If you’re trying to sell your apartment in winter, staging professionals recommend redirecting buyers' focus from the cold, gray scenery outside to the life and warmth inside your apartment, a feat which can be achieved with some well-chosen plants. But picking out plants can be intimidating if you don’t know what to buy.
Here are some tips from the experts on what to look for when shopping for greenery, and the good news is fake is often just as good, if not better, than real.
“I always think green sells a space,” says Melanie Greene, founder of Greenehouse NYC, a real estate staging and photography company. She says fake plants have the overwhelming benefit of not dying on you and many are convincingly real. According to Greene’s virtual staging manager, Susan Hum, the plants that are in demand this year are those that complement the Mid-Century Modern, Scandinavian, and bohemian furnishing trends. Think: the trusted fiddle leaf fig and micro succulents.
[Editor's note: A previous version of this post was published in December 2020. We are presenting it again with updated information for November 2021.]
The trusty fiddle leaf fig
"I love a good a fiddle leaf fig—medium size to tall," says Daniel Blatman, a broker with Triplemint. The size you pick should depend on the height of your ceilings, he says. "If you have a tall ceiling it can really keep the eye drawing up" to show off the space, he says. An artificial fiddle leaf costs somewhere between $200-$500.
A real fiddle leaf fig—or Ficus lyrata if you want the botanical name—is about $300. One of the most popular plants at the Chelsea Garden Center, they do best with bright, indirect light—which isn't always ideal and makes them tricky to keep alive. Hum says much of the fiddle leaf fig's appeal is their lush leaves, "rich with a deep green color, which might be different from ferns and other indoor plants that aren't as luscious."
Flame-like snake plants
Snake plants—or Dracaena trifasciata—work well in tighter spaces, Blatman says. With variegated leaves, these plants look like flames in a pot and one of the benefits is they produce lots of oxygen, making them natural air purifiers, according to the experts at My City Plants. Snake plants can also survive in fairly harsh conditions and thrive in almost any light, which is good if you have a tendency to neglect your gardening duties.
Expect to pay upwards of $60 for a living plant. A faux potted version costs upwards of $40.
Unlike the fiddle leaf fig, the majesty palm is a great plant for beginners and can take a fair amount of neglect, according to the experts at Chelsea Garden Center. This makes it a popular staging choice if you're trying to sell. Living palms start at around $250. You can get a fake palm starting at around $60.
Minimalism and modernism are coveted aesthetics at the moment, says Hum. Placing an orchid in an uncluttered space or as a centerpiece on a table can make the place feel serene. "Orchids—we usually do either the white variety or the pink ones—they offer a beautiful touch to an indoor space," Hum says. As well as having spectacular blooms, orchids can flower for several weeks, a plus given that apartments in Manhattan are typically on the market between 72 and 89 days, according to the latest data.
Phalaenopsis orchids are easy to take care of, according to the pros at Plant Shed who promise same day delivery in NYC. The cost of a living orchid can range between $40 to $200.
If you want low or no maintenance, succulents are a good bet. Most are native to rough desert landscapes so are fairly resilient—they are also pretty cute and add some life and color to a desk or shelf.
Hum points out the succulents are part of "the southwest trend that came about a couple years ago and it compliments the hipster, bohemian spirit." Without the prickles, she says they are like a friendly cactus and only need to be watered twice a week. A neat display of four living succulents starts at around $50 at the Plant Shed.
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