By Barbara Bonner

How to Care for Trendy Houseplants

"I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” - Diary of a Mad Gardener

Houseplants are all the rage these days, and for good reason! They brighten up a space, help clean the air, bring a softness to your environment, dampen noise, and some studies even show having houseplants near you can elevate your mood. We're sold!

With their newfound popularity comes all sorts of information online. What is the best way to care for these new plants? Which ones are easiest? Which ones need more humidity, less sunshine, or extra watering? It can be confusing, but we're here to help.

We talked to our resident houseplant experts to get answers to some of your burning questions, but if you don't see your question here, don't fret! They'll be on hand at our The Ultimate Guide to Houseplants class on March 11th at 6:30pm or April 30th at 6pm.

How do I know which plants are best for my house?

Understand the type of light in your home, as well as the time you're willing to commit to keeping them watered and pruned. Some plants need high/direct sunlight (in or within a few feet of a West or South-facing window), medium/indirect light (in or within a few feet of a North or East-facing window that receives short periods of muted sunlight), or low light (roughly 10 feet away from any window or a room without any natural light, but still has flourescent light).

How do I know my plant is unhappy?

Most plants will let you know when they're unhappy! Browning or yellowing leaves, drooping foliage, or the presence of pests like gnats or mites means your plant needs a little extra love. Be sure to follow the light and soil moisture recommendations for your plant closely, and pay attention to your plants. Each home is different so you may need to tweak the "rules" slightly for your plant to be happiest in your home environment.

What about all these popular "easy" plants I'm seeing on Instagram? Are they really that easy?

They can be! Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks for some of the "easiest" and trendiest houseplants you're seeing on social media.

Fiddle Leaf Fig (ficus lyrata)
The Fiddle Leaf Fig is native to the low lands of Western Africa and was given its name because their leaves are as big as fiddles.

  • Light: Bright indirect to full sun.
  • Watering: They want and need consistency! Water once a week, allowing soil to dry out between watering.
  • Extra tips: Regular room humidity is fine and keep away from drafts/heating furnaces. They are cold sensitive, do not go below than 60 degrees!
  • Pet friendly? No. Poisonous to cats, dogs, and humans if consumed.

Monstera (Common species: deliciosa and adansonii)
Monsteras are a vine/shrub native to Central America. They are nicknamed the Swiss cheese plant because of the holes in each mature leaf! They are part of the aroid family, meaning they are one of the oldest dated plants on earth. They mostly grow on the forest floor as understory plants while still able produce a flower. Fun fact: monstera flowers eventually become an edible fruit!

  • Light: Bright to medium indirect. Steer away from direct sun, too intense of sun can lead to leaf burn.
  • Watering: Water once a week, let soil dry 1-2” down before watering again. Keep humidity up by using a pebble tray or a humidifier.
  • Pet friendly? Irritating to cats and dogs, but fruit is edible! 

Pothos (epipremnum aureum)
The pothos plant might be the easiest plant on this list. They are very common and can be used anywhere from dimly lit bathrooms and offices to greenhouses! They originate from Asia (southeast and the Polynesian islands) and thrive growing on forest floors while using its aerial root systems to climb trees.

  • Light: Medium indirect to low, avoiding direct sun as leaves will burn. Pothos will grow faster if it’s in a medium to medium indirect area, but they will tolerate little to no light.
  • Watering: Water once a week depending on what kind of light it’s in. If it’s in low light it’ll need less water than a high light area. However, it prefers being too dry than too wet and does not need humidity.
  • Pet friendly? Sap is irritating.

String of pearls/burrows tail (senecio rowleyanus/sedum morganianum)
The string of pearls and burrows tail are the most precious succulents out there! They are native to South Africa and parts of Mexico! While very low maintenance they do require quick draining soil. Before you know it, your string of pearls will grow quickly into a cascading flowering plant and the Burrow will be taking over your window sill.

  • Light: Bright to bright indirect light.
  • Watering: Need to be in well drained soil (cactus mix or soil/sand/perlite mix). DO NOT OVER WATER! These beauties only need water once a month or when the beads lose viscosity.
  • Poisonous to pets: Highly! 

Triostar Stromanthe (stromanthe sanguinea)
With their bright and colorful foliage, the Triostar Stromanthe is one of the most beautiful indoor plants, in our opinion. This plant, like other calatheas, dances with the light and moves as day turns to night. They originate from the tropical floors of Hawaii and Brazil.

  • Light: Medium indirect to medium, although the more light it receives, the more variegation it will have. Be mindful to keep it out of high light as the leaves will burn. It also prefers to be in a warm area but can tolerate temps down to 60.
  • Watering: Water once a week and always keep the soil slightly damp but be careful not to over water as they get root rot easily.
  • Extra tips: Keep the humidity level up very high. We recommend a pebble tray, a humidifier and grouping calathea friends together! They are stronger in numbers.
  • Poisonous to pets? Non-toxic to cats, dogs and humans! 

Have more questions or want to up your houseplant knowledge? Sign up here for our next Ultimate Guide to Houseplants class on March 11th at 6:30pm or April 30th at 6pm. We'll see you there!