Plants & Flowers Even NYers Can't Kill

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If you're anything like us, you manage to kill flowers and plants within a matter of minutes. Okay, maybe we're exaggerating. But, doesn't it seem like your pretty peripherals last just a day or two before becoming the saddest looking decor accent in your apartment? We have to say, though, we think this is only partially our fault. New Yorkers don't exactly live in sprawling, sun-drenched lofts (we only wish). When it comes to our humble abodes, we're looking at very little natural light and even less space to incorporate some greenery. But, hope (like weeds) springs eternal. So, we tapped local experts on the best way to make your pad flora-friendly. Ahead, plants and flowers so resilient even you can't kill 'em.

NY_Flowers_1CIllustrated by Ly Ngo.
As it turns out, we're largely unfamiliar with the basics of plant care. And, we know next to nothing about the lingo (we're looking at you perennials). According Denise Porcaro of Flower Girl, it's important to know the correct terminology so you can make sure you're giving your plants and flowers the right kind of care.

The Sill hooked us up with the basics we should know for this project. In addition to the flowers you'll encounter at any corner bodega (roses, carnations, daisies, tulips), you'll want to pay close attention to succulents. Succulents are plants with thick, fleshy leaves that retain water to help combat the drought conditions of their natural arid habitat. You should also become familiar with techniques in plant maintenance. For starters, pruning is essential. Pruning simply means cutting back unnecessary parts of a plant to encourage more productive growth. Equally important is staking — tying plants to a stake to improve stability while giving it a better opportunity to grow.

Oh, and perennials are plants that survive for many seasons. #themoreyouknow



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NY_Flowers_2Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Now that you know what the heck a succulent is, you should know that it's the best kind of plant for your not-so-green thumb. Ovando recommends an air plant, snake plant, tillandsia, or philodendron. "Tillandsia is the most common air plant, and they don't need soil to grow," explains Ovando. "They get their nutrients from the air. So, they're virtually indestructible." Now we're talkin'.

But, if you're looking for something a bit more flowery, you can also go with an orchid. TheBouqs says they're low maintenance and long lasting. "Just put two ice cubes on the base of the plant once a week and you're good to go."

Of course, you need to consider the level of light your apartment offers before you pick a plant. For low light, The Sill recommends a pothos, dracaena, or snake plant. These are ideal for anyone whose windows face a brick wall of the building across the alley. For moderate light, try a philodendron, rubber tree, or (love) fern. And, if you're lucky enough to have a lot of natural light, go for a floor-sized fiddle leaf fig tree. But, just remember to check on which plants may affect any pets you have in the house. Some varieties can be poisonous to your furry friends.
NY_Flowers_3Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
Now that you know the plants and flowers best suited for your living space, here comes the really tricky part: keeping them alive.

Before You Buy
When you're browsing flowers, Ovando recommends squeezing the head to see how firm they are. "The firmer, the fresher." You should buy flowers that are closed tight, since they'll open a few days later and last longer. If you're buying roses, Ovando says to pull off the first layer of rose petals, which are called packing petals.

Home Care
Once you get the flowers home, cut the stems at 45-degree angle, says Ovando. And, don't let the stems touch the bottom of the vase — it'll make it harder for them to drink the water. If you can't change the water every day, TheBouqs recommends adding a couple drops of bleach to keep bacteria levels low.

You should also consider where you place your flowers and plants. "A surefire way to kill flowers is placing them over a heater or in a really dry room," says BRRCH. Same goes for air conditioning, warns TheBouqs.

After finding the perfect spot for your new addition, don't forget to repot it. "The plastic containers plants come in are not meant to be their life-long home," Porcaro says. "A stoneware or terra cotta pot not only looks nicer, but also holds in moisture better." Choose vessels that you really like. "I suggest these common plants get housed in something interesting that you love, like a hanging macrame planter, or your grandmother's antique flower pot, or a modern glass vase so that you can see the dirt and the roots. They are common plants that will thrive and it can be more about the packaging than the plant itself, which makes a huge difference aesthetically and for your inner-gardening ego." And, don't be afraid to prune those babies. "Gently remove any wilting or dead leaves. This ensures all the plant's nutrients are going toward productive growth." And, don't forget to remove any fallen leaves that may be floating in the water.

But, most important, have a positive attitude. "Don't give up on them if they look droopy," says BRRCH. We kind of love that mantra.
NY_Flowers_4Illustrated by Ly Ngo.
So, when and where can you find the freshest greenery in NYC? BRRCH says just before the weekend is best. "Hardware stores have great plant selections, and if you get sick of bodegas, just go to the farmers market or your local florist and buy a few stems. Florists get higher quality flowers and more unusual varieties than bodegas, so it's worth spending a little extra."

The Sill recommends the New York City Flower Market on West 28th Street, too. Though, it warns that it's easy to get a little carried away your first time. "Plan ahead: Have a general idea of what you're looking for, a concrete idea of your budget, and show up early — the market opens around 5:30 a.m. and shops begin closing as early as 11:00 a.m. Also bring cash, not all of the markets shops accept credit cards."

Of course, Ovando, Flower Girl, TheBouqs, The Sill, and BRRCH are all fantastic sources for fresh, quality flowers as well.