Whether you’ve always loved houseplants or have just jumped on the trend in recent years with all the extra time spent indoors, plants make every space feel warmer and more inviting. And not all plants have to be exotic to be loved. Many common houseplants are popular (and have been for decades!) because they’re easy to grow, inexpensive, and don’t require much, if any, TLC. As new types of houseplants are introduced, it’s always fun to add them to your collection. But old favorites have stood the test of time because they’re tough and dependable. One of the best things about these common houseplants is that they are sold almost anywhere, from big box retailers to grocery stores.
The most important thing to remember with all houseplants is that you need to give them the right amount of light. If a plant requires bright light, you can’t shove it into the darkest corner of your room and hope for the best. East, south and west facing windows provide the most light; North facing windows are often too dark. In a house that has all the nooks and crannies and few windows, invest in an inexpensive LED grow light to help your plants.
Second, be sure to water according to the plant’s needs, not on an arbitrary once-a-week schedule. For example, in winter, when most homes are extremely dry, you may need to water your plants more often. So, every week or so, stick your finger in the soil to feel the moisture level before giving them a drink.
These are the most common houseplants you can grow.
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Long the reigning king of houseplants, this attractive vine comes in many different varieties. Pothos need medium light and like to dry out between waterings.
It’s no wonder these houseplants have been popular forever: snake plants are (nearly) impossible to kill and will forgive you if you forget to water them. They have a striking architectural form that ranges from a few inches to a few feet tall. Give them medium to bright light, although they will tolerate low light. They only need watering when they are mostly dry, so check on them every 10 days.
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Also known as Swiss cheese plant (for all the holes in its leaves!), this is a dramatic-looking favorite that loves moderate to bright light. Many different types of Monstera plants have the same common name, but the one you’ll see most often is delicious monstera. Water when the top inch or two feels dry to the touch.
ZZ plant, which is short for Zamioculcas zamiifolia, is one of the easiest plants to grow, which explains its popularity. It is tough as nails and will tolerate low light or forgetful plant parents. You can go about 2 weeks or more between waterings.
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Peace lilies have glossy leaves and pretty spoon-shaped white flowers. They tolerate low light but flower best in medium to bright light. Keep the soil evenly moist.
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Aloe vera grows in the landscape in warm climates, but in cooler parts of the country, it is a popular houseplant. Its thick stems contain a jelly-like substance that has actually been studied for burns; break off a leaf and rub it on minor burns to help heal. Give it bright light and water only when dry.
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This orchid may look exotic, but it’s actually a reliable flower given the right conditions. Give it bright, indirect light (but not direct sunlight). Water when totally dry. An orchid fertilizer can help it bloom again next year.
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Still a small houseplant, this succulent has become very popular in recent years for its thick, shiny leaves and easy-care attitude. There are many different types, including some with variegated leaves, but all prefer bright light. Let the plant dry out slightly between waterings.
Norfolk Island Pine
Norfolk Pines are attractive little trees that have soft needles and an elegant shape with the branches arching slightly downward. They like bright light and constant light moisture, though not soggy.
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Popular since the 1980s, this plant can have a twisted stem or bonsai shape. It is an easy-care plant, which explains its popularity. Provide the money tree with moderate to bright light (in low light levels, it tends to stretch out and become quite unattractive), and water when the soil feels dry to the touch.
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Succulents of all kinds have been extremely popular in recent years, but these two are a must-have due to their delicious shapes: the string of pearls looks like a string of beads, while the string of bananas looks like tiny bananas. They both need bright light, and let them dry out mostly between waterings.
Native to Brazil, this succulent can live for decades and is available in several pretty colors, including red, pink, lavender, peach, and white. Give the Christmas cactus a bright indirect light. They do not tolerate excessive watering, so water only when the surface feels dry. In September, make sure they have 12 or more hours of uninterrupted darkness to bloom again; place them in a room that is not used so that their day/night cycle, necessary for flowering, is not interrupted.
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With upright and climbing types, you can’t go wrong with philodendrons! With over 400 different species and dozens of different varieties, you’ll find one that will thrive in your home. They like bright, indirect light. Let the top few inches of soil dry out before watering again.
These old-fashioned favorites like bright light, but not direct sunlight. Water African violets when the surface feels dry to the touch. You can water from above, but do not wet the leaves to prevent rotting. Or water from the bottom by placing water in the saucer, letting it sit for 30 minutes, then pouring off the excess.
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This beautiful plant has shiny, leathery leaves that have made it popular for decades. Rubber trees like bright light and don’t like sudden changes in temperature, so keep them away from drafty windows. Water when the soil is slightly dry to the touch.
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