A design intention I live by is “no room is complete without a statement plant.” There is not a room in our apartment that doesn’t have a plant living in it. I find that it not only brings higher quality air, but a liveliness to a space that only a beautiful green plant can bring. I love decorating with neutral and wood tones and the various shades of green that my houseplants give the space add a vibrancy that speaks to my soul.
Some of you may think you lack a “green thumb,” but the majority of house plants are relatively easy to care for. My mom is the epitome of a plant lady, so I lucked out growing up with her teaching me everything I needed to know about taking care of plants. Still, to this day, I will call her if I need plant advice like if I’m unsure if a plant is becoming root-bound or if it needs more water or sunlight. I’m sharing my guide to houseplant care and the best house plants for apartments- or any home really!
Best House Plants for Apartment + Care Guide:
- Bird Nest Fern-(wooden planter) This little guy is the newest addition to our home so I can’t speak for his longevity, but I can speak for at least a month, which is enough time for plants to adjust to a new environment. Bird Nest Ferns are actually native to Southeastern Asia and Australia. They have crinkly leaves that stem from the plant’s center creating a little nest. Their leaves actually give you clues to how much light they require. Each plant is different and the more crinkled the leaves, the more light the plant will require. The flatter the leaves, the less light the plant will require. This particular fern is unlike most ferns in that it likes moist soil. Not dry soil and not wet soil, but that in-between, sweet spot. I usually give him 1 cup of water, once a week to keep him happy. You should always opt for a planter with drainage holes for houseplants because of soil aeration, but if you find an awesome planter without holes you can always buy horticultural charcoal and put a layer at the bottom of your pot to absorb excess water in the soil.
- Christmas Cactus-(white urn planter) Although this little sweet plant is called a “cactus” and is considered a succulent, it actually requires a little work if you want it to bloom in the winter (around Christmas, hence the name). Fun fact: You actually want to keep it completely in the dark for 4 weeks- I usually start in October- for it to bloom to it’s full potential in November and December. Most people don’t know this about the Christmas Cactus, so you usually see them stay in their green state year round (which is totally fine). These are similar to typical succulents and like a lot of sun, dry soil, and negligence. I used to kill succulents like nobody’s business because I followed a normal watering regimen and care routine. Succulents like to be ignored- when in doubt with succulents, always opt for less. When I water my other plants, I usually just stick my finger in the soil of my cactus and if it’s the slightest bit moist, I will leave it alone. Only water it when the soil completely dries out. You can also put this cactus outside in the summer months and it will thrive! Just make sure it doesn’t get below 60 degrees at night, or else it will die not speaking from experience or anything.
- Glacier Pothos-(blue & white planter) Pothos are the easiest and most bountiful houseplant! You couldn’t kill pothos if you tried. My mom once went 3 months without taking care of her pothos and it was completely fine after she watered it! The only way you could kill it is if you over-watered it or maybe if you put it outside in the heat of summer. I would recommend this plant for any type of filtered light- it will even grown under florescent light, it doesn’t discriminate! This one is so tiny because I actually propagated it from my mom’s indestructible pothos, but it has been growing so fast in it’s new home here in Tampa. This is also the easiest plant to propagate. You just cut off a trailing stem with a few leaves near the base of a leaf, put it in a cup of water until it establishes a good root system, then just plop it in a cute planter and some soil and keep it moist for a while until it acclimates to it’s new house. Pothos come in many different variations, but they all like the same care: any light (even florescent light), watering depends on the size of your plant mine only needs 1/2 a cup every 10 days or so, and make sure to trim off any dead leaves.
- Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree– This is my most high-maintenance house plant and I would not recommend for anyone that doesn’t have a bright, sunlit corner that gets full filtered light at least 60% of the day and if you can’t commit to a very regimented watering and care schedule, this is not the plant for you. Lots of people claim that these are “fool-proof”, they are not. I have killed a baby fiddle and it taught me a lot about how to take care of these bad boys. Fiddle Leaf Figs are actually native to Africa and they love being root-bound as well as dry soil. They need lots of filtered light, but will die if they get too much sunlight. There are 2 things I would recommend if you want a Fiddle Leaf Fig- 1, DO NOT repot. It likes to be root-bound, so leave it in it’s original container for a good while (probably a few months) 2, water it only every 10 days and use the same amount of water/container each time. I use 8 cups of water and I actually water it in a circular ring around the edge of the tree’s soil to promote proper aeration instead of pouring all the water in the center.
- Snake Plant– (wood planter) This plant is my top recommendation for beginners, or people who want an affordable and easy plant to liven up a room. Snake plants actually purify the air and they are pet-safe, which is crucial for those of you with animals! Snake plants thrive off of neglect, however, they grow VERY slowly. Unlike the pothos, which is indestructible and grows SUPER fast, Snake plants will take forever to grow. I have 2 Snake plants that I’ve had for about 3 years and I think they may have grown an inch in that time. Maybe there is a secret I don’t know about to get these bad boys to grow, but they are super affordable (I think I paid $10 for a 4′ plant) and fool-proof. They like their soil to be dry, so I usually water my snake plants when I can’t feel any moisture in their soil. They also need very well drained soil- so I always opt for some charcoal at the bottom of their planter, even with drainage holes.
- Wandering Jew– (blue &white planter) I think this is a form of Wandering Jew, I’m honestly not exactly what it is because it was a gift, but I lovingly refer to this plant as Jesus Plant because this plant has died and been resurrected more times that I can count. Wandering Jew is known for being easy to care for, but it gets “root-rot” very easily if you water it directly in the center (which I did for a very long time). When I lived in North Carolina, I couldn’t keep this plant happy and it always seemed to be on the verge of death, despite my attempts to keep it happy and lively. I finally researched it and found out that you shouldn’t water it directly in the center, but you should water it equally toward the edge of it’s planter to prevent water build up near the root bulb. I’ve found that it loves to be just at the sunlight’s edge for half of the day. I have it about 7′ from our biggest window that gets direct light from about 10am-4pm and it is the happiest it’s ever been. Wandering Jew’s actually need humidity, so about once a week I will mist it with water, but I forget more times than I actually remember to mist it and it hasn’t been on the verge of death since I moved to Florida. Maybe I should rename it to the Holy Spirit Plant?
- Heartleaf Philodendron– I try to love all of my plants the same, but I can’t help but love this plant a little more than the rest. His leaves are in the shape of little hearts and I’ve actually had him for around 2 years when I propagated him from my cousin’s plant and he was very slow to sprout new leaves. I moved to Florida in January and since then, he has grown 2x his original size! I like to think that he is connected to my heart and happiness some how and that’s why he is growing so much, or sometimes I think that he’s my reminder of how much I’m growing during this season of life. Either way, I have him in my bathroom that has 0 sunlight and only artificial light and he LOVES it. I’m pretty sure this plant would grow anywhere, but especially in areas with low light. Philodendron’s actually require the same care as pothos (I think they’re close cousins?) so see #3 for more specific care!
There you have it! That is my humble house plant guide based off of learning from my mom and on (accidentally) killing a few plants along the way to really understand how to care for these guys. One of my long term goals is to become a Master Gardner and have a house with beautiful climbing roses and a bountiful garden. For now, I’m so thankful that my mom taught me everything to know about house plants and that I can enjoy their beauty in my little apartment.
What are you favorite house plants?