Getting Started with Indoor Plants

A very important element in interior decor is the use of indoor plants. Plants are good to have as they replace oxygen and give natural aromas. Live plants and natural elements indoors help with stress and typical disconnect with the natural world.

These best and easiest indoor houseplants

Maintaining indoor plants can sometimes be tricky because you are working with restricted sunlight, wind. humidity and pollination.

Let us look at some tips to keep your indoor plants alive.
  • More light is always good. Everything more than a couple feet away from a window would be considered low light. If a plant can survive low light, it means you need not place them close to window. You can use window areas for plants requiring good light. Many plants tolerate full sun, but you have to acclimatize them. My Aloe Vera got sunburnt because I put it in full sun after being in a  dark IKEA.
  • You are much more likely to kill plants by over-watering instead of under-watering. Make sure your pot has drainage holes. Water when the top inches of the soil are dry. When in doubt, don't water. When watering, saturate the soil completely and let the water drain out.
  • Most houseplants are tropical plants and like higher humidity. Use a humidifier to achieve at least 40% humidity, keep the plants away from heat sources and mist them with distilled water on very dry days.
  • Nursery plants have slow release fertilizer, but that only lasts for a season max. Get the cheapest liquid fertilizer and fertilize according to the label.
  • It is good practice to flush the soil every once in a while to prevent fertilizer and salt buildup. This will prevent brown tips. To flush the soil simply pour in water 5x the volume of the pot and let it all drain out. You have now effectively pushed the reset button and need to fertilize.
  • Every plant does better in bigger pots. Sometimes you'll read that the ZZ-plant, sansevieria, Jade whatever "likes" to be in a small pot. All this means is that the plant will tolerate it but won't thrive. With bigger pots however you need to pay attention to the right soil.
  • Repotting has to be done eventually. Buy some soil (peat, coconut coir) and something course (perlite, lava rock, seramis, pumice etc.) and mix 1:1 to 1:2. Not the ideal soil but it'll do. Never ever use pure peat, it's so soggy and water retentive! Roots need air as well as water. Repot in a bigger pot with drainage, remove some of the old soil and don't be afraid to cut circling, dead and inwards growing roots off. If want to dive into soils read this.
  • Every kind of work you do on the plant like repotting, pruning etc. do it during the growing season (June, July in the northern hemisphere) when the plant is the strongest.

Before you pick up an indoor plant, ensure that they do not cause allergy and are safe for pets (if you have one). Peace lilies are mildly toxic and will cause vomiting.

ZZ plants are extremely toxic to touch and can even irritate your skin if handled without gloves. The philodendron, ficus, and fiddle leaf fig will cause inflammation and irritation of the mouth and skin as well as gastrointestinal issues. Research your plants before you buy!

The ASPCA has a pretty comprehensive database that you can sort alphabetically or by toxicity to a given animal. The Veterinary Support Personnel Network has also compiled a list of nontoxic options as well.

You may even try Bitter Yuck. If you want to stop your pet from going anywhere near the plants, spray Bitter Yuck on the floor immediately around it. You only need to spray once. Even after the Bitter Yuck has worn off, my dog understands that I only spray that on things he shouldn't go near.

Recommended Indoor Plants

Aloe Vera is a very easy to maintain plant

Aloe vera will out grow its basin and also sprouts a large stalk with tiny pink flowers on it every so often. They die and fall off so make sure that you have it in an easy to clean area.

They also tend to grow their roots horizontally so a shallow but wide container is more appropriate than a skinny and deep one! Use good draining soil. Make sure you allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings .When the turgor pressure of a larger leaf begins to lesson, aka making it seem soft, it's time for a bit of water!

Most succulents like bright light and don't tolerate very cold temperatures well (so don't put it outside in the winter or fall). If aloe has been kept indoors, try to harden it off to the sun by moving it into indirect sunlight more and more each day until it's in bright sunlight. Suddenly shoving it in direct sunlight outdoors can kill or sunburn a plant.

Monster AKA Swiss Cheese Plant

I am a big fan of Monstera Deliciosa or Swiss Cheese Plant. I cut it often and ended up having like 5-10 plants from one. It seemed it was most effective to put your cuttings in a jar of water until they grow a bunch of roots, and then plant.

Keep the plant out of direct sunlight, but not in total darkness, as this can also affect leaf health. Mid level light. Feel free to mist its leaves every once in a while, as they enjoy higher humidity environments.

Dampen your soil completely, let excess water drain and then wait for your soil to dry. To tell if your soil is dry stick your finger in it. If it is wet wait, if it comes out clean water. Try to get into a schedule.

Keep an eye on house temperatures as winter comes, no cooler than 60.

Snake plant or Mother-in-laws tongue

Snake plants or Mother-in-law's tongue (because you can't kill it) are popular indoor plants due to their tolerance of low light and sporadic watering regimes. Snake plants can go months without watering, but easily rot when over watered.

The nice thing about Sansevierias is that they don't react quickly to environmental changes, making them great plants for low-light spaces where they won't get watered very much. However, when it's going through active growth, low light isn't enough to support healthy thick new leaves, so they end up spindly and leggy and tend to flop.

I think it looks very striking. Combine with a white, cylindrical mid century pot for maximum effect.

ZZ Plant is probably the easiest plant in existence

ZZ Plant is probably the easiest plant in existence. It does fine in low light, super resistant to pests, does not need much water. In fact I let mine dry out entirely. If you like how it looks get one of them.

Tradescantia Tricolor or Wandering Jew is one of the easiest plant to root. My mom got a little leaf from a friend and she has a giant plant, and then she gave me a clipping and now I have a giant plant! I am constantly chopping off bits of mine and giving them to people and my plant is doing just fine.

If you're ever having trouble, just chop off healthy growth and stick it into a cup of water. It'll always come back, they are really hard to kill.

Part of the term "Wandering Jew" in general, although derogatory, can be taken as Jewish peoples' ability to adapt since we were constantly made to leave. The plant is also adaptable to it's environment.

evergreen Peace Lily

Peace Lilies are recommended everywhere but I wouldn't consider them very easy since they are very prone to brown tips and refuse to flower sometimes. They do fine in low light though, which must be the reason why they are so often recommended. They are available everywhere however, are hard to kill.

Water a little bit more. Peace lilies don't like to be completely dried out like a succulent, they really like to have drinks whenever their soil gets too dry. (Just not too frequent as constantly wet soil can cause rot.)

Heart leaf philodendron

Heart leaf philodendron sweetheart plant

Philodendron scandens or heart leaf philodendron or sweetheart plants are the easiest vining plant along with the pathos. They can handle lower light if you get them unvariegated.

Cut back regularly to promote fuller growth and stick the cuttings back into the soil. If you plan to use a big container and use a even more porous soil such as the 5-1-1 mix (google it).

You can prune at any point along the vine. It doesn't really matter where. It'll put out a new shoot (usually just one per vine) at one of the nodes nearest to the cut. If you want the shoot to emerge further up the vine, you can pinch them off as they appear. This usually results in the plant trying to put one out further up the stem instead (closer to the pot). This is a good technique if you want to encourage the plant to look fuller up top.

Jade plant

Jade plant is super simple with one exception: It needs full sun. If you have a south facing window it'll do great. In low light the leaves will get huge and mushy and ugly. Water very sparingly, this is a succulent. Prune regularly to encourage branching.

Overwatering, not enough sun, improper drainage can all be really bad for the plant (and all succulents). Succulents thrive on a 50/50 soil/perlite mix.

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Fiddle Leaf Fig indoor

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Fiddle Leaf Fig, Ficus Lyrata is not a beginner plant but they are everywhere in interior design magazines and websites. It's the trendiest plant right now so of course I have one.

They are very finicky, needs lots of light, cannot deal with drought, cannot deal with too much water, the leaves get edema easily, prone to spider mites, fertilizer burn, root congestion and so on. But it looks super pretty. If you are a beginner I wouldn't get a fig already in tree form. They are super expensive and you might kill it. Instead get a smaller and cheaper one. If you mess up just get a new one.

Learn how to care for it, let it grow tall. When it reaches two thirds of the desired height chop the top of and let it branch out. Wait until each branch grows 3 leaves and again cut it back to two, repeat. Do not remove the lower leaves to make it look more like a tree, the plant needs them to thicken its trunk.

phalaenopsis orchid

phalaenopsis orchid

Phalaenopsis Orchids are actually super easy. Place in medium light, drown the pot in lightly fertilized water for 10 minutes and let it drain. Repeat once a week. The orchid will continue to flower for many months (mine did for 5). Getting it to bloom again is easy as well.

Oxalis triangularis

I have many more plants like a coffee arabica, oxalis, calathea, cordyline fructiosa, croton, begonia rex, peperomias, asparagus etc. but this list will do. If you have any further questions please ask.