More often than not, we pick a random plant in excitement and regret later because it may not be the right size or you are unable to maintain it. Picking the right indoor plant appears to be a cakewalk, but it is a process that requires proper planning.
Not just aesthetics, several other factors that need be taken into account – your location, the lifestyle you lead, space available, among others. Do not worry, we are here to help you with choosing the houseplants that bring greenery and life to your home and are perfect for you and your needs.
Finding the plant that’s best for you depends on several factors including Take this quiz to find out your perfect indoor plant match.
- Observe the Area.
Many a time, we pick plants purely for aesthetic reasons rather than figuring out the space we will be keeping them, which leads to choosing a plant that is either huge tiny for the intended area.
Some plants grow tall, some wide, and some remain small. Hence, the foremost step is to select the area for the plant. Is it broad and open, or is it narrow like shelves? This will determine the size of the houseplant.
Plants like Areca are beautiful and are available in various sizes – from a tiny 1-foot tall-plant to huge 4-foot-tall plants. They require minimal care and are great for keeping in on a corner table or a bedroom. Keep it away from direct sunlight.
2. Inspect the light.
Once you have chosen the space, it is time for you to observe the kind of light hits that area. Does it receive gentle and indirect light all throughout the day or does it receive direct harsh sun rays for some part of the day, then it is in the shade for the rest of the day?
Different plants have different light needs. Some enjoy the shade, some like being in direct sunlight. Others prefer a mix of both. Hence, you should assess that spot thoroughly. Observe it a couple of times a day to get an idea.
For instance, fiddle-leaf fig or Ficus lyrata has lovely broad leaves and is perfect for corners of the room. It reduces not only air pollutants but also humidity. It needs a brightly-lit place – fine with both direct and indirect sunlight. Since it thrives in a humid and warm environment, keep it near a window in the bathroom or a kitchen.
Monstera obliqua also requires well-lit area. Plants that grow well in shady areas are money plant (Devil’s Ivy), cast-iron-plant (Aspidistra elatior), Bamboo (Bambusoideae), Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum), and ferns. Plants that prefer light and bright areas include palms, succulents like cacti, and figs.
When you are shopping for the plant at a nursery, enquire about the size, light and soil requirements of the plants from the gardener or botanist present there.
3. Check the humidity
The next important factor is humidity. Whether the area you are putting the houseplant is dry like a bedroom or is it warm and wet like a bathroom or a kitchen? Some plants can thrive in humid areas, especially in the bathroom which has warm and moist air. Ask yourself: Is this environment of the area humid or not?
Plants such as Boston ferns need a high amount of humidity whereas ponytail palm cacti do not require moisture in the air at all.
4. Ascertain the right pots.
If you have already bought pots or vases for your plants as per the decor, ensure that they are suitable for the plant you will place in it.
For indoor plants, do not choose pots with no drainage holes as they may cause root rots. Pots with built-in systems, i.e., the pots with holes at the bottom for drains of excessive water and a saucer or disc to collect that water are ideal. In case you overwater, the soil will shed extra water. Moreover, no water spillage on the floor!
Also, keep in mind the size of the pot. Small, shallow containers are perfect for succulents like cactus, whereas, for tall plants such as fiddle leaf fig and grevillea, the pots should be fairly wide and deep as they have extensive root systems.
5. Consider your decor style.
Before selecting the right indoor plants, consider the decor of your home. Succulents like cacti, aloe vera and snake plant work well for modern, minimalist and sleek places as they are usually smaller and have several hard lines to them, adding depth to the contemporary theme of the place.
Decorating your home with plants with softer leaves and texture like ferns and peace lilies can make the environment more homey and soothing.
6. Assess the time you can devote.
The next question is how much time and effort would you be able to devote for the maintenance of these houseplants. Money plants and palms are the most preferred indoor plants as they barely need any maintenance. Since they demand a minimal amount of watering, they are apt for frequent travellers who can water whenever they are around.
Rubber plant or Ficus elastica is also a good option as it has only one requirement which is moist soil at all times. Do not saturate the soil with water. As it grows, it might require support. Keep it away from the sun or the leaves will get burnt. It prefers medium to well-lit spaces.
Another in the low-maintenance category is Zz plant or Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, similar to a money plant, is an air-purifying plant and demands no hardly any care. Water it once in 10 days or in two weeks and keep it away from direct sunlight. You can place it in a low-light gallery or a study.
After you are aware of the space and light and have shortlisted a few plants that fit the bill, remember to evaluate how often a plant needs fertilizer, if it has any special needs or whether one can use an all-purpose fertilizer mix. Some plants need to be fertilized every fortnight, and some need to be fertilized once a month or even a little bit less. So really consider how much time you would be able to devote to these plants and their maintenance.
7. Toxicity to pets and children
The last but not the least – how to pick the plant for your home when you have kids or pets. Check whether the plant is toxic to your pets and kids. Some plants that might be toxic to cats might not be not toxic to dogs.
Philodendron and Ivy are mildly toxic to humans and poisonous for dogs and cats. Pothos, Nerium oleander, Elephant Ear and peace lilies are highly toxic to humans; one small accidental bite can be fatal.
If you have such plants or planning to buy some, be mindful of how you are going to set them up. Keep them out of the reach of kids and pets. It is better if you avoid them because if the leaf of a fiddly fig falls from the shelf, chances are your pet might come in contact with it.
All in all, it is recommended to choose plants that are not toxic to anyone around. Hope you find these pointers useful for picking the right indoor plant for your home.