Houseplant Happiness

Well-placed plants will bring life, heath and joy into your home.

By Shannon Craig
Photography by Kim Dillon


Full disclosure: I don’t have children and I don’t have cats, but man oh man do I have some plants. They’ve been purchased at nurseries and farmer’s markets with my equally plant-obsessed father, brought in from alleyway trashcans and given by friends moving away. They’ve been major investments—a foot-tall Saguaro cactus—and they’ve been grocery store buys after long weeks at work. I’m a plant lover, in part, because they make every room in my home appear more intentional. But mostly, I’m a plant lover because plants make me happy.

And seldom do you find obsessions that look good while being good for you. “They bring life to the dark corners, don’t they?” states interior designer, Mary Tramelli. She’s referring to the dark corners of a bedroom or office, of course, but for green thumbs her words resonate much deeper. “Having a houseplant—it brings the outdoors in,” she explains. “I think it just raises your quality of life…and a good fern never goes out of style.”

Unlike a couch, rug, throw or lamp, accessorizing with houseplants brings color, texture, shape, depth and life-giving oxygen to your rooms. Studies show that clean air varieties—ferns, broadleaves and other dark greenery—can produce as much as five to ten milliliters of oxygen per hour.

Easy-care air purifiers, recommends Jim Oldani of Timberwinds Nursery, “can be anything from pothos to snake plants.” Often called “Mother-in-Law’s Tongues,” the spiky vertical-growing snake plant makes a striking addition to low-light environments. “Some of our best-selling clean air plants right now are the Marble Queen pothos,” Oldani says, “and of course, the Fiddle-Leaf Fig. They are everywhere.”

“Yes, they’re very popular right now,” agrees Greenscape Gardens’ Tammy Behm. “I think people love Fiddle-Leaf Figs because their structure, texture and leaf shape allows them to play off of other textures in their space.” 

Behm is an advocate of another growing trend, though. “Citrus! Having a citrus tree, like Persian Lime, brings in beautiful color and an amazing scent. I’m also a big fan of indoor herbs, like Bay Leaf. The scent is intoxicating!”

With so many options out there, it’s easy to get caught up in plant overload. I do it almost monthly. But master gardener and interior designer Megan Clinton warns that unfortunately, “it is possible to have too much of a good thing.”

“You really can’t appreciate the beauty of them individually—or give them the care they need—if you have too many houseplants,” Clinton explains. “Choosing strategically is key. Consider this: if you have a silk window treatment and a velvet or chenille chair, you’re playing with textural differences. The same goes for plants. Mix it up.”

If you’ve shied away from houseplants in the past, take it from a plant lover: you’ve got this. The abundance of inspiration and information available today makes being a plant parent easier than ever before and, as local experts suggest, even a few well-placed plants can bring a little more life, health and happiness into your home.   

Mary Tramelli, interior designer, 314-602-8218, [email protected]
Megan Clinton, interior designer, 314-378-0108, [email protected]
Jim Oldani, Timberwinds, 636-227-0095
Tammy Behm, Greenscape Gardens, 314-821-2440
Table: SC Home, 636-527-7655