Houseplants for Beginners: Best Indoor Houseplants for Beginners

houseplant for beginners

Cultivate your green thumb this new year with these virtually indestructible super-plants. 

You can practice the basics of positioning, pruning, fertilizing, and watering on these before moving onto more difficult species.

Monstera deliciosa

monsteraSara Erasmo
  • Moderate water needs
  • Partial shade
  • High humidity
  • Rich organic soils

The Monstera deliciosa is a popular tropical plant with large leaves that are split at the edges. The more light it gets, the more splits will form. The splits allow more sunlight to reach lower leaves on the plant. In the wild, fertilized Monstera produce edible fruits sometimes known as the ‘Mexican breadfruit’. 

To test whether you need to water your monstera, insert your finger two knuckles deep into the soil. Don’t water unless the soil feels dry at this depth.  

The only tricky care requirement for the Monstera is to provide high humidity. This will mimic its wild habitat - the dim, damp undergrowth of tropical rainforests. To increase air humidity around the plant, mist the leaves with a bottle spray, place the plant on a tray of gravel half-filled with water or place next to a humidifier. 

Pothos (Devil’s Ivy/Epipremnum aureum/Scindapsus aureus)

pothos plants Sandra Martins
  • Low water needs
  • Partial shade
  • Dry to humid air
  • Well-draining organic soil, slightly acid 

These vigorous climbing plants are originally from French Polynesia but have become popular all over the world as an indoor plant. 

They make the perfect beginner’s plant because they tolerate a range of conditions. Indeed, in many areas, they are considered an invasive species.  They do well in low or bright indirect light, in soil or water. If you keep them in a container of water, add liquid fertiliser every 4-6 weeks.

Not only is the pothos difficult to kill, it is easy to propagate. Chop off a long stem near the soil and place in water in a sunny window for a couple of weeks. 

In the wild, the vines or stems of these plants can reach up to 40 feet long. If your pothos is getting unwieldy, cut the vines 2 – 4 inches from the soil. Cut just below a leaf. Your plant will quickly re-grow. You can train your pothos around a stick or frame very easily.

The only things this plant dislikes are waterlogged soil and bright direct light. Don’t place it next to a window that catches full sun and don’t water unless the soil is dry.

Dracaena fragrans massangeana (corn plant)

draceanaSeverin Candrian
  • Low water needs 
  • Low light
  • Low humidity
  • Thrives in a range of soils

The two-tone Dracaena fragrans massangeana from tropical Africa will tolerate almost anything: dry air, little water, dark rooms. There are 150 species of Dracaena and this variety is one of the easiest to care for but many others are ideal beginner’s plants too. 

The best position for Dracaena fragrans massangeana would be an east or west facing window with filtered light. The east or west aspect means it will get an alteration of partial sun and partial shade each day. 

Keep the soil very slightly damp through the summer growing period, then slightly dry through the winter dormant period. 

As with all the plants on this list, the Dracaena will survive some neglect but will look healthier under optimal conditions. Give your plant enough fertilizer during the growing season over spring, summer, and fall (once a month). Dust the leaves once in a while to boost photosynthesis. 

Snake plant/Sansevieria

snake plant Kelly Sikkema
  • Low water needs 
  • Low light
  • Low humidity
  • Thrives in a range of soils

This virtually indestructible plant originates from east and southern Africa. They do well in well-drained calcareous soils, including sandy or rocky soil like their native scrub and grassland. The varieties have slightly different leaves but are all easy to care for and need very little humidity or watering. 

Why is the Sansevieria so hardy? One reason lies in the way that it uses nutrients. It uses the CAM (Crassulacean acid metabolism) pathway, a metabolic adaptation found in plants that live in hot and dry places. During the night, the plant opens the stomata on their leaves allowing CO2 to enter. This Co2 is stored as malic acid vacuoles until the day when the acid is transported to the chloroplasts and converted back to CO2. The converted Co2 is used for photosynthesis and building carbohydrates. Sansevieria’s night-time Co2 intake means its leaves can remain shut during hot days to reduce evapotranspiration (the loss of water through its leaves). 

Philodendron selloum/ philodendron bipinnatifidum/Tree philodendron

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