We’ve all seen images of lush indoor landscapes, where houseplants practically sprout from the walls. Those images are beautiful and inspiring…and, sometimes, daunting. After all, how do you get started with houseplants?
Luckily, there’s no need to overthink this.
Whether you’re contemplating buying your first houseplant (which is fabulous, by the way!), or you’re ready to try again after a past failed attempt, by following these easy tips, you’ll be on your way to getting started with houseplants and bringing out your inner green thumb.
Easy Tips to Getting Started with Houseplants
TIP #1: Choose Your Spot
Before heading out the door to do a little plant shopping consider the following.
- What’s your home environment like?
- Do you have lots of light or a little light?
- Which way do your windows face?
- Where will you place your plant? Will it be a near a window, or sitting in a more shadowed corner?
Having an idea of the plant’s living conditions will go a long way towards helping you choose the right plant for your home.
The last thing you want to do is buy a plant that needs a lot of sun, but your apartment only has north-facing windows.
Ideally, pick a few spots with varying conditions. This way, when it comes to buying a plant you’ll have greater options. But remember, there’s no need to overthink things! Don’t worry about having the perfect spot. Many plants are very adaptable and can tolerate different environments.
TIP #2: Know Your Time
Even the easiest of houseplants will take up a little of your time.
Before purchasing a plant ask yourself how much time do you have available to spend on your plants. Not only that, ask how much time do you want to spend on your plants.
Needless to say, the more plants, the more time required. So, be honest with yourself.
Whether you want to spend nearly every waking hour with your plants, or you’ll be lucky to scrape up 15 minutes a week, either is doable. But, by recognizing your time availability you’ll be in a better position to choose a plant that matches your needs.
One other thing to keep in mind is how often you travel. If you’re a frequent traveler, then you’ll definitely want to choose a plant that requires minimal care and watering.
TIP #3: Be Prepared
Fortunately, there’s little you need to have immediately on hand for getting started with houseplants.
Mainly, you’ll want a decorative pot that will accommodate the plant’s nursery pot and a bag of soil, if you plan on re-potting the plant.
A little side note here – unless your plant has clearly outgrown its nursery pot, it’s best to wait to re-pot it. Plants like it a little snug, and it will be less trauma on your new plant if you leave it in its current pot for a little while.
If you’re concerned about watering, you can buy a moisture meter. Read here to see some additional tools you might eventually want to have on hand.
TIP #4: Where to Buy
It only takes a quick search to see that plants are for sale everywhere.
Grocery stores, hardware stores, and big-box retailers all carry houseplants. You can even buy plants online. Sometimes, you can find deals in these places.
However, if you’re new to plants or have had difficulty in the past, I would recommend buying your plant from a nursery or garden center, whether local or online.
Since I worked at a garden center, I admit I may be a little biased, but the fact is nurseries specialize in plants. That’s their main focus. Not only will they have a greater selection, but they’ll be better able to help you make a suitable choice. In addition, they’ll be more knowledgeable about the plant and its needs.
Personally, I like shopping in person, looking at and feeling the different plants, and maybe seeing which ones call to me. However, shopping online from a reputable nursery has the benefits of convenience.
This article from Bob Vila offers more information about buying plants online.
TIP #5: What to Look for When Getting Started with Houseplants
When choosing a plant, there are a few things you’ll want to look out for.
First, the plant should look healthy. This means the leaves should be green and vibrant.
Feel the soil. Unless it’s a succulent or cactus, it shouldn’t be bone dry. If the leaves are drooping or discolored, it could be a sign of improper watering.
Although a little yellowing or browning on a leaf or two is not the end of the world, in general, when getting started with houseplants, you’ll want to choose a happy houseplant with happy leaves.
As you become more familiar with houseplants, a plant that’s looking a little peaked won’t be as much of a concern. And, in fact, the retailer may even offer you a discount!
Next, give the plant a good inspection, including looking under the leaves. If you see any signs of insects or pests or any webs, put the plant down and walk away slowly!
As a new plant parent, the last thing you want to do is bring home a plant that has a pest problem. Even nurseries are not infallible to bugs.
Lastly, take some time to look around. See if there are any plants that call to you. If one does, make sure it’s going to be suitable for your home environment.
TIP #6: Choosing Your First Plant
I’ll sum choosing your first plant with two words – easy care.
If you’re just getting started with plants, or have had poor success in the past, the last thing you want is a finicky plant. So, keep it simple to encourage success.
There are numerous plants that are ideal for beginners. A great place to start is to see if the nursery has a plants of steel section. These plants are low maintenance and designed for beginners.
Easy Starter Plant Suggestions:
Snake Plant – The snake plant (also called mother-in-law’s tongue) is almost always a top plant on any easy-care plant list.
These guys will tolerate various light conditions, all the way from low light to even periods of direct sunlight.
And, they don’t need much water. In fact, over-watering can be one of the biggest issues with the snake plant. So, they’re a great choice for the traveler or anyone with limited time.
Heartleaf Philodendron – Anytime I’ve owned one of these lush trailing vines, it has grown vigorously, even in so-so soil.
Give your philodendron medium to bright, indirect light, and a consistent watering schedule, and the only complaint you’ll have is what to do with all its foliage!
This article from The Sill will give you a few more tips on these easy keepers.
Aglaonema – Although aglaonema tolerates various light conditions, they do really well in medium to low light, especially varieties with darker leaves. Because of this, they’re a favorite for homes or rooms with limited light.
These guys like a bit of humidity, so feel free to give them a little misting, and water when the top inch or two of the soil is dry.
Check out my post if you’d like to know more about aglaonema care.
Cast Iron Plant – The name of this plant should say it all.
If you want a hardy, nearly indestructible option, then the cast iron plant should be top of your list. With its low light needs and drought tolerance, this guy is an excellent choice for the new plant owner.
Interested? This post from Epic Gardening will tell you all you need to know about the cast iron plant.
Aloe Vera Plant – Most people are familiar with this thick, fleshy leafed plant. An aloe plant is known for its ability to help alleviate pain from scrapes and burns. But, did you know that this gal is also another easy-care option?
Aloe vera plants are succulents. So, they like bright, indirect light, as well as deep, but infrequent watering. This, of course, makes them another good option for someone who doesn’t want to spend a lot of time watering.
If you want to know more about the aloe plant, take a look at this article from Gardening Know How.
None of the above sound appealing? Take a look at my post for some additional easy-care houseplants ideas.
Let’s Sum It Up
As you can see from these easy tips, getting started with houseplants does not need to be a complicated process.
- Decide on your plant’s location (remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect)
- Have a decorative pot and some soil handy.
- Choose a healthy looking, easy care plant suited to your home and lifestyle.
But, before we sign off, there are a few things I want you to keep in mind. Transitioning from one environment (nursery) to another (your home) can be a bit stressful for some plants. If your plant initially looks a little off, it might just be getting used to its new environment. Give it a week or so to adjust.
Learning about your new plant’s likes and dislikes might take a little experimentation and a little time. Have some patience. And don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions, whether from sites like mine, forums or from plant communities and groups. These are all great ways for a new plant parent to connect with other like-minded souls.
Any questions or thoughts? Please leave a comment below.
And if you enjoyed this article on surprisingly easy tips to getting started with plants, feel free to share it with your friends.