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14 Popular Houseplants & How to Keep Them Alive!

By May 5, 2018 Plants

Houseplants | Renewed Attention Yet Always in Style

Plants have made a big comeback recently. It used to be that you would only see houseplants in the homes of those that were truly obsessed with plants or flowers. No more. Many are starting to realize that houseplants are not just for design but can be useful for so many other things as well. For one, many houseplants help to clear and detoxify inside air and some, like the aloe vera, can even be used in beauty or health regimens.

The beauty of houseplants goes beyond just being a statement piece, too. Plants can bring life and color to a room otherwise seemingly bland and they give joy to their owners. If you’re not a plant addict yet, take a look at the list below of the most common ones and boost your home environment and style with one or two plants of your own.

Need additional help? We stock several paperback plant books that are great resources for a new urban plant adventure. Happy Houseplant is a small but packed guide to picking and caring for houseplants while Plant Society and Leaf Supply add insight into using houseplants for interior design and styling along with valuable care tips. Or come into our Hillcrest retail store and talk to one of our designers who can help you decide what plant and pot combination works for your home or office. All of the plants and pots photographed below are available at our retail store in a variety of sizes and combinations. Without further delay, here is our list of the most popular houseplants.

14 Popular Plants and Simple Care Instructions to Keep Them Happy!

1. Majesty Palm

Ravenea rivularis, or the majesty palm, is a popular indoor houseplant with long, elegant fronds that resemble a palm tree. Originally from Madagascar, it grows to about 6-8 feet tall indoors, so make sure to position in a place that it has the room vertically to grow. The palm has multiple stems shooting from the base and arched leaves. Indoors, the palm does not bear any fruit. Because the majesty palm is a tropical, it likes moist air and 6-8 hours of bright light daily to thrive so find it a home near a sunny window. A more humid environment will also help prevent spider mites.

Care Instructions:

Water – Water regularly, keep the soil moist in spring/summer months and slightly dry in fall/winter months.

Light – Plenty of bright light, but indirect sunlight. Avoid bright, intense sun which can burn the leaves.

Temperature – The majesty palm is native to tropical regions, so keep the temperature between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. As the plant excretes plenty of water itself, the humidity does not have to be high for it to thrive.

Overall Maintenance – Average maintenance. Fertilize every three months during spring and summer using a general, slow-release fertilizer. Don’t forget to repot if it outgrows its current size.

The Take-Away: The Majesty Palm is an average maintenance plant that prefers plenty of light and water with warm temperatures.

The Take-Away: The Majesty Palm is an average maintenance plant that prefers plenty of light and water with moderate temperatures.

2. Fiddle Leaf Ficus (Fig)

Ficus lyrata, commonly known as the fiddle leaf fig, has broad lyre-shaped leaves and is native to Africa. In its native habitat the plant can grow as tall as 100 feet, but indoors plants are usually within the range of two to ten feet tall. Houseplants also don’t produce any fruit or flowers as they do in the wild.

Care Instructions:

Water – Water regularly during spring/summer months but avoid overwatering. Water less in the fall/winter months. Only water when the topsoil feels dry to touch.

Light – The plant requires part shade to flourish and should be in indirect bright sunlight to thrive. Don’t place near windows that get hot, afternoon sun.

Temperature – The Africa-native plant prefers relatively dry conditions and higher temperatures. Keep a low in the 50s and a high in the 70s.

Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance. Dust the leaves as needed with a soft cloth. Fertilize every month during spring and summer, then once in February and again in March. Pruning the fiddle leaf when it is young is a good way to encourage growth.

The Take-Away: The low-maintenance Fiddle Leaf Ficus likes regular watering in part shade with average temperatures.

3. Giant Bird of Paradise

The Strelitzia Nicolai plant is truly a stunner in its natural landscape and can be quite the talk of your houseplants. The plant looks like a fountain, with its blue-green leaves sprouting from the center. The flowers on this plant have white leaves and blue centers, or tongues. The plant is sensitive to frost so make sure to keep inside during colder months.

Care Instructions:

Water – Water regularly and more often in extreme heat if kept outside and choose a pot or planting location where the soil drains well.

Light – The plant requires full sun and bright light.

Temperature – The plant grows natively in a tropical climate so temperatures should be kept at a low of 50s and thrives at temperatures above 70s.

Overall Maintenance – Fertilize every three months during the spring and summer. Prune away dead or broken stalks.

The Take-Away: The average maintenance Giant Bird of Paradise needs regular watering, full sun and temperatures above 70 to thrive.

4. Dragon Tree

The dragon tree, or Dracaena Marginata, houseplant has narrow green leaves with cream and yellow colored stripes running through each. The plant can be as tall as fifteen feet and grows rather fast the first few years. One note, the plant is toxic to cats and dogs, so keep out of reach if there are pets in the house.

Care Instructions:

Water – The plant needs to be watered only when the top one inch of soil is dry and never allowed to sit in a puddle of water. Ensure your pot has good drainage.

Light – The plant needs bright, but indirect, sunlight. Too much sun will cause the leaves to develop brown spots and not enough will pale the leaves.

Temperature – Dragon trees need a constant temperature and thrive at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance. Fertilize in spring and summer. Do not fertilize in winter months.

The Take-Away: The low-maintenance dragon tree doesn’t need a lot of watering, requires indirect sunlight and constant temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees.

5. ZZ Plant

The ZZ plant, named so for its scientific name Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, is often mistaken for an artificial plant due to its waxy coating, oval-shaped leaves and the way the stem starts off thick at the bottom and tapers to a point at the top. It used to be found only in commercial settings such as office buildings or malls because it can take months of neglect and still look amazing. If you’re looking for a beautiful plant that won’t suffer from your brown thumb, the ZZ is the one.

Care Instructions:

Water – Only water when the soil is completely dry.

Light – Will do best in indirect sunlight and will even grow well in window-less places such as bathrooms.

Temperature – An average temperature of 60s to 70s is best for this plant.

Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance as the ZZ does not need to be fertilized often. Once every four months is plenty to keep them happy.

The Take-Away: The low maintenance ZZ plant thrives in indirect light, average temperatures and being watered only when completely dry.

6. Ponytail Palm

The ponytail palm has a deceptive name because it is actually not closely related to true palms and is, in fact, part of the succulent family. It’s scientific name, Beaucarnea recurvata, honors the man that first collected flowers from the plant, Jean-Baptiste Beaucarne, and also refers to its curved leaves. The shape of this tree is quite unique, starting with the bulge of the trunk at the bottom, for collecting water, and on up the thin trunk to the ‘bent-over’ leaves that spring out of the center much like a ponytail.

Care Instructions:

Water – Being part of the succulent family, the plant does not require a lot of water and likes it best semi-dry.

Light – Bright light is best, but it will do fine in the light half the time too. Placing them outdoors during the summer and in during winter will keep it happy.

Temperature – A moderate temperature fluctuation is allowed, but nothing too cold, it prefers room temperature year round.

Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance but does require fertilizer during spring and summer months. Don’t fertilize in winter when growth is slow.

The Take-Away: The ponytail palm is a low maintenance plant that likes bright light, semi-dry soil and moderate temperatures.

7. Calathea Makoyana

The Calathea Makoyana, Peacock plant, is the kind of plant that people talk about. Visually striking with leaves that are striped green and white with green spots emanating from the center of each leaf. The plant prefers plenty of humidity and is best kept at around 60 percent humidity. It does well next to other plants that transpire, such as the areca palm, because it will provide enough humidity for the peacock plant to thrive.

Care Instructions:

Water – The plant needs lots of water. Plant in a pot with a saucer for good drainage. Mist it to add some love.

Light – The plant does well in low to moderate light.

Temperature – The peacock plant likes it warm but not too dry. Tropical-like temperatures are best.

Overall Maintenance – High Maintenance. Fertilize during the growing season of April-October following directions on the fertilizer label.

The Take-Away: The peacock plant is a high maintenance plant that requires regular water and humidity, moderate light and warm temperatures.

8. Sansaveria (Snake Plant)

The Sansaveria, aka Snake Plant, got its name from the tall and narrow shaped leaves, spotted with white and yellow stripes or shapes, that grow from the center of each plant. Keep out of reach of pets, as they are toxic. On the plus side, they have been found to help detoxify the air!

Care Instructions:

Water – Snake plants grow in dry soil naturally so they don’t like to be overwatered and are prone to rot if they are so.

Light – The plant likes light but will grow in indirect light and even with little light as they adapt well. Avoid areas with hot, afternoon sun.

Temperature – Moderate temperatures, between 60s and 70s, are great for the plant.

Overall Maintenance – Average Maintenance and generally don’t require fertilizer.

The Take-Away: Snake plants are an average maintenance plant, like only a little water, indirect light, and moderate temperatures.

9. Aloe Vera

Part of the succulent family, the aloe vera plant is not only beautiful but also functional! Having one of these plants helps to clean the air and the gel found inside the leaves of each plant can be used for a myriad of things, such as beauty do-it-yourself and for after-sun care. The leaves of the plant can grow relatively tall and are tapered at the end. Each leaf also has small spikes along the edges and is about a quarter to half inch thick.

Care Instructions:

Water – The plant requires well-draining soil and only to be watered when the top one to two inches of soil is dry, usually once every two-three weeks.

Light – Aloe needs bright, indirect sunlight but will thrive in artificial light as well.

Temperature – A succulent, the aloe is quite hardy and will tolerate a wide temperature range, but it is best kept in between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance and generally don’t require fertilizer.

The Take-Away: Aloe vera is low maintenance, well-drained soil and occasional watering, bright but indirect sunlight and temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees.

10. Pothos

One of the first plants suggested by experts to get started with if you’ve never cared for a plant before, the pothos plant is quite easy to care for but also beautiful. The broad, variegated, heart-shaped leaves run along the vine-like plant that can extend for many feet if left to grow in good conditions. The plant is not too picky and can grow in soil or soil-less potting mixes, in a vase of water and with or without nutrients. The plant is poisonous to cats, dogs, and even children if ingested but only if done so in large quantities. The sap of the plant can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Care Instructions:

Water – If potted in soil, water regularly but not too often. Make sure that the top half inch of soil is dry before watering again.

Light – The plant can grow in low to moderate light conditions and even does quite well in windowless rooms such as bathrooms.

Temperature – The plant needs an average temperature in the 55-70s range to survive.

Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance and generally do not require fertilizer.

The Take-Away: Pothos plants are low maintenance that require regular watering, low to moderate light and average temperatures.

11. Monstera Deliciosa

The monstera deliciosa, also sometimes called the Swiss cheese plant, is a vine-like plant native to Central America. The plant is known for its large leaves that are perforated, hence the Swiss cheese moniker. Although houseplants rarely produce fruit, outdoor ones will fruit and bear a pineapple-tasting fruit!

Care Instructions:

Water – Water regularly during the growing season and less so during fall and winter. Misting the leaves every so often mimics its natural habitat and will keep it happy.

Light – Bright, indirect sunlight works well for this plant. Direct sunlight might damage the leaves.

Temperature – The monstera requires relatively constant temperatures, between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and enjoys humidity.

Overall Maintenance – Average Maintenance. Fertilize once a month with a diluted solution during the spring and summer growing season.

The Take-Away: The average maintenance monstera deliciosa needs regular watering, bright and indirect sunlight and constant temperatures in between 70 and 75 degrees.

12. Cactus

The humble cactus has become a favorite houseplant recently, due to the easiness of care and the fact that they can come in all sorts of different sizes and shapes. When first buying a cactus, it is most likely a small one and comes in a small pot. An expert tip is to re-pot it when bringing it home as the cactus has likely been in that particular pot for a while and has used up all the nutrients contained in that soil.

Care Instructions:

Water – A potted cactus only needs water about once a month. To determine whether to water, take a pencil and insert to the bottom of the pot. If it comes out wet even a little, hold off on watering.

Light – The cactus needs bright, indirect sunlight to flower in a pot. Direct sunlight may burn it.

Temperature – Outdoor cacti resist large fluctuations in temperature but it is best to keep your potted cactus at a constant temperature, around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance. Fertilize once a year.

The Take-Away: The low maintenance cactus needs only occasional watering, bright and indirect sunlight and average temperatures.

13. Phalaenopsis (Moth) Orchid

The phalaenopsis orchid, or “moth” orchid, is truly a spectacular flower ideal for a variety of different home décors making it a great gift. While not exactly classified as a houseplant, they serve similar purposes so we added it to the list. They come in a colorful mix, including hot pink, deep orange, vibrant yellow, yellow cream, and white. The bloom’s broad, flat petals can be solid, speckled, or striped and last 8-10 weeks. The Phalaenopsis will bloom again if cared for appropriately. It is a popular orchid that is relatively inexpensive and easy to care for in general with long-lasting blooms.

Care Instructions:

Water – The plant should be watered approximately 3 times per week with a simple ice cube. The soil should be damp, but not soggy. Replant once the bloom has finished with fresh orchid mix. Flower spikes should be trimmed after blooming.

Light – The phalaenopsis requires medium to bright light to thrive and does best with bright light, but not in direct sunlight.

Temperature – Average day temperatures should range from 65-95 degrees, with night temperatures no cooler than 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Overall Maintenance – Low Maintenance. Fertilize twice a month with orchid fertilizer during the spring and summer months, once a month in the winter months.

The Take-Away: A low maintenance phalaenopsis orchid should be watered approximately 3 times a week with an ice cube, given bright light and kept in temperatures ranging from 65-85 degrees.

14. Succulents (Varied)

The succulent family has a variety of different plant shapes and styles, but most have a few things in common. The leaves of succulents are thicker and can be waxy to the touch. They come in many colors, including green, blue, purple, yellow, and red. Some of the most common succulents are Haworthia and Gasteria varieties but take care to pick one that is suited for indoor growth such as those that require low to moderate light. A good rule of thumb is that the more brightly colored they are, the more sun they need.

Care Instructions:

Water – Succulents don’t need water daily, but they do need plenty of it. A good way to keep them happy is by soaking the pot they’re in then letting it dry out completely before watering again.

Light – Green varieties of succulents will do the best indoors, but still require as much sunlight as possible. Your succulent is not getting enough light if you see it starting to stretch out and space out its leaves.

Temperature – Most prefer a minimum of 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Fertilize once in the spring or summer when watering.

Ready To Start Buying Houseplants?

Indoor plants are a great way to add style and life to your home. All of the plants and pots pictured above are available at our retail store in Hillcrest. Our team is at your disposal for whatever type of plant and pot combination you might be looking for to spruce up your decor. We are happy to pot any plant/container combination you may desire. If you want a particular plant, we can special order you one as well.

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