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Ultimate Guide to Houseplant Care & Selecting the Best Plants for Your Home

various houseplants next to a window with the sunlight shining on them

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Studies have shown that millennials love houseplants, thanks to the stress-reducing factors and peace that caring for plants can bring. Urban life has made us crave nature, and plants help fill that gap. Plants can also help us show off our unique style. Being eco-friendly is a plus, and there are plenty of low-maintenance plants that make plant care easy. There has also been research to show that plants can uplift your mood, give you a sense of purpose and improve the atmosphere in your home. Also, if you're anything like me, wandering around the garden centre makes the perfect weekend activity!

In a world of urban living, houseplants have become more than just decorations; they're companions that enrich our lives in a variety of ways. This comprehensive guide explores the art of houseplant care, from selecting the right plants to understanding their benefits for mental health, air quality, and home aesthetics.


Houseplant Care Essentials


Choosing the Right Plants: Matching plant types with your environment and lifestyle

woman watering windowbox indoor plants with large clay indoor watering can

When it comes to choosing the right plants for your home, it's important to consider both the environment and your lifestyle.


Take note of the amount of sunlight and humidity in the space where you plan to place your plants, as different plant species have varying requirements.


You should also consider how much time and effort you're willing to devote to plant care. By choosing the right plants for your space and lifestyle, you can create a thriving indoor garden and avoid the sadness of having to throw away forgotten plants that become brown and withered.


Quick-Fire Examples:

  • Low-Maintenance Plants: Most succulents, snake plants, peace lilies, string of hearts (ceropegia woodii), ZZ plants, spider plants, devil's ivy (pothos)

  • High-Maintenance Plants: Bonsai trees, orchids, fiddle-leaf fig trees, maidenhair ferns, elephant's ear (Xanthosoma)

Lighting Requirements: Understanding your plants' sunlight needs and providing adequate light

Understanding the sunlight needs of your plants is crucial to their overall health and growth.


While some plants thrive in low-light conditions, others require direct sunlight for several hours each day. It's important to place your plants in an area that receives the appropriate amount of light for their specific needs.


If your space doesn't receive enough natural light, you could consider supplementing with artificial light sources such as grow lights. Additionally, be mindful of the intensity of light your plants are receiving, as too much direct sunlight can burn their leaves. By providing adequate light, you can help your plants flourish and thrive.

Quick-Fire Examples:

  • Low-Light Loving Plants for Darker Rooms: Ivy, snake plants, pothos, maidenhair fern, philodendrons, calatheas, lucky bamboo, peace lily

  • Happy Medium - Plants That Need Medium/Indirect Sunlight: Spider plants, watermelon peperomia, Boston fern, monstera, Christmas cactus, weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), Chinese evergreen

  • Sunshine Suckers - Plants That Need Plenty of Sunlight to Thrive: Aloe vera, Jade plants, African milk tree, snake plants, orchids, string of pearls, ponytail palm, yucca plants


Watering Wisely: Mastering watering frequency and techniques for different plants

Watering your plants is just as important as providing them with the right amount of light.


Different plants have different watering needs, so it's important to research the specific requirements of each type of plant you own.


In general, most plants prefer to be watered when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. When watering, make sure to water deeply and slowly, allowing the water to soak into the soil instead of running off.


Quick-Fire Examples:

The recommendations below are based on warmer months, as most plants usually need more water when the temperature is higher.


  • Thirsty Plants - Plants That Need Consistently Moist Soil: Most ferns (Boston, maidenhair, rabbit's foot), peace lilies, calatheas, spider plants, prayer plants, Chinese evergreen

  • Leave to Breath - Plants That Don't Like to Be Overwatered: Orchids, aloe vera, succulents, snake plants, jade plants, pothos, rubber plants, cacti


To Mist or Not to Mist

Misting plants can be a beneficial practice, especially for those that require higher humidity levels to thrive; but not all plants require misting. Research your specific plant species to determine if misting is suitable and beneficial. General guidance when misting:


  • Use Clean Water: Always use clean, room-temperature water for misting. Avoid using water that's too cold or too hot, as extreme temperatures can shock the plants.

  • Choose the Right Time: Misting is most effective when done in the morning. This allows the plants to absorb moisture during the day and reduces the risk of fungal growth due to extended periods of dampness at night.

  • Avoid Over-Misting: Over-misting can lead to excess moisture on the foliage and in the soil, which may encourage fungal diseases. Misting 2-3 times a week is usually sufficient for most plants.

  • Use a Fine Mist: Use a spray bottle with a fine mist setting to ensure even coverage without causing water droplets to pool on the leaves.

Soil and Potting: Using the right soil mix and potting practices to ensure healthy growth

plant care: someone potting a new indoor plant with a trowl and moist soil

Healthy plant growth starts with using the right soil mix and potting practices. Different plants require different types of soil to thrive, so it's important to research the specific needs of each plant you own. Typically, if you buy your plants from good quality garden centres or plant shops, they will already be in the right soil, but when your plants get bigger, you will need to re-pot them so they can continue growing and don't become pot-bound, therefore, it is imperative to select the right soil!


Quick-Fire Examples:

  • Succulents and cacti prefer well-draining soil with added perlite or sand.

  • Ferns thrive in soil that is rich in organic matter and is kept moist.

  • Orchids require a well-draining mix with added bark or sphagnum moss.


Temperature and Humidity: Maintaining optimal conditions for various plant species

Maintaining optimal temperature and humidity is a fine balance and essential for ensuring that your plants grow healthy and strong. To find some examples of different plants that would suit different rooms, see the dropdown menu below:


Sunrooms or greenhouses are ideal for plants that need Warm and Humid environments:

Tropical plants (e.g., banana plants, hibiscus), African violets and bromeliads thrive in warm and humid environments with temperatures between 65-80°F.


Basements or garages are ideal for plants that need Cold and Dry Environments

Sunny windowsills or rooms with south-facing windows are ideal for plants that need Warm and Dry

Bathrooms or kitchens are ideal for plants that need Cold and Humid environments:


Things you might need - Indoor plant care essentials:


  • Indoor watering can

  • Plant food/plant nutrients

  • Plant pots


Best Houseplants for Different Purposes

Houseplants make amazing decorations, especially if you are going for an indoor jungle aesthetic; but there are some indoor plants which serve other handy purposes, such as health benefits.

Air-Purifying Plants: Plants that enhance indoor air quality by removing toxins

Most plants can turn carbon dioxide into oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. This means having indoor plants in your home can improve the air quality and remove toxins and pollutants. Here are some great examples of air-purifying plants:


  • Peace lilies: These plants are known for their ability to filter out harmful chemicals like benzene.

  • Spider plants: Spider plants are easy to care for and can help remove toxins like carbon monoxide from the air.

  • Boston ferns: Not only do Boston ferns look beautiful, but they can also help reduce levels of pollutants like formaldehyde and xylene.

  • English ivy: English ivy is a great choice for removing mould from the air, making it a great addition to bathrooms or damp areas.

  • Snake plants: Also known as "mother-in-law's tongue", snake plants are excellent at removing pollutants.


Pet-Friendly Plants: Greenery that's safe around furry friends

cat-friendly plants - tabby cat next to a philodendron plant

My cat loves to chew on my houseplants, and as cute, albeit annoying, as it is, I had to take great care to ensure the plants were not poisonous for him to ingest so we could avoid a trip to the vet! If you're a pet owner and want to add some greenery to your home, it's important to choose pet-friendly plants that won't harm your furry friends. Here are some examples of pet-safe plants, and, further below, some which are NOT safe for your pets:


  • Spider plant: This plant is safe for cats and dogs and can help purify the air by removing toxins like formaldehyde and benzene.

  • Boston fern: Not only is this plant safe for pets, but it can also help add moisture to the air and improve air quality.

  • Calatheas: These colourful plants are non-toxic to pets and can add some vibrancy to your space.

  • Areca palm: This plant is safe for pets and can help remove toxins like formaldehyde and xylene from the air.

  • African violet: These plants are safe for pets and can add some colour to your home.


Common Houseplants That Are Poisonous for Cats and Dogs:


  • Lillies

  • Pothos

  • Philodendron

  • Snake plants

  • Peace lilies

  • Aloe vera

  • Rubber plants

  • Sago palm


The above list is not exhaustive, so make sure you check how pet-friendly the plants you specifically have in your home are.



Productivity Boosters: Plants that improve focus and concentration in workspaces

best plants for office - best plants for study - plants that boost productivity - woman working at a desk with a laptop celebrating  surrounded by hanging plants and lights

Adding plants to your workspace can not only make your environment more pleasant, but it can also provide some health benefits which consequently boost productivity and focus. Here are some examples of brain-boosting plants:


  • Snake plant: This plant releases oxygen at night, helping you breathe easier and stay more alert during the day.

  • Peace lily: Not only does this plant purify the air, but it can also help reduce stress levels and improve focus.

  • English ivy: This plant has been shown to reduce airborne mould and can help improve air quality in your workspace.

  • Aloe vera: This plant not only has air-purifying properties, but it can also help reduce eye strain and headaches caused by staring at screens for long periods.

  • Golden pothos: This plant is easy to care for and can help remove toxins like formaldehyde and benzene from the air, improving your overall health and focus.


Best plants for bedroom - houseplants that help sleep - White bedroom with hanging plants and floor plants

Bedroom Bliss: Plants that promote better sleep and relaxation

Adding plants to your bedroom can create a calming and relaxing atmosphere, promoting better sleep and reducing stress levels. Here are some examples of plants that can help improve your bedroom bliss:


  • Lavender: This plant has a soothing scent that can help lower heart rate and blood pressure, promoting relaxation and better sleep

  • Jasmine: The fragrance of jasmine can help calm the mind and reduce anxiety levels, promoting better sleep and relaxation

  • Aloe vera: This plant not only has air-purifying properties, but it can also help reduce air pollutants that can interfere with sleep quality

  • Spider plant: This plant can help remove toxins from the air and promote better air quality in your bedroom, promoting better sleep and relaxation

  • Snake plant: Similar to the spider plant, this plant can help improve air quality in your bedroom and promote better sleep


Easiest Houseplants to Care For

If you're looking for some low-maintenance houseplants, you're in luck! There are plenty of easy-to-care-for options that can add some greenery to your home without requiring a lot of effort. Here are a few examples to help you with your search for indoor plants:


Snake Plant

This plant is a great choice for those who don't have a lot of experience with houseplants. It's resilient and can tolerate a range of lighting conditions.

woman's hand touching a snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata) in a green pot

Devil's Ivy (Pothos)

Another easy-to-care-for option, the pothos can thrive in low light and doesn't need to be watered frequently.

golden pothos (devil's ivy, Epipremnum pinnatum cv. 'Aureum' or E. aureum, hunter's rove) plant on a shelf

ZZ Plant

This plant is known for its tolerance of neglect and low light. It's a great option for those who don't have a lot of time to devote to plant care.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia (Aroid Palm, Aroid Plant, Emerald Palm, Eternity Plant, Zanzibar Gem, Zuzu Plant, ZZ Plant)ZZ plant or ric rac plant in a white pot

Succulents

These plants are water-wise and can be very forgiving if you forget to water them for a little while.

5 mini Succulent plants in glass pots with brown string (kalanchoe, echeveria, gasteria, Crassula ovata)

Spider Plant

This adaptable plant is excellent for beginners. It can thrive in a range of lighting conditions and can even help purify the air in your home.

large spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) in pot with brown wooden stand

Air Plants

These odd little plants don't require soil to survive. They need regular misting with water to stay hydrated but are generally considered low maintenance and make fantastic hanging decor.

air plant (Tillandsia) in hanging glass container

Terrariums

I love terrariums. They are self-sufficient, mini-gardens enclosed within something made of glass such as a jar, but I've seen people create terrariums in anything from a coffee table to a wine bottle.


Because terrariums are self-contained ecosystems, they are usually very low-maintenance and generally don't need much watering. You can buy terrariums at most plant shops or garden centres, or you can even make a DIY terrarium.

Terrarium in large glass jar on white table

Plant Identifier Apps

If you're curious about how to look after the plants you already have, an easy way to do this is with a plant identifier app. These nifty apps allow you to scan pictures of your plants and provide you with plant care tips, can diagnose plant problems such as brown leaves or spots and can tell you the name of any plants you don't recognise. My favourite app is Pl@ntNet.


Benefits of Houseplants on Mental Health, Air Purity, Home Aesthetic and Plants with Healing Effects

Mental Health Benefits: How houseplants reduce stress and enhance well-being

Houseplants aren't just a great way to add some greenery to your home - they can also have mental health benefits. Research has shown that being around plants can reduce stress levels and enhance well-being. This might be because plants can help purify the air, making it easier to breathe, or because they provide a sense of calm and relaxation, bringing us closer to nature. Whatever the reason, incorporating some low-maintenance houseplants into your home could be a simple way to improve your mental health and well-being.

Air Purification: Plants that naturally filter and improve indoor air quality

As discussed earlier houseplants can help purify the air in your home. Studies have shown that certain plants are effective at removing toxins from the atmosphere, helping to improve the overall air quality. This can be especially beneficial for those with respiratory issues or allergies.


Consider adding some air-purifying plants like snake plants or peace lilies to your home for both their aesthetic appeal and health benefits.


Fragrant Houseplants: Great-smelling indoor plants

I absolutely love having fresh flowers in my home because of the amazingly fresh scent they give the room; but when they start to die, they start to smell not so great! Thankfully, there are some scented indoor plants to naturally refresh your space without the need for chemical air fresheners.


  • Jasmine: Known for its delicate white flowers and sweet fragrance, jasmine plants have a captivating scent with a calming effect, reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Placing a Jasmine plant indoors can infuse your living space with its soothing aroma

  • Eucalyptus: With its aromatic leaves and invigorating scent, the eucalyptus plant is a fantastic choice for enhancing the fragrance of your home. Its refreshing aroma can uplift your mood and provide a spa-like atmosphere. Though it generally prefers being grown outdoors, if given a sunny spot, it can be grown inside. However, you can get sprigs of cut eucalyptus stems which generally last for about 3 weeks

  • Lemon balm: A delightful and aromatic houseplant, lemon balm will infuse your home with a refreshing and citrusy fragrance. With its leaves releasing a pleasant lemon scent, this plant brings a burst of vitality to your living space

  • Citrus trees: A captivating addition to indoor spaces, citrus trees (especially lemon) bring the refreshing and invigorating scent of citrus fruits right into your home. They produce a delightful aroma that can instantly uplift your surroundings

indoor plants (ranging from monstera deliciosa, variegated monstera, philodendron, Philodendron melanochrysum, etc) on shelves with humidifiers misting them

Home Aesthetic: Elevating interior design with greenery and natural elements

Adding greenery and natural elements to your home can elevate your interior design and create a calming and inviting atmosphere. If you've heard of the indoor jungle aesthetic, which is extremely popular on various social media platforms, you'll know how having a collection of houseplants can uplift and energise your space. I love utilising tropical plants for this exact purpose, such as monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant), calathea black magic, various types of palms such as Kentia palm, Areca palm and Parlour palm, cacti such as bunny ear cactus, cowboy cactus, euphorbia trigona and prayer plants. If you're short on room, hanging plants are brilliant for freeing up floor space and trailing plants are fantastic for adding to that indoor jungle feel!

Biophilic Design: The connection between humans and nature for a harmonious space

Biophilic design is a concept that recognizes the importance of incorporating natural elements into the built environment, a.k.a your house, apartment or office. It aims to create spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and beneficial for our mental and physical health. By incorporating elements like plants, natural materials, and water features into our homes and workplaces, we can create a connection to nature that promotes relaxation, reduces stress, and improves our overall quality of life. Biophilic design is all about creating a harmonious space that supports our physical and emotional needs.


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Healing Effects: How plants positively influence recovery and relaxation

Plants have a healing effect on our mind and body, positively influencing our recovery and relaxation. Studies have shown that exposure to nature and greenery can reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and even alleviate pain. Incorporating plants into our indoor spaces can improve air quality, boost our mood, and create a more calming atmosphere. The presence of plants can also have a positive impact on our cognitive function, helping us to focus and be more productive. This means that plants or fresh flowers make great, health-boosting gifts. Overall, adding plants to our environment is a simple yet effective way to promote healing and relaxation.

variety of healing plants in a bucket - chamomile, rosemary, etc

Indoor Plants with Healing Properties

Many plants have healing properties that can help to treat various ailments and promote overall wellness. Here are some examples of plants with healing properties:


  • Aloe vera: This succulent plant is known for its soothing and cooling properties, making it a popular remedy for sunburns and other skin irritations.

  • Lavender: The calming scent of lavender has been shown to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation, making it a wonderful plant for the bedroom.

  • Rosemary: The scent of this herb is believed to improve memory and concentration, as well as reduce stress and anxiety.

  • Chamomile: The flowers of this plant can be brewed into a tea that is known for its calming and sleep-inducing effects. It is also used to treat digestive issues and skin irritations and is easy to grow indoors - just make sure it has plenty of sunlight!

  • Basil: Not just for your Italian dishes, basil also has some health benefits such as helping to settle an upset stomach. Basil can grow indoors, but can typically only last around 5-6 months before it dies.


Houseplants have the remarkable ability to transform our living spaces into vibrant sanctuaries. Caring for your plants can help to create routine and give you a sense of purpose and, with the right knowledge and care, you can nurture a lush indoor jungle that not only beautifies your home but also contributes to your overall well-being. Embrace the joy of tending to your leafy companions and reaping the rewards they bring to your mental health, air purity, and home aesthetic.


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