Cool, Low-Maintenance Indoor Plants


As the leaves fall, bringing greenery into your home can be a major pick-me-up. Don't just buy any old fern—choose something that fits your design aesthetic but requires less care than your facial hair. And, if you can, have the shop transfer it to an interesting-looking pot. That way, if your cultivating skills fail you, at least you'll be left with a stylish place to toss your change. Monica Khemsurov

1. AIR PLANTS (pictured above)
Air plants are fascinating: They don't need soil—their leaves absorb nutrients from the air—which means you can place the fist-size plants just about anywhere, as long as you soak them in water twice a week. What to buy: Air plants in a ceramic Obi dish, from modernist gardening depot Sprout Home in Chicago or Brooklyn, $53 (312-226-5950 or 718-388-4440;


These vinelike plants were filler for those hanging macramé pots in the sixties, but don't hold it against them. They need less light than other houseplants, and new varieties have more graphic leaf shapes. What to buy: Assorted philodendrons in a Thai log, from the Urban Outfittersâżżowned Terrain near Philadelphia, $260 to $340 (610-459-2400;


The fleshy leaves of succulents act like water-storage tanks, so as long as they have plenty of light, you can practically ignore them. Sedums are especially hearty, and come in bizarre shapes. What to buy: Sedums in a vintage coffee can, one of many flea-market planters from delivery-only Living Arrangements in Los Angeles, $65 (323-574-0747;

Q: How do you choose the right plant species for your space?

A: It's tough to remember to bust out the watering can, so how can you be expected to weigh the needs of different foliage? Chicago event designer Clint Paton suggests you pawn this task off on the experts at the nursery: "Take photos of the area you want to put a plant in at different times of day so they can see the light and pick the best type."

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Photographs, from top: Courtesy of Terrain; By Gene Reed; By Brad Bridgers.
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