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Your Guide to Choosing & Caring for Houseplants

Indoor plants are perfect for adding a natural element to your home and can be used as decor, health remedies, productivity and mood-boosters, and more. Whether you’re a beginner hoping to keep a plant alive or a houseplant expert, here’s an extensive guide for choosing, styling, and taking care of houseplants!

Types of Common Houseplants

There are many types of houseplants you can choose from that range in size, shape, and color. Each plant has its own preference—including how much sun it should get, how often it should be watered, whether it likes being moved, and more. Here are some of the most common houseplants below!

Pothos

Product photo of pothos plant. Photo by Instagram user @itsplant_tingz.

Photo via @itsplant_tingz

  • Maintenance Level: Beginner
  • Sunlight Amount: Bright, indirect light preferred
  • Water Frequency: Every 1-2 weeks
  • Pet Friendly: No

A pothos plant is excellent for beginners because it’s very flexible with lighting and water frequency. This type of plant can be grown in water or soil and requires about three to four hours of sunlight per day, but can handle more. Also called devil’s ivy, common pothos types include golden pothos, neon pothos, marble queen pothos, silver satin pothos, and Hawaiian pothos. Every leaf of a pothos plant is unique, featuring a variety of green, yellow, and white shades in spotted, painted, and solid patterns. Their other distinct feature is their leggy stems, which often trail or hang on a nearby surface.

Spider Plant

  • Maintenance Level: Beginner
  • Sunlight Amount: Bright, indirect light preferred
  • Water Frequency: Once a week
  • Pet Friendly: Yes

A spider plant, as known as a spider ivy or ribbon plant, is an elegant, easy-to-grow plant that requires little maintenance. They grow best in hanging baskets and have long sword-like green, cream, and white leaves that grow from a central point at the base of the plant. To help inspire blooms and plantlets, keep your spider plant snug in its pot. Not only do they prefer a smaller pot—and therefore, less maintenance—but another reason why these are fantastic plants for beginners is they’re not picky on their environment. Place them on a kitchen table or a shelf in a bright room!

ZZ Plant

  • Maintenance Level: Beginner
  • Sunlight Amount: Bright to moderate sunlight preferred
  • Water Frequency: Every 2-3 weeks
  • Pet Friendly: No

ZZ plants are known for their attractive wide green leaves and are a favorable plant for homes. ZZs grow slowly, but can eventually get to a height and width of around two to three feet. They’re an air purifier plant, which will help remove toxins from the air. Beginners often like this plant because they thrive on neglect—you can water a ZZ plant every two to three weeks, and it’ll be happy. For a trendy option, check out the gorgeous raven ZZ plant and its distinct shiny, black leaves.

Boston Fern

Product photo of Boston fern. Photo by Instagram user @tinygreenroom.

Photo via @tinygreenroom

  • Maintenance Level: Beginner
  • Sunlight Amount: Partial-day indirect light
  • Water Frequency: Twice a week
  • Pet Friendly: Yes

Boston ferns, also known as sword ferns, became popular in the Victorian era and have since become a classic houseplant. The delicate, branching leaves of a Boston fern are ideal for display in an area where it can hang freely, such as atop a plant stand or in a hanging basket. Boston ferns grow best with two hours of sunlight in the morning or late afternoon. This type of indoor plant excels in high humidity, too, so your Boston fern will be right at home in your bathroom or kitchen!

Moss

  • Maintenance Level: Beginner
  • Sunlight Amount: Partial-day indirect light
  • Water Frequency: Mist daily
  • Pet Friendly: Depends on the type

Although it’s not quite what you may think of when you imagine a room of indoor plants, moss is on the rise as a trendy low-maintenance houseplant! One popular option is nurturing terrariums, which are an open-faced or closed structure that houses a miniature garden and needs periodic watering. Another way plant parents show off their moss is by mounting it on a wall to create colorful designs and shapes that liven up any room. Just be sure you research which type of moss you get, as they’re not always pet-friendly. You can find live moss at most local nurseries and craft stores.

Air Plant

  • Maintenance Level: Intermediate
  • Sunlight Amount: All-day indirect light
  • Water Frequency: Once every 7-10 days
  • Pet Friendly: No

Not only do these succulents need little water, but they don’t even need soil, which is why they’re called “air plants.” When you do water your air plants, simply mist them on a paper towel and let sit for a couple of hours, or soak in water for 30 minutes before drying upside down. You can place them on stands, hang them in glass vases, and more—just be sure air plants receive plenty of sunlight. They come in a variety of shapes and colors, but common characteristics are thin leaves bursting from a clustered center, where flowers can bloom.

Philodendron

Philodendron growing on a counter. Photo by Instagram user @casa_de_hue.

Photo via @casa_de_hue

  • Maintenance Level: Intermediate
  • Sunlight Amount: Medium, indirect light
  • Water Frequency: Once every 10 days
  • Pet Friendly: No

Philodendrons are beautiful foliage plants—that is, indoor plants that are admired for the appearance of their leaves, rather than their blooms—and they grow in two different ways: vining philodendron and non-climbing philodendrons. One of the notable characteristics of this plant is new leaves emerge by a leaf sheath, which will eventually dry and fall off the philodendron. Set the plant in an area that gets medium light to bright, indirect sunlight. This expressive houseplant requires water once every ten days and is easy to take care of.

Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus blooming on a windowsill. Photo by Instagram user @gardenpotbot.

Photo via @gardenpotbot

  • Maintenance Level: Intermediate
  • Sunlight Amount: Bright, indirect light preferred
  • Water Frequency: Every 2-3 weeks
  • Pet Friendly: Yes

If you’re looking for a plant with spectacular winter blooms, consider growing a Christmas cactus! Commonly called a Thanksgiving cactus, holiday cactus, or crab cactus, this plant is very forgiving with water requirements and light levels. A Christmas cactus will grow well in a pot with proper drainage and can be placed in potting mixes that are formulated for succulents. Don’t let the “cactus” half of its name fool you—this plant is not found in the wild, and direct sun will damage the leaves. Christmas cacti also need a humid environment to reach their full potential.

Peace Lily

Blooming peace lily. Photo by Instagram user @candiceayala.

Photo via @candiceayala

  • Maintenance Level: Intermediate
  • Sunlight Amount: All-day bright, indirect light
  • Water Frequency: 1-2 times a week
  • Pet Friendly: No

Peace lilies can serve as an elegant statement piece in your home. They have dark green leaves and white “flowers,” which are commonly called white sails or a spathe flower. This plant is also very expressive, but if you see its leaves drooping, don’t give up! With proper drainage and a consistent water routine, the peace lily will perk right back up. For the plant to produce more of their distinct white spathes, be sure to place them in areas that receive a lot of light like in south-facing windows. If you prefer to spotlight its foliage, place your peace lily in low light.

Croton

  • Maintenance Level: Expert
  • Sunlight Amount: Regular bright light
  • Water Frequency: Daily or weekly
  • Pet Friendly: No

Crotons (not croutons!) are an eye-catching houseplant with their striking, multi-colored leaves. Their beauty comes after a lot of hard work—crotons require constant levels of moisture and an environment that needs to be monitored daily. As a tropical plant, the croton requires high humidity and regular misting. Also, this plant in particular doesn’t like to be moved, and it could go into shock if you move it too much. The croton grows in a variety of shapes and sizes with colors like red, orange, yellow, and green. The common types of croton include banana croton, Eleanor Roosevelt croton, magnificent croton, sunny star croton, and oakleaf croton.

Anthurium

Blooming anthurium. Photo by Instagram user @viveromariac.

Photo via @viveromariac

  • Maintenance Level: Expert
  • Sunlight Amount: Medium to bright light
  • Water Frequency: Every 2-3 days
  • Pet Friendly: No

Anthurium is a trendy houseplant that gives off wildly exotic and continuous blooms. This plant can tolerate all levels of bright, indirect light and needs to be watered regularly every two to three days. The trick for this is to keep the humidity high to imitate its tropical roots. Ensure the soil of the plant is free-draining, but also able to hold a little water—but not too much so it gets root rot! To keep up with the plant’s growth, give the anthurium phosphorus-rich fertilizer every three to four months.

Orchid

  • Maintenance Level: Expert
  • Sunlight Amount: Partial-day bright, indirect light
  • Water Frequency: Every 7-10 days
  • Pet Friendly: Yes

Orchids are characterized by their colorful, fragrant blooms and slender stems. This tropical plant has very specific needs (depending if it’s a drought-tolerant breed), requiring only a short amount of direct sunlight per day and a sparse watering schedule. You can gauge the effect of sunlight on an orchid by looking at its leaves, which should be light green to indicate its health. Be sure to place it near an east or west-facing window, and pot your orchid in an orchid pot with great drainage material. There are many types of orchids to choose from, such as Phalaenopsis orchids, Brassavola orchids, Cattleya orchids, and Dendrobium orchids.

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How to Choose Houseplants

With such a variety of indoor plants, choosing the perfect one for your home can be overwhelming. It’s important to choose plants that require the amount of energy, care, and attention you’re willing to give—whether you’re a beginner or an expert. Find out how to choose the perfect houseplant below!

Consider Plant Maintenance

Various types of plants shown require different levels of care. Photo by Instagram user @jars.of.dust.

Photo via @jars.of.dust

Many houseplants have different temperaments, so it’s important to consider how much time and effort you plan to dedicate to plant maintenance. Some are low-maintenance with sparse watering schedules, while others require a little more devotion and particular humidity settings. That’s why it’s best to keep things simple when you’re a beginner and choose ones that require little care. If you’re in the intermediate level, your plant may need a little more attention to thrive, such as a strict watering schedule. Expert-level plants are more time-consuming and require care like daily monitoring, constant watering, or consistent adjusting for light.

Think About the Amount of Light

When choosing a houseplant, consider one that works well with the amount of light your home gets. Some plants require more sunlight, whereas others don’t need any natural light. Houseplants can thrive in east or west-facing windows that will provide them with enough indirect sunlight for the day. Indirect sunlight is meant for plants that need partial shade, full shade, or low light. Plants that do well in direct sunlight are jade plants, snake plants, or an Areca palm. If you don’t have enough natural light in your home, opt for low-light plants that do well in shaded and dark rooms like ivy, ZZ plants, pothos, and philodendrons.

Opt for Fragrant Plants

Want your house to smell good? Consider placing a fragrant plant in your home! Certain scents can make you feel energized, help lift your mood, and even improve your mental focus. Lavender blooms will give off a smooth and relaxing smell. Orchids have strong lemony or rose scents that make them one of the best-smelling indoor fragrant plants to place in your home. Gardenias exude a beautiful floral scent and can be planted near a window in a terracotta pot with drainage holes to keep the soil moist.

Embrace Pet-Friendly Options

Ideally, they wouldn’t get into your plants, but if you have pets in your home, it’s best to find plants that are safe and non-toxic for animals. You can still have non-pet-friendly plants, but just make sure to hang, mount, or place them in hard-to-reach spots your furry friends can’t access. Cape marigolds are non-toxic houseplants that can bring your living room to life with their vibrant orange and yellow hues, as can prayer plants, which are another safe option for cats and dogs. You might also consider planting a ponytail palm, which is a tall, non-toxic plant that’s good in homes with animals.

Find Air-Purifying Plants

Picking air-purifying plants for your home can help to detoxify the air in your living space. The air-purifying properties can help remove airborne toxins, dust, and germs that can be found in household products, materials, and furniture. English ivy is an easy-growing perennial that’s great at reducing airborne particles and will help combat mold levels in your home. A snake plant filters air especially well and can even convert carbon dioxide into oxygen at night, making it a great addition to your bedroom. Spider plants are great at removing toxins, including potentially cancer-causing toxins in your space like formaldehyde.

Use Plants for Health Benefits

Featuring rosemary as a houseplant grown for additional health benefits other than air purification. Photo by Instagram user @hibear.nation.

Photo via @hibear.nation

If you want to do more than cleanse the air of toxins, find plants that also offer health benefits like improving your memory, skin, mental health, and concentration! Aloe vera leaves provide an inflammatory gel that soothes skin and treats small burns, cuts, and even small skin infections. Lavender is known for its stress-relieving mental health benefits, and it exudes a relaxing aroma. Rosemary is also a good plant to consider to help improve concentration and memory, as well as boost your immune system.

Grow Vegetables, Fruits, & Herbs

Kitchen wall featuring 12 mounted pots with different herbs growing. Photo by Instagram user @thepenparty.

Photo via @thepenparty

Looking for houseplants that can enhance your meals? Consider growing vegetable, fruit, or herb plants! Vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and radishes can be grown indoors in a container or pot that’s large enough for the roots to grow. It’s important to emulate the conditions of the outdoors when growing vegetables, so investing in grow lights or using a sunny window can help the plant receive a good amount of light. Fruits like lemons, oranges, or grapefruit can be planted in small or large containers and need a minimum of eight hours of sunlight a day or else they won’t bear fruit. Growing herbs indoors can be achieved by placing each herb’s seeds in its own pot and placed in natural light near a south-facing window or under grow lights.

Go with Beautiful Flowering Plants

Colorful blooms shown in product photo. Photo by Instagram user @leaf_supply.

Photo via @leaf_supply

If you’re looking to buy plants purely for aesthetics, then you may want to find a flowering plant! These plants will typically require more water and fertilizer to make sure they keep blooming. One of the easiest flowering houseplants you can grow are African violets, which bloom several times a year. Jasmine is a vining plant that will give you pretty pink or white blooms. For that late-winter drag, grow gloxinia, a plant with bell-shaped blooms of rich colors speckled with white. Anthurium will reward you with glossy leaves and long-lasting flowers in shades of pink, red, lavender, or white.

Where to Place Plants at Home

Whether you’re going for an urban jungle look or Bohemian style in your home design, indoor plants can help spruce up your surroundings. Here are some of the best areas in your home where you can style houseplants!

Spruce Up the Kitchen

If you cook often in your kitchen, try adding some plants to your kitchen decor! Since there’s easy access to water, the kitchen is a good place to put plants—just be sure there’s ample light. Many plants also thrive well in this room because it provides a lot of humidity. Depending on their size, kitchen plants can be set near the sink, on an open shelf, or hung up in plant hangers. The best indoor plants for the kitchen include aloe vera, pothos, Chinese evergreen, ZZ plant, Swedish ivy, or a heartleaf philodendron.

Add a Focal Point in the Bedroom

Bedroom photo featuring several plants, including a fiddle-leaf fig and several trailing plants. Photo by Instagram user @dorringtonr.

Photo via @dorringtonr

Hang trailing plants like pothos or string of pearls above the windows or atop shelves to add greenery in your bedroom. You can also set small succulents on your window sills or bedside tables. Indoor plants like lavender, spider plants, or peace lilies can create a calming atmosphere in your bedroom. Plus, placing plants in your bedroom can help filter indoor air pollutants, which may even lead to better rest and relaxation!

Bring Color to the Living Room

Living room featuring snake plant, pothos plant, ZZ, monstera, and more. Photo by Instagram user @earthychildren.

Photo via @earthychildren

Setting up plants in a living room is perfect for adding color and style. Large plants like an Areca palm or dracaena can be placed beside a sofa or in the corner of the room near a window to bring some dimension. A bird of paradise plant can add a rich, tropical flair to your living room with its large, glossy leaves and the distinct shape of its flowers. Prayer plants can bring in color to your living room with different patterns and unique colors like spots and stripes of pink, white, and green. Or if you want a chic minimal look, try plants bleached of color, like the Decora rubber plant or a black ZZ.

Freshen Up the Bathroom

Choosing plants that thrive in a warm, humid environment is ideal for the bathroom. Crotons, orchids, and philodendrons are each tropical plants, so they love the humidity that bathrooms provide. Cast iron plants don’t require high humidity, but they do thrive in warm, humid environments. Air plants are another option that can soak up the humidity in the room, so you wouldn’t need to mist or water as often as you would otherwise. For an extra perk, hang eucalyptus in your shower to not only eliminate bacteria, but also to release its sinus-clearing scent.

Reduce Stress in a Home Office

Displaying plants in your home office can help improve productivity and boost morale in your workspace. Small houseplants like succulents, ZZ plants, African violets, or even a single cactus can be set on your desk to make your work area more peaceful. You can also go with a peace lily or jasmine plant, which are known for their anxiety and stress-relieving abilities.

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Houseplant Care Tips

Most plants have great adaptability and survival techniques that will help them thrive in your home. But to keep your plant happy and healthy, be sure to follow these general indoor plant care tips!

Picking Out Your Plants

Before you buy a plant, inspect it for insects by looking under the leaves, and make sure to choose healthy plants that are actively growing and show no signs of disease or stress. Research what size pot your plant will need, and select one with the proper drainage option. When you’re ready to start planting, get nutrient-rich soil by purchasing a package of indoor potting mix—or for more expert and even intermediate plants, research which soil the plant thrives in.

Setting Up Your Plants

Light and location of a plant plays a key role in its growth. Be sure to check out the plant’s label, which should show you its light requirements. Houseplants should be kept in temperatures that range between 65 degrees and 75 degrees during the day. At night, the temperature should be no more than 10 degrees cooler. Keep them away from fireplaces, drafts, heat registers, or cold winter windows. A fan positioned around the plants can be used to help provide good air circulation and will help prevent dampness and condensation.

Maintaining Plant Hygiene

While it’s best to follow the recommendations for specific plants, try to water your plants once a week or more in general, depending on if the soil feels dry or moist. Avoid getting water on the foliage, as that can place stress on the leaves and can stain the leaves with residue. If you do get droplet stains on your plant, that’s okay! Just use a damp paper towel and gently rub the stains off after you’ve done your regular dust and pollen cleanings. Cleaning your plant weekly or once a month is also the perfect time to remove dead leaves that may be brown or yellow in color, as well as inspect your plant for insects or diseases.

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Looking for more ideas to help you create a green home? Check out these DIY tips for creating an urban garden and how to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle for additional inspiration!

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