"When in doubt, add a plant," is a great life motto, but I have trouble finding plants that can survive the intense heat in my Pre-War apartment during the winter months. Do you have any suggestions?
Maya B., New York City, NY
This is a great question! I definitely agree with that motto, since houseplants are so beneficial on so many levels. They add vitality to a space and add more life energy. Not only can they improve feng shui when placed strategically and with intention, they're masters of helping clean the pollution we accidentally introduce into our homes every day.
But if your apartment pumps up the heat as we head into winter, it can be tough to keep just any houseplants alive. I've got a few suggestions, listed below, for plants that can survive higher temperatures and should generally still be low-maintenance and good feng shui. You can also try a realistic looking fake plant.
If you've read any of the other posts on the blog regarding plants, you may remember that the golden pothos was my first plant in my New York apartment. It's still alive and kicking today, throughout 12 winters! Golden pothos plants are tough and can handle forgetful waterers as well as high temperatures. In fact, they thrive between 75 and 90 degrees.
Some types of succulents can survive higher temperatures, ranging from 60-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Chances are, even in a Pre-War building, it's not getting hotter than 90 degrees in your apartment, so these succulents will be a good bet. Just be sure to keep an eye on them, as they may need a bit more water than succulents typically require due to the heat. Also, opt for succulents with softer, rounder leaves, as these bring positive feng shui into your space.
Bonsai Natal Plum
A form of Bonsai tree, the Natal Plum is said to be able to survive almost any situation, short of freezing cold temperatures. That makes it an acceptable option for indoor growth, even in a controlled-heat apartment in winter. The catch? Invest in a small fan to reduce the potential for bug infestation at high temperatures.
If you and your space can handle a larger plant, the rubber tree plant is a great candidate for indoor growth, especially in warmer apartments, as it thrives at temperatures between 75-80 degrees. Just be sure to avoid drastic changes (that shouldn't be a problem with a controlled temperature) and keep in mind that rubber trees can grow up to 20 feet tall, even inside.
Otherwise known as Aloe Vera, these plants are very adaptable, even when low light and high temperatures are involved. Aloe vera prefers lower temperatures, a bit higher than about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, during winter, but it can flourish just as well in heat. Again, the key here is to keep the plant watered when it dries out.
As a note, feng shui principles shy away from plants with prickly leaves or anything pointy. It's fine to use as a plant, but not best as a feng shui adjustment. As the aloe plant does have pointy leaves, it may not be great feng shui, but remember, ultimately making a holistic space is about how your space makes you feel. If you love an aloe plant and the intention with which you bring it into your home is good, go for it!
Cactus plants fall into the same category as the medicine plant. In feng shui, the prickly spines aren't ideal for feng shui uses, but if your heart is set on a cactus plant, go with your heart! These plants are almost impossible to kill and used to desert temperatures. Cacti are actually members of the succulent family, so they need similar growth conditions. With cacti, even in hotter temperatures, be sure not to overwater!
Hopefully some of these durable plants will be right for your space, as bringing the outdoors in during the colder months is always a great move. If you do spring for a plant, be sure to let us know what you go with and share a pic or two!