Bringing The Outdoors In With Harrison Green

Published on: November 7, 2017

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A nature-inspired interior

Each of our hotels is home to thousands of plants, and – lucky us – expert teams that keep those living beauties alive and thriving year-round. We caught up with the team at Harrison Green (the geniuses behind the plants and living green wall at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge) and asked them a few questions about how New Yorkers can bring the outdoors in, and keep their own homes filled with greenery. Think of it as a little plant FAQ!

1) Let’s start simple…what should we look for when buying indoor plants?
Understanding your apartment and lifestyle is the first step towards buying the correct plant. It’s important to be realistic with how much light you get and how often you are willing to care for the plant. There are plants that can handle serious neglect, but it is impossible to overcome a mismatch with lighting requirements.

2) Succulents are popular for apartment dwellers. [And you’ll find them throughout all of our hotels too!] They’re lauded as being very easy to care for. How can you ensure they thrive in an indoor environment? 
Succulents are easy to care for! I believe the biggest issue people have with succulents is thinking they do not require water. Succulents definitely need water, just not as much, or as often, as a ‘leafy green’ type of houseplant.  Succulents also require bright sunlight, there is no way around this one!

3) And how does care for succulents differ from more leafy greens or ferns?
A principle we use to guide our decisions about indoor plant care is to think about what a plant’s habitat would be like ‘in nature’ and work to re-create that condition. Succulents evolved arid regions so we water them less frequently and keep them in sunny locations. Ferns evolved in the understory of forests so they require constant moisture and benefit from misting.

You also need to pay attention to the light. Unless you live in a highrise with a south-facing curtain glass wall, it is pretty safe to say that you have ‘indirect light’ in your NYC apartment. The amount of light a plant receives has a direct relationship to how much water it will need to survive. For example, let’s say you have two of the exact same plants in a room, the one on the sunny window sill is going to need more frequent watering than the one against the back wall, but both can survive.

4) If you live somewhere (like New York) where the climate changes throughout the year, do you need to adjust your plant placement or watering schedule seasonally? 
Great question, YES!!!!! When we crank up our heating systems in the winter, this has a drying effect on plants and they require more water, which can be counterintuitive when you are looking at snow outside. All ‘leafy’ plants benefit from an occasional misting in the winter to help them cope with the dry air. In the summer, when the AC is blasting plants require much less water. It is important to keep plants away from all heating units and blowers, in any season. Actually, this is exactly how we care for the Lobby Green Wall at 1 Brooklyn. We nearly double the irrigation for the winter months.

5) A lot of people asked us about indoor herbs. How can you keep them alive? Is it possible to grow them indoors year-round?
It is possible to grow herbs indoors year-round but you need to have bright light. The plants will not re-generate as quickly indoors as they would in a garden outside, so if you are harvesting your herbs regularly you’ll need to have patience.

6) There’s been plenty written about the easy indoor plant – zz plant, snake plant, succulents, etc. But what’s a good step up for someone who has mastered those entry-level plants and wants a bit of a challenge?
There are so many varieties of houseplants available, the problem is you are never going to see them at ‘big box’ shops. I would recommend ONLY ever purchasing plant material from a local nursery or florist. Local nurseries typically carry great selection of houseplants and have very knowledgeable staff.

If you are up for a challenge I would suggest Myrtle, Aralia, or Monstera deliciosa. Even experimenting with different techniques, such as hanging planters, mounted Staghorn ferns, or Kokedoma.

To minimize the use of plastic in your own life, look around your home and work to identify plastic items. From there, seek to find alternatives.