The 10 best plants for apartment dwellers

Posted On Tue, March 13, 2018 By

Posted On Tue, March 13, 2018 By In apartment living 101, Features, Green Design, Interiors, NYC Guides

Image by irisphotos on Flickr CC

Our ongoing series Apartment Living 101 is aimed at helping New Yorkers navigate the challenges of creating a happy home in the big city. This week we tackle the issue of growing plants indoors when both space and light are limited.

From purifying the air to making your apartment feel more welcoming and alive, there is a multitude of reasons to incorporate plants into your home decor. However, for many of us, keeping these precious specimens alive can be a small but legitimate challenge—especially when space and natural sunlight is limited (like many apartments in New York City). To make the commitment to caring for and sustaining the life of greenery a bit easier, we’ve put together this list of special and very sturdy plants perfect for apartment dwellers like yourself.

 Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni on Pixabay

1. Pothos – Epipremnum Aureum 

This leafy green is ideal for adding lively accents higher up in your apartment. They are perfect for hanging baskets or as a climbing plant. Plus their purifying qualities allow them to absorb and strip toxins like formaldehyde often found in common household items like carpet and area rugs. They can survive in a variety of lighting conditions, but please note that low light may reduce the leaves’ variegation.

Image via Wiki Commons

2. Snake Plant – Sansevieria Trifasciata 
Snake plants are some of the most tolerant plants out there. They can withstand weeks of neglect without losing their shape and fresh look. Snake plants are great for the novice green thumb as they can thrive in environments with very low light and water. Added benefits include their ability to help purify the air by removing toxins like formaldehyde and benzene.

Image via Wiki Commons

3. ZZ Plant – Zamioculcas Zamiifolia 
ZZ Plants are native to Zanzibar, a country located in East Africa, and are considered by some as the “Houseplant of the Future.” This is one of the lowest light plants available, only needs to be watered three times per month, and rarely attracts pests.

Iron plant, Aspidistra Elatior, plants for indoors, low-light plants, air purifying plantsImage via Wiki Commons

4. Iron Plant – Aspidistra Elatior 
Iron Plants boast dark leafy greens and can add a visually striking aesthetic to any dark corner. They also have an affinity for low lighting and can survive with very little water and poor soil.

Image by Denise Husted on Pixabay

5. Cacti – Cactaceae 
If variety is what you’re looking for then you might want to invest some of your apartment funds into purchasing cacti. Cacti are available in all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes. These easy to care for plants can survive in the desert, so if you have a window available, it’s likely your apartment will be an equally equip environment to provide these plants with everything they need to thrive.

Image via Pixabay

6. Succulents 
Who doesn’t love a succulent? Over the past few years, we’ve seen a boom in this plant’s popularity which can probably be attributed to their good looks and their no fuss MO (they are nearly indestructible). All you need to keep these guys going is a little bit of sunlight and water once every other month.

Photo via Edward Webb flickr CC

7. Spider Plant – Chlorophytum Comosum 
Spider plants again fall into the low light category, but they also self propagate by sending out off-shoots. So if abundance is what you’re after, look no further. Spider plants do well when their roots are crowded, making them the perfect companion for any New York apartment whether planted in a bundle or on their own.

Image via Pxhere

8. Bamboo ↑
Bamboo only needs water and shade to survive, and in addition to its good looks, bamboo is also meant to create a positive living environment. It is considered a living example of the feng shui elements of water, wood and earth, and in accordance with feng shui practices, if you place your bamboo in the correct pot, it can introduce fire and metal to complete a balance of the five elements.

Image by Andrew Fogg on Flickr

9. Ficus Tree – Ficus benjamina 
If you’re lucky enough to have room for a full tree, then the ficus is what you should be after. Also known as the weeping fig or Braided Ficus, this low-maintenance, attractive plant is perfect for your indoor oasis. The braided trunk, however, does not occur naturally. When the plant is young, its multiple trunks can be weaved together to grow into a permanent braid. While the ficus is a very common indoor plant, they are also grown outdoors. In nature it can reach up to 50 feet tall.

Image via Wiki Commons

10. Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum Wallisii 
This beautiful plant boasts long dark green leaves and elegant white flowers. The Peace Lily is great for small spaces and requires little sun for survival. In fact, direct sunlight can actually damage the plant’s foliage—it has the nickname “Closet Plant.” The plant doesn’t require a lot of watering, but when it does, it’s easy to tell as the leaves begin to drop.


The Flower District: 28th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue.
Urban Garden Center NYC: 1640 Park Avenue
Gea’s Garden Jewels: 247 East 10th Street
Union Square Greenmarket: Union Square

Dig: 479 Atlantic Avenue
Natty Garden: 636 Washington Avenue
Gowanus Nursery: 9 Carroll Street
Kings County Nurseries: 625 New York Avenue



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  • Ana Denmark-Brill
  • CJ

    I’ve got a three year old Geranium that hasn’t sprouted flowers since I bought it but the leaves look absolutely beautiful.

  • designnerd

    ZZ Plant – Zamioculcas Zamiifolia is the best. Cute and robust. The only thing you can do wrong is give it *too* much light; The leaves don’t burn, but the plant’s growth is stunted and the leaves turn a dark dark green.



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