A Primer for Urban GardenersText by Lisa H. Speidel
1. Living large: plants for lofts
Emily Bradley at Niche has three go-tos: birds of paradise (“these love bright indirect light, and as they get new leaves, they billow out a bit, giving them distinct and lovely shapes”); dracaena canes (as they grow in height, they don’t get too wide); and parlor palms (more forgiving in a space with lower light).
2. Beyond the fiddle leaf fig
The fig is still super popular, but a cool alternative is the Chinese money plant, says Bradley. Matt McKenna, creative director of garden design at Winston Flowers, suggests placing a sculptural container on top of a pillar. Filled with trailing rhipsalis or something taller, like blue star ferns, he says, “it achieves the same height and scale that a tree would.”
3. Small-space stunners
Small spaces often equal lack of light. So, think snake plants or ZZ plants, says Bradley. “They are both funky plants that don’t get too wide.” Pothos work well, too, she says. “Their vines trail, which is beautiful.” Air plants are also gaining ground, says Jordan Ford of Jordan’s Jungle. “No soil, no mess. Place them in a basket, hang them from a rafter, and just spray with water a few times a week.”
4. Rooftop recommendations
“There is nothing greater than a giant elephant ear on a roof deck,” says Ford. “With dozens of amazing varieties, they instantly add a tropical jungle feel!” Other hits? In full sun, McKenna suggests sedum angelina, asparagus fern, and star jasmine. And, when the temps dip, he turns to blue star juniper, thunderhead pine, and dogwood.
5. Chic containers
Winston Flowers has partnered with Belgium-based Domani to create a collection of frost-proof containers—aptly called the Boston line and named after local neighborhoods. “They’re perfectly adaptable to any urban space—think front stoops, terraces, and balconies,” McKenna says. The folks at Niche give a shout-out to Vermont-based potter Christopher Vaughn for his handsome planters.
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