How to Create the Perfect Green Space

Instagram plant culture can be intimidating. In his new book, “Wild at Home,” Hilton Carter shares some tips on how anyone — even a novice — can incorporate plants into their lives.

Comments: 32

  1. Millennials obsessed with plants? I remember when boomers were obsessed with plantain the 70’s. Beyond being a passing thing, it suggests that the current moment is analogous to the 70’s. Let’s see: Criminal President? Check! Low rise tight jeans? Check! Democrats flirting with lefty ideals? Check. Losing war hang over? Check! Yeah, seems about right.

  2. @D Priest I miss all the plant stores.

  3. Inspiring and thoughtful comments....actually real. What goes around comes around...if only more people like this could change tipping points

  4. @D Priest Pot use explosion? Check! Personal growth movement(meditation, health foods, etc. etc.)? Check! Bob Dylan is God? Check! French revolution? Check! Keith Richards outlived cockroaches? Check! Santa Cruz, CA becomes cultural pivot point? Check!

  5. Encouraging that younger people have discovered plants. But just once I’d like to read a story like this that doesn’t use the word “influencer.” It’s a creepy, meaningless word! Perhaps this person is a plant lover, expert, or aficionado?

  6. @LL influencer or model - meaningless words are part of the brainwashing... marketing words to encourage sales.

  7. Hmmm, Here I thought “influencer” was a person that spread flu germs...?

  8. I used to love house plants until a beautiful little cat died from tasting an Easter lily. Now I don't trust anything growing as it could be toxic. Please do ask people to check on the safety of a plant if they also have animals.

  9. @Sarahsaffron If you see the name 'oxalis' think oxalic acid...rhubarb leaves. Toxic. Beautiful, but, put them up high if you have cats. Ledbouria socialis is also toxic to cats. If you love plants look them up with their proper names on Google for toxicity.

  10. @Sarahsaffron Pretty much anything in the Lily family (or even nearby families) is toxic to cats, even in small amounts. I've heard of cats with liver failure because they walked past a lily in the garden and later licked its pollen off its fur. Onions are related too, so beware letting your cat eat onions, green onions, garlic, or anything like it. Personally, I avoid anything that has bulbs when I have cats.

  11. Been there, done that. I remember having up to 30 houseplants when I was in my 30s in the late 70s and early 80s. Glad to see green thumbs are coming back.

  12. Step your plant acquiring urges up a notch or two. Get yourself a copy of Richard W Langer’s 1969 book, The AfterDinner Gardening Book. It’s a very funny, informative book on growing your own plants from what usually is turned into compost. Citrus fruit, pineapples, mangoes,yams,coconuts,avocados,sugar cane, all can be grown in an apartment . Kiwis produce a lovely furry vine. A coconut will give you a lush plant as stunning as that fiddle leaf fig and you just need to stop by your neighborhood bodega. Just be warned, it’s a hobby that might take over your life and your apartment.

  13. @omedb261 Sounds great but in NYC, light is precious. Not many people have a light filled space, even on high floors. I had to supplement with grow lights in my windows.

  14. "Some people right now just use books as décor anyway" Everything is just decor to "grammers." Even the gym and church. It's all about competing to see who has the best-curated life. I use the word 'life' lightly here.

  15. These paragraphs read as if they should be accompanied by photos (“this is a normal person’s bathroom,” etc.) . . . but where are the photos?

  16. I would love to read an article that doesn’t start with “millennials are obsessed with x”. We’re not some alien species- lots of people love plants!

  17. I have been growing plants since my days in college in the 70's with a crazy coleus that took over my room. My obsession continues with indoor and outdoor plants. It keeps me grounded and feeling useful to care for my many plants. This is a problem that more people need!

  18. @Df House plants have been my hobby since the 70's as well. I bought a half dead snake plant in 1972 for 39 cents, and now it's a large plant that blooms every summer on my front doorstep . My many geraniums winter over in a state of dormancy in the basement only to burst back into life when I repot them in the spring. I just saw the first bud on my orchid cactus, and the African violets are starting to bloom. I have a Christmas cactus that survived in my chain smoker mother's apartment. It blooms faithfully every year. I do have to be ruthless sometimes so they don't take over my small house!

  19. How do you care for plants when you have a cat (or several)? That's what I'd like to know.....

  20. @Michele You give the cats enough other things to play with, learn them not to touch plants (too much) with the help of a "clicker" training tool. And you give them time & love. :-) But be careful, some plants are poisenous for cats. There is a list online of those plants.

  21. @Michele Give them a spot on their favorite windowsills and put wheatgrass or something they can safely nibble on.

  22. @Astrid V Thank you! I'll try the clicker.

  23. Plants have become a wonderful outlet for me during my early 20s. They're a safe focus of attention where you can learn, experiment, and fail. Caring for something living is tremendously rewarding, but many of us don't have a lifestyle that allows for children or pets.

  24. They are beautiful little confidence boosters. You mean that I can care for a living thing? I might be ready for a mammal or even a real-life human next ;)

  25. @Garrett, you laugh, but it’s so true. The worst part about it is that after years of commitment phobia and being obsessed with remaining “free,” they’ll suddenly decide they need to have a child. Right this minute. So while they try out living with a partner they adopt a puppy and play at being parents. And then when the real kid comes they dump the dog at the pound, or fob it off on a family member or friend. Because they never learned to truly commit to anyone or anything for the long term. Too bad for the kid.

  26. A charming little article! The last paragraph especially is gently hilarious.

  27. Doesn't address the significant barrier of being away from home a lot...and please don't suggest cacti.

  28. Regarding placing plants in front of books thereby making it difficult to access the books: The statement that "Some people right now just use books as décor anyway so maybe this doesn’t really matter." is extremely disturbing. To be so cavalier in dismissing books is frankly unacceptable.

  29. @MaxiMin so agreed! My first thought was Humidity!! Near your books! I have plants in my home - pothos, umbrella plants, etc but nothing near my beloved books

  30. The next, crucial step for young people who are connecting with plants is to learn something about them. The plants in these photos are amost all native to tropical areas on continents other than North America. Many can easily escape cultivation and spread rapidly in warm, humid climates. Freed from the natural enemies found in their place of origin - our native insects don't eat these lovely exotics - they become aggressive invaders that can devastate local natural habitats. Love your house plants, but please, don't set them loose to live in the wild.

  31. I love the fact that people are bringing more and more plants into their spaces. However, it would be nice to see pictures of their plants that looked healthy. I see a lot of stretched out plants longing for sun. This is pretty common on Instagram. I have seen lovely pictures of plants with one leaf left. Plants that should have been thrown away months earlier hanging on for dear life. I also see these same plants in plant stores. Plants are living things not only decorative objects. Does that sound grumpy? Hope not. Only want what's best for the plants.

  32. Be careful putting food, such as bread in the photo, close to newly acquired potted plants, as they may contain bugs, bacteria, or fungi. Some of the packaged potting soil may contain insect eggs. Read their labels carefully, especially if there are pets and small children around.