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How Indoor Plants Increase Health and Happiness

You’ve probably heard the idea that houseplants can improve your health and productivity, but how much of this hype is real? Overall, a robust set of reputable studies suggest that indoor plants can increase mental health and cognitive performance in various ways. These positive effects are closely correlated with those observed by immersing people in natural settings. The great outdoors is good for you—as is the effort to bring a bit of this nature indoors with you.

Education is one of the best ways to get yourself to buy into indoor plants for health and productivity. Houseplants aren’t a cure for everything. Learn what is mostly hype and what it is about houseplants that seems to offer these benefits in study after study. Then, you can choose indoor plants that make the most sense for your home or office, while gaining new insights about how to optimize these spaces for health and productivity.

Productivity and Performance

Being outside—or even just the feeling of being outside—can cultivate that elusive quality of relaxed concentration, of effortless effort, of sustained productivity. Nowadays, office plants are almost universal fixtures or at least highly encouraged among the company’s workforce. This literature review from Psychology Today shows that there are widespread psychological benefits to natural settings and indoor plants. This includes better memory retention, concentration, and creativity, while reducing levels of stress, depression, and cognitive impairment.

The Truth about Plants and Indoor Air Quality

You don’t need to literally recreate a natural setting to get the health benefits of indoor plants—unless you’re trying to improve the indoor air quality. This is one area where the hype doesn’t live up to the science—in part because of a misunderstood NASA study that looked at the effect of plants on air quality in a closed environment like the international space station. Even in modern buildings, there is so much ventilation that you need to fill almost every square foot of space with plants to make a noticeable difference in indoor air quality.

Don’t Overlook Ornamental Value

People like things that look pretty. As part of their literature review on the benefits of houseplants, the Texas A&M Agriculture Extension found multiple studies that looked specifically at the benefits of having flowers in the home and office. Flowers were found to improve mood and reduce the risk of depression by helping people feel more secure and relaxed. You can achieve these benefits by replenishing cut flowers, but there’s a particular joy reserved for cultivating your own flowering houseplants, such as begonias. The blooms may not last forever, but some houseplants, like the prayer plant, have foliage with great ornamental value.

Staying Connected and Grounded

Decorating your home and workspace already provides many of these benefits, but the opportunity to care for houseplants offers its own rewards. It may not be quite the same as tending to an outdoor garden, but there is still something to be said for testing houseplant soil for moisture and pH levels. And don’t be afraid to take a moment and come up with some creative names for your plants. A connection to your indoor plants still won’t fix what’s wrong with your day, but it can soften the emotional consequences. And during times of self-isolation, caring for indoor plants can be a true life-saver.

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Alternate Names for the Wandering Jew Houseplant

Have you heard the news? The houseplant tradescantia zebrina is no longer called the Wandering Jew. A lot of people are still using this popular nickname, but there is also a groundswell of houseplant enthusiasts advocating for a different name. Not sure what the controversy is about? Not sure where you stand on the issue. Here is what you need to know about calling this popular houseplant a Wandering Jew and what alternate names you can use instead.

Why Do We Need a Different Name for the Wandering Jew Plant?

Some people don’t like using groups of people as mascots. They consider the very idea offensive, another way of objectifying people. The most common counterargument is that these mascots celebrate and/or remind us of peoples’ heritage and our shared humanity. So long as these mascots don’t denigrate the communities they claim to honor, what’s the harm? In our opinion, these factors must be considered on a case-by-case basis. More to this point, it’s a great opportunity to understand the history and myth of the Wandering Jew.

The Wandering Jew is NOT Moses: If you haven’t studied Jewish history, you might assume that the Wandering Jew is Moses and the other Jewish people who wandered in the desert for all those years. Don’t make this mistake. Not anymore. If nothing else, save yourself the embarrassment of being corrected by someone who knows the actual myth and history.

The Wandering Jew has Become a Deicidal Myth: All too commonly, the Wandering Jew is depicted as someone who taunted Jesus during the crucifixion and was then cursed to wander the earth until the Second Coming. The myth of the Wandering Jew was first popularized in 13th Century Europe. Since that time, the story has been used as justification for violence and as part of a larger antisemitic trope in which people of Jewish faith and heritage are blamed for Jesus’ death. In fact, there is no historical evidence to support this myth. In 2011, the pope concurred that Jews were not responsible for the crucifixion.

Isaac was the Original Wandering Jew: Jewish scholars point to a different within their faith that could serve as the original Wandering Jew. Specifically, Isaac, the son of Abraham, became wealthy by raising crops in the land of the Philistines, who then cast Isaac out of their lands for his riches. In this version, Isaac started digging wells on his travels and increased his wealth even more. The Philistine lords then apologized and welcomed Isaac back in the hopes of currying favor.

Thus, if you’re going to continue to call your houseplant a Wandering Jew, then we recommend you help reclaim the nickname by framing the choice within the Jewish tradition.

Other Names for the Wandering Jew

  • Inch Plant: This is our favorite alternative. It keeps the relevance of a nickname that describes the plant’s rapid, sprawling growth. Typically, the leaf nodes and purple flowers are spaced an inch apart. It’s also sometimes said that during the growing season tradescantia zebrina can grow an inch and new leaf node every single week. Which is an exaggeration but not by much.
  • Wandering Dude: A simple variant of Wandering Jew, this nickname makes us wonder whether dude doesn’t indicate a type of person and makes for a poor mascot. Plus, we’re just not crazy about how it sounds. Still, it’s a common alternative.
  • Spiderwort: Tradescantia zebrina is, in fact, a spiderwort plant. The only problem is that there are several kinds of tradescantia, or spiderwort, plants. But if you’re looking for a polite way to describe this houseplant, you can say, “It’s a special kind of spiderwort plant.” Other popular types include the Amethyst Kiss, Concord Grape, Red Grape, and Sweet Kate.
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Is Your Succulent Getting Enough Light? Look for ‘Leggy’ Growth

I planted these succulents at the same time from the same local plant shop. I believe they are Eve’s Pin Cactus or sometimes called Eve’s Needle Cactus. I planted one of them in a miniature pot and placed it directly in the middle or a narrow windowsill. The other succulent I placed in the middle of the room in a desert-themed terrarium on my dining room table. The cactus on the windowsill has grown full, dense foliage but only a little vertically. The cactus in the terrarium has shot up but with only small and sparsely spaced leaves. That’s because this succulent isn’t getting enough light. Or at least less light exposure than is ideal. This plant can likely survive in this way for a long time, but it must compensate to do so leaving it vulnerable to other stressors in its environment. I’ll have to keep an eye on this houseplant.

What to Do about Leggy Growth

The most obvious solution is to move the plant to a sunny spot in your home and/or replace the plant with one that does better in low-light conditions. You may notice that the leggy growth is concentrated on the side of the plant facing away from the sun. In this case, the answer may be as simple as rotating the plant every month or at least a few times a year. Another thing that can help to some degree is pinching the plant and removing the growth that’s most affected by the leggy growth. That said, there’s no hard-and-fast rule that says you have to do anything about leggy growth. Give the plant a second look, and you may decide you like the stretched look.

Other Houseplants that Reach for Light or Show Leggy Growth

Lots of houseplants will exhibit leggy growth when they aren’t getting enough light. Some houseplants have naturally bigger leaves than others, but in most every case leggy growth can be characterized by elongated stems and stunted leaves compared to the plant’s normal growth pattern. Knowing the type of houseplant you’re dealing with makes it a lot easier to recognize the difference between healthy growth and leggy growth patterns. Here is a photo series that shows a leggy begonia plant being nursed back to full health.

Other Signs a Succulent isn’t Getting Enough Light

Before leggy growth occurs, there is often an initial compensation the plant will make by tilting their leaves to maximize its exposure to light. Consider this an early warning sign. Many succulents are slow-growing, but if the leaves themselves show lackluster growth, this could be another sign. Some plants, like the Spanish bluebell hyacinth, also have yellowish leaves when lacking sunlight. If it’s getting just a little less than the ideal amount of sunlight, some houseplants will compensate by conserving energy. It may have full foliage and stay healthy for many years but will not flower unless it’s moved to a sunnier spot.

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Online Houseplant Shops and Home Delivery Reviews

More and more people are finding houseplants online. While there is excitement and immediate gratification with shopping at local plant shops, you can take your time and find the perfect houseplant even if it’s not especially common. The plants don’t buy and ship themselves, however. You need to do the research, read the details about each houseplant delivery, and consult customer reviews so you can feel confident and get a great result. Here are the most popular options for online houseplant shops and home delivery.

Etsy Houseplant Vendors

This online marketplace is a collection of independent vendors, many of which sell and ship houseplants. Perhaps the best thing about shopping for houseplants on Etsy is that you get the indie vibe, while still having a virtually endless number of choices. You can find unique houseplants, pots, and arrangements compared to big-box stores.

Each vendor has its own plant prices, arrangements, shipping, and business policies. So if you want to know if an Etsy vendor offers great houseplants, it’s important to do some research about that individual vendor. For the past decade, Etsy has been one of the leading sources of houseplant delivery. It’s hard to completely eliminate a disappointing result, but reading through the vendor’s profile and customer reviews can go a long way toward avoiding the worst options.

Amazon and Big Box Store Houseplant Delivery

For the best combination of convenience and selection, you can look at these big-name brands. These companies generally have user-friendly websites, large catalogs of houseplants, and reliable payment methods. They can also make the necessary investments to create an efficient sales, packaging, and delivery model. Thus, they can maintain affordable prices while keeping most varieties of houseplants in stock.

There have also been plenty of false starts for online houseplant companies over the years, as customers have shown an enduring preference for in-store shopping experiences. Nevertheless, there are early signs, super-charged by the pandemic, that online shopping and home delivery of popular houseplants is going to stick this time. Amazon and Home Depot offers houseplant shipping directly to your home. Lowe’s and Ace Hardware has online ordering for their indoor plants, but customers must pick the plants up at their local store.

Online Houseplant Shops with Home Delivery

There are also dozens of online businesses that directly sell and ship houseplants to your home. Some of these companies focus on specific types of houseplants; others offer most every popular type of houseplant as well as a selection of more exotic plants. Some of these companies do nothing but plants; some offer other products and housewares. Each vendor has slightly different shipping policies and delivery coverage areas. Some make more of an effort to produce affordable houseplants, while others boast truly remarkable arrangements with ornate pots and containers.

As such, these companies may offer the best option for houseplants and indoor gardening projects, especially if you know what you’re looking for and are willing to take the time to do the research. Fortunately, we’ve made the process considerably easier for you by collecting the most popular online houseplant shops that offer home delivery.

  • The Sill
  • Bloomscape
  • Leon & George
  • Leaf and Clay
  • American Plant Exchange
  • Dandy Farmer
  • Terrain
  • Urban Stems
  • Horti
  • Modern Sprout
  • Greenery Unlimited
  • Nature Hills Nursery
  • Garden Goods Direct
  • Lula’s Garden
  • ProFlowers
  • Hot Cactus
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Top 3 Houseplant Pest Control Solutions for Advanced Infestations

If you’re diligent about monitoring your houseplants, you may catch pests early enough to wash off the bugs and apply an insecticidal soap every week for a month and successfully beat back a mild infestation. For more advanced infestations, this type of treatment may not be enough. If you need to take more aggressive steps, here are our top three houseplant pest control solutions.

Adding a Whole House Humidifier or Dehumidifier

Individual houseplants may suffer from plant pests because they were already weakened in some way. Whether it’s aphids, mites, mealybugs, or fungus gnats, it doesn’t take long for the plant to be decimated. Neglected for too long, the entire plant may be infested and spread the problem to nearby plants. These pests can also be travel on the bottom of shoes, clothes, and pets.

Nevertheless, when all the houseplants in a home or living space are infested, the problem is often system. As such, there also needs to be a holistic solution. In most cases, this means looking at your home humidity level and the type of houseplant pest you’re dealing with. If you live in a dry climate and you’re fighting aphids, mites, mealybugs, thrips, or whiteflies, you may need to add a whole house humidifier to prevent these pests. If you want to salvage the houseplants you still have, you can also invest in a crop of predatory bugs that can be mailed to you. These predatory bugs often need moderate-to-high humidity levels to thrive, creating a powerful two-step pest control treatment. The opposite is also true. Peroxide may help keep fungus gnats at bay, but a permanent solution may also require a dehumidify to reduce fungal spores.

Propagate a New Houseplant

If you love a houseplant that has sustained moderate-to-heavy damage, the best chance you have to save the plant may be to create a cutting or divide the plant for propagation. This solution has the highest risk of failure or reinfestation. The more aggressive you are in discarding the affected plant growth, the greater your chances for long-term success. Rather than dividing a houseplant and hoping the soil under the healthy part of the plant is pest-free, you may want to take a few leaf cuttings and try to propagate the plant by stimulating new root growth in water or fresh potting soil mix.

Many houseplant pests have larvae that can survive common pesticide treatments. If even a single larva is in the soil, roots, stems, or leaves, then the pests may be part of the new plant as well. These larvae are the biggest reason why houseplant pests are hard to get rid of entirely without throwing out the plant and starting over. It’s not impossible and there are plenty of success stories out there, but there are few guarantees.

How to Sanitize Pots from Pests

A lot of people are leery about reusing a houseplant pot that has experienced an infestation. So long as you take a few precautionary steps, there’s no reason to worry about taking the pests with you. Most gardeners will tell you it’s a good idea to wash and disinfect your pots before you plant, anyway. First, you should clean the pots with soap and water. Make sure you remove any significant patches of dirt or grime. Dirt particles render bleach and other sanitizing agents ineffective. Thus, the better job you do cleaning the pots, the easier and more effective the sanitation process.

You shouldn’t have to add anywhere near 2 cups of bleach per gallon of water to disinfect pots. If you do a good job cleaning, 2 tablespoons should be enough. Some people don’t like to use bleach at all but prefer an environmentally friendly option. You can also use vinegar or hydrogen peroxide, but you need to let these disinfectants sit for about 10 minutes. To sanitize your pots, you can use the concentrations found in common household products and brands. This is 5% vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Types of Houseplant Pests

The best pest control and treatment plans come from knowing the enemy. Learn about different types of common houseplant pests and what you can do about them.

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Growing Houseplants in Pots without Drainage Holes

In general, we recommend against placing houseplants in pots without drainage whenever possible. You can still use a beautiful decorative pot even if it doesn’t have drainage holes. You can simply use a second interior pot that does have drainage holes. Some type of catchment will make sure you can water your plants generously without making a mess.

That said, there are plenty of examples and effective strategies for growing houseplants in pots without drainage holes. Maybe you already have the perfect size pot and the perfect size plant. Maybe you’re starting with miniature plants and pots that are impractical to layer with two different pots. Maybe you’ve heard that the need for pots with good drainage is overblown. Whatever the reason, here are our tips and advice for growing houseplants in pots without drainage.

Best Watering Practices

First, you need to know exactly what type of houseplant you have and how much soil moisture the plant likes. You need to provide enough moisture to unlock nutrients in the soil without creating standing water that leads to root rot or excess moisture that leads to mold. Even though overwatering is a constant danger, you still need to get the soil wet in every area of the pot. In fact, it’s even more important to water all sides of the pot to saturate the soil with the least amount of water. Using glass jars or other glass containers will allow you to see exactly how much water the soil is taking on and whether the soil is drying out. Using a soil moisture meter is another essential tool to get the water just right.

Pot Size and Gravel

It’s also easier to go without drainage holes for miniature pots and houseplants. Large pots with considerable potting mix take a lot longer to dry out, especially without drainage. With miniature pots, the soil is so close to the surface and the plant needs so little water to begin with, you have a better chance of success. The idea that adding gravel to the bottom of the pot is all you need for drainage is a major houseplant myth and one of the most common mistakes people make with houseplants. It also goes hand-in-hand with overwatering. One thing we do recommend is lining the bottom of the pot with activated charcoal that will help keep the water clean and free of rot.

Growing Houseplants in Water

For many types of plants, this is the easiest way to grow houseplants without drainage holes. For philodendrons, lucky bamboo, and pothos plants especially, this is a great solution. Simply put a cutting of the plant, just below a leaf node, in a glass jar with clean water and plant fertilizer. Make sure the leaves are out of the water and the node is in the water. New roots should form. So long as you keep replacing the water and adding fertilizer, these houseplants should grow and do quite well. When growing houseplants in water, it doesn’t have to be a glass jar. In fact, especially when placed in sunny spots, glass containers can encourage algae growth that threatens the plant. Learn more about propagating and growing houseplants in water.

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Why isn’t My Houseplant Flowering?

Some houseplants produce flowers more easily than others, and some do not produce flowers at all. Houseplants may not flower for a few different reasons. They may be getting too much water—or not enough. They may be getting too much light—or not enough. Thus, if you want to know why isn’t your houseplant flowering, you need to look at the type of houseplant, its recent growth, and your plant care practices.

Many types of houseplants only produce flowers when they are strong and healthy from the right growing conditions. Other houseplants also need light and temperature cues to trigger their natural growth and flowering cycle. Some plants need reduced light exposure (photoperiodism) and/or slightly colder temperatures (vernalization) that mimic winter and prepare the plant to flower during the ensuing spring and summer. Some houseplants, like the Christmas cactus, use a combination of photoperiodism and vernalization to trigger a new bloom cycle.

Some houseplants are also more likely to produce flowers when stressed in some way. It’s believed the plant starts working overtime to produce flowers that can create the next generation of plants. Before trying this approach, we generally recommend making sure a houseplant has ideal growing conditions and plenty of healthy foliage but still won’t flower. We also recommend learning more about why specific types of houseplants may not be flowering.

Why Different Types of Houseplants Do and Do Not Flower

Peace Lily

The most common complaint against peace lilies is that they have beautiful, white flowers in the store that are never seen again when you take the plant home. The peace lily can be forced to show its spathe and spadix blossom, but only under ideal growing conditions. This includes plenty of indirect light in a north- or east-facing window or with filtered light. The peace lily likes plenty of water compared to most houseplants, though it is quick to bounce back. Plus, its large, droopy leaves make it easy to tell when it needs water. So long as it’s not too drafty, being a few degrees colder in the winter can help mimic its natural growing conditions and help produce flowers. Finally, it’s best to fertilize or amend the soil in the early spring to promote new growth and flowers in the late spring and summer. Some of the success also depends on the individual grower and source. Some peace lily cultivars flower more easily than others.

Anthuriums and angel wing begonias are other good examples of popular houseplants that need ideal growing conditions in order to produce flowers.

Cactus

In contrast to peace lilies which are forced to bloom by the growers and then may struggle to do so at home, cacti are often sold without flowers in bloom. That’s because many types of cactus do not flower until they are fully mature plants. For some species, this can mean a few years. For others, it can mean a few decades. The solution to getting a cactus to flower may simply be time and patience. That said, the cactus is also a houseplant that is much more likely to flower when given optimal growing conditions. With two main types of cactus, it’s important to know what your plant likes best. A desert cactus is more likely to thrive and bloom with plenty of sun and less frequent watering. A forest cactus is more likely to benefit from moderate watering and not too much direct sun.

Kalanchoe

Most every kind of plant uses exposure to natural light to determine the season, calibrate its growth, and decide how to expend its energy. For some plants, like the kalanchoe, this photoperiodism is expressed in their ability or inability to flower. The kalanchoe plant typically has plenty of flowers with blooms that may last for months. If the plant isn’t producing new flowers, it could be poor growing conditions, but it’s just as likely that you’re not giving the plant long enough periods of darkness. These plants usually need around 12-14 hours of darkness to trigger a new bloom cycle. This includes most types of artificial light. Keep the plant in a room where you don’t spend late evenings or early morning with the light on, and you should be good to go.

African violets and poinsettas are also very popular houseplants that may require up to 8 and 14 hours, respectively, to stimulate new flowers.

The Best Houseplants for Flowering

Are you looking for a houseplant with plenty of colorful flowers? Along with the plants already mentioned, we recommend checking out different varieties of orchids, cyclamen, amaryllis, geraniums, flowering jasmine, flowering maple, and primroses.

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Traveling with Houseplants: How to Turn a Plant into the Perfect Souvenir

Many people who love to cultivate houseplants eventually run into the problem of too many plants and too little space. Different times of year bring new successes and challenges in managing house and plant décor. During springtime, there are beautiful, healthy plants of endless variety in local shops. As summer rolls along, new growth can swell the total size of a houseplant, threatening to crowd out nearby plants. During the fall and winter, you’re more likely to be gifted new plants that you need to find space for.

One of the best times to propagate a houseplant is when an out-of-town friend or family member is visiting. You have plenty of chances to give houseplants to your local network of friends, family, and neighbors. If you’re the one traveling with houseplants, you can also do a houseplant trade with this type of family member or long-distance friendship. Especially if you’re trying to make room for new plants, then you can pack and bring some of your full-size houseplants as gifts. In return, you might bring home a cutting to start a new, smaller plant from your friend’s collection.

Best Travel Experiences and Souvenirs for 2020

Houseplants make for great gifts in general, but this year, it can make more sense than ever to turn your houseplants into free gifts and a free source of entertainment. With new distancing rules, there are fewer social events to attend. Houseplant propagation makes for a great at-home crafts project, whether it’s just for your inner circle or whether you want to set up a larger area to maintain distancing. Of course, you can also go to a local gardening shop and buy houseplants. Too many people shy away from these ideas because they think houseplants are too much trouble to travel with. In truth, it’s usually not that hard. By knowing a few tips and tricks, you can create a new houseplant and bring it home.

Tips and Tricks for Packing and Traveling with Houseplants

  • Some houseplant enthusiasts will tell you that the best way to travel with a houseplant is the bare-root approach in which you first knock and wash off the soil. With this approach, you want the roots to be dry. Once you get the houseplant to its destination and repot the plant, it’s time for a generous amount of water to promote new root growth.
  • Other people tell you this approach is unnecessary if you’re not already repotting the plant. You can simply cover the soil and wrap the pot easily enough to prevent the soil from making a mess of things. With this approach, you do want to water the houseplant before packing, but not all at once or to excess. Give the plant a little time to drain before packing. You don’t want to trap water-logged soil near the roots or make the packing material water-logged from runoff.
  • Looking for a souvenir on a road trip and found a plant that the landscape won’t miss? So long as you can get the plant out of the ground, you don’t need a lot of fancy packing materials or even a lot of pre-planning. Stop at a grocery store for a 2-liter of soda or a gallon of milk, and you have a ready-made container for transporting the plant back home.
  • Some plants and cut flowers should be planted in soil or growing medium as soon as possible, but for many houseplants like the jade, you should wait a couple days for the cutting to dry out and better prepare to grow new roots. Even if you run out of time for a crafts project, you can quickly create and pack a plant cutting which you can pot when you get back home. This is also a popular approach when flying with a houseplant.
  • You should try to keep up with best houseplant care practices in the week or so before travel. This includes trimming back and removing any dead growth from the pot. Here is a nifty guide we found for traveling with houseplants on short-distance vs. long-distance trips.

Pay Attention but Be Patient with New Houseplants

Know that houseplants frequently show signs of distress when being repotted or even just when being moved to a new location. Most times, the plant will quickly rebound after adjusting to its new environment.

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Online Plant Delivery vs Local Gardening Stores

Those looking for houseplants often have two basic questions in mind: What type of houseplants should I get and where is the best place to get them? We can help you choose different types of houseplants, but we can also provide tips and guidance about where to find your houseplants. One choice you’ll need to make is whether to go out shopping for your plants at local gardening stores vs online plant delivery where you get the plants delivered directly to your home.

Houseplant Selection vs. Inspection

Online, you can find practically any houseplant variety out there. They may not all be available from the same vendor, and they may not all be available at the same time of year. Yet, if you know the houseplant you want, a simple search will usually find online plant delivery for that type of plant. True, some plants travel better than others both in terms of physical damage and recovering from shipping stress.

At a local plant shop, you may not have an endless selection, but you can closely inspect each plant for health and visual appeal. If you’ve got a tricky spot in your home and an eye for design, for example, you may want to pick out a plant with specific foliage and growth pattern. With their featured displays and plant arrangements, local nurseries and gardening stores can help brainstorm and solve these types of home decorating challenges.

Like many e-commerce platforms, online plant delivery services find ways to offer new kinds of customer service and quality assurance. Beyond the convenience and cost comparison of online shopping, these online vendors are more likely to offer plant insurance or even free replacement plants. It’s easier to find reviews from verified customers and how their plants have performed.

Plants with Pots vs Containers

Some online plant delivery services also sell pots, but few vendors ship the plant and pot together in a condition that’s ready to place. Likewise, many gardening stores offer most of their plants in temporary plastic containers, but many places will also feature at least some plants that are already potted. Are you looking for ready-made houseplant decorations for your home? Some type of boutique plant shop is likely your best bet. Yes, you’ll pay a small premium for this type of arrangement, but if you like the look of houseplants and don’t have time for an indoor gardening project, it’s well worth it. A quick call or visit to the website is often enough to know what type of plants and pot arrangements you can expect to find.

Online Plant Delivery vs Local Gardening Stores: What’s Best for the Environment?

In general, shopping at local gardening stores is better for the environment, but it depends on the growing source and distribution network. It’s not so much the local delivery component that’s bad for the environment, but national distribution with houseplants getting routinely shipped across the country to make sure orders are fulfilled. Getting a plant delivered from a local nursery is better than driving a gas-guzzler all over town looking for a singularly perfect plant.

Many houseplant enthusiasts are concerned about the environment, and some gardening businesses are taking action to support these values. Greenery Unlimited, for example, announced last year that it would suspend nationwide delivery of their houseplants until the company could figure how to reduce the environmental impact of their delivery operations.

Shipping Stress on Houseplants

While shipping houseplants is likely to stress the plant, withered foliage should bounce back so long as the plant is from a reputable source with strong, healthy roots. Of course, it’s up to you to provide favorable growing conditions and good houseplant care. There is likely to be some stress no matter how you get houseplants. When it comes to exact light exposure and humidity level, no two places are exactly the same. If the plant is going from western to eastern sun exposure, there is likely to be signs of distress during the transition—even if the plant is well-suited to eastern light. At the same time, shipping a houseplant to an arid climate from a grower with greenhouses calibrated for tropical climates is going to be more vulnerable to pests and disease than houseplants from local growers.

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Where to Buy Houseplants: Big Box Stores vs Local Nurseries vs Boutique Shops

The best places to buy houseplants use reliable growers and maintain diligent onsite plant care while also offering competitive prices. Unless you can get the truth out of an owner or employee, it may be impossible to know the quality and overall value of a houseplant you see in the store. That said, there are some notable differences in supply chains and business practices from big box stores, local nurseries, and boutique shops that can influence where you buy houseplants.

Buying Houseplants at Big Box Stores

Though snubbed by many plant enthusiasts, big box stores are still among the most common ways to find and buy houseplants. These stores are also the most affordable way to get plants on average. However, there are two big knocks against the plants at big box stores. First, the plants may be from large, national growers that use standardized greenhouse conditions, rather than grow conditions that reflect the local climate. Second, these plants may not receive the same level care and attention from the staff as the plants cultivated at smaller, local nurseries. Signs of distress when taking your plant home are more common from big box stores. Nevertheless, if you have a good setup at home and follow best care practices, many plants can adapt and reestablish themselves.

Buying Houseplants at Local Nurseries

Local plant nurseries tend to offer some of the best overall value for gardening and houseplants. Not all nurseries operate on the same scale, and that can make a big difference in what they offer. The tradeoff is price vs selection. By focusing on just a dozen popular and reliable plant varieties, nurseries can offer beautiful, healthy plants at a price that competes with the big box stores. However, indoor houseplant selection may be limited. As smaller, local growers diversify their selection while maintaining best cultivation practices, they usually need to increase their prices to turn a profit. The shopping experience is often an open greenhouse with long rows of tables for browsing. There may also be some plants fully outside and/or a modest indoor area for specialty plants.

Buying Houseplants at Boutique Gardening Shops

Boutique gardening stores are essentially high-end plant nurseries. You get the same high-quality results from local plant cultivation from gardening experts. You’ll usually find plenty of options for miniature plants in tiny plastic containers, but you’ll also find beautifully arranged and potted plants. Instead of long, orderly rows of houseplants, there is likely to be a thoughtfully designed sales floor that shows off the best houseplant examples. More than shopping for a plant you already know you want, these stores are great spaces to brainstorm new ideas for houseplant décor. The drawback is that the prices at these types of gardening stores may be even higher than other local nurseries.

What about Plant Delivery Services?

For a long time, online plant delivery was a niche market for people who prioritized convenience and selection over price and sustainability. This is still true to some degree, but there are new delivery service models that are working to lower the cost and improve sustainability. Whether directly through big-box stores or online delivery services that partner with local nurseries, many gardening stores are offering both in-store and plant delivery sales options.

Best Houseplant Buy and Care Practices

Where to buy houseplants is an important decision, but don’t overlook the fundamentals of houseplant care. The healthiest, most beautiful plant specimen in the world can wilt to nothing in a matter of weeks if neglected or attacked by pests. In other cases, a houseplant on its last legs may be nursed back to health.