Houseplants bring natural color, warmth, and life into a space – not to mention health benefits like reduced blood pressure and purified air. Try your hand at caring for houseplants with one of our low-maintenance suggestions – just pay attention to light requirements and watering needs.
You walk into a home, coffee shop, or business filled with greenery: succulents along the windowsills, small plants on end tables and counters, huge tropical ones filling the corners, and vines trailing from hanging pots. How do you feel?
At peace? Happy? Or maybe jealous? Some of us feel like we can never get it right with our plants. Others avoid houseplants because they don’t think they can take care of them.
There seem to be two types of people: those with a green thumb and those without. However, we’d argue that anyone can care for a houseplant. It just takes a little preparation, the right placement, willingness to pay attention, and flexibility.
Why Have Houseplants?
Cultivating plants in your home brings it to life in a way that a painting or an accent wall just won’t. Houseplants bring natural color, warmth, and energy into a building. But they also offer health benefits!
Studies have shown that plants have a calming effect on people and caring for them can lower blood pressure. They work as natural air purifiers – absorbing chemical fumes and reducing dust – and, of course, give off oxygen.
Get Started with These Plants
Start your houseplant collection with low-maintenance plants that won’t die the first day you forget to water them.
Try one or two from this list:
- Peace lily
- ZZ plant
Try these for lower-light areas of your home:
- Spider plant
- Cast iron plant
- Philodendron heartleaf
These plants need sun, so place them by a window:
- Christmas cactus
- Ponytail palm
Determining Light Requirements
Many plants need medium or bright indirect light, though some require direct or low light. How can you determine how much light your space receives?
Direct light comes in through south- or west-facing windows. Cacti, succulents, birds of paradise, and a few others like the intensity of direct light.
Bright indirect light is the steady light that plants receive when they sit near a window but not directly in front of one. They may receive an hour of direct sunlight during the day, but not more than this.
Medium light is not direct, but it is steady. Plants situated halfway between the wall and the window likely receive medium light.
Low light areas are at least seven feet from the windows, or rooms like bathrooms or offices that don’t receive natural light.
How Often Should You Water?
For many new plant owners, determining the right watering schedule can be the trickiest part of plant care. Some plants, like cacti, should not be watered unless the soil surface is completely dry. Others, like peace lilies and ferns, like to be kept moist (some even benefit from being misted regularly).
We suggest that before anything else, you do some research to determine your plant’s water requirements. For plants that don’t thrive in excess moisture or dryness, the best test is to feel the soil! Stick a wooden skewer into the soil and see if it comes out dry – or use your finger! A lukewarm and powdery surface should indicate that it’s time for a drink.