Best or most interesting indoor plant for this wall planter?
December 20, 2016 10:01 AM   Subscribe

What is the most interesting or pretty (but low-maintenance) plant I could put in this small indoor planter box?

There is a small section of my apartment where I would like this planter and usually you see variations of cacti or succulents, but I'm wondering the alternatives are for plants which need no sunlight and minimal water. Maybe something that hangs down or is more colorful? Any other suggestions for names of plants or places to get them? Thanks!
posted by critzer to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
FYI, plants that require less bright light often need more water (so a fern needs less light but more water than a cactus). If the area gets some fluorescent/indoor light, I'd recommend pothos. Or if you're OK changing out plants as they die due to poor conditions, Sansevieria "snake plants" or ZZ plants die relatively slowly. But really, I'd consider something like dried twigs given what you've written.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:56 AM on December 20, 2016

A pothos is basically immortal, and grow in a vine-y fashion.

No plant* is going to grow without sunlight or some kind of artificial grow light. Do you mean low light? Pothos should be fine I think. They are troopers. And you'll need a trooper for a tiny, no-draining planter like that one. Keep whatever plant you buy in the plastic pot it comes it, and just nest that in the planter. Take the plastic pot out of the wooden planter to water it.

*parasitic species don't need light directly, but their host plants do.
posted by Drosera at 10:57 AM on December 20, 2016

plants which need no sunlight and minimal water.

Fake plants.

I'm being maybe 20% snarky, and 80% serious. Every living plant needs some sunlight and some water eventually. It's what makes them living. Succulents need sun, and will die eventually if you don't water them. Air plants (tillandisia) will put up with it, but won't thrive in the conditions you mention, and still need to be taken down and completely immersed in water roughly once a week.

I'll also note that the planter is super-cute, but is terribly designed for actual plant-growing. Not only is it made from black walnut, a type of tree notorious for killing plants underneath it with a toxic chemical found in every part of it, though the wood is somewhat less toxic than other parts, but it appears to have been specifically waterproofed/does not have any drainage holes/is super tiny. This means that if you put soil in it, and put a plant in the soil, any water will just sit and sit and sit there. Plants have different tolerances for having drowned roots, but even the toughest pothos or sanseveria will give up eventually, especially in the absence of strong light. You will also rot the wood.

The best I can think of are either fake plants (some of which can be darn convincing, even to my gardener's eye), or getting something that is a temporary display object, like plants that you rotate in and out. Alternatively, you could make a mini-terrarium by filling it with some pebbles to eye level, put a little bit of sheet moss (available at your local fancy plant supply place that does terrariums or online) on top, and then put a small glass cloche that fits on top. You can decorate with a plastic figurine, etc., and mist every two weeks or so. The moss should last for a while, but will eventually go brown, and you buy some more.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:58 AM on December 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

I like joyceanmachine's idea of using moss and non-living objects in it. This etsy store has some beautiful blown glass flowers you could put in it. Nothin' to kill!
posted by Drosera at 11:08 AM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Im not a green thumb at all, but I wonder if an air plant would work?
posted by Ftsqg at 11:10 AM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

A jade plant should be able to tolerate this less-than-ideal situation. It may get mealybugs, though.

(Once, when helping some people move in student housing, I found a jade plant cutting inside a desk drawer; it was still alive, and grew when planted, despite having been shut in darkness without water or soil for months.)
posted by aws17576 at 11:24 AM on December 20, 2016

I had a friend in San Francisco who had a great area of indoor plants in an entirely black space (walls, floor, ceiling - yes, quite a memorable space) and about 20metres from a window - he used full-spectrum light bulbs as used in glasshouses - the light looks the same to us but contains all the light a plant needs for health and happiness - you can probably get them via an urban nursery. I can't remember the plants now (I wasn't into plants then) but it included Sanserveria - amazing plants.
posted by unearthed at 11:57 AM on December 20, 2016

I'd go with something like this.
posted by srboisvert at 12:32 PM on December 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Air plants would be a great choice. Now that they're more popular, there are some very interesting-looking varieties available, many of which would look fabulous in that gorgeous planter. And you don't get much more low maintenance than air plants.
posted by DrGail at 6:52 PM on December 20, 2016

One thing that I found that was killing my plants was the tap water! The chlorine, I was told, was the culprit. Since I use only well filtered water now, my plants grow wonderfully. ( and the pets drink more water too)
posted by donaken at 6:37 PM on December 21, 2016

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