Flanked by shelves of reclaimed pottery, with all manner of plants clustered around windows and resting on tables, Liz Vayda’s Remington storefront brings the outdoors inside. She’s been helping others do the same since founding B. Willow in 2014, offering instruction on plant care and design.
She shared a few tips for houseplant parents.
What do you find appealing about houseplants?
It’s about creating these moments every single day, when you can interact with the natural world in ways that generate a sense of wonder, awe, curiosity and pride. Being able to care for something, so you can nurture it and see its growth.
Where in the home will plants thrive?
It all depends on light. Plants grow in different parts of the world and different corners of those parts. No matter what type of light you have in the home, there is life you can bring into those spots.
What about air conditioning? Does that have an impact?
Filtering and keeping the air fresh, air conditioning is great for that. It pulls out dead, stale air, and that’s super important for plants. Outdoors, there’s wind and constant air movement.
But you don’t want to shock your plant by having it right in front of the AC unit. You don’t want to blast your tropical plants with Arctic conditions.
Which plants are trendy right now?
Definitely the more interesting varieties that are less cultivated. There’s one: the pilea peperomioides [known as the Chinese money plant]. They’re trendy, they’re beautiful, they’re so easy, but it hasn’t been cultivated as widely as other varieties.
The fiddle-leaf fig is really popular and you see it in so many magazines, but it’s hard to care for. We mitigate that by giving our customers as much information as possible – everyone gets a ‘care card.’
What plants would you recommend for people who struggle to keep plants alive?
‘What can I not kill?’ is the number one question I get. It really boils down to light.
There are a lot of tropicals that will thrive in bright light but survive in low light. Like the snake plant – that’s one of the classic “hard to kill” varieties. Or the aglaonema [known as Chinese evergreens].
It’s just about knowing the facts: How often does this want to be watered? What kind of light will it prefer, and what kind will it tolerate? Knowing where you’re going to put it and if it’s going to like it there – and leaving it there. The more you move a plant, the more you’re going to start shocking it.
What resources do you rely on and recommend?
Most of what I’ve learned, other than through my own trial and error, is from books from the ’70s, when nature was highly romanticized. I love reading these books because not only do they have good information, but they’re so fun to read.