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Houseplants for Beginners

Low-Maintenance House Plants

So you think you can kill even an artificial plant? Before you give up indoor gardening, check out some easy-to-grow houseplants. These are great for the home or office.


Houseplant Care

Water

  • Plants need thorough watering, even if it's delivered irregularly. Use tepid (room-temperature) water until it flows out of the drainage hole in the bottom of the container.

Humidity

  • At home, place plants in the kitchen or bathroom where the humidity is normally higher. Grouping plants is also a way to grab extra humidity from the air.
  • Another method is to get a saucer, put a layer of marbles in the bottom and partially fill the saucer with water. Place the container on top of the marbles. Don't let the pot sit in the water. The idea is to capture evaporating moisture, not wick it into the root system and cause root rot.

Temperature

  • In general, temperatures between 65°F and 75°F during the daytime are best.
  • Temperatures about 10 degrees cooler at night are best. Heating and air conditioning systems can wreak havoc on houseplants.
  • Try not to place houseplant near ventilation outlets or in drafty areas. 
  • Use blinds or curtains to regulate direct light from windows. 

Fertilizing

  • Use a diluted houseplant fertilizer.

Grooming

  • Wipe the leaves if they're dusty to keep them clean and able to breathe. Another purpose of regular grooming is to keep an eye open for pests and diseases. 

Light

  • Low Light — Prefer or can tolerate minimum light. North-facing windows are a good place for one of these. The interior locations of the house (coffee tables for example) offer a good environment as well.
  • Medium / Indirect — Bright light but no direct sun is the rule for these. West- or south-facing windows are great. Just keep them 1 to 2 feet from the window itself.
  • Bright / Direct — Here are the sun worshippers. Put them on the windowsill facing south or west.



Best Houseplants for Beginners

Plant
Light Requirements
Features and Why We Like Them
Cast Iron Plant
Aspidistra elatior
Low
  • Tolerates the cold
Chinese Evergreen Aglaonema
Low
  • Tolerates dry air
Dracaena
Dracaena
Low
  • Many varieties to choose from
Kentia Palm
Howea forsteriana
Low
  • Unlike most palms this one tolerates dry, heated air
Philodendron
Philodendron
Low
  • Vining habit works in hanging baskets as well as containers
Snake Plant
Sansevieria
Low
  • Resists insects
African Violet
Saintpaulia
Medium / Indirect
  • Great combination of foliage and almost constant blooms
  • Likes humidity
Dumb Cane
Dieffenbachia
Medium / Indirect
  • Several varieties to choose from
Ficus
Ficus
Medium / Indirect
  • Seldom needs repotting
  • A variety of shapes and sizes
Fishtail Palm
Caryota mitis
Medium / Indirect
  • Tolerates lower light better than most palms
Lady Palm
Rhapis excelsa
Medium / Indirect
  • Can tolerate cooler indoor temperatures
Peperomia
Peperomia
Medium / Indirect
  • Semisucculent leaves
  • Can tolerate lack of water
Pothos
Epipremnum aureum
Medium / Indirect
  • Vining habit
  • Tolerates irregular watering
Rubber Plant
Ficus elastica
Medium / Indirect
  • Seldom needs repotting
  • Variety of forms
Schefflera
Brassaia
Medium / Indirect
  • Glossy leaves
  • Likes high humidity
Spider Plant
Chlorophytum comosum
Medium / Indirect
  • Good hanging-basket plant
  • Produces stems that can be potted to produce new plants
Aloe
Aloe barbadensis
Bright / Direct
  • Fleshy, succulent leaves have a nice texture
Cactus
(Various)
Bright / Direct
  • The epitome of easy care
  • Don't let preconceived notions limit you. There are countless attractive variations of this sturdy plant
Croton
Codiaeum
Bright / Direct
  • Variety of foliage colors available
Ponytail Palm
Beaucarnea recurvata
Bright / Direct
  • Grows slowly
  • Bulb base stores water

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