Green Thumbs Up: Urban Houseplanting with Sprout Home’s Tassy Zimmerman

As a follow-up to our flower-arranging conversation with Lea Ann Wells, floral designer at Williamsburg home and garden store Sprout Home, we sat down with shop owner Tassy Zimmerman to discuss indoor plants for urban dwellers. Sprout has tons of experience catering to citified folk, and Tassy — with her background in art — doesn’t just fall back on ”small” as a solution. She always keeps design in mind, stocking up on cool-but-practical items like rootless air plants and low-light maidenhair ferns. She shares with us some intriguing houseplant possibilities for city apartments.

● If you’re of the go-big-or-go-home mind but have a small place, try one giant plant — even if it means sacrificing a piece of furniture. “Having a large plant like a Ficus Lyrata or Rhapis Palm in the corner can transform the feeling of your space and improve the air quality of your home.”

● If you just want test out going green, “even spider plant cuttings rooting in a glass of water can make you feel excited … You feel that you’ve nurtured something and have contributed to its livelihood, even though all you did was stick it in your half-drunk glass of water.”

● The most important thing is to “be realistic when choosing a new plant. No one wants to kill their plant. It makes you feel guilty, like a bad parent.” Zimmerman tends to peg her customers as belonging to one of three categories: The Overly Attentive: “These people like to check and care for their plants daily. They often say they’re not having kids or getting a pet until they can keep their plant alive for at least one year.” Zimmerman recommends they invest in Baby Tears, Ferns, Fittonia, Hypoestes, Cordyline, or Jasmine. The Mondays, Fridays: “These people have BlackBerries or iPhones and actually put it in their calendar what day they need to water their plant along with plant instructions.” Their plant options range from the high-light spectrum (Borro’s Tail, Haworthia) to medium/low light (Pothos, Rhapis Palm). The Black Thumbs: “They haven’t kept a plant alive for more than a month.” Zimmerman even holds out hope for them, with the shroom-like Lithops (also known as “Living Stones”). It only needs to be watered once a month in the spring, summer, and fall, and never in the winter. Another possibility is the leafy green ZZ plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia), which takes a drink only two to three times a month.

All of the plants mentioned above can be purchased at Sprout Home.

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