13 Tricks For Keeping Plants In A Small Living Space
by JR Thorpe

The scientific benefits of surrounding yourself with greenery are many; plants calm us down, help air quality, and may even boost life expectancy. If you live in a tiny city apartment or a cheap basement while you're grinding and hustling, though, it can feel tricky to get your dose of greenery time. Who has space for huge house plants when you can barely fit in a TV, a bed, AND somewhere for your clothes? Fear not; there are a lot of space-maximizing techniques for introducing plant life into tiny living areas.

You can, of course, get fake plants, which introduce the look of greenery without the need to take care of them. For some of us, that's the best option; long hours or a decidedly not-green thumb can mean that zero-maintenance plants are the only way forward. However, very low-care plants like succulents are popular right now for a reason; they look adorable and require minimal attention from busy millennials who are likely working two jobs and a side hustle. Want to inject some greenery into your living space with a minimum of fuss, expense or space expenditure? These green hacks will help make your living spaces a natural oasis.


Get A Small Green Wall At Home

Never heard of "green walls?" They're the big new thing in architecture and interior design, and they're perfect for people who don't have a lot of floor space. They involve an interconnected system of plants that hangs vertically; you'll often see them on the sides of buildings, but they're also available for people on a much smaller budget.

You can make your own green wall with a bit of DIY, some plants and a planter system from a hardware store, or buy an indoor planter kit. If you do buy a kit, make sure that the materials won't leak onto your walls, and obey the watering instructions perfectly.


Make Your Own Terrarium

Terrariums are very popular right now, and for good reason; they're fascinating. "Terrariums are easy-to-make, low-maintenance gardens, and can last almost indefinitely with minimal water," explains Inhabitat, and they're pretty interesting to boot: they're self-dependent ecosystems that flourish without a lot of help from anybody else.

There are a lot of great tutorials about making your own terrarium online, but be aware you'll need to pay at least for a good glass container, plants, soil and stones to put at the bottom, plus whatever fun accessories you choose to add. Making a sealed one seems vaguely miraculous, but open-air ones are also an option.


Grow Herbs Indoors

If you love both greenery and cooking, indoor herb gardens can be a godsend. Uncommon Goods has a great variety of indoor-growing planters for various edibles, from strawberries to herbs, depending on your light levels, while Click and Grow has an automated plant-watering system and a subscription service for users to make sure they have all the herbs they want. IKEA also has a great range of affordable indoor planter supplies, though they do presume that you know what you're doing; make your choice depending on your level of garden expertise.


Use High Spaces For Hanging Plants

Have vertical space but nothing on the ground? Not a problem. Hanging planters can hang multiple plants in one string in ways that look chic and also maximize space efficiency. Apartment Therapy also has tips on how to DIY your own, but remember not to over-water ,and take expert advice on the best plants for hanging planters.


Use Low-Light Plants In Dark Areas

No light at all, or very little? That's OK; you can still have some plants in your living space. Balcony Gardening points to Silver Queen, Mother-in-Law's Tongue and the Parlour Palm as possibilities for low-light environments, while Better Homes & Gardens highlights philodendrons, Boston Ferns, and moth orchids as good options. Make sure you do your research before you go to your local garden center, and don't just pick up something 'because it looks pretty'; if it's not going to survive in your apartment, there's not much point.


Get Green Art

Artificial and preserved plants can give a great impression without necessarily requiring any help. Wall art is a great way to achieve maximum greenery without clutter; preserved moss and succulent pieces can look spectacular on your walls for years after they've been cultivated. You can even have preserved moss 'pictures' made to order on Etsy, combining your favorite greens into a custom mossy image.


Don't Ignore Trees

If you think you definitely can't keep a tree in your apartment, think again. Architectural Digest suggested a range of indoor trees that flourish in small spaces and won't take up too much floor space, including fishtail palms, European olives, and tree ferns, while elephant foot palms (or ponytail palms) are also a good option. If you're up for a higher-maintenance tree, citrus trees can also grow indoors, though The Spruce points out that they need humidity and fussing over. If you're truly ambitious, you can get into the world of bonsai trees, where tree growth is deliberately stunted and crafted to make miniature indoor wonders.


Make A Mini Greenhouse

A miniature greenhouse might be the a great way to take advantage of lots of heat and light. The Spruce is a fan of miniature greenhouses that focus heat on sun-loving plants like cacti and succulents, and they're easy to buy; IKEA, H&M and Trouva all stock glass cases that are perfect for indoor greenery. If you're starting a herb garden, this is a great place to keep your seedlings when they're first sprouting and need fuss and light.


Put Humidity-Loving Plants In Bathrooms

Bathroom get steamy? It's a good place for an indoor humidity-loving plant. "As a rule, the thinner the leaf, the greater its need for humidity," Lauren Camilleri and Sophia Kaplan of Leaf Supply told Vogue Australia in 2018. "Tropical plant pals like ferns are the number one fans of humid air. If you live in a naturally dry environment, a fern will make a happy home in your bathroom as well an exotic addition to your decor." Find something that rejoices in the droplets of showers and hot baths, and watch it flourish.


Buy Furniture With Spaces For Plants

Modular furniture is a great idea for people with limited space — but what about furniture that has space built in for plants? Some pieces are automatically built for plant storage alongside their normal functions; The Spruce, for example, highlights bar carts as possible indoor garden spaces. Furniture that's marketed as plant-friendly is still pretty rare, but you can still get creative; use one tier of a glass side table for keeping plants, for instance, or get plant stands with space for books and storage.


Go Micro

Need to keep things extremely small? Micro-plants are an option. Proflowers highlights the smallest available house plants, from teeny succulents and cacti to air plants, Chinese money plants, lucky bamboo and snake pearls. Whatever you get, do your research on what size it'll actually grow in the future; if it's tiny now but will eventually outgrow its pot by two-thirds, it may not be the best plant for a tiny indoor environment.


Tier Plants On Walls & Over Doors

Stackable plants are the best option for making sure that you get maximum plant exposure for your buck. Indoor planter designs are popular and increasingly flexible, allowing you to tier, stack and arrange vertical plants in ways that suit your own wall arrangements. The Huffington Post's collection of top 20 wall planters in 2018 focused on modular arrangements that can be rearranged depending on your needs. Don't neglect places you wouldn't normally consider; can a plant go above a door, hang off a coat rack, or hang off the front of a wardrobe? Pull a Tim Gunn and make it work.


Make A Plant Canopy For Your Bed

If your main focus in your small space is your bed, a plant canopy might be the best one for you. People with beds that already have posts and canopies may have seen this proliferate on Instagram; vines that can be trained to go up bedposts, or air plants that dangle down from overhead.

If you don't have bedposts, no worries; DIY canopies are actually pretty easy and cheap. You can even make your own out of PVC pipe. From there, it's relatively easy to find the right low-maintenance plants to drape and arrange all over it; just make sure you don't get anything that needs a lot of watering, and don't get tangled in vines when you get up. Bonus: bedposts and canopies can also become storage spaces and hangers.


Introducing greenery into a small living space isn't too tricky, as long as you have a little ingenuity, some spare cash and a willingness to read up about plants. Prepare to live the lush life.