Updated: Apr 6, 2022
This blog post is written by Growing Solutions Farm lead grower Tucker Kelly.
Air plants are in. Succulents are in. Palms are in. Beloved by college students, young professionals, and the busy or inattentive. They are plant store mainstays – the window dressing that customers see when they walk in.
These are all categorically low-maintenance plants that will do just fine tucked in a dark corner on the floor behind a couch or in a windowless room. They can survive irregular watering, little to no fertilization, and in low to no light. Much easier to care for than even, let’s say, a goldfish in a fishbowl of municipal water. Perfect for a busy young person.
I am here, however, to ask more of my contemporaries. Forget the air plants, the succulents, and the palms. Get yourself something more exciting and appropriate for our climate. Get yourself something with aroma or with color. Something with taste. Heck, you can live the farmer’s market dream and put on your laundered overalls and straw sunhat and do it yourself. Get yourself a few pots, potting soil, and plant something exciting.
This way, we still support our local plant stores and garden centers while doing more for ourselves.
Here are a few herbs that are easy to grow indoors and have excellent aroma:
All three form a nice clump and will eventually trail over the edge of the pot. Lavender and mint make for great tea and DIY cleaning products, and all three are used in numerous cuisines. Any varieties based on your preference will do just fine – all three are low maintenance.
And may I suggest some bulbs:
These are super easy to plant and are a welcome sight come spring when they emerge and bloom. They’ll bloom a bit earlier inside than they normally do outside.
There are flowering plants, so I must put a caveat here for the impatient: flowering plants are not always in bloom. For most flowers, a bloom comes annually and for only a few weeks.
Tulips would also do, but, in our climate zone, they have always signaled the arrival of spring. In my mind, they belong outside.
To care for all of these herbs and flowers, you will have to stick to a regular schedule of watering. One common mistake: overwatering. The adage goes: underwatering stresses, overwatering kills. Stick to a schedule. Pick two days a week to water, and if the soil remains very moist after the last watering, skip that day.
The other thing we learn in elementary school: sunlight. Please get your plant some sun. It’s going to need a few hours of sunlight every day depending on variety. If they don’t they’ll enter dormancy and won’t produce healthy root systems or flowers.
If you’ve decided to put on your overalls and sunhat to do some planting, make sure to get the appropriate soil to pot your plants. While we know that compost and worm castings are wonderful for plants, these are fertilizers and should be used sparingly with potted plants. A word on the ethics of potting soil: they contain a number of non-renewable resources (peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite). Please try to find one produced ethically. It’s worth the trouble.
There you have it: climate-appropriate, aromatic, tasteful alternatives to the local plant store window dressing, that will still support them.