What Plants Can I Grow in New York City?

New York City is bustling and buzzing with productivity and action. When every moment feels like a New York minute, taking some time to center yourself at home can help you center yourself during the rapidly passing days. Growing and caring for plants is a great way to integrate some daily meditation into your day and liven up your city digs. 


While it may not be the first thing you consider about New York City, the humid summers and chilling winters have fostered unique native plants. The plants native New York City love lots of sun, sandy low-nutrient soils, and are pretty hardy. Unfortunately, many of these native plants are becoming rare. One of the best ways to help is to consider integrating native plants into your indoor and outdoor planting plans and gardens. We have collected lists of easy-to-grow plants for your New York City home, including some native ones. Now you can preserve local plants and improve your apartment vibes!


Which Plants Grow Well in New York City?


Planting in New York City, unfortunately, often means looking into apartment plants. Luckily, there is a large variety of highly apartment-friendly plants out there to choose from! Regardless of whether your apartment is humid, dry, or bright, or a bit dreary, there are some hardy apartment plants to consider. 


Snake plants of all varieties are very popular for apartments, not only for their unique vertical leaves but for their air purification abilities! Snake plants are listed as a top-performer in NASA's Clean Air Study, so they add a pop of green to your room while helping filter out the city's pollutants. Snake plants also have the ability to flower under rare circumstances and are extremely tough and hardy. There are different varieties to take a look at, such as the Zeylanica Snake Plant, the Variegated Laurentii Snake Plant, or more stout varieties like the Zeylanica Superba Snake Plant!

 

ZZ plants are known for being unbelievably tough! These plants thrive almost anywhere. With just a little occasional sun, they can grow magnificently! Another natural purifier, ZZ plants can go weeks without watering and are great starter plants. In good warm, humid conditions, these plants can bloom white, spathe-type flowers at the bottom of their stalks. The low-maintenance qualities of these plants make them perfect for people who are on the go or have poor plant options in their apartments.

 

Pothos are one of the world's best-selling plants due to their ease of care, even often being nicknamed the "devil's ivy" since it is so hard to kill. It thrives well in darker areas of your home and can live even without water for a few weeks. Pothos' leaves drape down beautifully, making them great hanging plants which can be perfect for a cramped space. There are multiple types to consider, such as the famous Golden Pothos and the beautifully colored Marble Queen Pothos.



Best Landscaping Plants in New York City


If you are lucky enough to have some space to plant an outdoor garden, there are some beautiful options that thrive in the city. A native option you can consider is the Black Huckleberry bush, which has green oval leaves that turn beautiful purples and reds once fall hits. In the spring, they grow pink flowers before providing tasty dark huckleberries! These berries are often used in milkshakes or baked goods and can easily be used in jams or preserves. If you are curious about other berry-bearing options, you can look at other native options such as the Lowbush Blueberry, the Hillside Blueberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon (Cranberries), or Deerberries! 


If you are looking for something bright to add to your garden, Amaranth (Amaranthus cannabinus) is a native New York City plant that grows awe-inspiring red plumes from its green stalks. Other names it is known for include the Tampala, the Fountain Plant, Joseph's Coat, and Molten Flower. The deep scarlet flowers are often harvested and used for centerpieces, but you may have heard this plant's name due to the grain that is gathered from it. Called an ancient grain, Amaranth was a staple food of many civilizations, such as the Aztec and the Maya. The grain is highly sought after as a superfood because of its gluten-free, high protein and fiber content, and impressive antioxidant and nutrient properties.


Which Plants are Native to New York City


While all of the plants we suggested for landscaping are native to New York City, they are also all candidates within the New York City Native Plant Conservation Initiative List. All species on this list are in significant decline within the city due to urbanization. By buying these native plants from local sellers, you are not only adding beautiful green spaces to your home or garden. Nurturing these plants help a mission to help these species maintain their genetic variability and population fitness. 


Considering that, there are other plants on this conservation list that you can grow that work great for the inside of your home! First, if you are looking for delicate pops of green, consider some of the native ferns. Christmas Ferns are easy to grow if you provide them with moist soil and part or full shade. The Netted Chain Fern is a unique looking fern that prefers moist but well-drained soils and some shade. Some other options include the Interrupted Fern and the Sweet Fern.


If you want to add some flowers to your home, you can consider one of the native Violet varieties. The Arrowhead Violet and the Yellow Forest Violet are beautiful but a challenge. These dainty flowers often do best outside due to their need for consistently moist soil and tons of sun. Still, they could be an excellent option for a patio or window box. For outdoor options, you can consider the Pinkster or Swamp Azalea, as well as the Virginia Rose.


New York Gardening Tips


Gardening in New York City can be difficult, but with a bit of creativity, you can create your own natural haven in the urban sprawl. If you are able to plant outside, a significant suggestion is to grow native flowering plants. While we have already mentioned that many of these plants need to be conserved, local wildlife benefits as well. Bees and butterflies struggle in the area due to the lack of greenery. By growing these plants, you can help these insects survive and continue to pollinate local flora. Consider something easy that comes back annually and flowers to give these insects the sanctuary that they need.


Regardless of if you are planting indoors or outdoors, you often have limited space in New York City. One strategy to overcome this is to think vertically! Growing trellising plants can help your space feel greener without taking up all of your gardening real estate if you have a small area outside. When inside, consider hanging plants that will dangle so you can save space while still enjoying new plant friends. 


Consider a plant that is efficient at purifying your air. Being in the city means that there are plenty of pollutants that you want to avoid, and your plant collection can help you do just that! Besides the Snake Plant and ZZ Plants that we previously suggested, Aralia Ming Stumps also provides cleaning while also having some medicinal properties! The leaves are sometimes used within tonics for anti-inflammatory treatments. It also can be eaten raw or boiled as done in Thailand. The Pygmy Date Palm, also known as the Phoenix Roebelenii Pygmy Date Palm, has a tropical vibe that will transport you to the beach. These plants are great at filtering air and can grow quite tall - a total of six to twelve feet if well taken care of! 


Planting in Zones 7a and 7b


Depending on where you live in New York City, you will fall within either Zone 7a or Zone 7b of the USDA's Plant Hardiness rating. Zone 7 has a longer growing season, meaning a lot more plants can be grown here. Many plants can also tolerate the winter. Herbs that can overwinter are a great pick, as are hardy fruiting trees like peach and apple trees. As we mentioned in the native plant section, berries grow very well in New York City, and that includes strawberries and blackberries. Tropical plants needing high heat year-round won't do as well outdoors, and you may struggle to get enough light for them indoors. 


In New York City, your last frost usually happens around April 5th. If you plan on planting herbs such as thyme or rosemary, you will want to start your seeds inside at the end of January. You can start seeds indoors in mid-March for plants like watermelons, pumpkins, cucumbers, or zucchini. Because New York's first fall frost happens in mid-November, make sure to protect any outdoor plants accordingly. Also, consider that most rain in New York City usually occurs in May. By staying aware of the forgiving weather in Zone 7, you can easily grow various fruits, herbs, and veggies to enjoy every year!