Plants and the City: Urban Gardening Starts Indoors

June 4th, 2009 : Melissa Bateson


Are you starved of plant life in the city?  Most of us aren’t lucky enough to have space for our own gardens outside, but that is certainly not a reason for not having any plants!

Indoor plant material has found a way to work even under the most unnatural of environments.  Some of these plants are known to survive under florescent lighting, and some even filter out toxins in the air.

A list of the most basic indoor plants around can be your best starting point to a green thumb.


– Cast Iron plant

– Prayer plant

– Pothos

– Peperomia

– Snake plant

– Peace Lily


The best place to always find great quality indoor plants can be in the plant district in NYC on 28th street, year round.  In the warmer months, head out to your local farmers market, nursery or even local hardware store… supporting small and local businesses!  I’m partial to the farmers at Union Square on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  They should explain a bit about how it likes to be watered and fertilized for a long and productive life.

Once you have the basics you can start to get creative.  Happy gardening!

Melissa Bateson is a small town farming girl making her statement in New York City as an urban gardener.  Creating lush rooftops in Manhattan or planting quiet nooks in Brooklyn, this garden maven has been inspiring New Yorkers to become more involved with the plant kingdom for almost a decade.

  • The burro’s tail is great. It is the only plant I have right now. I can’t seem to kill it, but also I can’t get it to grow. I should probably have gotten a bigger one. I think I probably need to stick with plants that are like that one – indestructible robo-plants.

    More suggestions?

  • Hi guys! To answer a few questions…

    bjollz: The plant you are looking at with the hanger- it’s called a Sedum morganianum or Burro’s Tail. It’s a trailing succulent that likes sun and super easy to take care of. Regular watering when the top of the soil is dry. I believe i picked that up on 28th street for $6.00, I have seen them a little smaller at the Union Square market for $4.00. It is a really beautiful plant…

    jordan: OK, generally speaking, the Snake plant (Sansevieria, or Mother-In-laws Tongue) is toxic to pets. Now, if you cat eats the WHOLE plant, it would be cause for great alarm… but in reality, the toxicity of these plants is extremely low. A little nibble of the blades would cause a bit of nausea, vomiting or diarrhea but no permanent damage internal damage the I am aware of.

    The ASPCA website has a lot of good information on pets & plants. Always check a few sources once you found your plant in question to get a better understanding of what makes the plant toxic and how it affects your animal.

    There is a lot of info out there. I suggest cross referencing all your information with at lest three other sources- accredited sources, stick with scientific sites and the national pet organizations.

    ****I always remind my friends about a very common cut flower that should NEVER be in a home with cats. THE LILY!!!!! The pollen will cause major kidney damage!!! They don’t even have to eat the plant, the pollen can rub on their fur and they will then lick it…

  • Thanks for the wonderful post.
    I keep reading conflicting information about which low light plants are safe for cats. For instance, some websites list the snake plat as toxic and others don’t. Could you help clear this up?

  • Is your photography tricking me? I want to grow these! What about the one with the hook on the panted..a cactus?

  • Can I say that I’m excited for your posts! I’m a newbie to gardening. For example, I did not know that the garden district was on 28th street. Eek! I just admited that but am posting anonymously because of it!!!!

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