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This year, a major transformation took place: I became a gardener.
For those who know, this is no small thing. For those who don’t: it’s a true honor to welcome you to the joys of biophilia.
A Plan(t) to Change Your Life
In 1984, E.O. Wilson—the “father of biodiversity”—popularized the biophilia hypothesis as our natural “urge to affiliate with other forms of life.” This tendency to seek connection with the natural world, he claimed, is an innate part of our own biology, and thus a deeply human need. Putting Wilson’s theory to the test, scientific journals soon revealed the conclusive benefits of even passive interaction with botanical beauty: simply having plants around improves your cognitive function, reduces your stress, and boosts your mood.
No wonder I felt smarter, calmer, and healthier these last few months while tending to my outdoor botanical beauties. But with the colder seasons fast approaching, I knew I needed to bring some green to my indoor scene if I wanted to stave off those winter blues.
Fortunately, there’s a cornucopia of houseplant-delivery services for biophiliacs like you and me. Don’t get lost in the weeds—check out these four brands (and plants) that can help your home reach full bloom.
Léon & George (Zanzibar Gem)
Minimalist design? Check. Minimal difficulty? Also check. Named after the co-founders’ pets (a cat and a parrot), Léon & George delivers elegantly-potted houseplants that are easy to care for—and easy to love. I got a medium-sized Zanzibar Gem, whose verdant leaves now shine bright joy on my surroundings. I also really like the wooden stand that comes packaged with the plant, which gives the pot a tasteful little lift and contrasts nicely with the white ceramic. L&G say the Zamioculcas zamifolia is “a near indestructible indoor plant,” so new (or neglectful) plant parents need not worry.
In addition to bringing beauty to our homes, Léon & George brings beauty to the environment: for every houseplant sold, the brand plants a new tree in a U.S. National Forest. That may account for the higher price point found in L&G’s selection, but I appreciate the premium touch they put into every aspect of their service. Emerging from her protective packaging in her pretty pottery, my little Zanzi certainly perked up the place quite peacefully.
Bloomscape (Ponytail Palm)
Adding to the biophilia in our home is one terrific feline, Elliott the cat. And he’s as curious as they come—especially when there’s a tasty-looking plant around. Good thing Bloomscape’s Ponytail Palm is one of many “pet-friendly” options to be found in their wide range of fresh foliage, meaning its non-toxic leaves won’t harm our cuddly companion. The fountain of thin fronds erupting from the top of this Agave species makes for a festive feel, and I can’t help running my hand through its lovely locks whenever I pass by.
Good thing Bloomscape’s Ponytail Palm is one of many “pet-friendly” options to be found in their wide range of fresh foliage, meaning its non-toxic leaves won’t harm our cuddly companion.
Bloomscape boasts “five generations of Grow-How™,” and their accompanying care cards welcomed me as a new member of their “real plant family.” With pioneering roots in the Netherlands horticulture industry, the family’s youngest descendent started Bloomscape to cut down on the usual plant-shipping purgatory. Trimming 4 weeks to merely 4 days, our Ponytail Palm went straight from the greenhouse to our house—no stops at dark warehouses in between. And it shows: out of the box, the plant’s tidy tresses were lush and lively. As a low-maintenance selection, it should be nice and easy to keep them that way.
The Sill (Parlor Palm)
There are certain words I don’t get to use often enough, and this plant from The Sill lets me sprinkle a little Victorian flair when introducing visitors to our third floral friend: “Madam, have you met our Parlor Palm?” Another pet-friendly pick, the Chamaedorea elegans has roots in the tropical Americas, and apparently can reach heights of up to six feet (!) when properly repotted (and repotted, and repotted). Ours arrived at a humble 13 inches or so—but as a very apropos fortune cookie recently reminded me, “All great things have small beginnings.” I can’t wait to see how much growth is in store for this lovely lady—er, Her Highness.
Speaking of heights, it should also be known that The Sill’s customer service sets a very high bar. As I deliberated on which plant to choose from their vast selection, they helped pair my particular space (amount of available light, presence of curious cats, etc.) to a perfect pick, tailored just for me. While their hashtag #plantsmakepeoplehappy champions the biophilia hypothesis, I can attest that (attentive, high-touch) people make people happy, too.
Until December 1, 2020, use the code TheQualityEdit10 for 10% off your order from The Sill!
Lively Root (Aralia Ming Stump)
With limbs like miniature tree trunks sporting multi-colored leaves, this is certainly the more exotic one of the bunch. And don’t let the name fool you—the Aralia Ming Stump from Lively Root might start out on the shorter side (mine came in at about a foot and a half), but can apparently grow to 4 feet tall with proper care. In this case, “proper care” means little more than watering only when its soil fully dries—about once a week, I’ve found. While Elliott already has the sense to stay clear of the Polyscias fruticosa (“pet-friendly: inconclusive”), I admit I’m curious to try it out as a supposed “traditional medicine tonic”—maybe once it matures a bit more.
Lively Root’s greenhouses offer a sweeping selection of flora at one of the more attractive price points I’ve seen among houseplant-delivery services. Since the moment my plant’s order went in, I’ve received plenty of follow-up emails with discounts and sales announcements, so you won’t have to worry about your new biophilia habit blossoming into an expensive one. With “over a century of horticultural experience” under the founders’ belts, Lively Root condenses that wisdom of the (domesticated) wilderness into simplified care guides that make anyone feel like a pro in no time. Is it mere coincidence their California nursery is located on Sycamore Avenue?
For 15% off your order from Lively Root, use the code QUALITYEDIT.
No matter which brand or plant you choose, you’ll soon find yourself enjoying the soothing presence of a new floral friend. All of the services above take good care to package their plants with proper protection—as Dominic, my friendly UPS driver told me after the last one arrived, “I’ve never seen packaging handled so well.”