5 Easy House Plants for Beginners


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In this time of shelter-in-place, many new people have joined the ranks of the plant parent community. How exciting to have so many more planty friends with whom to share our passion! With the new plant parents in mind, I've put together a list of my top 5 beginner-friendly plants from my own experience. Aside from their ease of care, they're all very different from each other, so hopefully anyone can find something they like!



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Air Plants

Also called tillandsia, these cuties are my number 1 plants for beginners, including children. They don't require any soil (hence "air" plants), but rather absorb nutrients through the tiny hairs on their leaves from sunlight, water and any other particles that happen to fall on them. They are native to many parts of the Western Hemisphere, from the southern United States, to Central America and the Caribbeans, all the way through South America. Most are found in humid, tropical environments, but some are also at home in rocky or desert regions. Like all epiphytes, in the wild they attach themselves to other things for support, such as tree trunks, rocks and even cacti (but they're not parasites). As houseplants, you can find many creative ways to display them, from regular pots to hangers and wall sconces to just decorative bowls or no holder at all, if you'd prefer to just let it sit on the table or any other surface of choice! There are hundreds of different varieties of air plants, from colorful ionantha to the giant xerographica to the whimsical Spanish moss. You can be sure to find one that fits your fancy!


Quick tips:

- place in moderate light (a few feet away from a window is good)

- submerge in water once a week or 2 anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours (depending on variety)

- let it completely dry upside down (if the variety allows for this) before returning to its holder.



Photo by Yen Vu // Unsplash

Succulents

One of the most common beginner plants, succulents can be found natively all over the world, mostly in bright, dry climates, especially in Africa, Mexico and Central and South America, though some can be found in mountainous areas. Their thick leaves allow them to store water and survive short periods of drought, though they aren't as resilient to extremely harsh conditions as some other plants. This means that plant parents can afford to be a little lax with their watering, but too much will easily cause them stress. There are thousands of different varieties of succulents. Some, like aloe and agave, have practical uses. Others are cultivated to decorate gardens and tabletops, like the common echeveria, or even drape down from hanging pots, like the popular string of hearts. As a side note, cacti are often grouped in with succulents or the terms are used interchangeably. However, cacti are distinctly a sub-category of succulents. Therefore, not all succulents are cacti.


Quick tips:

- only water when completely dry

- place in spot with the brightest indirect light possible (direct light works, but there is danger from sunburn)



Photo by Jonathan Borba // Unsplash

Snake Plants

Sansevieria or "Mother's Tongue" are native to the arid regions of West Africa, from Nigeria to the Congo. This means they are extremely hardy, much more so than succulents. Similarly, their thick leaves store water to allow them to withstand quite long periods of drought, and they're even better for folks who lack time or forget to water them (again, over-waterers should beware). Like other arid plants, they thrive with lots of sunlight. However, they are surprisingly one of the best low light indoor plants and are commonly used to decorate offices, which tend to have less natural light. Snake plants also come in many different sizes and colors, so if they sound like a good match, you may find a perfect fit for you!


Quick tips:

- only water when completely dry

- ideally place in bright indirect light but does not mind being in a shady area (it just won't grow as large or as quickly)



Photo by Anna Yenina // Unsplash

ZZ Plants

Hailing from the sunny semi-arid regions of East Africa, from Kenya to South Africa, the zamioculcas zamiifolia or "Zanzibar Gem" can grow to massive proportions in the wild. Like the snake plant, their thick stems and leaves can store water, and they do just fine in low light conditions, making them quite easy to care for with minimal watering. On the other hand, they have a very high sensitivity to over-watering. They simply just thrive with neglect! Again, they are a great way to add some live greenery to an office or a shady corner of the house.


Quick tips:

- only water when completely dry

- ideally place in bright indirect light but does not mind being in a shady area (it just won't grow as large or as quickly)




My pothos snow queen // August 6, 2020

Pothos

Last but absolutely not least, the epipremnum aureum is my favorite beginner plant. Also called "Devil's Ivy", it is native to the tropical climates of Southeast Asia. Despite this, the pothos does just fine in moderate light, with moderate watering and normal household humidity levels. Because tropical plants need more water than arid plants, the pothos takes minimally more work than the previous 2 plants. However for beginners who would prefer a more "traditionally" leafy plant, the pothos is not fussy at all. As a climber/viner, it drapes gorgeously over its pot when it grows in size, or it can be kept pruned, if you prefer it short and bushy. It has many different varieties of colors and shapes, from the common heart-shaped gold to the metallic arrow-like cebu blue. I have 5 pothos plants in my own collection - that's how much I love them!


Quick tips:

- ideally place in bright indirect light (the lighter-colored the variety, the more light it will want, such as my snow queen above), though most will tolerate moderate light

- only water when the top two inches of the soil is dry



Photo by Huy Phan // Unsplash

Keep in mind that these are just the easy plants with which I personally have experience. There are plenty of other plants out there that are great for beginners, such as the spider plant or the dracaena. If you're looking to start adding greenery into your home, with a little bit of research you're sure to find something right for you!