Photo: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock Images by Getty
From the strategically placed greenery on Fixer Upper to the plethora of garden accents on your Instagram feed, it’s clear that houseplants are having a major moment. In theory, they’re a great home décor option: They infuse a lush element into even the smallest spaces, help purify the air, and are much easier to take care of than any pet. However, for many first-time houseplant owners, those green leaves can turn brown in flash if you don’t know what you’re doing. Since not all plants are created equal—and some require more than meets the eye—we talked to Eileen Tongson, founder of FarmGal Flowers, about the best plants for budding gardeners. No green thumb required.
For the city dweller: Split Leaf Philodendron
With its lush, leafy appearance, the split leaf philodendron brightens up any room. It’s ideal for city living, since it’s drought tolerant and only needs low to medium light. Just add water whenever the soil feels dry.
For the sun worshipper: Parlor Palm
Back in the Victorian era, the parlor palm was a status symbol, but now it’s an easy way to bring a tropical touch to outdoor and indoor spaces. “It’s a great type of palm for beginners,” explains Tongson. “It does well in almost all locations.” It doesn’t need a lot of sunlight, so keep it in a shady spot.
For the trendsetter: Burro’s Tail
If you want something that makes a statement, put this blue-green succulent in a hanging basket. Simply water it a teeny bit every 10 to 14 days and display it somewhere that receives partial sunlight.
For the foodie: Lemon Thyme
This compact, bushy herb can live in a container on your kitchen counter. “It has an amazing lemon scent and flavor, and it’s excellent with fish, chicken and pork,” says Tongson of why lemon thyme is ideal for a hands-on cook. Place it in a brightly lit location and regularly water it—just make sure to let the soil dry out in between feedings.
For the self-involved: Snake Plant
Between its long leaves and scale-like pattern, it’s no wonder that it’s named after the slithering reptile. Not only do snake plants look cool, but they can also go weeks (and we mean weeks) without a drop of water. They’re perfect for the busy owner or constant traveler.
For the eco warrior: Peace Lily
This flowering plant was one of the top performers in the NASA Clean Air Study, meaning it’s a great way to help purify the air in your home. Peace lilies can break down and neutralize toxic gases like carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Keep them in the shade and water them anytime their leaves begin to look droopy.
For the minimalist: Ghost Plant
When it comes to buying succulents, there are so many different types to choose from. Tongson suggests starting off with a ghost plant since its rosettes look amazing when they’re sprawling out of a cute container. “It prefers the sun, which makes the leaves a yellowish-pink,” she explains. “When it’s in the shade, it appears more blush with some pink.” Avoid overwatering and don’t be alarmed if the leaves drop—this is how the plant self-propagates.
For the flower lover: African Violet
If you prefer flowers over greenery, opt for an African Violet. It comes in bright shades of pink, blue, and fuchsia. Place the pot in a sunny spot with indirect light and avoid wetting the leaves when watering it.