Brightening up cramped NYC apartments can be a struggle, but stopping by a garden store will help. Adding some leafy accents to your personal space is an easy (and cheap) approach, and while flower shops might offer a small selection of potted plants, you’ll have the pick of the bunch at these places. Invest in frilly potted palms to bring a bit of the tropics indoors or select low-maintenance succulents, cacti and air plants to create a unique rock garden or terrarium that will put the overpriced versions at home décor stores to shame.
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Between this spacious Red Hook emporium and its Williamsburg locale, this plant purveyor has one of the largest selections of greenery in the city. While you’ll find gardening tools such as glossy clay pots ($20–$200) and small hand tools ($4), the bulk of Chelsea Garden Center’s stock is comprised of lush vegetation. Apartment-friendly picks include low-maintenance cacti ($4–$200) and air plants ($4–$20), although gorgeous orchids ($25) that bloom annually are worth the extra effort. Proud New Yorkers may claim that no city tops Gotham, but few would knock the beauty of L.A.’s palm trees. To get the best of both coasts, make room in your pad for kentia palms ($225–$350) sourced from Hawaii or opt for a tropical, six-foot Dracaena reflexa ($195-$225).
Since 2004, owner Susanne Kongoy has filled her sun-soaked store with the tools, plants and accessories essential to maintaining a healthy urban garden. While you’ll find practical items such as gardening hand tools, Moroccan totes with leather handles ($49) and herb seed collections ($19), the selection is rounded out with a bevy of home accents, including the Bee Man Candle Co. long beeswax candles ($14–$20) and rose-scented Savon de Marseille liquid soaps ($24). Swing by before your next dinner party to pick up a housewarming gift—coffee-table tome Brooklyn Interiors ($45) and a bouquet of fresh flowers ($50–$250) are sure to wow your host.
Japanese plant artist and creative director Satoshi Kawamoto is known for turning indoor spaces into secret gardens, working on installations for the likes of Filson, Madewell and über-trendy restaurant Le Turtle. At his Lower East Side shop—the only location outside of Tokyo—an array of succulents ($9.50–$40) and ferns ($28–$40) blankets the surfaces of wooden boxes, bookshelves and wagons, and there’s also a curated selection of vintage clothing and jewelry. Those still mastering their green thumb can opt for mason jar terrariums ($52) or bigger versions in glass domes ($120–$260) with artificial or preserved plants that require no care. While prices can often reflect the feeling that you’re walking though a leafy art exhibit, the trip alone is worthwhile to gather inspiration for your next DIY project.
One of the few Flower District wholesalers that’s open to the public, this two-story shop is overflowing with affordable home accents ($15–$120), candles ($3–$26), ceramics ($3–$80) and both preserved and artificial plants ($4–$100). Bamboo fences ($18–$140) allow privacy seekers to screen patios and balconies in style, while boxwood potted topiaries ($65) bring the outdoors in. If you want your dining room table to resemble the ones seen in catalogs, head here for hand-carved teak bowls ($4–$6), banana-leaf place mats ($20) and bags of polished mini river stones ($7) that can fill simple glass cube vases ($3–$9). You’ll also find nitty-gritty necessities, such as multicolored raffia pots ($6–$9) and Victorinox floral Swiss army knives ($12–$15) in a rainbow of colors.
Founder Tara Heibel tapped employee Tassy de Give to open this New York branch of her Chicago store in 2007. Ceramic planters ($10–$100) hang from the ceiling of the sprawling, well-lit shop, where locals convene for free classes on creating floral arrangements, terrariums and hanging kokedama gardens (materials $75–$150). Even if you’re not DIY savvy, you can still leave with something equally charming, such as terra-cotta geo planters ($25–$68), Seletti porcelain milk-carton vases ($17) and hanging glass globe terrariums ($15–$50). To bring a piece of nature indoors, head to Sprout’s neighboring floral shop, where arrangements start at $50 and can incorporate anything from French tulips to seasonal branches.
Walk down the lush passageway of the Flower District to find one of the best selections of cacti and succulents in the city. Those looking to deck out their windowsills with rock gardens should stock up on burro’s tail, Echeveria variations and mini aloe plants starting at $4 (though you’ll have to get your rocks and planters elsewhere). If you’re worried that your new plants will suffer the same fate as your childhood goldfish, know that you’ll get detailed instructions on how to care for your new flora from the helpful couple that runs the place.
You’d never know that this pristine shop lies on the site of a former parking lot: In 2010, owner Amanda Mitchell transformed the area into a lush outdoor sanctuary that doubles as an event space. High walls and vaulted wood beams create an intimate setting where groups can gather year-round for dinner parties, a night of dancing or even a small wedding ceremony ($200–$500 per hour). Although the few privileged brownstone dwellers with backyards may be the only ones interested in ARS pastel-colored shears ($45) and Hori-Hori digging tools imported from Japan ($39), even studio apartments can benefit from the store’s selection of small, handmade terrariums ($35–$155) and agave plants ($25) that thrive indoors.
Head to this floral oasis near Barclays Center for all of your home-gardening needs. Find bags of potting soil, ceramic pots, window planters and a healthy assortment of indoor and outdoor plants. While the small storefront can feel crowded with an abundance of leafy ferns and succulent varieties ($6–$200), step out into the spacious backyard during the warmer months for a selection of larger shrubs, trees and plants. New plant owners will feel at ease with a knowledgeable staff guiding the way.
Married couple Kimberly and Enrique Sevilla have been helping urbanites spruce up their living spaces since 2008, offering indoor-friendly air plants ($2–$10) that flourish without soil and hanging ferns encased in globes of moss ($30) from their bright blue shop. The focus here is on greenery, and plants such as temperate bonsai trees ($35–$50) abound in the store’s neighboring outdoor space, where the Sevillas churn out floral arrangements ($50–$300) daily. There’s also a smattering of small gifts, including sterling-silver lockets ($150) containing petite ecosystems and glass teapot vases ($18) that can also be used for serving Tea Beyond floral-infused tea ($12). Weekly classes, including one on how to make ice cream using lavender and roses ($35), will change the way you think about working with flowers.
Classical music greets visitors at this whimsical boutique, where co-owner Michael Walter peddles dazzling dried-flower arrangements, including decorative spheres ($24–$45) made from berries and heather in short green vases ($210), alongside antiques for both the home and garden. Etched hurricane vases ($36) and rustic tole lanterns ($50) will lend a hint of the outdoors to any abode, while antique garden tools ($30) double as creative decor. If your small apartment calls for equally diminutive home accents, opt for miniature ceramic vases (five for $36) in assorted shapes.