Focus On You > Creating a Space That's "On Point" For You

Focus on You

Creating a Space That's "On Point" For You

houseplants in white pots 

There's nothing quite like coming home from a long day and relaxing in your own little oasis of peace and tranquility. Indoor plants can add to this space's serenity, as well as provide overall wellness benefits for you. Horticulturist Carrie Hennessy sat down with TOPS to answer a few questions about the health benefits and soothing qualities of indoor plants for the budding gardener in all of us. "My goal is to show that plants are awesome, and that gardening doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated," she says.

What are some health benefits of having indoor plants?

Studies have shown that live indoor plants help lower stress levels and alleviate depression, especially in winter when you aren’t outside as much, and days are shorter. Houseplants can also increase air humidity and filter out certain toxins. One of the best air-filtering plants is Sansevieria trifasciata, or snake plant. It’s a great choice for the bedroom because during the night, it filters carbon dioxide and produces oxygen.

For those of us who don’t have a green thumb, what indoor plants require minimal care?

Air plants (Tillandsia species) are incredibly easy to grow in your home. Sometimes called “tillies,” air plants don’t need soil to grow because they take moisture and nutrients from the air. They can be tucked into any well-ventilated vessel or cranny, set on a decorative rock, or even in glass orbs—as long as the structures have an opening for air flow.

Caring for the plants is simple. Once a week, for one hour, soak the plants in room-temperature water, and then let them dry upside down so water can’t cause rot in the crevices. When dry, put them back into whatever display structure they call home. You could also decorate the bathroom with tillies so they can enjoy a steamy environment on a regular basis. Tillies don’t like direct sunlight, so don’t set them near a window. Their room, however, should still have brightness from indirect sunlight.

Succulents require even less care in the home, as long as they have really good drainage and are in a light, soil-less medium. These plants don’t require a lot of TLC. In fact, it’s best if you are the kind of person (like me) who forgets to water their indoor plants. Once every couple of weeks, put enough water in the pot so it runs out the bottom, and that’s it! You can also get by with misting the leaves occasionally. I have a cat that eats any plant I bring in the house, so I need plants that are small enough to be tucked up high and don’t need much sunlight. And if he does find one to graze on, succulents aren’t toxic, so I know my little buddy will be OK.

When decorating for a calm and peaceful space, what are your go-to plants?

There is something about ferns that I find incredibly calming. They also do really well in low light. Pothos and spider plants will tumble out of their pots in a charming manner. Umbrella plants (Schefflera) are a shiny, happy option. If you crave more exotic color, croton plants create a tropical feel. Get creative with your container choices by picking bright or muted colors, depending on what energy level you want to bring to your space.

Carrie Hennessy is a horticulturist and landscape designer for Johnson’s Nursery, Inc. at in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. She also does public speaking on a variety of plant-related topics and in online videos at

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