20 starter houseplants anyone can keep alive
Houseplants are a great way to bring greenery inside and uplift the mood of a house. Many people, however, hesitate to own plants due to the time and attention they require or the lack of ample sunlight in their homes. Contrary to popular notions, though, there are plenty of hardy plants that can thrive effortlessly inside, converting a dreary setting to a lively conversation starter instantly.
Houseplants need the bare minimum to survive indoors: water, light, and soil. As long as these three are taken care of, plants will grow as beautifully as they would in any outdoor environment. The challenges usually arise when sensitive plants with fragile blooms—like miniature roses or azalea—have to be monitored constantly since they are conditioned to survive only under very specific environments indoors.
This is where hardy indoor plants come to the rescue. Many beautiful herbs, shrubs, climbers, flowering plants, and even medium tree-sized plants can refresh your home with their bountiful presence, even if you consider yourself a novice gardener. The added advantage is that some of these also have been scientifically proven to reduce the toxicity at home.
As Matt Suwak of Gardener’s Path explains, the important thing to remember for growing any plant is to provide conditions close to the native environment of the plant and do everything in moderation. Many enthusiastic first-time indoor gardeners, for example, water their plants daily, which in most cases is not needed. Indoor plants usually seem to thrive better with more infrequent watering. A good rule of thumb is to check the soil dryness. If it feels wet, the plant does not need to be watered.
As plants need sunlight to grow, another popular misconception is that a dimly lit apartment or a room that does not offer direct sunlight is not ideal for plant life. While some plants do need ample sunlight, there are sturdier varieties you can keep alive effortlessly even with indirect lighting.
To offer tips and encourage novice gardening enthusiasts to add a dash of green to their homes, Stacker compiled a selection of great starter houseplants from gardening websites like The Spruce, Gardening Know How, Good Housekeeping, and the Missouri Botanical Garden. These 20 plants grow generally well in all conditions, can sustain the winter months, and require minimum care and maintenance despite spreading their freshness and beauty all around.
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Aloe vera is commonly known as medicinal aloe. It is a good plant to grow at home not just because of the ease with which it propagates, but also because of its medicinal properties—its everyday use as a moisturizer and the cooling and healing effects of its gel-like sap. Aloe can be grown in sandy, well-drained pots. It does not need much care except avoiding too much watering and rain damage. You know the plant is growing well if offsets start appearing on the base of the parent plant, which can be removed and re-planted.
This plant is not a fern but its stem is covered with linear leaves. The leaves are needle-like or grass-like and look beautiful because of their attractive shape. The small white flowers blooming between the foliage add to its beauty. Asparagus can be kept indoors and outdoors with equal ease. The cascading foliage also looks great in a hanging basket. When planting indoors, it is a good idea to keep misting the plant as the leaves might turn yellow. Other than this, the plant only needs regular watering and repot every few years.
As the name suggests, these herbaceous perennials are native to African countries of Tanzania and Kenya. They produce clusters of violet, purple, or white flowers over the leaves that brighten any living room or dining space immediately. The initial planting requirement includes using loose soil with high organic matter content. It grows well in indirect light, with light watering occasionally. Once a year, it is a good idea to replant in fresh soil.
The true name of this plant is Tillandsia, but it has gained popularity as an “air plant” because of its ability to get most of its nutrient requirements directly from the air. While it looks like a high-maintenance plant, it is very simple to care for. Experts advise soaking the plant in water for 15 minutes the first time. Then shake and let it dry before placing it in any setting that you prefer. Mist or soaking it in water every week is the only attention this exotic-looking plant seeks later on.
These herbaceous perennials are from Southeast Asia and are recognizable from their variegated silvery-white and green leaves. The plant prefers diffused sun or indirect light and thrives well in warm temperatures with high humidity. Low watering from fall to winter is preferred.
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Coral cactus is a hybrid plant. It is not a cactus but a succulent that looks like one. The most attractive feature is the coral reef-like crinkled appearance with pink or ruby edges. It is an especially good choice for those who are looking for an unusual type of houseplant. It grows well in partially sunny spots and doesn’t need much watering. A good trick is to check the drainage hole of the pot for wetness. If it is dry, then it is a good time to water moderately.
Christmas cacti produce bright-colored flowers in red, providing a perfect bright setting during Christmas time. In its natural habitat, the cactus is found growing on the tree branches in the forests of Brazil. They have flattened leaves with rounded teeth on the margins. Like all cacti, water requirement is minimal and it is good to keep the pot well-drained. A pruning in June ensures that there are more branches and more flowering around December.
The corn plant is quite popular for homes and offices because of its easy care and maintenance. There are a few varieties of the plant, but the most common one has green outer edges and yellow in the center of the long leaves. The plant itself grows approximately 4 feet. It needs indirect light and moderate watering. Excess watering may cause the leaves to droop.
Cast iron plant
It is also known as the ballroom plant, or haran in Japanese. It is a good choice for those who do not have much time to tend to their plants at home. Although a slow grower, the plant can live for a number of years without much requirement for constant watering. Small purple flowers appear in mature plants near the soil surface, but it is the attractive foliage for which the plant is known rather than the flowers.
The glossy green leaves with perfectly shaped veins give the fiddle-leaf fig its reputation as a popular house plant. This plant can grow up to 6 feet at home. It is originally from tropical jungles of Africa where it grows as epiphytes, meaning by embedding its seeds on another tree and using its nutrients to grow. At home, though, they grow quite easily in the soil with regular watering.
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