It’s Easy Being Green with These Friendly Houseplant Options

By: Karen Dybis | February 15, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Steinkopf Nursery.

You’ve likely heard of someone with a green thumb, or a person who is skilled at keeping plants alive for more than a week or two. That is a perfect description for Detroiter Hayley Steinkopf Bonafede, who believes that houseplants are an essential element to every home or office that wants to create beauty as well as a healthy environment. 

“It’s been said that houseplants are proven to help clean the air, lower blood pressure and make us happy! So outside of scientific proof, I believe a home or office isn’t complete without them. I grew up surrounded by houseplants and at my family’s nursery so the benefits have been deeply ingrained in me since I was a child,” Hayley said. 

Hayley is a real estate professional by trade, but she is a third-generation plant lover. Her grandfather is the founder of Steinkopf Nursery in Farmington Hills, which her father now operates along with Hayley’s aunt and sister. Her mom, Lisa Eldred Steinkopf, is a gardening writer with three books about the topic and a well-regarded speaker on houseplants. 

In other words, if Hayley says you can learn how to be a good houseplant parent, chances are you have a bright, green future ahead of you. And there’s no better time to get started – spring is still a few weeks away and people are improving their indoor environments because we are spending so much time indoors. 

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“Everything I’ve learned about houseplants and gardening has been from my parents. They met in a horticulture class at Ferris State over 35 years ago,” Hayley said. “While a green thumb may not come naturally, just start with some easier plants. Maybe don’t get a Calathea on your first go around. Find out what kind of light you have and go from there.”

For beginners, Hayley said there are some classic houseplants that are a bit more forgiving than the average. There are showstoppers as well as some vines and flowering varieties among her favorite recommendations for newbies. 

“I would recommend a Snake Plant, a ZZ Plant, or a Pothos. For large leaves, I would recommend a Monstera deliciosa, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Bird of Paradise, or a Rubber Tree Ficus Elastica,” Hayley said. “For fun colors, I would recommend a Stromanthe Triostar, Calathea Ornata, Red Maranta leuconeura, or a Pink Dalmatian Aglaonema.”

For example, the Snake Plant, ZZ and Pothos are not finicky plants. They can tolerate low to medium light, Hayley said. 

“Of course, these plants prefer more light to really blossom, but they can make it if you miss a watering,” Hayley said. “Calatheas, Fiddle Leaf Figs, African Violets, & Palms on the other hand are more high maintenance. If you have only north facing windows, a Fiddle Leaf Fig really isn’t going to do well there. Also, drain holes are important for your plant’s survival.”

Feeling intimidated? Don’t worry. Hayley said there are plenty of reference materials online as well as in your local bookstore to help. Or you can visit a reputable nursery or floral expert for more advice and to assure you that you’re doing the right things. 

“There are some really good books out there on plant care,” including her mom’s “A Guide to Choosing & Caring for Indoor Plants,” Hayley said. “The other is called Grow in the Dark, and that is all about plants that can live in a lower light environment. I definitely recommend checking out both of those.”

Here are a few plant and floral experts to check out as well around Metro Detroit.

Telly’s Greenhouse

For over 40 years, Telly’s Greenhouse has developed and prospered with the Troy-area community. Telly’s is best known for growing its own annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables, bonsai and roses each season. It also offers tropicals, houseplants, pottery, garden care products and more. Most importantly, its experienced staff is dedicated to providing the right product and the right information for your gardening success.

The Plant House

Ferndale residents and everyone else knows that if they need help with their greenery, they can go see Tiffany Best at Rust Belt Market, which she owns with her husband Chris, and get advice from her business, The Plant House. Best runs a plant boutique specializing in house plants, air plants, containers and accessories. Its plant selection changes monthly so check back often to see what’s growing.

Blumz by JRDesigns

This award-winning event planning and floral design company has two full-service locations in Ferndale and Holly. Co-owners Jerome Raska and Robbin Yelverton opened their first store in Detroit more than 18 years ago and have watched their business grow and flourish. Together, the owners have more than 60 years of combined experience in the industry and bring a unique perspective to floral, wedding, event planning, and design. Jerome and Robbin are also internationally respected educators and presenters within their field.