Which Houseplant Should You Try?

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Houseplants make a home more livable and create a calming atmosphere with their lush green foliage and bright flowers. And, as an added benefit, many houseplants help purify the air in your home by eliminating odors and toxic gasses. If you are unsure of which houseplant is best for you, take this quick quiz for a few tips.

Do you have children or pets?

If you have children or pets, avoid poisonous plants and plants that have sharp points. If these plants are in the home, place them out of reach.

Here are some plants that require extra caution:

  • Some varieties of ivy and philodendron are poisonous when eaten. Any plant that has a milky sap is also poisonous.
  • Most cactus varieties have sharp spines that can scratch and puncture the skin.
  • For a full list of common, poisonous plants, see The Most Dangerous Plants in your Yard.

How much light is available for plants?

Plants need light to grow and filter the air. The best place for most houseplants is near a south facing window.

  • In darker or north facing rooms, grow ferns and peace lilies.
  • Grow hibiscus and miniature roses in rooms with filtered sun.
  • African violets and chrysanthemum thrive in rooms with long days of bright light and full sun.

How much space is available for houseplants?

Houseplants need space around them so that the air can circulate through their leaves. Without adequate air circulation, plants will become diseased. Also, when plants are crowded, it is difficult to clean the surrounding area.

  • Small trees will be happy in a large room with a tall ceiling. Dwarf citrus trees, such as calamondin oranges and Meyer lemons, can be grown in containers. Kentia, areca, Macarthurs and bamboo palms make luscious houseplants.
  • A tabletop garden makes a stunning display for a small kitchen nook or sunroom. Use succulents such as iceplant, sempervivums or Christmas cactus.

What is the temperature and humidity level of your home?

The indoor climate conditions play a role in the type of houseplant you select.

  • Tropical plants, such as plumeria, anthuriums and orchids, require a high humidity level. Increase the humidity by misting the plant or by placing over a tray of water.
  • In dry climates, grow cactus plants. These low-maintenance plants grow in a variety of light conditions.

Do you want to add color to your home?

Blooming houseplants add color during different times of the year. Plants that produce colorful flowers also require bright light.

  • Plants that flower in the winter include hyacinths, tulips and cyclamens.
  • Celebrate spring with calla lilies and begonias.
  • Add summer fragrance with elegant white gardenias.

How much time are you willing to spend caring for your plants?

Different houseplants require different levels of care. At a minimum, houseplants must be watered before the soil becomes bone dry. To keep houseplants healthy, plants also need to be fertilized and re-potted.

  • Bromeliads prefer low-light areas and require very little water. Touching the sharp points on the leaves and flowers can hurt.
  • Pothos, spider plants andBostonferns will survive some neglect and purify the indoor air.
  • Growing vegetables indoors in containers can be challenging and rewarding. Plant a salad or herb garden in a kitchen window. Sow radish, carrot and beet seeds in tall containers.
Last Updated: February 4, 2013
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About Coletta Teske Coletta Teske has 25 years' experience in tech journalism, as well as home and gardening topics. She has freelanced for Fortune 500 companies such as Boeing and Microsoft, published more than two dozen computer books for Prima Publishing and Macmillan, and worked as a freelance correspondent for West Hawaii Today. Coletta has been an avid gardener since she was 2 years old. While living in Hawaii, she achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a certified master gardener.

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