Kamili Bell Hill, the founder of Plant Blerd and Black People With Plants, says she relies on the compass app on her phone to check her windows’ direction. “Generally speaking, south-facing light is the brightest you can have, and north-facing light is a much lower lighting condition,” she advises. “The key to success is doing a bit of research beforehand. And of course, if all else fails, a good grow light is every plant parent’s very best friend.” If dealing with too many south-facing windows, consider a sheer curtain to help filter out the abundance of rays, she says.
Any plant variety that thrives in indirect or low light is susceptible to sunburn, notes Ciara. “It can be tempting to expose lush houseplants like monsteras to bright sunlight, but if you take a step back and think about where they thrive in the wild—under the jungle canopy—it makes sense why they’re so sensitive,” she says. Should your plant become sunburned, Ciara suggests trimming off the damaged leaves to encourage new, healthy growth. “In fact, with certain varieties like fiddle leaf figs, pruning them is the best way to help them become bushier,” she adds.
We all want our homes to look great with an even flow of well-balanced decor from room to room. But before buying a plant, investigate your home, say our experts. Do all your windows face south? If so, this will impact what houseplants you should have on your window sills. Is your apartment prone to drafts? This too will affect the plants in your home. Kat Hernandez of Juanita’s Plants, a woman-owned plant shop in New York City, urges all plant owners to think beyond how their plant’s aesthetics will add to the space.
“I’ve noticed that sometimes people have a specific place in their home where they think, This corner is perfect for a plant, they buy a plant, and within a few weeks the plant starts dying,” she explains. “It’s because that corner that gets no light wasn’t the best place for that particular plant.”
Other times, plant parents want to repot a plant too soon, hoping a new vessel fits the look of their home better than the plant’s original nursery planter. According to Kat, “plants can go into shock when they are in your home for the first week. The plant is used to the temperature, humidity, and light it was getting at the nursery, so repotting right now can cause extreme shock to your plant because it is still adjusting.”
Puneet Sabharwal, cofounder of Horti and author of Happy Plant: A Beginner’s Guide to Cultivating Healthy Plant Care Habits, likewise suggests that some plant parents worry too much about their plants’ looks. While trimming a plant can create new leaves, he warns that “most of the time it’s less about health and a bit more about aesthetics.”
“In certain cases, interventions can instigate more growth especially if the plant is stunted, but I am a big fan of intentional wilding and usually just let the vines roam free,” he explains. “Plants can suffer from over-grooming, so I think it’s better to let the plants take up the space they need to spread green joy throughout our homes.”
Puneet is quick to point out that plant parents should also understand their own nature for nurture. “Ultimately the plant needs to fit your lifestyle, so it’s important to analyze how much time and care you can dedicate to this relationship. If you work or travel a lot and often forget to water your plants, then it’s important to find the varieties that can sustain your nature,” he warns.
Match your nature or lifestyle to your plants. Succulents do well in areas of the home with lots of direct sunlight and require infrequent watering, Kamili says. If you are away from home a lot, choose drought-tolerant plants such as the Sansevieria (Dracaena), ZZ plant, white birds of paradise, or ficus, Matt suggests. Ferns, on the other hand, grow on forest beds and need indirect light and lots of moisture to thrive, hence they require more daily care. “Do you have the time and patience to monitor the conditions needed for a rare plant to thrive, or should you look into a heartier breed, which are often just as beautiful?” Ciara asks. Ask yourself what plants you have the bandwidth to truly care for. Puneet adds, “Plant care requires patience and observation, it’s a dialogue and it actually nurtures both sides, not just the plant.”