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10 Easy Houseplants To Grow

Updated on April 18, 2013

Houseplants add warmth and life to your home!

Have you ever tried to grow houseplants and ended up a frustrated plant parent? Or are you looking for more houseplants, but never know which to buy?

Even if you are already enjoying a healthy houseplant collection, this lens can help you select a new addition! I love houseplants and plants in general. I enjoy growing a variety of plants from perennials to vegetables to (of course) my houseplants. I am a houseplant addict. I find it very difficult NOT to buy houseplants when I see them for sale (I have the same problem with chocolate). My favorites are cacti and succulents. They like to soak up what little sun is available in Western New York...just like me! :P

Why grow houseplants? There's nothing like a living plant to add beauty and warmth to any room of your home. Plants can also add much-needed serenity to your office or dorm room. Want to garden, but live in an apartment/don't have room? Houseplants are the perfect solution! Houseplants can also help purify the air you breathe.

The following is a list of what I consider to be the 10 easiest houseplants to grow, based on my own personal triumphs and adversities in addition to recommendations from books and other gardeners. I have tried to include the origin for most of the plants on my list --- this will give you an idea about the conditions a plant group may prefer. For instance: plants from the tropics like a warm environment with plenty of water and humidity while plants from an arid environment like it hot and dry.

Intro photo: by me.

Click-able table of contents:

Water & light

If you have had problems with houseplants in the past it was likely due to either improper light and/or watering (don't worry, we've all been there). The good news is that these problems are easy to fix! Plants are like people --- each (species) is a little different and has its own quirks. The key is to figure out what makes a plant happy.

Watering: over-watering is the number one killer of houseplants. The majority of plants on my list like to be thoroughly watered (some water starts to seep out of pot) and then left alone until the top inch or two of soil is dry before watering again (check this by sticking a finger in). Resist the urge to over-water if your plant looks sick!! It's always better to under-water as soggy plants can rot, and rot is a death sentence.

Lighting: over the years I have noticed that many houseplant tags are very unhelpful. They carry ambiguous lighting requirements like "provide bright light" or "half-shaded standing place" (huh?).

Here is a list of definitions for the lighting terms I will use:

  • Full Sun = directly in front of a window which receives plenty of sun (such as southern or western facing). Also applies to plants placed outdoors in a sunny spot.
  • Brightly lit = near a sunny window, but not in direct sunlight for extended periods (like an eastern window). Plants which prefer this light often do splendidly behind sheer curtains.
  • Moderate light = 5-8 feet from a window, plant never receives direct sunlight.

And we're off!

THE 10 EASIEST HOUSEPLANTS TO GROW

Photo courtesy eofficeplants
Photo courtesy eofficeplants

Peace lily

Spathiphyllum spp.

These plants were originally from tropical Columbia. Today, they are widely available in a variety of sizes ranging from twelve to forty+ inches high. Peace lilies are characterized by bright green glossy leaves and white flowers with large spathes. So easy to grow! I have four peace lilies, I like how tropical they look and the deep green leaves add a soothing ambiance to any room. They are fast growers!

  • Light: brightly lit to moderate light. This genus is well-known for its low-light tolerance, but it usually will not flower under those conditions. In my experience it does best in bright light. Leaves will scorch if given too much sun.
  • Water: keep soil moist, but not saturated; leaves tend to wilt easily if allowed to dry out.

Note: peace lilies are often available in a variety of sizes, from less than 12" to well over 2 feet high. They grow quickly so feel free to purchase a smaller size. Click here for more peace lily tips from plant owners.

Image: Flickr Creative Commons via Charlie Brenner

Parlor palm

Chamaedorea elegans

This low maintenance palm is originally from the mountains of Mexico and Guatemala and is one of the easiest for growing indoors. It is a slow grower, but can eventually reach heights of up to four feet (120 cm). I like these palms because they are so elegant in appearance, they are a great choice for any room! Another plus is that they are often sold in a wide variety of sizes...larger plants are perfect for framing a large window or brightly lit entryway.

  • Light: moderate light or a semi-shaded position near a window will suit this palm.
  • Water: Water two or three times a week --- likes to be kept moist, but be sure to let the top inch or two of soil dry out before watering again.

Spider plant

Chlorophytum comosum "Variegatum"

A very common and popular houseplant which is widely known, spider plants are graceful and rewarding to grow. They are fast growers and can tolerate occasional neglect. First introduced in the mid-nineteenth century --- originally from subtropical South Africa. You often cannot tell from photographs, but spider plants have glossy leaves. I like how elegant these plants look in person, despite their messy appearance in photos! Also, these plants will eventually produce little runners that can be potted up.

  • Light: Brightly-lit, but can tolerate a little direct sunlight.
  • Water: 2-3 times per week during summer. During winter, water about once a week, allowing soil to almost dry out between watering.

Christmas cactus

Schlumbergera bridgesii

These are beautiful plants that are very easy to grow and stunning while in flower. It's very common to see these plants for sale during the holiday season, when you do, be sure to stock up! Flowers are available in shades of pink, red, white, yellow, orange, and purple. Tip: you can easily propagate these plants by snipping off a branch segment. Cool fact: this plant can live for over 50 years and has been known to live for over 200 years. A versatile plant -- you can keep yours neat by pruning or let its branches hang gracefully over the pot. Also a beautiful plant for a hanging pot!

Getting your Christmas cactus to bloom is EASY: during the warmer months in your area, place your cactus outside in a protected shady spot. Keep your cactus outside until the end of summer, then bring indoors and limit artificial light exposure. These plants take cues from the amount of daylight vs. darkness they receive. Do not move your cactus after it sets buds as this can cause buds to drop off.

  • Light:
  • brightly lit location. Some direct sun all year is fine.
  • Water:
  • keep the soil moist, but not wet. Allow the soil to dry out between watering. As with all cacti, rainwater is best when available. Be sure to use well-draining media.

Note: there are also closely related Thanksgiving cacti and Easter cacti, which bloom at Thanksgiving time and Easter time, respectively. Care requirements are the same for all.

Jade

Crassula argentea (syn. ovuta)

Originally from South Africa, jades are beautiful plants that can live for years and become very large. Well-known and widely available, jade plants are also easy to care for and rewarding to grow. There are also mini forms available called "baby jades." They need sunlight to thrive however, if your jade becomes elongated or leggy it needs more light. Make sure potting soil is fast-draining. I have three jade plants, all of which are still quite small, but are growing fast! I hope they can one day become large tree-like plants.

  • Light: full sun. As previously mentioned, give as much sun as possible. During the summer, all my succulents and cacti go outside to an area that is protected from harsh afternoon sun and strong wind. In the wintertime, I place my jades on a sunny-as-it-gets-in-winter windowsill.
  • Water: during the growing period (spring and summer) water 2-3 times a week, but decrease water to only once or twice a month during the winter. Remember, your jade needs a winter rest and if you water too much in the winter, the growth will not be strong and vigorous because there is not enough sun of you live in a temperate area.

Umbrella tree

Schefflera spp.

This plant has its origins in the subtropical areas of Asia and Australia, where it can grow into a large tree. Almost impossible to kill, it can last for years and years with good conditions. If you want a bushier plant, pinch out apical shoots. There are many different varieties available, including some with larger leaves and variegated forms. Very attractive with its star-shaped palmate leaves, it is also a rapid grower. I have seen these plants used for bonsai.

  • Light: brightly lit --- and can benefit from a spell outside during the summer in a shady protected spot.
  • Water: keep the soil moist at all times --- allow the soil to dry out between watering in the winter. Note: if the leaves begin dropping, the plant is getting too much water. Brown leaves indicate that the plant is too dry.

Note: tends to be a leaner, so be sure to rotate on a regular basis. :)

Snake plant (mother-in-law's tongue)

Sansevieria spp.

One of the most resilient plants I have ever grown. The leaves are very thick and succulent-like. Snake plants are well known and widely available at all times of the year. My local discount store always has snake plants for sale. There are many varieties available, the most common are upright or form tight leaf rosettes. Most have variegated, striped, or mottled deep green leaves.

  • Light: does best in bright light, but can tolerate low-light or moderate light positions, can also tolerate some direct sunlight, very versatile.
  • Water: requires moderate watering, allow the soil to dry out between watering. Do not allow water to sit in the rosette or the plant will rot!

Moth orchid

Phalaenopsis

An orchid that is easy to grow? Sure! This genus is relatively easy to care for --- maybe not as neglect-tolerant as the plants on my list so far, but worth the extra work for its beautiful blossoms. Available in a variety of sizes and colors, the moth orchid has a flowering period of up to a year. I have been seeing many varieties of these orchids for sale, even an adorable mini version. My local Lowe's store always seems to have a good selection.

  • Light: as much indirect light as you can manage, but NO sunlight.
  • Water: weekly during flowering.

Tip: the secret is providing your orchid with warm days and cooler nights, humid conditions are essential, so stand the pot over a tray of damp pebbles.

More on moth orchid care from the American Orchid Society.

Dumb cane

Dieffenbachia

A beautiful plant with variegated leaves, brings a tropical and exotic look to any room of your home! Dieffenbachia originated in the tropical rain forests of Costa Rica and Venezuela. Variegated plants need more light because each leaf has less chlorophyll. I have noticed that placing this plant in brighter light results in larger white patches on the leaves. Please note: this plant has a poisonous sap.

  • Light: brightly lit with plenty of indirect light.
  • Water: plenty in the summer, keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

Tip: this is another plant that will benefit from being placed outside in a protected, shady spot for the summer.

Photo: bouqet.ru
Photo: bouqet.ru

Rubber tree

Ficus elastica robusta (older variety: Ficus decora)

You may remember your grandmother owning one of these bold plants! An old favorite, and for good reason, the rubber tree is originally from the moist tropical regions of India and Malaysia. It has distinctive, deep green glossy leaves. In its natural habitat this "tree" can reach heights of 90 ft. (30 m)! Modern cultivars can grow up to 30 ft. (10 m) indoors and can adapt to a wide-range of conditions. However, it is essential that you keep your rubber tree out of dark spots and away from drafts.

  • Light: brightly lit area with some direct sun every day.
  • Water: be careful not to over-water as the rubber tree is susceptible to root rot. Water thoroughly, but allow soil to dry out between watering, water no more than once a week in winter.

Tip: the cooler its environment, the less water this plant should receive. Never allow the pot to sit in water for more than an hour. There are many plants available from the genus Fiscus --- most of which are fuss-free! :)

Watch out for these commonly sold plants that are fussy:

* Ferns (Boston is exception)

* African violets

* Cyclamen

* English Ivy

*Venus flytrap

Purple Star

This lens was awarded with a purple star on 20 April 2011. I am honored. THANK YOU readers and Squidoo!

Reader Favorites:

1. Philodendron

2. Aloe

Source

The Complete Book of Houseplants: A Practical Guide to Selecting and Caring for Houseplants
The Complete Book of Houseplants: A Practical Guide to Selecting and Caring for Houseplants

This book was my source of information for light and water requirements, in addition to background information. It is an excellent book with plants arranged into groups (flowering, non-flowering, and ferns). Also has a wonderful plant-problem encyclopedia in the back and heaps of care information.

 

Let me know what you think or share a story! :) I love hearing from people who have visited my lens.

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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 17 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      My jade keeps getting white stuff on it. All my friends can grow ficus, but me. What's the trick?

    • profile image

      Ajit Kr.Dubey 20 months ago

      Great information for harbl medicine here!

    • profile image

      myspace9 4 years ago

      Beautiful lens and I love indoor plants.

    • NibsyNell profile image

      NibsyNell 4 years ago

      Plants really cheer up a room! And the easier they are to look after the better! :)

    • JimHofman profile image

      JimHofman 4 years ago

      Great information here! We have most of the plants on your top 10 list. Pothos and Dracaena Marginata are also pretty easy to grow.

    • profile image

      wordpress-guru 4 years ago

      great lens !

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @MayaIxchel: Search pet TickleMe Plant to grow the only house plant that moves and closes its leaves when you TIckle it!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Search pet TickleMe Plant to grow the only house plant that moves and closes its leaves when you TIckle it!

    • elyria profile image

      elyria 4 years ago

      I only tried to grow rubber tree so far.

    • profile image

      MintySea 4 years ago

      I am so bad with plants, but if I could grow house plants they would be ones I could eat.

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 4 years ago

      Maybe some of these will help us be more successful, or we just have a brown thumb.

    • Deborah Swain profile image

      Deborah Swain 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

      fabulous lens! did you know that the spider plant is particularly effective against emissions from computer terminals?

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      Great reviews of houseplants. I've got a spider plant and a rubber tree plant now from your list.

    • MayaIxchel profile image

      MayaIxchel 5 years ago

      Thanks for the great info! I love houseplants, they really make a house a home. Living in 'the land of eternal spring' doesn't hurt when growing plants!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens, pinned to my How does your Garden Grow lens and Squid Angel Blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      nic

    • Lucky621 LM profile image

      Lucky621 LM 5 years ago

      Great info - I have just moved and am looking to purchase plants for my new home - most rooms don't get a lot of direct light - so this list is very helpful. Thanks!!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Excellent information here! Thank you for sharing! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Dropping back to see how your 10 easiest plants are doing....beautifully, I see!

    • DeannaDiaz profile image

      DeannaDiaz 5 years ago

      Very nice lens! I have a beautiful flowers growing outside and I just learned their name- Peace Lilies!

    • Rosaquid profile image

      Rosaquid 5 years ago

      Very nice lens!

    • xanthoria24 profile image

      xanthoria24 5 years ago

      Thank you for including the scientific names. I'm always having a hard time finding them at the store. As a botanist I much prefer scientific names over common ones.

    • Frischy profile image

      Frischy 5 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      I love your plant selections! Over the years I have gotten away from growing houseplants due to other responsibilities. Your lens has reminded me how much I have always enjoyed them. I think I will replace some of the plants I have lost over the years now that I think about it. Thank you!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      I used to have plants in every room of my house; just love them. Haven't been successful in all the choices here, but that doesn't stop me from trying.

    • EileenSmith LM profile image

      EileenSmith LM 5 years ago

      I've always wanted to keep houseplants! Perhaps now's a good time to start. Thanks for the good info. (A fun tidbit: I once gave a family some a peace lily plant after they lost their mother. They over-watered the poor plant and nearly killed it. But thankfully it survived in the end!)

    • MadHaps LM profile image

      MadHaps LM 5 years ago

      You are right over watering is major reason house plants die except for the Spath (Peace Lily) loves to be over watered. The Sans is a great plant just to neglect and it still looks happy. But please do not buy your Orchids from a department store, find an orchid grower and you will have more success. See my first Lens, 'Orchids of the Americas'. Great house plant choices.

    • NightMagic profile image

      NightMagic 5 years ago

      I have some of the plants you mentioned. I'm going to try the ones that I don't have in my apartment. Good Lens.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Great ideas and tips for easy houseplants. :)

    • profile image

      Spikey64 5 years ago

      I have been looking for houseplants for my home you have given me some great tips. Thanks.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      Great lens! I love growing things and appreciate the health benefits of plants in my home. Right now I have a couple of rubber plants, a schefflera, a palm, and many different cacti in my home. The challenge for me is keeping my cats from eating them and digging in the dirt!

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      @poutine: Hey, if Poutine says these are excellent, then I'm sold.

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      The peace lilies, jade and umbrella tree are my favorites. It seems I am given African violets and fresh flowers more than anything. I once had an 'Ivy' - I think it was a German Ivy and it lasted forever, it seemed. I barely watered it either, but I gave it to a relative since my cat treated it like an appetizer.

    • profile image

      wayne_luvinlife 6 years ago

      I have peace lilies outside but rather fond of the moth orchid may try that one inside.

    • profile image

      gogolf162 6 years ago

      I think I am going to have to get some new plants now. Thanks for the info.

    • Wendy Leanne profile image

      Wendy Leanne 6 years ago from Texas

      I managed to kill an umbrella tree. The longest I've ever managed to have a houseplant is about 2 years. I may try a couple other plants on your list.

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 6 years ago from Pittsburgh

      These are easy houseplants to grow!

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      Excellent choices for indoor plants.

    • Wedding Mom profile image

      Wedding Mom 6 years ago

      I have a few peace lilies at home, I didn't know that they'll be great indoor plants. I thought they might die if I placed them inside for a longer period of time and I'd end up feeling bad about it. Thanks so so much for sharing this great lens of your! Well done!

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Nice lens - there's no doubt that plants give a feel-good factor (however, I can't cope with indoor hyacinths!).

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Many of these plants look familiar to me because my mom loves plants and growing up she had many of these. Actually she still has plants and is very good with them. Nothing like having plants that don't require too much maintenance and easy to keep alive! Well done lens!

    • profile image

      tssfacts 6 years ago

      You make me want to go out and get another plant. There is just such a homey feeling about a home that has plants inside and out. Great job.

    • pheonix76 profile image
      Author

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      @Ramkitten2000: I have to agree with you there and will be adding it to my new honorable mentions list!! My top 10 list are all plants that I have attempted to grow. Cheers!

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      Nicely done & great resource. ***Angel blessed*** and featured on "My Life with Angel Wings" lens ... :)

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Lots of good, easy-to-grow (and keep alive) houseplants here, but, for me, it's philodendron. I started with one, took cuttings and put them in water, they sprouted roots, I re-potted them, and now I have philodendrons all over the house. They can even withstand a couple of weeks with no water if I'm away.

    • profile image

      NYThroughTheLens 6 years ago

      Great lens! I love the list and this is bookmark-worthy.

    • Bellezza-Decor profile image

      Bellezza-Decor 6 years ago from Canada

      Beautiful houseplants! I have a green spider plant, not the variegated, that grows and grows all through the winter indoors!

    • linhah lm profile image

      Linda Hahn 6 years ago from California

      So lovely and green to visit this lens again!

    • pheonix76 profile image
      Author

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      @kathysart: Don't feel too bad! I have killed every fern that has entered my house, except for a Boston fern. They are commonly found in stores, but are VERY picky. They need warmth and humidity. Thanks for visiting!!

    • Tiffany3 profile image

      Tiffany3 6 years ago

      I have been wanting to get spider plants. My mom always had them.

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 6 years ago

      I just got a maiden hair fern... and it is already dead! Waa! Gonna stick with easy to grow plants from now on!

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 6 years ago

      I've grown all of them except the snake plant. I don't care for it...but it is virtually impossible to kill one of them. I like all the rest of them and have grown them at one time or another. Lensrolling to my Succulent Plants lens. This is an excellent lens.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      i love home gardening. some of your tips are very useful. thanks for this informative lens.

    • Kimsworld LM profile image

      Kimsworld LM 6 years ago

      Nice selection of easy to grow house plants. I have most of these and have great luck with them. Another nice EASY plant is Aloe. I have tons of it and snake plants too.

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 6 years ago from Western Mass

      we've grown most of these - and since they aren't shriveled up, i'd agree :)

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      Very helpful list. I need to stick with pet friendly indoor plants. My cats like to nibble on leaves. I'm growing a few of these plants outdoors with great success too. I'm always giving jade plants away.

    • Timewarp profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Montreal

      I like your selections, will be referring to this lens again.

    • TriviaChamp profile image

      TriviaChamp 6 years ago

      This is very well done and informative. Well done! Blessed.

    • pheonix76 profile image
      Author

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      @ElizabethJeanAl: Thank you!!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 6 years ago

      Awesome!

      Lensrolled to Hardy House Plants

    • pheonix76 profile image
      Author

      pheonix76 6 years ago from WNY

      @WeirdStuff: I agree!!!

    • profile image

      WeirdStuff 6 years ago

      Home with lot of plants always feels more cosy!