House plants can transform a space. Look at any home décor magazine and you’re sure to see a few plants in each spread. I’ve always had orchids in our home but the last 8 months saw a sudden demise for all of them (a few were over 7 years old and three were the grown and flowering babies of my first orchid—I was quite sad when I finally had to admit they weren’t just resting). I’ve been left with a plantless house and several empty feeling spaces.
I feel a great deal of responsibility when I take on any living thing, including house plants, and like to plan and prepare to ensure it will thrive under my care. I’ve never really had typical houseplants—just orchids and a few climbers like spider plants so I did a bit of research before deciding which varieties to take to my house in the mountains at about 7,000 feet elevation. Here are my results and a few tips I gleaned from the web:
Wispy plants with thin leaves like palms and ferns tend to prefer humid climates where they can draw the readily available moisture from the air. Unless you’re running a humidifier 24/7, humidity is not an element in Albuquerque-area homes. Go for House Plants with thick, waxy leaves that can retain and store moisture.
A good example of Tip#1 is the difference in leaf texture between Phalaenopsis/moth orchids with their wide, waxy leaves and cymbidium orchids, which have thin, wispy leaves—I never had luck with the latter but my Phalaenopsis thrived for years, until recently…
Resist the urge to over water! Sometimes living in such a dry climate can make you want to water your house plants too often—don’t. Soak them about once every week or week and a half and don’t water them unless they are actually dry (stick your finger into the dirt all the way to your knuckle and check). The potting soil and medium in most house plants retains moisture really well.
Treat them right! I think of houseplants like pets—they need regular care and love. At least once a month, dust them with a damp cloth. Rotate them 90 degrees with each watering to keep the growth even and re-pot them at least yearly. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you and your family, filtering carbon dioxide and improving the air quality in your home and adding a bit of that much needed humidity to the air.
Best Local Places to Buy:
Lowes and Home Depot have a great selection year-round but Lowes had better prices.
I’ve bought most of my orchids from Trader Joe’s, Smiths, and Whole Foods. I give Trader Joe’s my highest recommendation.