STYLE
04/04/2014 07:00 EDT | Updated 06/04/2014 05:59 EDT

No green thumb? You can still inject life into decor with low-maintenance plants

VICTORIA - Homeowners who are wary of growing plants indoors, especially if they are prone to forgetting to water or travel often, might want to consider a variety of low-maintenance plants that breathe life and design into a room.

"I've actually been starting to put plants into all of my projects," says Kyla Bidgood, an interior designer. "They just bring a whole other level of life and cosiness to a space."

The Victoria-based Bidgood says there are easy ways to bring plants into a space, even for those without a green thumb.

"A great way to add some greenery to a space that is really low maintenance is air plants," she says.

Tillandsia, also known as air plants, are native to the forests, mountains and deserts of Central and South America, the southern United States and the West Indies. They don't need soil because water and nutrients are absorbed through the leaves, and their roots serve only as an anchor.

"They are awesome, and you can put them in everything," says Bidgood. "There are lamps where you can put something in the base of the lamp, and you can pop an air plant in there."

Combining plants of various heights and kinds is a great way to create dimension and design in a room.

In her living room, Bidgood combined a tall blood orange tree with a smaller rubber tree to create a visually interesting vignette.

"If you have the natural light and have a green thumb, citrus plants are great," she says. "They produce beautiful fruit you can actually eat, but they do need more water and light."

Bringing edible plants indoors, like citrus trees, not only adds colour and life to a room, but it also allows homeowners to have a taste of spring in their home year round.

Judy Kenzie, owner of Strathcona 1890 Urban Seed Collections, grows her garden in containers around her yard and indoors.

"This year I tried to grow edible flowers inside," she says. "I wanted to try it and germinate, and grow them inside."

According to Kenzie, growing edible plants inside often requires some experimentation, and a willingness to see the plants homeowners may already have as food.

"What a lot of people don't realize are things like pansies that you can buy as indoor potted plants are edible flowers," she says. "You could have those flowers on your window sill and they would be beautiful, and you can throw them in your salad."

Pea plants are another option for injecting pops of colour into your kitchen, while also being used in salads and sandwiches.

Even though a homeowner would have to pollinate the plant to get peas, Kenzie explains, the rest of the plant is edible from the flowers to the leaves.

A piece of equipment Kenzie hopes will become a fixture in every kitchen is a grow light, which allows homeowners to grow lettuces and salad greens year round.

Grow lights are commonly used by gardeners to help start seeds indoors in the spring, but Kenzie says homeowners could use them to nurture greens to supply their household, and even their neighbours, throughout the cold winter months.

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