The Best Houseplants for Beginners:
We don’t like to admit it, but we spend most of our time indoors. Everything from our careers to our sleep routines tends to keep us concealed within four walls. Factor in a global pandemic, work from home orders and maybe a little mass hysteria, and we’re spending more time inside than ever before.
Despite all we’ve lost in the wake of COVID-19, we’ve reclaimed so many things and activities we’ve taken for granted. I don’t know about you but I’ve never seen so many people hiking, and good luck trying to buy a new bicycle in 2020. I’ve also noticed friends and family dedicating more time to their home space, specifically with purchasing their very first houseplants.
I’ve had a green thumb from an early age. So I’m used to getting asked for recommendations—but 2020 takes the cake. Every day I get a DM or text with someone asking, “What are the best houseplants for beginners?” or “Give me something I won’t kill.” And I’m totally here for it.
Why You Should Buy Plants
If you’ve ever thought an interior space was missing something—barring being house poor a la Jesse Pinkman “Breaking Bad” status—the answer is almost always: plants. I’m not talking about that small bamboo dish you keep behind the kitchen sink. That’s a start, sure. But I’m talking about some real, well-placed houseplants. The addition of just a few medium-sized beginner plants to a home interior is worth the pocket change.
Plants do more than add style. Some of the more hype-based claims like providing clean air are nice in theory, but studies have shown as much as a 15 percent increase in productivity and concentration for those who had plants in their home or office.
For me, it’s 100 percent true. Plants and nature have an amazing calming effect on the spirit. There’s actually an insurmountable amount of evidence to prove it, too. Looking back, I don’t know how I ever worked without them nearby. But don’t take my word for it. Just think back to how good that first walk in the park felt during the start of quarantine.
If you’re avoiding plants because of the imminent doom you envision the moment you pick up a new tree—suck it up. It’s time to flip the script. Get something that’s hard to kill. After all, there are plenty of plants (and planters) to choose from that those of us without a green thumb can get by with. Here are seven of the best houseplants for beginners.
1. Snake Plant (Sansevieria)
My personal favorite is Sansevieria, aka the snake plant. The snake plant is not only resilient, but it is an interior designer’s dream. It matches EVERY home décor style, and can literally go weeks without water and can survive in lower light spaces if needed. Its green, architectural-like leaves tend to look pristine no matter how forgetful you might be. A good sized sansevieria should be every plant newbie’s first choice.
2. Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum)
If you’ve run out of room on the ground and tabletops, a hanging Pothos (aka Devil’s Ivy) is a good bet for a beginner. Pothos don’t like to be watered all the time and you can allow the soil to completely dry out before watering again. Low care and indirect sunlight are ideal. Pothos also require some maintenance and detangling if you want to keep it looking full and healthy. If it’s ever looking a little sad, one quick watering and they’ll perk right back up within 24 hours.
*Bonus: Pothos are super easy to propagate. Snip just below a node and place the cutting in water.
3. ZZ Plant (Zanzibar Gem)
The ZZ is perhaps one of the best plants a beginner can buy, simply because it’s one of the toughest to kill (unless of course, you give it the sort of smothering love you gave your ex-boyfriend). They don’t like to be overwatered. ZZ plants typically don’t mind being rootbound in their pots and can put up with droughts quite well. The ZZ plant can even thrive without being fertilized and typically enjoys moderate, indirect sunlight. For those reasons, Zanzibar Gem is one of our best houseplants for beginners (the bigger the better).
Peperomias need a ton of light and should be watered weekly, but they’re still ideal plants for beginners. As long as you have a bright space and don’t completely neglect them, they can thrive. There are many variations for inquiring minds, typically the kind with awesome little spoon-shaped leaves. Peperomia is another species you would take care not to overwater.
It may seem basic, but aloe is the perfect plant for someone who is still earning their green thumb. They are perfect for a bright window sill and can survive with ease even in the case that they’re watered only once every couple weeks. They are usually best for containers that are as deep as they are wide. If you ever notice the tips getting a bit red, you’ll know you’ve waited too long to drop-in some H2O.
6. Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata)
In college, I once forgot to water my jade plant for nearly an entire semester. Some frat douche even spilled Natty Ice into the planter. Yet, against all odds, my jade never quit. Even in full sun (its preferred amount of light) it did not dry out and die. Although the soil can be kept slightly moist, they clearly don’t like much water and you should NEVER wet the leaves. A jade plant is an easy, small option for a newbie. (P.S. I’ve been out of college almost 10 years and I still have that same Jade Plant.)
This one may seem obvious because cacti are like spikey slices of Southwestern design heaven. But listen, they’re not as foolproof as you might think. Cacti round out this list because in winter you should take care not to water more than once a month. However, in summer, they can blow through water and require a once a week watering regimen. If you’re feeling risky (and don’t have small kids or overly curious felines), a large cactus is as good as a new sculpture. Just be sure to monitor their water intake!
Tip: No matter what plant you choose, it’s important to become familiar with the care they require, however minimal that may be. When it comes to care tips or repotting, following influencers who specialize in plant care and styling can go a long way to simplifying your green endeavors. They can also enlighten you to more of the best houseplants for beginners. Hilton Carter is a favorite of mine: @hiltoncarter