, but for me, the discovery was huge. They’re basically types of cacti, which means they are built to survive in harsh conditions—whether that’s the middle of the dessert or a dark city apartment. The other thing that makes them super easy to care for is that you can’t over-water them. In the dessert, these types of plants can go weeks at a time without water, and then experience a torrential downpour, during which they drink their fill. So every couple weeks, you can water your succulent until its soil is drenched, let it drain, and it’s good to go for a couple more weeks. The other technique that I learned from the local succulent guy in Hoboken (yes, I had one), was to put the pot in a bowl, fill it with water until just the soil is underwater, then let it sit for 20 minutes or so. That way it’s able to absorb all the water it wants!

The other great part about succulents is that they come in a ton of different shapes and sizes, which means you too can have an adorable addition to your desk or shelf that looks like this:

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This is Gordon. Jeff got him (the pot) for me for my birthday, and we went and picked out a tiny succulent to go in. These super small ones are usually under 5 bucks, which makes it even better!

You can also buy succulents in terrariums or set in glass bowls without soil or roots. I have to confess I don’t completely understand how these ones stay alive, but we’ve had this one for probably over a year, and it is still a great decoration.

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These plants do need some sunlight, so if it’s in a location that’s mostly dark, it’s good to move it somewhere it will get some sun every once in a while. Fortunately with the big sliders in our new apartment, almost every part of the living room and office gets sun at some point during the day, so I don’t even have to worry about this too much. And as I mentioned in my last post, we found a new garden center/succulent-ry last weekend, so I’m excited to continue to fill our house with these amazing plants!

 

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