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Everything You Need to Know About Houseplants

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Everything You Need to Know About Houseplants

February 22, 2018

Houseplants deserve our thanks. In winter, when everything outdoors has died back or dropped leaves, houseplants are our only true friends.

To show gratitude to potted succulents, lacy ferns, glossy fiddle-leaf fig trees, velvety orchids, and monstrous monsteras, we’ve created the curated design guide Houseplants 101, with tips and tricks—everything you need to know, really—to keep indoor plants happy and healthy.

Whether you have a world-class collection of houseplants that rivals the indoor jungle of Instagram star Jamie Song or you’re nursing a few succulents on a winter windowsill, our guide has growing and care tips for favorites, from finicky Fiddle-Leaf Figs to tough-as-nails Aloes.

We also can help you pick planters that will complement each other in size, color, and texture. We’ll let you know when (or if) to expect Succulents and Cacti to flower, when to repot a Philodendron, and How to Make an Orchid Bloom Again.

Houseplants 101 is part of our new Garden Design 101 section, offering design tips and practical advice on Hardscape 101 topics as well as growing guides for Trees, Perennials, Vines & Climbers, Tropical Plants, Edibles, ShrubsBulbs & Tubers, Annuals, Grasses, and Ground Covers.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll find in our Houseplants 101 guide.

Crassulas

Crassula &#8\2\16;Green Pagoda&#8\2\17;. Photograph by Incidencematrix via Flickr.
Above: Crassula ‘Green Pagoda’. Photograph by Incidencematrix via Flickr.

Think beyond the jade plant. There are at least 150 species of crassulas, and many are easy, low-maintenance houseplants. See our favorites in Crassulas: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Trees

Photograph by Katie Newburn.
Above: Photograph by Katie Newburn.

Nature has wired us to feel protective of babies, with their oversize, floppy heads. The big, round leaves of a fiddle-leaf fig tree make it the houseplant equivalent of a newborn—and a must-have accessory for Instagrammers. See more at Fiddle-Leaf Fig Trees: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.

Ikea Insider: Get the Best Houseplants

Cacti and succulents potted in Ikea&#8\2\17;s aluminum Vardagen Loaf Pans; \$4.99 each.
Above: Cacti and succulents potted in Ikea’s aluminum Vardagen Loaf Pans; $4.99 each.
If you go to Ikea on the wrong day, you’re likely to find the houseplants department depleted, with nothing for sale beyond a few lopsided ZZ plants and forlorn succulents nursing bruised leaves. When is the best time to go to Ikea to get first dibs on new plant introductions as well as seasonal plants? See our Insider’s Guide to Getting First Dibs on the Best Ikea Houseplants for tips.

Pelargoniums

Photograph by Matthew Williams. See more of designer John Derian&#8\2\17;s pelargoniums in our book, Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces.
Above: Photograph by Matthew Williams. See more of designer John Derian’s pelargoniums in our book, Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces.

Monstera

Above: Photograph by Erin Boyle.

“It’s extremely common for monsteras to be confused with split-leaf philodendron, particularly in less mature plants,” writes Annie. “Though the two are related (they’re part of the same plant family), an easy way to tell these plants apart is to look at the leaves: split-leaf philodendrons have perforated leaves but lack holes.”

Vintage Planters

Kalanchoe preens in a handkerchief planter. Who can resist this lovely pink-tinged succulent? See more at Kalanchoe: Rethinking a Kitschy Houseplant. Photograph courtesy of Inner Gardens.
Above: Kalanchoe preens in a handkerchief planter. Who can resist this lovely pink-tinged succulent? See more at Kalanchoe: Rethinking a Kitschy Houseplant. Photograph courtesy of Inner Gardens.

Buying vintage planters “can be nerve-wracking, because like all one-of-a-kind furnishings they can be pricey,” writes our contributor Kristen Grannan. “But unlike coddled indoor investment pieces, a vintage planter heads into battle against sun, wind, rain, sleet, and snow.”

See our tips at Ask the Expert: An Insider’s Guide to Vintage Planters from Stephen Block.

Palms

A potted parlor palm. Photograph by Lukestehr via Flickr.
Above: A potted parlor palm. Photograph by Lukestehr via Flickr.

Palms are masquerading as trees; they’re actually a strain of flowering plant that split off from other perennials thousands of years ago (back in dinosaur times). See our field guide to Palms 101 to find the best indoor varieties to grow.

Succulents

So many succulents, so little time. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.
Above: So many succulents, so little time. Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

In our Succulents 101 guides, you’ll find tips to grow Echeverias, Aeoniums, String of Pearls, Christmas Cactus, and more.

And if your succulents are having a tough time weathering winter, don’t worry—see our 8 Tips to Help Your Favorite Succulents Survive Winter.

Explore more of our new Garden Design 101 guides.

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various houseplants with our Houseplants: A Field Guide.

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