The quickest cure for a drab apartment is to bring life into it, and the easiest way to bring life into it is literally bringing life into it. Houseplants not only clean your air and generate oxygen, but they also enliven a space as well as pets do, and they (usually) require a lot less maintenance. Whenever we get to peek inside whimsical apartments, houseplants tend to be a defining feature.
We love helping city dwellers create more space for their most important possessions, and we think plants count as essentials. You don’t have to own a penthouse or have a particularly green thumb to keep and grow houseplants. Even the tiniest apartment with the weakest light can enjoy the radiance and fresh air of live vegetation. If you’re afraid your space is too small for houseplants and planters, try these plants and planters.
Low Light Lovers
Many houseplants that require the least amount of maintenance can have the biggest effect on improving your apartment’s air quality. Consider the Sansevieria trifasciata AKA viper’s bowstring hemp AKA the snake plant, an intriguing species native to tropical West Africa. Snake plants can grow tall, even in the dimmest corner of your apartment. And they don’t mind missing a few days of watering.
Oh, and they’re renowned for filtering out formaldehyde, which lurks in almost every cleaning product under your sink.
Other plants that love low light have a similar effect on your home. Philodendron, spider plants, and peace lilies all excel at removing pollutants, and none of them require enormous amounts of light. That makes them great for anyone who lacks prime window real estate, or growing skills, or both.
In tiny apartments, every square foot counts. Sometimes, every square inch counts, and you have to create space by ingeniously condensing living areas. If you don’t have eight available square inches for a terra cotta pot, we have some good news: you don’t need it to grow houseplants.
Wall planters can be found just about anywhere online or in many nurseries. They serve the double purpose of wall art and space consciousness, allowing any tiny-apartment owner to keep plants alive. They can be particularly effective for finicky plants that require certain amounts of sunlight and shade. Buy any plant, hang it with a wall planter on the surface that receives its ideal hours of light, and watch it grow. West Elm always carries a few sleek options, like their Trigg series pictured above, for succulents and air ferns. A quick search will reveal hundreds of others.
Go into any abandoned building and you’ll see that like dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, life finds a way to thrive. Vines are a common sight in dilapidated structures, springing up anywhere and crawling to whatever light source they can find. It’s a neat trick of adaptation, which you can use to your advantage, growing a tangle of leaves where there’s only space for one pot.
The Plantable pictured above, cleverly manipulates vine growth to fill unused space with plant life, but you don’t need a custom-designed piece of furniture to enjoy climbing vines. Pothos and Swedish ivy can sit on any shelf and crawl down or across it in a few months. The aforementioned Philondrendon has aerial roots that grab on to surfaces. Any or all of these would do well in a tiny apartment, making your space as green as any huge, potted tree could, without the hassle of its huge pot.
The Sky Planter
Here’s another rebuttal to that “I don’t have shelf or floor space” argument: The Sky Planter.
If you’ve sent stuff to storage and still don’t have room for a plant, like the Pot Cradle, this beautifully designed planter only needs a ceiling. It comes in three sizes, so you can begin small and develop your gardening skills as your first plant grows.
The best part: The Sky Planter’s reservoir system. You add water at the top, and the planter feeds the soil gradually, which saves you time, and maybe your plant’s life those three days you forget to tend to it. (You will. We all do.)
If there’s one thing every tiny apartment has, it’s a tiny bathroom. Even the incredible YO! Home has a separate room for your hygiene, and where there’s a sink or a shower, there’s a place for houseplants. Many dozens of species excel in humid environments, and a few can grow without any natural light source, so don’t scrap the idea just because your bathroom lacks a window.
Most plants that require limited light can make do with fluorescent bulbs, and all of them would love the regular steam baths of your shower running. A Boston fern is particularly well suited for the bathroom, because they naturally grow in damp, shady forests. If you’re out of counter space, you can hoist them up with a macramé plant hanger, which can be found on approximately 40,000 different Etsy stores.
All of these houseplants and planters require little room, but if you have your heart set on growing something larger in your tiny apartment, we can help you MakeSpace for it!
This article was written by David Michael McFarlane, a writer from Texas and Oregon who lives in New York and loves smart design and organization.