For larger, more lush plants, invest in several regular houseplants, which also happen to be the best for improving the air quality in your home. Like succulents, regular houseplants are sold almost everywhere, but they do require a little more attention.
I've had the most success with ficus and pothos plants. Pothos, especially, is very forgiving to over-watering and sometimes even neglect. This is a plant that really gives what it gets. Still, if your home lets in very little natural light, pothos plants are capable of growing in the dark. I water my pothos and golden pothos plants two to three times a week.
Another common houseplant is the standard orchid. It is nearly impossible for me to complete a trip to the grocery store without doing at least one double take on the exotic orchid blossoms in the garden section. In talking with Proops, I learned that orchids while appear to be high maintenance, they are actually easy to maintain once you've set up the basics. For orchid (and other gardening) needs, Proops heads to Green's Feed and Seed, in Charleston, where he can find specialized mixtures that allow the plant to grow in soils similar to tropical environments, the orchid's natural habitat.
Charleston has several garden centers that are capable of providing much more than a greenhouse shopping spree. With this whole experience, I've learned how beneficial it is to get to know the experts by making friends with the employees at the garden centers around town.
A finishing touch, and one of my favorite aspects of indoor gardening, is getting to pick out the pots and planters. For interesting pots, I've had the best success shopping at Young's Floral Shop, HomeGoods, Home Depot and online at Anthropolgie.com. During a trip to Target, Proops and his wife, Michelle, were recently inspired by an interesting glass terrarium that they'll soon place by a window and fill with four different succulents.
Sitting in my living room in front of a giant window is a stunning gardenia tree that I recently purchased. I've done a lot of research for its nurturing for two reasons.
First, I don't think I can do without the scent now that I've smelled a gardenia blossom in my apartment. Secondly, when I purchased this plant, my parents gave me so many tips and advice that I wondered if they already knew I'm in over my head.
"Call Nana," Mom said. "She's spent her whole life around gardenias and she'll know what to do." I'm happy to say that the plant is still thriving. We'll see, though, in a couple weeks if I can report the same.
My best advice for new indoor gardeners is to invest in plants that you find interesting. It may take a few trial-and-error episodes, but if you're willing to stick it out, I'm sure you'll soon master it. In no time, your knowledge will expand, the air quality will freshen, and your home will be decorated with homegrown aesthetics.
Sarah Francke is a business-development professional living life to the fullest in Charleston. Follow her lifestyle ideas on Twitter at @WVstyleteam and read more of her twentysomething adventures on her blog, www.sarahfrancke.com.