Calif. — Hanging from the ceiling or making a major
green statement in any room, houseplants are back in
was a period when the economy was bad and people were
economizing. They’d say, ‘We don’t need it!’ But
you really do need houseplants. They clean the air. They
make us feel better," said Kifumi Keppler, owner of
Sacramento’s Exotic Plants, which is celebrating its
45th anniversary this September. "People are
realizing that now."
such as Tyler Davis, Orchard Supply Hardware’s green
merchant, are helping drive a current houseplant trend.
seeing sales explode," the nursery expert said.
31, is himself a houseplant lover. He has more than 150
specimens at his Visalia home.
natural air purifiers," he said. "Some of
them, such as Snake Plant, release oxygen at night. That
actually helps you sleep."
seems to be a big part of the current houseplant trend.
trend we see is the growing interest in houseplants that
filter the air — such as Peace Lily and Red-Edged
Dracenea — and ‘air plants’ — Tillandsia,"
said Tami Kint of Sacramento-based Green Acres Nursery
& Supply, which also has seen an uptick in
houseplants. "Air plants are super easy to care for
and can be fun to incorporate into unique
plants can live without soil and tend to stay small.
That makes them ideal for terrariums as well as hanging
Design magazine noted millennials, who are now mostly in
their 20s and early 30s, tend to shop for houseplants
like they would for furniture or accessories. They’re
decorating with living things.
let you create your own space," Davis said.
"Everything old is new again. People are still
going back to the classics. There’s a little bit of
nostalgia, too. People remember houseplants they grew up
with or at their grandparents’ house.
transcend generations," he added. "It’s not
just millennials. Everybody is getting into houseplants,
even my mom."
favorite is Snake Plant (Sansevieria), also known as
just so easy," Davis said. "It’s a foolproof
houseplant. You don’t need to be an expert to make
this plant grow in your home. It’s also very
structural. Snake Plant was really popular during the
1950s and ’60s, the same period as midcentury modern
furniture, which is very popular right now, too. They’re
though, this new wave is not the same old houseplants.
in the ’70s, it was all hanging plants – Boston
ferns, piggyback plants and wandering Jew," said
Keppler, of Exotic Plants. "Now, people are looking
for something different."
specimens such as 7- or 8-foot-tall fiddleleaf fig
trees, an indoor star for decorators, "fly out the
door," Keppler said.
also gravitate to colorful foliage such as neon-green
pothos or variegated Chinese evergreen. Easy-care
orchids such as phalaenopsis and dendrobium also grab
attention — and sales. Such orchids offer weeks of
eye-popping flowers with little water or care, even in
water them once and a while and put them in the right
space," Davis said.
do you choose? Start with the room where that plant will
the right plant for the space you have," said Green
Acres’ Kint. "For example, a plant that has
requirements of bright, indirect light won’t do well
in a low-light environment."
that blooms needs more light than foliage plants,
Keppler noted. African violets, for example, need bright
light close to a window while Snake Plants can tolerate
much lower levels and will even survive in windowless
rooms – if they get a few hours of artificial light
a heart-shaped symbol of Hawaii, "are really
catching on," Keppler said. "They’re pretty
easy to rebloom as long as their light is good."
plants are like pets, she added. They’re totally
dependent on their people for their care.
gardens are more forgiving," Keppler said.
"Indoors, if something is wrong, a plant will
decline very quickly."
a plant’s needs will keep it happy and growing.
secret to happy houseplants is proper watering, lighting
and using a good, balanced houseplant food such as
Bonide 10-10-10," Kint said. "Keep leaves free
of dust (so plants can breathe) by taking them out
occasionally and rinsing the leaves or wipe them with a
soft cloth. Talking to them doesn’t hurt,
does music, Keppler said. "They like good music;
they’ll grow towards it. But nothing heavy metal or
too loud. Play heavy metal, they grow the other
people kill houseplants with kindness, Keppler said. The
most common problem is overwatering.
plant gets too much water, their roots start to die and
their leaves turn yellow," she said. "People
see yellow leaves — and they give the plant more
water. It dies. Instead, check the soil before watering
and see if the plant really needs it. For most
houseplants, water them once a week."
in low light need less water than those in bright spots,
she added. Also, plants in clay pots dry out faster than
those in plastic containers.
a little attention, these indoor companions will
invigorate you, Keppler said. "I have to have
plants in any environment," she said. "A room
without plants looks stark and lifeless. Add a couple of
plants and it really comes alive. They enliven the space
and give it life energy."
green thumb? It’s not necessary with these
houseplants, considered by experts the easiest to grow:
Lily (Spathiphyllum): This houseplant teaches you how to
care for it, said Kifumi Keppler of Exotic Plants in
Sacramento. It droops when it needs water, then springs
right back. "It’s the perfect beginner
plant," she said.
Plant (Sansevieria): Known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue
(because of its spiked and pointed leaves), this is a
bulletproof houseplant for beginners. It thrives on
Evergreen (Aglaonema): New hybrids of this old favorite
feature interesting variegation and foliage colors. It
will thrive in office light.
Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia): Its shiny foliage makes
this plant an indoor favorite. It can grow (slowly) into
a handsome specimen.
Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata): Also called ponytail palm,
this little tree stays small for years with
twice-monthly water and indirect bright light.
Orchid (Phalaenopsis): With long-lasting flowers, this
orchid has become an indoor star. Water sparingly; a
quarter cup a week is all it needs.
compacta: This is the slowest growing of the Dracaena or
cornstalk plants, and can survive indoors for decades.
"Its naked stalk gives it character," Keppler
Fig (Ficus triangularus): Ficus or fig trees are very
popular because they make a big statement, growing to 8
feet tall indoors. The triangle-leaf variety is the
least fussy to maintain; as long as it has bright light,
weekly water and temperatures above 55 degrees, it grows
very well indoors.