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“Shower Plants” are on the Rise

Want to (literally) green up your living space and make it more beautiful and inviting? Consider getting in on the latest trend in houseplants by adding one to your shower. It’s an idea that’s time has apparently come: Searches for “shower plants” increased by more than 300% in the last year, according to Pinterest’s 2017 Home Trend Report.

The growing interest shouldn’t be surprising– plants in the shower (or if it’s too crowded in there, just somewhere in the bathroom) seems like a natural fit, right?

After all, access to water is a snap. Plus, it’s harder to (accidentally, of course) kill a plant when it’s in the bathroom. “Houseplants often die because they’re forgotten, but since using the bathroom is part of your daily routine, you’ll see the plant every day,” says Marc Hachadourian, director of the Nolen Greenhouses and curator of the Orchid Collection at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx, NY.

Photo: @napa74/AdobeStock

Besides transforming your bathroom from a cold, sterile environment into a lush, more spa-like sanctuary, adding plants is also a proven way (by NASA, no less) to help filter the air. (Fast fact: Indoor air is 2 to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air, according to EPA estimates.) And luckily, some of the same plants that are especially good at removing common household toxins are also ideal bathroom dwellers– particularly if you’re a newbie plant tender or someone without a green thumb.

“There’s a group of houseplants that are known to survive– if not thrive– on a bit of neglect and to deal well in a varying range of conditions like temperature and humidity,” reports Hachadourian.

“There’s a group of houseplants that are known to survive– if not thrive– on a bit of neglect and to deal well in a varying range of conditions like temperature and humidity,” reports Hachadourian. A quick note about neglect: Plants can’t grow without light (photosynthesis, which requires light, is how plants feed themselves), so if you don’t have a window that allows at least some natural light into your loo, you’ll need to use a special grow light bulb that replicates the natural solar spectrum.

Chief among the foolproof foliage Hachadourian mentioned are the snake plant, the spider plant, and the peace lily, which (bonus!) will reward you with fragrant, white calla lily-like blooms occasionally throughout the year.

Photo: Andreana Bitsis

While none of these plants are remotely fussy, they do have varying care requirements– for instance, the peace plant likes a lot of water, whereas the snake plant doesn’t. So if you’re looking for a plant that you can safely display in the shower (in your caddy or on a windowsill, for instance), opt for the former.

Other good candidates are the cast-iron plant, the Zamioculcas zamiifolia (also known as the ZZ plant), and the pothos. The cast-iron, so-named for its hardy constitution, has been around for over a century. The ZZ, aka the “eternity plant,” has been available as a houseplant for about 20 years, which apparently isn’t that long in the horticulture world. “It’s more a newcomer in the indestructible houseplant category,” says Hachadourian, who has a pathos plant in his own bathroom. Tolerant of low light and erratic watering, it may be the easiest of the easy-to-grow houseplants to nurture.

Care how-to’s are pretty minimal: Just be sure to allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings to avoid root rot. If the plant starts to droop, it’s time to give it a good drink. That advice is true of most houseplants, and it reinforces the importance of observing how the plant is doing. “One risk of having a plant in the bathroom is overwatering,” says Hachadourian. “You can’t just blindly pour water on it every morning.”

Not surprisingly, considering his expertise, Hachadourian is frequently asked about whether the bathroom is a good spot for orchids. The answer is yes, but not because orchids need humidity to flourish, as many people think (some do, some don’t, and spikes in humidity aren’t necessarily plant-friendly, anyway).

The orchid he recommends for the bathroom is the moth (Phalaenopsis), a popular orchid that doesn’t mind a little neglect (though decent indirect light is a must). With its pretty blooms and punchy color, it’s the perfect plant to brighten up your bath– no lather or rinsing required.

 

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