How to Greenify Your Apartment in Shanghai

How to Greenify Your Apartment in Shanghai
By Andrea Scarlatelli ,

Let's face it – Shanghai isn't exactly what you would call “green.” Depending on where you live within the city, the only glimpse of nature you may get during any given day is the occasional limp-limbed tree sitting near the sidewalk (that is, if the authorities haven't already come by and chopped the limbs down to nubs to prevent the branches from getting tangled up in the power lines). But even living in the land of concrete and cement blocks isn't an excuse to skimp on the greenery - especially when you can bring it inside your very own apartment...

The health benefits of keeping houseplants has been proven time and again. Plants help circulate the oxygen within your living space, meaning it cleans out those lingering toxins such as carbon monoxide, ammonia, and even formaldehyde. This benefit is especially important in a place as smoggy as Shanghai. The exhaust from car and bus emissions alone can choke up even the healthiest set of lungs. Notice that you've been feeling more rundown lately? Keep fighting colds and bronchial infections? These symptoms too can be helped by adding some green to your furnishings. According to the Six Wise newsletter that cites a University of Agriculture in Norway study, keeping plants in your apartment increases the humidity and decreases dust levels, which in turn reduces respiratory illnesses and fatigue by about 30% (

In case all the physical perks of having indoor plants just isn't enough, consider the fact that they have emotional benefits as well. Seeing nature in all its glory as you walk in the front door after a hard day at work can help calm you and make you feel less stressed, according to a study done by Bruno Cortis, a cardiologist. If nothing else, it's just a nice change from the dull grays and browns that seem to permeate the Shanghai landscape. And as the winter months are slowly approaching, it's important to keep a little bit of spring within easy reach.

So what kinds of plants should you be looking for? Granted, the life of an expat is quite often a busy one, which means high-fuss plants should be avoided. Bamboo is actually a great choice for those with a hectic lifestyle, because the amount of work that goes in to keeping those spiraled, leafy stalks alive is close to zero. Once you take your bamboo home, put it in the vase or receptacle of your choice and fill it with water only so that the furry roots are barely covered. This is a change from the usual flowers you may take home – if you fill the vase with too much water, the non-root part of the stalk that is covered in water will begin to rot. Once the roots are covered, just sit back and enjoy the Chinese influence in your apartment. You'll have to add water once a week or so, and it's a good idea to replace the water entirely about once a month. This is probably the easiest plant to care for and lends a very zen vibe to your living space. One of my favorite places to browse for bamboo, among about a million other things, is the Hongqiao Bird and Flower Market.

Hongqiao Bird & Flower MarketView In Map
Add: 718 Hongjing Lu, near Hongsong Lu, Shanghai
地址:上海市虹井路718号, 近红松路
Tel: 021 5117-3882
Open: Daily, 09:00am-18:00

Chinese evergreen

Another easy to care for plant that you've probably seen around quite a bit is a species of the Aglaonema variety, often called the “Chinese evergreen.” They're beautiful, leafy ferns with icy white spots all over – a very attractive but low maintenance plant to have. They take a moderate amount of water, which means you could get away with watering it every other day. Just don't let the soil get overly dry or sopping wet – a compromise between those two states is exactly where you want it to be! Chinese evergreens are usually very sensitive to cold, which means you should bring it to the warmest room of your house during the winter. However, new varieties are currently being bred that makes them more tolerant of lower temperatures ( They also don't do well in direct sunlight, so make sure you don't have them sitting next to a window that faces east. The Shanxi Lu Flower Market is a great place to check out the Aglaonema varieties if these unusual fern-like plants are what you're looking for.

Shanxi Lu Flower MarketView In Map
Address: 406 Shanxi Lu, near Fuxing Lu, Shanghai
地址:上海市陕西南路406号, 近复兴路

If you're feeling really ambitious, try taking on the Jasminum Polyanthum, otherwise known to us common people as jasmine. These beautiful fragrant flowers actually bloom the most in the winter, making it the perfect pick-me-up for those gray, cold days. Jasmine does take a bit of extra care, however. In the summer, expose it to lots of sunshine and warm (but not too hot) weather. Be sure to set it outside n the fall to give it about six weeks of chilly air and partial sunlight. Expect plenty of buds in the winter, but be warned that they won't fully bloom until late January or early February. Spring is where the real work will come in – this is when you have to prune the plant back, after the flowers have died. Then, if the roots of the plant have entirely filled the pot in which it sits, you'll have to re-pot it. While these flowers are a bit more labor intensive than the bamboo or Chinese evergreens, the alluring smell of jasmine drifting through your house certainly makes them worth it. And there's no better place to hunt down this sweet-smelling flower than the Caojiadu Flower Market, the largest flower market in town.

Caojiadu Flower MarketView In Map
Add: 1148 Changshou Lu, near Wanhangdu Lu, Shanghai
地址:上海市长寿路1148号, 近万航渡路
Tel: 021 5239 7777 

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Keywords: where to buy house plants Shanghai Greenify apartment Shanghai plant and flower markets Shanghai houseplants Shanghai


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