A Beginner’s Guide to Household Plants

Houseplants make an excellent addition to any home. As this article about the benefits of houseplants details, houseplants can improve air quality, make your home cooler during the summer months, improve health, and even relieve stress and depression. And if you decide to grow kitchen herbs in your home in addition to houseplants, you’ll see culinary benefits to your gardening efforts as well. Here is a brief beginner’s guide to growing household plants in your home.

Household Plants

Start with easy plants.
It helps, of course, to know which household plants are the easiest to maintain. Here is a look at some of the easiest plants and herbs to start with. (This article also features a helpful list of kitchen herbs you might try growing first.)

  • Aloe: Aloe is a type of succulent that thrives best in bright light and moderately dry soil. It’s also a useful plant to keep in the kitchen because the gel contained inside the plant’s leaves can help soothe burns.
  • Cast-iron plant: This large-leafed plant is so named for a reason—it can withstand just about anything from low light to low humidity to extreme temperatures. It grows one to two feet high and thrives best in low light and evenly moist soil.
  • English ivy: English ivy may look delicate, but it is actually fairly easy to grow and grows best in medium to bright light and evenly moist soil. It’s best placed on a mantle or shelf so that stems can grow down. The stems can grow to be rather long, but some simple pruning can take care of this issue.
  • Ficus: If you want something more tree-like in your home, a ficus is the way to go. The ficus can grow up to ten feet high, and it thrives best in medium to bright light and barely moist soil.
  • Parlor palm: For a touch of paradise in your home, try the parlor palm. It grows to be anywhere from one to eight feet high, and it thrives in medium to low light and evenly moist soil.
  • Peace lily: The peace lily is another larger plant that can grow to be up to six feet high. It has large green leaves and spoon-shaped white flowers and can withstand low humidity and low light. It thrives best in low to bright light and evenly moist soil.

  • Basil: Basil will quickly become a household staple if you love Italian food, and it can add a touch of freshness to just about any dish (even ice cream!) It thrives best in generous sun and moist, rich soil.
  • Chives: Chives are related to onions and garlic and therefore make for an excellent addition to soups and savory dips. They grow best in a mix of sunlight and shade and in moist soil.
  • Mint: Mint is a relatively hardy herb and makes for a great addition to lemonade and a number of desserts. It grows best in its own pot, in a mix of sunlight and shade, and in moist soil.
  • Rosemary: Rosemary is commonly used as garnish and to lend a lemony-pine flavor to meats and roasted vegetables. It thrives best in plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil.
  • Sage: Sage is a great herb for adding depth and nuance to any savory dish, and it works especially well in dressings and marinades. It thrives in well drained soil and is a woody plant much like rosemary.

Household Plants

Consider sunlight and location.
Before selecting which plants you are going to bring into your home, it’s important to consider what your home can offer in terms of sunlight. Does your home feature larger or smaller windows? Which areas of your home face south, where the home will see lots of sunlight, and which areas face north, where there will be less sunlight? If your plant needs morning sun and afternoon shade, is there an area on the east side of your home where you can put it? Be sure to consider the varying sunlight needs of your plants and to place them in locations around your home accordingly.

Pay attention to watering needs.
It’s also highly important to consider the individual watering needs of each of the plants you buy, rather than simply taking a watering can to all of your plants every morning—which can easily lead to overwatering. This might mean watering one of your kitchen herbs lightly once a week while giving another kitchen herb a good dose of water every few days.

Don’t forget temperature and humidity.
Temperature and humidity are two other very important factors to consider as you select your plants. Think on the temperature and humidity conditions that your home will offer, and recognize that some plants may not grow very well in your home if they thrive in different conditions.

Use the right soil.
Garden soil is much to heavy for most household plants; opt for a nutrient-rich indoor/houseplant potting mix instead.

Harvested herbs

Use the right size planter.
Selecting the right size pot for your houseplants can be a delicate balance. If the pot is too big, the mass of soil could kill the roots, while if the pot is too small, the roots will crowd and eventually starve. Usually the container you purchased the plant in will be suitable for about a year, but beyond this, you should plan on repotting the plant every couple of years as it grows larger. When repotting in a larger pot, go about an inch larger each time.

Allow excess water to drain.
Household plants need to be able to drain excess water, so it’s a good idea to use pots with holes at the bottom. Put a small layer of gravel along the bottom of the pot before filling it with soil. Then put the planter on a drainage tray or inside a larger pot to catch excess water.

Prune as needed.
Be sure to regularly remove dead, brown, or yellow leaves from your plants, and to trim back plants like English ivy regularly to keep them manageable. Herbs also thrive better when pruned regularly—just be sure not to harvest more than one-third of the plant at a time.


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