Have you ever heard the phrase, “You don’t need a garden to have a garden?” Well, you don’t even need a garden to surround yourself with colorful, verdant plant life—and don’t let the winter fool you into thinking that you need to wait until spring to see green leaves on the trees. Bringing large plants and potted trees indoors not only boosts spirits after the holiday hullabaloo passes, but also helps fill corners, create focal points, and make bold design statements.
Oversized plants add strong lines, color and weight to a room. You can select a jumbo-sized plant or potted tree to place in a room that needs something dramatic, or you can set a pair of trees together on either side of a window to create a sense of balance. If you happen to keep other houseplants in your home, consider the dynamics of nature when arranging your indoor plants: group plants of various sizes together, and add height and focus by placing a large plant in the center of your arrangement. However you choose to enhance your personal aesthetic, keep in mind that the plants’ containers can also play a role in reflecting your style.
The best chance for success with indoor houseplants is starting with the healthiest specimens possible. Start by heading to your local independent nursery to look for trees and plants with even coloring on the leaves. Inspect the plant to make sure there aren’t any signs of pests or fungus. The nursery staff can let you know if the houseplant is poisonous to pets or people (always ask about this, especially if you have pets at home or young children around). Even if the nursery or gardening center doesn’t have what you’re looking for, ask if they can special order a specific plant for you. When purchasing the plant, discuss proper caretaking with the nursery staff.
Favorite Plants and Potted Trees
When heading to the nursery to add green to your home, look for a few common varieties to get you started in your search. Costs for these popular species vary depending upon the size; you can purchase a small but dramatic starter plant (something about two feet tall would certainly qualify as “large” for your indoor space) for as little as $20; the largest and boldest of indoor trees can run upwards of several hundred dollars.
Yucca Cane: At six feet tall, the straight vertical lines of the yucca cane (Y. elephantine) are a perfect fit for modern spaces. The plant requires lots of light, so place it by a bright window. Keep the soil moist, but due to its desert heritage, the plant doesn’t require humidity.
Janet Craig: During this season of stuffy air and stuffy noses, consider bringing home a Janet Craig (dracaena deremensis). Known for its air purification, the plant can grow up to ten feet tall and spread three feet wide, so make sure you have the space for it! You can choose to grow this as a potted plant on an end table or as a tall indoor tree. Janet Craigs can live for decades if you nurture them by keeping the soil evenly moist and misting with warm water.
Snake Plant: If you like the idea of hosting an air purifying plant in your home, consider a snake plant. Commonly known as mother-in-law’s tongue thanks to the sharp leaves of the white snake plant (sansevieria trifasciata), the plant can grow up to four feet tall and can withstand drier conditions (don’t overwater). The slender, long leaves bring a sense of elegance to your decor.
Rubber Tree Plant: An old-time classic that pairs perfectly with traditional decor and contemporary designs alike, the rubber tree plant (ficus elastica) is yet another houseplant renowned for its air-purifying abilities. It can reach beyond eight feet tall; with its oversized shiny leaves, the tree makes a dramatic statement. This is a great plant for bringing home in the winter since it doesn’t require as much light as other plants. If you have a window dressed with sheer curtains, place the plant nearby so it receives the proper amount of light. The plant exudes a milky sap that can irritate sensitive skin, so be sure to wear gloves when handling and pruning this plant.
Fiddleleaf fig: Another member of the ficus family, the fiddleleaf fig (ficus lyrata) equally dislikes direct, bright light, which is helpful on winter’s short, dark days. Its strong emerald leaves require frequent watering and pruning since it can grow more than 15 feet tall. A tip: keep the plant moist but not soggy.
Meyer Lemon Tree: Adding a splash of summer to your winter becomes a reality when you grow a Meyer lemon tree or a semi-dwarf lemon tree indoors. You’ll want to purchase one that’s two to three years old if you want fruit from the tree (and of course you want fresh citrus in the winter months!). This tree requires a lot of light, water, humidity, and a good drainage system.
Bringing cheer and chic design, a large indoor houseplant or potted tree can stay up year round and add height, color and vibrancy to any room of the house.
BEYOND THE POINSETTIA: OTHER FAVORITE HOLIDAY PLANTS
Whether you are giving a hostess gift or just want some live greenery to brighten up your home at the holidays, here are a few widely available, inexpensive plants that say “holiday” in a beautiful way.
Paperwhite narcissi. With white flowers and a strong fragrance, this indoor plant loves winter: It enjoys cooler indoor temperatures and indirect light.
Christmas cactus. Schlumbergera isn’t actually a true cactus—it actually enjoys semi-shade, and doesn’t tolerate dry soil.
Hippeastrum. More commonly known as amaryllis, these are a traditional holiday plant. Look for the Red Lion variety, which produces a strong red flower, or the Star-of-Holland variation with red and white markings.
Norfolk Pine. The original Charlie Brown tree is perfect for decorating with sweet, small ornaments as a tabletop tree.
Rosemary. Fragrant and edible, this aromatic was part of the Nativity story, having served as a place for baby Jesus’ clothes to dry.
Heliconia Humiilis. “Dwarf Jamaicans” produce dramatic red bracts and white blossoms with green tips.