Houseplants are such a great way to beautify your home. But did you know they offer health benefits too? Plants help boost our mood and add natural splendor and a sense of calm to any space.
For some people, though, plants can be a bit intimidating. Knowing how to care for houseplants requires a little research and attention. While most plants aren't hard to maintain, it helps to have the right supplies and knowledge to keep your green friends alive and thriving.
So what do you need to know about the benefits of greenery? Here’s how to care for houseplants and a few easy-to-grow plant suggestions to help you get started. Even if you don't have a green thumb, adding a plant or two to your life can be a significant boost to your mood (and your wellbeing).
Photography: Caroline Sharpnack
How Air Purifying Plants Help Your Home
Do houseplants purify the air? According to an older NASA clean air study, plants can process VOCs and toxins. It's important to note, though, that this study was done under precise conditions and in a very small space. To replicate the results, you would need thousands of plants in your home (about 10 per square foot).
Will air-purifying plants do anything for you? They do clean and purify the air, but it's a prolonged process. Of course, having a few houseplants in the corner of your room won’t do the same thing as your home air filtration system, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss the idea of plants.
Houseplants are great for boosting our mental health and sense of wellbeing. Caring for something, cultivating it, and watching it grow can be immensely satisfying. Learning how to care for houseplants gives you a sense of purpose and helps you connect with another living organism. While a plant might not quite give you the warm fuzzies of a pet (or a friend), it does provide a feeling of responsibility, and it helps us tap into our nurturing vibes.
Plants also bring the outdoors in, complementing natural elements in design. They add a pop of color while still keeping the room neutral and organic. Placing a few plants near your windows helps a room feel grounded and more connected to the earth. They bring a sense of peace and calm indoors.
Think of doing yoga in a garden—there’s something very serene about being around nature. The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing" is often part of wellness practice because nature allows us to tap into our senses, connect with the earth, and become mindful of our place within the ecosystem of our planet. Plants are powerful!
If you want to get more of these wonderful nature benefits, add some green friends to your space. You won’t be sorry.
How to Maintain Indoor Plants & Care for Houseplants
One reason people might avoid plants is that they're unsure how to care for houseplants. Plant care can seem involved to newcomers, and as healthy as a flourishing plant feels, a dying plant can make us feel glum. But, if you don't have a green thumb, fear not! There are plenty of ways you can learn how to care for houseplants without going full botanist.
One of the best ways to understand plant care is to do a little bit of research. There are some great plant care apps out there like:
Most of these apps help you keep track of care, set reminders of when to water, and even help you troubleshoot plant illness and problems. There are also apps like Leafsnap that can help you identify indoor and outdoor plants, which is especially helpful if you're unsure what type of houseplants you have.
Start your plant collection with a few carefully curated choices. Research the best plants for your space based on your lighting and the level of care you're willing to give. If you're someone who prefers low-maintenance plants, cacti and succulents can be easy (especially if you forget to water). If you're someone who fusses over plants and might overwater, opt for a peace lily or Boston fern.
Don’t fret if you don’t have a lot of space near windows. Many indoor plants will tolerate partial light and even artificial indoor lights. While natural light is generally best, you can find some options like dracaena, philodendron, or cast-iron plants that can do just fine even when they aren’t near a window.
One easy way to cultivate a plant collection is to try an online houseplant subscription. These aren’t for everyone, especially since some people enjoy going to the store and picking out exactly the right, healthy indoor plant for their space. For those who are busy or who are just starting as houseplant gardeners, a subscription service is an excellent way to amass a small collection along with care instructions and details.
A few houseplant subscriptions to explore are:
· The Sill
Whether you buy plants yourself or start with a subscription service, pace your plant purchases. That way, you can get used to one plant and the required care before you add more. You may also find that you need a space with different lighting, more humidity, or warmer air for certain plants.
Photography: Jennifer Lavelle
Bloomscape is one of my favorite places to purchase my own houseplants. They have endless options and allow you to filter them based on the care level you intend to provide, size, indoor light level, whether you need pet-friendly options, and much more. Bloomscape also provides plenty of care tools, guides, and overall plant support.
The great aspect of learning how to care for houseplants is that there's not much risk for a big reward. If you lose a houseplant or two along the way, it's perfectly fine. But as your houseplant collection grows and starts to fill up, you may find a lot of satisfaction in choosing the right pots, grouping different plants together, and enjoying the beauty of nature.
Best Indoor Plants for Beginners
If you're starting out with a plant collection, there are a few easy-to-care-for houseplant options that you might want to explore. Succulents and cacti are always popular choices, and it's easy to learn how to care for houseplants like common succulents. People like them because they require little water, and they're often slow-growing, making them a nice way to add a small touch of green on a bookshelf or anywhere in your house.
Other people prefer more showy, leafy plants. Some plants can get quite large, making them a great focal point for a room or a lovely corner accent. Keep in mind that it can take years for plants to reach their full stature, so shop the right size for your space. Don't expect that a tiny cactus will reach Saguaro status (ever). Most houseplants take years to get large.
Easy-to-Care for Houseplants
There are lots of easy-to-care-for houseplants for beginners. Here are a few to explore and consider and tips on how to maintain indoor plants.
· Pothos—a classic leafy plant that trails out. Pothos come in various shades and patterns (striped, dotted) and are great for hanging baskets or horizontal spaces.
· ZZ Plant—stiff, glossy dark-green leaves that grow in pairs. These are another common choice because they need little maintenance and always look striking.
· Rubber Plant—available in a variety of colors and patterns. Rubber plants will often grow to fit their pot (so if you want a larger plant, occasionally repot them). These can get quite large.
· Snake Plant—long thin, spikey leaves. Snake plants or mother-in-law's tongue are classic choices for almost any space. They look great near a doorway or in any spot that needs a vertical punch.
· Spider Plant—a hanging plant with long, white and green striped leaves. Spider plants have smaller shoots (babies) that grow from the mother plant and can be propagated into new plants.
· Bamboo—a unique and slender plant that's easy to grow. These plants can get up to three feet tall, making them a nice choice for a windowsill or a corner table.
High Impact Houseplants
Maybe you’re looking for something with a bit more oomph. Many houseplants are visually striking and large enough to fill a corner or sit on a floor.
· Peace Lily—a shade-loving plant with stunning white flowers. The peace lily requires a lot of water, making it a good plant for those who tend to pay too much attention to their plants.
· Corn Plant (Dracaena)—features tall stalks with beautiful leafy greens. Corn plants can grow up to six feet tall in containers. These are great plants for large spaces.
· Parlor Palm—a beautiful, low-maintenance plant. These palms can grow 2-6 feet tall indoors. They’re very striking but can suffer from too much sun or water.
· Ficus—also known as a weeping fig. The Ficus Benjamina is a beautiful plant that can be grown as either an indoor tree or a bush.
· Monstera—the leaves of the monstera plant feature distinctive holes. This houseplant is extremely popular for its tropical look. It's fast-growing and easy to care for.
Plants with Benefits
Some houseplants give back. If you're looking for a houseplant with a payoff, check out these plants that offer some great benefits.
· Herbs—enhance your cooking and your kitchen with herb plants. Dill, basil, parsley, chives, mint, and cilantro are all very easy to grow indoors or out.
· Aloe—soothe sunburns and more. Aloe is a medicinal plant that has been used for years as a salve for burns. These are easy to grow houseplants with attractive spikey leaves.
· Mosquito Plant—a member of the geranium family. The mosquito plant can live indoors or outside. The natural citrus scent is said to repel bugs, including mosquitos.
· Jasmine—the night-blooming variety is great for a bedroom. The soft scent of jasmine is a wonderful way to add natural fragrance to your home, and the small white flowers are elegant.
· Dwarf Fruit Trees—figs, kumquats, Meyer lemons, and more. Many varieties of small fruit trees can be grown inside your home. While these don't yield bushels of fruit, it's fun to enjoy something you grew yourself.
The options for houseplants are nearly endless. There are so many great plants to choose from, and as you see more success with your plants, you may want to include more in your décor. Plants add natural beauty to any space and offer plenty of benefits. So if you're looking for the right "item" to spruce up a corner, consider adding a few easy-to-care-for houseplants.
What houseplants do you adore? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!