best houseplants for NYC apartments

5 Essential House Plants For Your NYC Apartment

It’s no secret urban dwellers are increasingly stuck in a world where fresh air is more of a myth than a norm, and the sun doesn’t quite make it into the nooks and crannies of that second-floor apartment (or 20th-floor office for that matter). While these everyday occurrences (fresh air and sunlight) are easily accessed in more suburban settings and often lead to beautiful gardens and cleaner environments, that doesn’t mean your home can’t flourish with plant life.

In the latest self-care/home décor/environmental trends, house plants are becoming the new must-purchase item as hardy varieties of favorite plants are now commonly found in local shops. Urban jungles are being carefully curated to reflect style and personality, but there are actually unexpected benefits to adding a plant or five into your home.

The Case for Plants in Your Apartment 

If you’ve ever developed a sudden case of allergies after switching apartments or workspaces, you’re not alone, and it’s due to your indoor environment. Indoor air pollution is on the rise because of poorly ventilated spaces, emissions from synthetic building materials, mold, rot, and other unseen killers. Because we humans spend on average 90 percent of our lives indoors, doesn’t it make sense to find a solution to this growing problem of air pollution?

Enter the common houseplant.

First-grade science teaches us that plants give off oxygen and absorb our carbon monoxide. Indoor plants are no exception. Many hardy varieties thrive on consuming toxins, chemicals, and gases inside our homes breaking them down into harmless byproducts and storing them in their soil and leaves. This process results in purer, cleaner air to breathe inside our little sanctuaries.

And in addition to their naturally purifying capabilities, these little potted friends can work wonders on your mental state. If you take a moment and picture a calm and peaceful environment chances are your mind will take you to a gently rolling field, a commanding mountaintop, or perhaps just a city park. That’s because nature, plants, flowers, and animals have a positive effect on our subconscious minds.

Multiple studies have been conducted to prove this fact, and the results are conclusive: plants help reduce stress and mental fatigue while boosting self-esteem and relaxation.

But unfortunately, growing trees, caring for roses, and tending to orchids are not for the faint of heart. There are, however, many hardy, benefit-giving houseplants that are well suited for the even the most novice nature lover.

Small Space, Low Light Plants

Plants are simple. They need two basic ingredients to grow: water and sunlight. Unfortunately, the tricky part becomes knowing how much of each ingredient they should be receiving. Apartment dwellers can typically count on little to no direct sunlight in their home and need plants that can survive and thrive in harsh conditions. These five hard-to-kill houseplants are perfect if you’re just venturing into the world of horticulture.


Notoriously hardy, these desert beauties can be set on a windowsill with just a bit of light and still flourish making them an ideal choice for apartments. Take care not to over-water these plants, or they will start to rot from their roots and eventually die off.

Rubber Plant

Deep green and burgundy leaves set these attractive plants apart from the crowd and do wonders for purifying the air in your home. In ideal conditions, they’ll grow to tree (or large bush) height, but for apartment conditions, the right pot will keep them small and manageable. They enjoy bright conditions, but direct sunlight is often too much for their leaves and a once per week watering will keep them happy.

Snake Plant

Also known as Mother-in-law’s tongue, the snake plant grows impressive long, pointed leaves and thrives on low light and little water. They’re easy to maintain and can grow quickly in the right conditions.


These easy-to-grow houseplants are known for their heart-shaped leaves and require less work than even most cactus varieties. Take care to never put philodendron in direct sunlight and water well to ensure a thriving plant.

Umbrella Tree

Although these graceful plants are not quite as on-trend as Fiddle Leaf Fig trees, they require little to no maintenance and indirect light to thrive. Grow these plants to maturity and use them as statement pieces in your home, pruning them only when they become too large for your desired area.

Keeping Up with Your Plants

Even with the hardiest plants, there are a few universal rules to follow to make sure your new houseplants stay alive.

  1. Note their light requirements. If you purchase your plant from a nursery, the attendants will be able to tell you a little more about the variety and its ideal growing conditions. Likewise, even in more conventional stores, most plants come with a tag that directs the buyer on the amount of light necessary. Make a note of the difference between direct and indirect sunlight and where in your home the sunlight falls. Choose a light location that keeps within the preferences of your plant.
  2. Stick to a watering schedule. Plants, like humans, thrive on consistency. Make sure you stick to a consistent watering schedule – whether that be once a week or once a month.
  3. Choose the right pot. Often the plastic pots plants are purchased in just don’t cut it. Choose a pot with good drainage (often that calls for a hole in the bottom and a drainage saucer) and make sure the soil has the right drainage capabilities for the plant you’ve purchased.
  4. Observe your plant. More often than not having a green thumb is just about taking note of how your plant looks. If its leaves are dropping, it’s almost always from underwatering or overwatering. If your plant’s leaves start to turn brown or yellow, try changing the amount of sun exposure. Nearly every natural causes of plant death can be avoided by adjusting what the plant needs.

So, no matter if you live in a glass castle with 24/7 with natural light or a cinder block building with fluorescents, there’s a houseplant or two out there for you. Use helpful resources like Google or garden experts at a local nursery to help you pick out the perfect plant for your home and create your own urban jungle.