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Walking into a greenhouse and seeing the multitude of plants can be an instant mood lifter! But, with so many to choose from the question becomes – which plant?
After all, you’ll find tall plants and short plants. There’ll be ones with thick bushy leaves sitting next to narrow, willowy specimens. And let’s not forget all the different colours and shades of green.
Whew! For the beginner, it can be overwhelming. And it’s for this reason I’ve laid out seven easy houseplants for beginners & brown thumbs to get started with.
How To Choose An Easy Houseplant
Now, before we get to our list, here are a few things to keep in mind.
First, when choosing a plant, pick one that suits your lifestyle. If you’re forgetful, get something drought tolerant. Lighting only so-so, choose a plant that doesn’t require high light.
And consider how often you travel. Lastly, don’t forget about Fido or Kitty, or any little, exploring hands. Many plants have toxic properties. So, keep pet friendliness in mind.
More than anything, though, have fun, be patient and enjoy the journey.
Seven Easy Houseplants for Beginners
1. Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
This guy’s official name is Sansevieria trifasciata, but you might know him as mother-in-law’s tongue, Saint George’s sword, or, of course, as a snake plant. No matter the name, snake plants are often the number one choice when it comes to easy houseplants for beginners.
Known for their hardiness, snake plants have long, sword-like leaves that stand stiff and upright. They tolerate a variety of light conditions, although do best in indirect light.
As for water, they require very little, needing a drink every 2-6 weeks, depending on the home’s environment. Because of their low watering needs, it’s best to use a good draining soil mix and let them dry out between waterings.
Snake plants actually do well when you almost just forget about them. So, if you like to travel, or have limited time, these guys make a great option. One caveat, they are mildly toxic to humans if ingested, but more toxic to cats and dogs.
2. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
With its lovely arching leaves, the graceful spider plant makes a statement anywhere—from a tabletop to a mantle to a hanging basket. Because of this, spider plants are one of the more popular houseplants.
Spider plants are tough, easy indoor plants that can take a lot of abuse. They are very adaptable, tolerating various environments and almost any light condition, save bright, direct sunlight. All of this, of course, makes them an excellent choice for both a newbie plant owner or a brown thumb.
You’ll find different varieties of spider plants, some with variegated leaves, and others with solid green leaves. And in the spring, as daylight increases, your spider plant, if it has enough stored energy, will begin producing flowers, which eventually will develop into baby spider plants.
With a spider plant, you’ll want to keep the soil evenly moist, watering more frequently in the hotter weather of summer and less frequently in winter. Take care not to let the soil become too soggy. And it’s best to use room temperature or lukewarm water. Their roots are not fans of cold water.
As an added bonus, spider plants are non-toxic, and safe for humans, dogs, and cats.
3. Peace Lilly (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
Peace lilies are beautiful, stately plants that brighten up homes and offices. They have dark green leaves and white flowers. Although, what most people think of as the flower is actually a modified leaf, called a spathe, that grows hooded over the flower.
These guys are great for beginners because they are simple to care for. Peace lilies enjoy a medium to low light, though more light tends to produce more of the white spathes and flowers. Yellow leaves indicate the plant is receiving too much light.
They like the soil evenly moist, but not soggy. However, they are drought tolerant, and some people wait until the leaves start to droop a little before watering. Because trust me, you’ll know when your peace lily needs a drink! At least, that’s the case with mine.
Peace lilies grow anywhere from 1-4 feet tall and tend to be a bushier type of plant, making them a good option as a floor plant. They are toxic to humans and pets, so keep this in mind when deciding on their placement.
4. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Epipremnum aureum, otherwise known as the pothos plant, comes in a number of varieties, some with variegated leaves, and some with solid colored leaves. Mine, shown here, is a Marble Queen Pothos.
Pothos are great starter plants, as they are nearly impossible to kill. Their simple care needs and high versatility are some of the reasons these guys made this easy houseplant list.
A pothos is a vine plant. Because of this, they make great options for hanging pots or shelving units where they can cascade downward (the eventual hope for my pothos). Alternately, you can train your pothos to grow up a support pole, like a plant totem or moss pole. They’ll even grow horizontally along mantels or windowsills. If you need further inspiration on how to display your plant, check out this article from Apartment Therapy.
Pothos will grow in low light, but they do best in brighter spaces with indirect light. And they can take an erratic watering schedule. They actually prefer to have the soil dry out between watering. Make sure to use a well draining pot and soil. Your plant will tell you if it needs a drink because the leaves will start to droop.
Although not known to be fatal, pothos is toxic. So it’s best to keep your pothos away from children and pets.
5. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
If you are looking for a tough-as-nails, moderate to low light tolerant house plant, look no further than the ZZ plant!
ZZ plants have small, glossy leaves on stems that can grow up to 3 ft. Although it will grow in lower light, moderate light is its sweet spot. But, no direct sunlight.
As for watering, that will somewhat depend on the type of light it’s receiving. In general, at a lower light level use less water; at a higher light level use more water. It’s good to keep in mind that these plants grow from thick, round tuberous rhizomes. The rhizomes store water, as do the fleshy roots and somewhat spongy stems. So it’s very important you don’t overwater your plant. If you’re unsure, think less is better.
The ZZ plant is very resistant to diseases and insects – a great plus for the novice plant parent!. However, they are toxic to humans and pets. With a ZZ plant, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands after handling the plant. Broken leaves can produce sap which can cause skin irritation.
6. Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica)
Want a hardy, easy houseplant that can reach a significant height, then the rubber tree plant might just be the plant for you. The rubber tree, with its large, dark green leaves, makes an excellent addition to any family and is particularly suited as a floor plant. You can restrict its height a bit with pruning, but this is a plant that will eventually grow tall. And, as it grows, you will need to provide support so it doesn’t droop.
A rubber tree will flourish with bright, indirect light that isn’t too hot. Light is especially important for the variegated varieties to keep the leaf’s colouring. Also, rubber trees don’t like a whole lot of change, so try to pick a spot your plant can stay in for a long while.
The soil should be kept moist, particularly during the growing season, but not drowning. In the winter, you can reduce the amount of water, but if the leaves start drooping it’s not getting enough water. Make sure to use a pot with good drainage.
A large Ficus elastica doesn’t just look pretty, it also does well when it comes to resisting pests and diseases. However, one thing you’ll want to keep an eye out for is the sap of the tree. This milky latex can drip from any breaks to the leaves or stems.
Fun Fact – rubber tree sap was once used in the making of rubber.
The sap is mildly toxic to humans and pets if ingested, and can be an irritant to the eyes and skin, so it’s best to wear gloves when dealing with any sap and wash your hands afterwards.
7. Zebra Cactus (Hawthoria fasciata)
I love my zebra cactus. Frankly, I think he is adorable!
Zebra cacti hail from the succulent family. They have thick, dark green leaves with white horizontal stripes, and they are real cuties. A zebra cactus is slow growing and does not need much fuss or care, making it perfect for the newbie or brown thumb.
Although they can survive poor lighting for quite some time, Zebra cacti do best with bright, indirect light. In their native environment, they are often found in the shade of a rock or other object. If you’re seeing white or yellow leaves he may be getting too much sun. Whereas a fading of its green colour may indicate not enough light.
As for watering, in the summer give your cactus a generous, even drink, then let the soil dry out completely before giving it another drink. In the winter, you can reduce the watering even further. A zebra cactus can actually go many weeks without water if needed, so they make excellent plants for someone who travels for extended periods. A cactus or succulent soil is best for these guys.
The zebra cactus is non-toxic to humans and pets, making it a great option for a home with children or animals.
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And remember to always have fun when discovering your green thumb!