Easy Care Houseplants

Easy Care Houseplants

Question:  I don’t have a green thumb.  What easy care houseplants can you recommend?  I’d like to have some showy ones.  How do I keep them healthy?

By Emily Douglas and Marilyn Keller, Piedmont Master Gardener Interns

Raising and caring for houseplants is a great hobby and one that will bring enjoyment for years to come.

If you’ve never tried houseplants, consider starting out with one or more of these recommended showy and easy to care for indoor plants.

Photo by Drew Beamer, Unsplash

  1. Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata): The most common variety has long tongue- or spear-shaped leaves with light and dark bands, sometimes bordered by a white or yellow margin. Other cultivars feature stripes and can have either long or short leaves. They need little care and less light than many indoor plants.
  2. Devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aurem): Also known as pothos, this indoor plant has thick, waxy, green, yellow and white variegated heart-shaped leaves and is often grown as a hanging plant. Although it thrives in full sun, it can tolerate a slightly shady spot. Its tendrils root easily.
  3. Aloe (Aloe vera): Aloe vera has spear-shaped gray-green leaves and produces yellow or red flowers on erect stalks above the plant leaves but only flowers in optimum conditions in a sunny indoor location. Often called medicinal aloe, it’s sap is valued for its ability to soothe burns and for its use in lotions and creams. Choose from a wide selection of large and small varieties.
  4. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum spp): Peace Lily has dark green, glossy oval-shaped leaves and lovely white blooms that look like calla lilies and become pale green as they age. It is a low light plant with beautiful foliage and white blooms.
  5. Jade plant (Crassula ovata): The jade plant is shrub-like with thick stems and glossy green leaves. Jade plants can produce small star-shaped white flowers but rarely bloom indoors. Because its succulent leaves store a significant amount of water, it requires less frequent watering than many indoor plants and is low maintenance in a bright indirect sunlight and well-drained soil.
  6. Heart-leaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum var. oxycardium): This plant grows as long trailing vines with dark green heart-shaped leaves that spill over the side of the pot. It is frequently shown as a specimen plant on a table, shelf or trained to climb a trellis. It is hardy and will grow in a range of light conditions from shade to bright diffuse light but will not thrive in direct sun.
  7. Agave (Agave spp): There are many gorgeous varieties of agave. These plants have a rosette of succulent or leathery leaves and most have spines on the edges and tips of the leaves. Leaves can be a blue, lime or a deeper green and some varieties have stripes or spiny tips of contrasting colors.
  8. Bromeliads (Bromeliad spp) This pretty tropical plant’s foliage and flowers come in many colors with spectacular long-lasting blooms. It grows well in bright, indirect light but not full sun. Note that some bromeliads bloom only once and will only live a couple years. However, offshoots of the plant, called “pups”, can be repotted to produce new plants.

Photo by Guilherme Silva, Unsplash

In order to pick the right houseplants for your home, you will need to know the specific conditions required to grow the plants successfully. Start by researching at home or reading plant tags as you browse at your local garden center. Factors affecting plant growth include light, temperature, relative humidity, water, fertilizer, and maintenance.

Light: Light is the most important factor in keeping houseplants healthy. Be sure to check whether your plants need low, medium or bright light. Low light plants will thrive in a room with a northern or eastern exposure; whereas, a plant requiring bright light would do better in a room with southern or western exposure. While adequate light is necessary, too much light can be harmful. As light diminishes in winter, you may need to move plants, add lighting, or open blinds or shades.

Temperature: In general, daytime temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures of 60 to 68 Fahrenheit are considered optimal. Some sources suggest higher daytime temperatures, but that is often not practical or budget friendly. Plants do not do well near drafts or cold windows and will show signs of cold damage if exposed to colder temperatures.

Relative Humidity: Indoor plants perform better when humidity is between 40 and 60 percent, which is more humid than most homes. Put a humidifier close by or add one to the heating system, group plants together, place them in a tray of moistened pebbles, being careful not to let the plants sit in the water.

Water: Plants should be watered only when they need it. Both overwatering and underwatering can damage plants. Place an index finger in the soil about 2 inches deep. If the soil is still somewhat moist, hold off on watering.  Don’t water plants on a fixed schedule, as different types of plants may need different amounts of water. Pots should have a drainage hole, so roots don’t sit in standing water.

Fertilizer: Choose a fertilizer for use on indoor plants and follow the instructions on the label. As a general rule, applying fertilizer every two weeks from May to September is sufficient. Do not fertilize plants in the winter months, when less light and lower temperatures slow plant growth.

Maintenance: Take good care of your plants. Trim off dead leaves on a regular basis, and pinch back spent flowers. Repot when the plant starts to become root bound and use a potting mix designed for indoor plants.  Remove any crusty surface that may appear on the soil and leach your plants every few months to prevent buildup of soluble salts.

Insect Pests and Diseases: Prevention is the best way to avoid insects from harming your plants. Providing the right growing conditions and plant care can keep indoor plants healthy and less susceptible to insect pests and diseases. The most common insects on house plants are aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. Inspect plants you purchase for insects before bringing them into your home. Isolate new plants to prevent the spread of pests to other plants. Keep cut flowers, often a source of pests, away from house plants. If your plant is already infested by pests, remove the infested portion of the plant, spray with water to help remove pests, or dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and apply to the affected area to remove aphids and mealybugs.

Diseases rarely infect house plants and are harder to treat. Avoid overcrowding, overwatering and overpotting, keep leaves dry, remove infected portions of plants and keep tools and pots clean.

Toxic plants. Another consideration when deciding on specific house plants is the makeup of your household. Some plants may be toxic to children or household pets. Be sure to check before you purchase houseplants if you have concerns.

Health Benefits. Besides adding interest and beauty to your interior decor, houseplants also bring great health benefits, adding oxygen, reducing air pollutants and reducing dust. In addition, they have a calming effect, providing an overall sense of well-being and peace.

Interested in learning more? Many online resources are available to guide you in picking the right indoor plant for your home, caring for your plants and diagnosing indoor plant problems. Search the web for a specific plant or for lists of houseplants, including University of Georgia’s list of cultural care requirements for 200 houseplants.


Common Houseplant Insects and Related Pests”, Clemson University, College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences, Clemson Cooperative Extension, 2024.

Five Easy Houseplants”, Sanchez, Nicole, Horticulture, Oregon State University, OSU Extension Service, Feb 2019.

Houseplant Care”, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, UC Marin Master Gardeners, 2024.

Houseplants for Everyone”, Records, Elza, Education Program Assistant, Ohio State University, OSU Extension Master Gardener, 7 Oct 2022.

Indoor Plant Culture”, Niemiera, Alex X, Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Service, Virginia Tech, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Publication 426-100, 2018.

Indoor Plants”, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Kentucky Master Gardener Manual, Chapter 14.