High-Impact Houseplants for First-Timers
If you’re a beginning gardener or haven’t had much luck keeping houseplants alive in the past, bookmark this list. These 10 foolproof plants will boost your indoor-gardening confidence with their forgiving growing habits and stylish forms and foliage. We have the usual easy-care suspects — looking at you, air plants and succulents — as well as varieties you may have seen in the nursery but have never grown before.
First Take a Look Around
Before you purchase a new houseplant, evaluate your interior space for light exposure and temperature. Scout out spots that receive direct sunlight, those that receive bright, indirect sunlight (a favorite exposure of many houseplants) and spots with little sunlight. See what size of plant (small, medium or large) and form (upright, loose filler or trailer) would work best in each space. Locate your heating units and plan to keep plants away from these areas.
1. Peace Lily
With an abundance of glossy, dark leaves and white blooms held upright like candles, peace lily keeps on giving, asking for little care in return. If any leaves turn yellow — an indication of overwatering or underwatering — pull them gently from the base and the plant will quickly fill in with new growth.
Care tips: Grow in moderate, filtered light (will also tolerate low light); keep out of direct sun. Water weekly to keep the soil moist, but do not allow it to sit in water.
2. Split-Leaf Philodendron
Also known as the Swiss cheese plant, this decorative vine has dinner-plate-sized glossy leaves riddled with splits and holes. Use this large-scale beauty to add tropical drama to any room with moderate to bright light. Split-leaf philodendrons thrive in moist environments such as steamy bathrooms.
Care tips: Grow in moderate to bright light, water weekly to keep the soil moist and give it plenty of room to sprawl.
Caution: Philodendron is toxic if ingested by pets or young children.
3. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
If you’ve seen plants thriving in neglected areas — mall or airport planters, office parks and the like —they’re most likely mother-in-law’s tongue. All species of Sansevieria,also called snake plant, are about as bulletproof as a plant can get. If you have a dark corner where nothing else will grow or a track record of forgetting to water for a couple of weeks, choose a Sansevieria — it won’t fail you.
Care tips: Plant in areas with indirect to moderate light (will also tolerate low light). Allow the top 3 inches of soil to dry out between waterings, particularly during the winter.
Caution: Sansevieria leaves can be toxic to pets and children if ingested.
Pothos is about as easygoing and versatile as a houseplant gets. With glossy oval leaves and a quick growing habit, pothos exudes health and vigor even if you neglect it. Grow potted pothos to trail down a bookshelf, ramble over a desk or climb up your bathroom window for a jungle screen.
Care tips: Plant in a spot with bright to moderate indirect sunlight and water weekly. The plant can also tolerate little water for two-week stretches.
Caution: Pothos can be toxic to pets and children if ingested.
5. Cactuses and Succulents
These fleshy, sometimes spiny, plants are very easy to grow and come in a wide range of sizes and forms. Agave, aloe, echeveria, sedum, aeonium, kalanchoe and jade plants are all commonly available and do well in sunny spots indoors. Show off a collection of baby cactuses and succulents by grouping them together on a windowsill.
Care tips: Grow most cactuses in full sun and most succulents in bright, indirect light. Use a fast-draining potting mix and allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings. Don’t overwater.
What are your favorite no-fail houseplants?