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A Complete Guide to Houseplants

Wellness Feature

Written by Samantha Lund

Photography by Taryn Emerick

For newbies to the houseplant club, there’s a team of green thumbs in our backyard here to help. Urban Sprouts, a boutique plant shop located in Renton, is home to five indoor plant experts that are eager to find the perfect plant for everyone.

If you’re starting your own indoor jungle, the options are endless. Urban Sprouts offers classes, tutorials and even has a 24/7 hotline for plant emergencies. If you can’t get enough plants, they offer subscription programs that deliver monthly.

With the help of Urban Sprouts owner Jen Stearns, here’s everything you need to know before you grow.


How to pick your plant


The first question is: Where will your plant live? Especially in Seattle, choosing a low light plant to begin is always a smart call. “What most people don’t realize is that all the care instructions for plants are written in Florida,” Stearns explains. “So those instructions don’t make sense for people living in Washington. Here, we’re working to educate people about each plant and how to care for it in this area specifically.”


How often do you want to care for your plant? If watering it once a week seems daunting or pruning is nerve-racking, then look for a low maintenance plant like Sansevieria or “Snake Plant.”  If you’re okay with a watering schedule, you can branch out.


Even with limitations on light, temperature and attention, finding a plant you like is key. The more you identify with your plant, the more likely you are to take care of it.


Top 5 Species for Seattle


The vine-like plants you see stretching across cabinets or down shelving units are called Pothos. Like Dracaena, they come in several shapes, colors and sizes to fit any style. Pothos also require very little light and can even tolerate office light instead of natural light. The only thing Pothos can’t handle is direct, hot sunlight.

Snake Plant

A type of succulent, the Snake Plant (Sansevieria or Mother-In-law’s tongue) is the perfect plant for beginners. The tough leaves can tolerate little to no sun and occasional watering while thriving in traditional indoor temperatures.

Dumb Cane

Just as the name suggests, these plants are simple to maintain. They’re usually large and leafy, but adaptable to different types of lighting and conditions. Dumb Canes, or Dieffenbachia, come in several colors and sizes and are usually seen in office environments since they require very little attention.

ZZ Plant

The Zanzibar Gem, known as the ZZ plant, is catching its stride in 2019 as one of the most requested indoor plants. ZZ Plants can be small enough to sit on a desk or big enough to look shrub-like. They tolerate low light conditions and very little watering. One of the only ways to kill a ZZ plant is to overwater and give it too much attention.


If you have a plant in your home now, it’s probably a Dracaena. They are light and water tolerant, but most importantly, they come in several shapes and sizes. From tall and thin to short and leafy, Dracaena can be pruned to any size and their leaves will tell you when they need water by drooping. 

It's all about the benefits

Improve Air Quality

Indoor plants reduce carbon dioxide levels, increase humidity, reduce pollutants and dust, and keep air temperatures down. “NASA ran an experiment using different plants to improve air quality and found that from one plant to the next, there was very little differentiation in their effects,” Stearns says. “Indoor plants are definitely beneficial, but picking a plant just because it is the best at cleaning air really isn’t the way to do it.”

Reduces Noise Pollution

Plants have been used for years to reduce noise from traffic along roads, but more recent research confirms that plants can help reduce background noise in buildings. Whereas water features reduce noise by cancelling it out, studies indicate that plant leaves absorb noise all together making living spaces quieter and calm.

Improves Work Ethic

Studies show that offices and schools have higher rates of success when plants are present. Being around plants improves concentration, memory and productivity up to 20 percent.

Fights Illness and Allergies

Research shows a correlation between hospital patients recovery time and plants in the hospital rooms. A study from Kansas State University found that post-operative patients with plants in their rooms had faster recoveries than those without and requested fewer pain meds. Plants have also been proven to fight allergens by exposing a household to year-round allergens, acting like an allergy shot to lessen those symptoms over time.

Reduce Stress and Depression

Houseplants promote happiness. Several studies link indoor plants to reduced stress and anxiety. Humans have a connection with nature that scientists refer to as “biophelia,” which means we feel calm and tranquil when around plants and nature.

Take a workshop

Urban Sprouts offers several workshops each month including classes on Moss Wall Hangings, Planter Painting and Soap Making. Make Your Own Terrarium classes are offered each month, covering the logistics and proper setup of a hanging or desktop terrarium.

With a variety of plants, seeds, mosses and stones, every participant walks away with a completely unique piece. All ages are welcome and wine is included for participants over 21.

The booking fee is $20, which covers a $10 class fee and a $10 credit toward supplies. Terrariums can be made at a wide price range, from $25-$150, your piece can be as intricate as you like.

Don’t forget, Urban Sprouts also offers a variety of other services including: “Finding the Perfect Plant” support, repotting and treatment services, private events, bridal services and a text/social media support line.

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