These 3 New It Plants Are Surprisingly Low-Maintenance
We’re talking water-them-once-a-month easy.
Published Apr 5, 2022 12:58 AM
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The first thing I noticed when I walked into Alyssa Coscarelli’s Los Angeles apartment wasn’t the checkerboard rug or vintage Togo sofa—it was the impressive, highly sculptural plants that dotted her home. In her bedroom, there was an unexpectedly sparse Dracaena marginata with tufts of green leaves only at the very tops of its serpentine stems. In the living room, a foliage-heavy yet equally gestural Pleomele. They weren’t simply plants brought in to add a touch of green to a space—they were statement pieces that were as carefully considered as the artwork on the walls. Lucky for me, I arrived just in time to meet Zilah Drahn, the owner of Plants & Spaces and the seller of these special specimens, as she was finishing with her pruning.
Drahn founded her business during the fall of 2019 as a response to the myriad plant-care questions she was receiving every week from friends and via DM. “I was the plant girl in my group,” she explains. Now she specializes in curating rare and unusual plants for her customers, who include actor-comedian Jessica Williams and songwriter Ali Tamposi. Her interest and knowledge of uncommon plants grew out of the boredom of seeing the same old fiddle-leaf figs and monsteras in home after home. “Monsteras are gorgeous—I never hate on them, but everyone had the same kind of plants,” says Drahn.
Drahn has a genuine, almost spiritual relationship with the plants she works with; this is evident when you ask her about how she chooses varieties for her clients. “I just want people to be able to connect with their plants. And so there is a lot of back-and-forth. If I’m already sensing that someone isn’t in love with a plant [I suggested for them], then I usually wait to find the perfect thing. Because if you don’t connect with what’s in your home, you probably won’t take care of it very well,” explains Drahn—a poignant thought to consider if you’re contemplating bringing a new plant into your space.
Feeling quite humdrum about the varieties in my life, as well as those available at the shops in my area, I tapped her for the lowdown on the plants she’s especially drawn to right now (i.e., the ones you’re going to start seeing in trendsetting homes).
First up: Dracaena marginata (aka dragon tree). “I just love how easy they are to care for. They’re okay with a little bit of a lower light. So if you have a space with at least one window in any direction, they will thrive. I think they’re probably having a moment because of the way they’re shaped. Maybe take that as an exciting challenge—try to find one with a really cool shape,” says Drahn.
Song of India
Another favorite? Pleomele (aka song of India). “Designwise, I like their coloring—the mix of light yellow and light green. If you want to really liven up a space with something brighter, they’re a nice pop of color,” says Drahn. “Like the Dracaena marginata, they’re happy in lower light (which, again, would be at least one window, in any direction), but they also thrive in bright, direct light. You can heavily prune these—because they come fuller and lush, and you can shape them the way you choose.”
One more that’s a Plants & Spaces go-to: Tupidanthus calypso (aka umbrella tree). “The leaf shape of the Tupidanthus is quite gorgeous—they have a larger leaf and are very green,” she says. “Superbright, indirect or direct light is best for them, and good ventilation is key.”
Fortunately, for reluctant plant owners and green thumbs alike (or those who go out of town often), each of these happen to be pretty low-maintenance—generally only needing water every two to four weeks. Drahn recommends that all plant parents have a moisture meter on hand to check the soil’s moisture level before watering or overwatering. She also suggests giving your houseplants a vitamin called Superthrive. “At least once a year in the spring, add this to your watering cycle to give your plants the nutrients they need,” she explains.
Another thing all three It plants have in common: the need for a well-draining planter, especially if you plan to remove a plant from its grow pot and repot it. While Drahn often sources hers from flea markets or works with ceramists to create custom pieces, she has had great success finding one-of-a-kind and vintage options on Etsy, and regularly turns to brands like Umlaut, Ferm Living, and Kinto for styles that fit her store’s aesthetic. “I also love to have people pick out household vases or heirlooms, or look around in their garages to utilize what they have already,” says Drahn. Her strategy, though, is to always choose the plant first—then find the perfect vessel. Below, a few that I’m especially loving right now, to be purchased only after you’ve picked out your new plant, of course.