A Basic Guide To Houseplants For Every Home

Julianne Sawyer · Oct 24, 2019
Illustration of common houseplants

As a new plant parent, there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing your seedling grow. That said, indoor plants can be a source of enormous joy—or an enormous headache. To cultivate the former, we put together a handy guide with tips on which indoor plants to choose, where to place them, and how to keep them thriving.

The five indoor plants we selected will help turn your house into a home. Here are our top picks and some info on how to raise them (to ensure that they love you back).

Sansevieria (san-suh-VEER-ee-uh)

There’s a reason why everyone loves the sansevieria (also known as a snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue)—they’re basically impossible to kill. These hardy plants need very little natural sunlight and can survive with minimal water, so they’re perfect pretty much anywhere, even in a dark bathroom corner. Allow their soil to dry between waterings and take special care not to overwater during the winter months.

Dracaena (druh-SEE-nuh)

The perennially-easy dracaena (or dragon tree) requires less water than most indoor plants. Regardless of their striking appearance, these spiky trees don’t have a flair for the dramatic and are actually quite low maintenance. They do well in filtered light, so near a sunny window with a sheer curtain is the optimal place to enjoy them.

Zamioculcas (Zam-ee-oh-KUL-kass)

The zamioculcas zamiifolia (or ZZ plant) is a fantastic houseplant for those with a black thumb. Virtually indestructible, these durable little plants can survive and thrive after months of neglect. We’re not advocating that you forget to water yours, but ZZ plants will still love you even if you do. Pet owners, take note: ZZ plants are poisonous to cats and dogs, so be sure to keep your furry friends from munching on their leaves.

Aspidistra (ass-pih-DIS-trah)

Also known as the cast-iron plant, the aspidistra is about as undemanding as a houseplant can get. No matter where you plunk this glossy-leafed house guest, it will flourish. Be sure to check the moisture level a few times a week by sticking your index finger into the top inch of soil. If it feels dry, give your aspidistra a drink—as a general rule of thumb, this plant prefers soil that’s neither too dry nor too wet.

Philodendron (fi-luh-DEN-druhn)

Choosing a type of philodendron is much like choosing your own adventure—each one is a little different, but there are really no wrong answers. While there are a few different species of philodendron (okay, there are around 500), all are fairly tolerant indoor plants and will do well inside with minimal fussing. Allow the top inch of soil to dry completely before watering it again, and don’t leave it in direct sunlight.


If you’ve been bitten by the houseplant bug and wish to add more to your collection, keep an eye out for aglaonema, pothos, peace lilies, palms, and ferns. Once you’ve mastered the art of tending to indoor houseplants, you’ll be ready to try your hand at gardening. Go forth, and let your plant offspring prosper.

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