Houseplants: Turn Your Apartment Into a Jungle Some Tips on How to Select and Maintain Greenery at Your Property

By selecting the right plants and maintaining their proper care, you can have a green paradise in your home (iStock).

Many New Yorkers have happy memories of their grandmothers’ apartments that were dense with greenery despite the heavy curtains, window security gates, and stifling radiators. Yet their own modern city abodes are as bare as a desert and lack even a cactus. So what was their grandmothers' secret in maintaining their greenery?

Care and Feeding

According to experts, there are four main reasons why houseplants die:

It begins with light, or not enough of it. Pick plants that require less light, the kind that grow naturally in the shaded forest or jungle floor. Think about it: if it thrives in abundant sunlight in its natural habitat, your window facing the courtyard in the second bedroom probably isn’t the best choice for that plant.

Watering is another major cause of death for our potted friends. And it’s not that you might forget--it’s that you water wrong. Overwatering can be as bad or worse as forgetting to water, causing root rot. A sudden shedding of yellowed leaves may indicate too much water. Water regularly once a week for most plants.

Don’t overfeed the plant with fertilizers and plant food. Remember those leaves that fell off that you didn’t remove from the planter? That’s plant food. It sounds like ‘plant cannibalism,’ but plant ecosystems recycle those dead leaves into food. Fertilize when your plant shows signs of needing it, like when new leaves don’t grow to the same size as old ones.


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  • Cacti and succulents absolutely do NOT do well in low light. Most of them need lots of bright, direct light to grow properly and stay healthy. You can still grow them indoors if you have large south-facing windows with loads of light, but if not plan to buy good, strong plant lights and have them on several hours each day.