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Designing with Houseplants: Green Thumb Not Required

Flip through any top interior design magazine and you’re likely to see houseplants, either in artfully composed vignettes or as centerpieces on dining room tables and dramatic sculptures in living rooms. If you weren’t born with a green thumb, growing houseplants is easier than you think, as long as you select the right kind for your home. To give you a head start, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite low-maintenance houseplants. To ensure designer-style success, take photos of your living spaces, share them with the experts at your local garden center, and ask those experts to help you select the right plants for the amount of sunlight and humidity in your rooms.

Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)

For a splash of casual tropical glamour, plant bamboo palms in large blue and white Chinese pots and set them in a corner of a dining room or library. With bright, indirect light, temperatures of 65 to 80 degrees, and careful watering, they’ll thrive and grow five to seven feet tall. As a bonus, bamboo palms are one of the best plants for filtering out benzene, often found in paints, inks, plastics, and carpeting, and trichloroethylene, commonly used in paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives.

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

For an elegant, timeless look, plant English ivy in classical-style urns and cover the soil with bright green moss. Place the urns on either side of a large mirror in your foyer or on a mantelpiece where they’ll get four or more hours of direct sunlight each day. Keep the soil moist, and your plants will reward you by filtering out formaldehyde, commonly found in household cleaning products, furniture, carpeting, and mattresses.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

With thick, dark green leaves and dramatic oval white blooms, peace lilies make a lovely addition to a master suite or office. One of the most forgiving houseplants, these graceful plants thrive indoors with shade, low light, or even fluorescent light, and moderate to high humidity. Peace lilies are also one of the best household plants for improving indoor air quality.

Aloe (Aloe vera)

To give your home a touch of Palm Springs style, plant aloe in white, modern containers and cover the soil with small white stones. If you have a sunny living room, set a trio of aloe plants on the coffee table. Keep another aloe plant by a window in your kitchen, as the gel inside the leaves helps heal minor cuts and burns. Aloe also helps remove formaldehyde and benzene from the air in your home. 

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata var. laurentii)

If you love mid-century modern furnishings, you’ll appreciate the snake plant’s dramatic, vertical green leaves with yellow or white stripes. Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, snake plants do well in low to moderate light and humidity and easily endure periods of drought. Plant a snake plant in a bold, hand-glazed pottery container, and place it in your bathroom or bedroom, where it will filter out air pollutants, absorb carbon dioxide, and release oxygen at night.