Indoor plants can serve many purposes: decoration, improved indoor air quality, hobby fulfillment, and they can even improve your mood.
However, as with anything that is alive, you need to learn how to care for your indoor plants. In this guide, we will learn all about five popular indoor plants, along with some styling methods/tricks.
Before we dive into our indoor plants list, here is a very important general rule for all plants: they need to breathe. This means that your plants’ pots need to have drainage holes.
If you are not completely new to indoor plants, you might have seen this rule once or twice, and for good reason– it is a make-or-break condition for your indoor plants’ survival and longevity.
For a thorough watering of your plants (recommended), hold directly under the faucet while letting the water drain through the pot’s holes. Do this until the soil in the pot is thoroughly wet. I usually let my plants sit in the sink for a few hours after watering due to the continued drainage from the holes.
On days when you might be feeling a bit lazy, simply leave your plants inside of the decorative hole-free pot, which we will talk about later in the guide. Pour the water directly inside the plants’ own pot (the one with the drainage holes).
You can stop pouring when you see the water coming out of the holes and onto the bottom of the decorative pot. This little bit of water on the bottom will most likely get sucked back into your plants from the bottom up, or will soon evaporate.
Another option for watering your plants– and this is especially good if you have decorative pots that are not sealed on the bottom (like basket pots)– is to place a watering tray or saucer inside of the decorative pot, and place the drainage pot on top of the saucer. This will protect your floor and furniture from water damage.
There are affordable watering saucers available on Amazon:
With all of this in mind, let’s get started with our indoor plants!
Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)
Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, the green snake plant grows many long, upward, sturdy and sharp leaves at a fast pace. My snake plant has a light green/almost-yellow outline around each leaf, as well as dark green patterns throughout.
You see the green snake plant in nearly every home of an indoor plants lover, and for good reason– it is low-maintenance, looks sleek and neat, and is fast-growing.
The snake plant is a great beginner plant due to its ability to survive without much care. It is one of the best indoor plants for beginners. It is even easy to grow in your own garden.
My snake plant is in the medium-sized plastic pot that I originally purchased it in. If the plants that you purchase do not come in pots with drainage holes, although this is unlikely, you can find these pots in stores as affordable as The Dollar Tree (during springtime), and as easily accessible as Amazon. With a little DIY spirit, you can even poke or drill the holes yourself.
Going back to drainage holes– they are especially important for our snake plants because they rot quite easily. A bottom-sealed pot holds the water in for a longer time than is necessary, and causes our mother-in-law’s tongue to rot, and we do not want that, do we?
With that being said, the snake plant does not need too much water: once a week is a good rule of thumb, and even less often during the winter time.
If you have pets, practice caution and make sure they do not ingest any of your house plants as some of them might be poisonous for them upon ingestion.
The snake plant loves a good “cleaning” as part of its watering routine. Wet a small towel or any clothes, and rub the leaves. This serves two purposes:
- Getting rid of dust that settles on the plant’s long, vertical leaves. This process makes your snake plant look silky and juicy (slightly resembling the aloe vera plant).
- Watering the plant through its leaves: plants drink not only from their soil, but they soak in the water through their leaves, too. The snake plant’s thick, strong leaves allow you to clean them without having to be too careful.
Because the snake plant is such a survivor, it will do fine in any lighting situation, including in low light, but ideally, as with most indoor plants, indirect sunlight is the sweet spot– on your floor by a window, on your dresser by a window, or anywhere by a window is where it will thrive.
Now that you took the time to get to know the snake plant a little better, let’s talk styling!
These sharp and pointed bright green leaves look great in neutral-colored large pots. My pot is placed on the corner of my dark gray dresser, on top of a creamy white/navy blue dresser runner, and is next to my two corner windows.
Simply place the smaller drainage pot in the larger, heavier, bottom-sealed pot, and the long snake-like leaves will stretch right up, and add that accent that you have been seeking for your living room. This particular white, patterned, medium-large pot is from Ross Stores, and was relatively cheap for a set of two (this being the smaller of the two).
Now that your smaller, breathable pot is tucked away inside the decorative pot, there is no mess brought about with repotting, no rotting, no heavy pot problems due to water weight, and no fungus gnats due to stagnant water in your living room.
Rushfoil Plant (Crotons)
The rushfoil plant comes in a variety of colors: purples, reds, pinks, and oranges. Mine, however, is just bright green with yellow veins and blotches.
The key for the rushfoil plant’s success, as with all indoor plants, is figuring out the right placement. The good thing is that the rushfoil plant will let you know pretty quickly if what you are doing is working for it or not– it is very receptive.
This plant’s leaves are chunky, and seem to be too heavy for its thin stem. Handle the rushfoil plant carefully when moving and watering because the big leaves do have a tendency of snapping off if you are handling it without care.
A bit thirstier than the snake plant, the rushfoil plant needs watering every few days with a minimum of once a week. If you skip its watering day, have no doubt, your rushfoil plant will let you know by having its leaves droop downwards as if it is dying.
No need to worry if you catch on to this early– water your rushfoil plant right away, and the leaves will spring back up, and your plant’s health will be restored.
Another way of knowing if your rushfoil plant is under-watered is by the tips of its leaves. Without sufficient water, the rushfoil plant’s leaves’ tips sharpen and dry up, and begin turning brown.
Even though the rushfoil plant is one of the more receptive and communicative indoor plants, it is better to not let it get to the point of having droopy or dry leaves. Water your plant no less than once a week to attain the best health.
The chunky, thick leaves are beautiful and vibrant. Upon a closer look, you can tell the rushfoil plant’s leaves have rough edges, and at times get scars and scratches, which is normal. Although my rushfoil plant is not of the colorful kind, you can still see tiny particles of pink and red if you look closely.
Again, placement is crucial for the rushfoil plant– it enjoys natural sunlight. If you own a colorful rushfoil plant, unlike mine, the brighter (though diffused) sunlight it gets, the more variety of colors it will have.
Just as with the watering, the rushfoil plant will let you know if it does not like its placement in the house. When the leaves are droopy, but you are watering the correct amount, try to move your rushfoil plant to a new area in your house, and see how it reacts.
If the leaves are back up within a few hours, it is doing good in its new area, if not, try to move it again. Repeat until your plant shows you that it is happy through its big fan-like leaves.
Let’s talk about styling the rushfoil plant after we discuss our next plant– you will see why.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
With no blooms yet, my peace lily plant has thin, bright green leaves that grow at a fast rate. Every time you look at your peace lily, it will seem as though more leaves have grown since the last time you looked. The leaves start off rolled into themselves, and unravel as they grow.
The peace lily flowers are white with a brush-like center nectar, and I cannot wait until my plant blooms again, even though the bloom lasts only for a couple of weeks before it fades. The blooms generally occur during the springtime.
With so many vibrant leaves, the peace lily adds bright indoor greenery to any living room it is placed in. It is low-maintenance, and grows very fast. With every look, your peace lily will seem different to you– it is quite the active indoor plant.
The peace lily’s name is not due to resemblance or relation to the true lily flower, but rather to the calla lily flower, which does look very similar.
With our previous plant (the rushfoil plant) we do not want to wait for its leaves to droop to water it. However, the peace lily’s leaves will droop when it is the perfect time to water it– generally about once a week, sometimes twice.
Therefore, keep an eye on your very-responsive peace lily, and you will know when it is thirsty. After watering, it will revive almost right away.
The peace lily grows a bunch of leaves rather quickly, and they grow individually from the soil up. Because of this, the soil is oftentimes covered by small fluffy newborn leaves. Make sure you are watering the soil directly, and now allowing these baby leaves to block the stream of water.
Unlike our previously-discussed indoor plants, peace lilies prefer low light. In this way, they are the perfect indoor plant, as they can be placed anywhere, without relying on a nearby window. Place your peace lily anywhere with partial shade, and it will thrive.
Colors tell all: pay attention to the color of your peace lily’s leaves. At its healthiest, the leaves are bright green and glossy. If you see as little as a single yellowing leaf, your plant is getting too much sunlight.
My peace lily has some yellow/brown blotches on the right side of the photo. The right side is facing a window, and it is obvious that the left side of the plant is healthier as it is more shaded than the right. After noticing this, I relocated my peace lily further away from the window.
The reason I wanted to introduce you to the peace lily before discussing the rushfoil plant’s styling methods, is because I have them placed near each other.
The peace lily (right) outgrows the rushfoil plant (left) when it comes to leaf-growth, and is larger and mono-colored in comparison. The rushfoil plant’s leaves grow from the top on a single stem, whereas the peace lily’s grow from the bottom of the pot upwards with many stems.
The reason I have these two indoor plants placed side by side is their shared receptive nature– both of their leaves droop when they need something. Interestingly, if one is drooping, there is a high chance for the other one to be, as well.
This makes me feel as though they belong in the same spot in my bedroom: on the floor under my corner double windows, where they are exposed to indirect sunlight that shines (not too brightly) through my white non-sheer curtains.
To match the gray and white theme of my room, these two indoor plants are also in neutral colored, holeless pots.
The peace lily’s pot (right) is part of the aforementioned set that I placed my snake plant in. The design is identical, but it is larger, which is why it is placed on the floor rather than on top of furniture. The rushfoil plant (left) is in a brighter-white (with a gray inside) pot from Target that was also relatively cheap.
When decorating my home, I take notice of how I style my indoor plants. I enjoy the rushfoil plant due to its “handmade” look that features imperfect, curved patterns.
Contrast is Good
When styling, I like to notice the differences in the choices that I make. It is easy to make everything inside of a room match everything else, but, to me, that takes away the life from the living room and gives it a monotonous, almost lab-like look.
This is particularly why I placed two contrasting indoor plants with different-styled pots next to each other. They are similar in general ways–colors and size– but upon a closer look, they are dissimilar enough to avoid monotony in your decorating– color details in both plants and pots, pot patterns, and pot shapes.
You can see the amount of sunlight that my white curtains allow inside of my living room when they are completely drawn– perfect for this responsive duo.
Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum Aureum)
Also known as pothos (front plant out of the two in the photo), the devil’s ivy hangs down as it grows, so it is a hanging type of indoor plant– a favorite for decorating. You can clearly see the pot’s drainage holes in this photo.
Very low-maintenance, the devil’s ivy may thrive both indoors and outdoors, and usually grows bigger and longer outdoors. As an indoor plant, it maintains a manageable size and does not take over the entire area that you have it placed in.
The devil’s ivy grows at a fast pace, especially if it likes the spot you place it in. The leaves take on a heart-like shape, and vary in size, even within a single devil’s ivy plant.
An extremely tolerant indoor plant, the devil’s ivy can be watered anywhere from once a week to once every few weeks. It takes several weeks of abandonment for your indoor devil’s ivy plant to show any sign of weakening.
If you see a single dried up, bright yellow leaf on the devil’s ivy, this most likely means that you have forgotten when the last time you watered it was. Simply trim the dry leaf off, and water your plant thoroughly.
My devil’s ivy is placed on top of my bedroom’s bookshelf, inside of a basket.
This foldable basket features a light brown (“wooden”) and white zig-zag pattern, out of which the devil’s ivy leaves spring right out and down.
Because of the non-sealed decorative pot that my devil’s ivy is in, watering has to be done using the aforementioned method of watering indoor plants in the faucet, letting it fully drain for a few hours, and returning the plant to its placement when it is dry. This avoids any water damage to the basket and to my wooden bookshelf beneath the plant.
Indirect sunlight or low light is key to the growth and health of the devil’s ivy. Since this plant hangs as it grows, it directly responds to the sunlight it receives by growing longer on the side that is exposed to more sunlight.
As you see in the two previous photos, my devil’s ivy has grown longer on one side. This is because the longer side received more sunlight than the other, as it was the side facing my window.
To balance the growth out, I turned the plant around, and am now waiting for the other side to grow longer with the new angle facing the sunlight.
This is the part that you get to have fun with the devil’s ivy! Place it on high spots in your home for level contrasts, and to bring attention to different angles in your rooms.
With much more potential to grow, I placed my devil’s ivy on top of my bookshelf, by my DIY honeycomb shelves. Most of the plant’s leaves are facing my double corner window.
The natural look the devil’s ivy adds to its surrounding is reflected in the more natural pot choice– the “naturally” woven basket.
As with any indoor plant, the devil’s ivy placement should add a touch of green to an otherwise empty space. In my case, it adds a beautiful design to an otherwise regular, simple-looking bookshelf.
Here is a different angle of my placement and styling of the devil’s ivy. The beautiful heart-shaped, bright green leaves create an earthy vibe, and add a natural decoration to my shelving corner.
Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica)
Also known by the names of rubber tree, or rubber fig, this plant features dark green (sometimes so dark that it borders purple or black), that are truly rubber-looking. The leaves of my rubber plant have just been wiped– as we previously discussed regarding the snake plant.
The rubber plant does not also go by the name of ‘rubber tree’ for no reason– it can grow to become the size of an indoor tree. If you would like for your plant to remain smaller and not grow into a tree, keeping it potted inside of a smaller pot will restrict its growth.
However, if you are patient, and keep repotting your rubber plant into a bigger pot when it outgrows its current one, you will gain a beautiful indoor tree in a matter of a few years, and you will have the pleasure of knowing that you grew it yourself from the time it was small.
When repotting, keep in mind that the new, bigger, pot should not be too big in correlation with your plant’s size. A general rule of thumb for repotting indoor plants is to add just one inch of diameter when replacing the pot to a bigger one. This ensures a comfortable transition for your indoor plants’ new home, and avoids any shock to the plants.
An important detail to remember about the rubber plant is that it has a growing season (spring and primarily summer), and a dormant season (the rest of the year).
During dormant season, you will not see too much activity with your rubber plant, so watering should be kept at a low frequency of about once every two weeks, or even once a month.
The rubber plant thrives in the summer, so during growing season, keep the rubber plant’s soil moist at all times, along with its leaves. Brown, dry leaves indicate overwatering. Droopy leaves indicate under-watering (as with our rushfoil plant and peace lily).
Thoroughly wet the rubber plant’s soil, and let the water drain from the pot’s holes beneath. My rubber tree is young, and is still in a small pot. I plan on repotting it this summer.
As I mentioned for the snake plant, cleaning the rubber plant’s leaves is a crucial step in maintaining its health. Simply wet a paper towel or a small cloth, and rub down each leaf. Do this when the leaves are dusty or stained, otherwise, you can use a spritz bottle.
In fact, using a spritz bottle often leaves water stains on the rubber plant’s leaves (which is okay and worth it), hence the wiping every once in a while. The rubber plant’s leaves’ shiny, waxy look makes any stain or dust especially visible, and cleaning is a crucial step for its health and growth.
If you look closely at my rubber plant’s leaves, you will notice they have small white dots on them.
The leaves are covered in tiny white spots on the outer perimeter. This rubber plant has fungus on it and was sold to me at a discounted price because of this. As I take the steps to treat my rubber plant, I am hopeful to soon have a fungus-free, beautifully polished and healthy plant!
These white spots are a type of fungus that plants often get on their leaves. I have been spritzing the leaves with a mixture of water, baking soda, and dish soap, which kills the bacteria that is causing the fungus. Regular mouthwash does the trick, too.
Because rubber plants’ leaves are so shiny and prominent, the dirt and fungus that the plant attracts can be stubborn and hard to get rid of. Thus, giving your rubber tree a thorough shower and scrub can be very healthy and reviving for your plant.
Here is a video on how to do so correctly:
The rubber plant prefers bright, indirect sunlight or low light – lots of it! When you notice leaves falling off of your rubber plant, it means it craves more light. Try to change the plant’s indoor placement somewhere closer to a window.
Placing your rubber plant outdoors during the summer can promote its growth if you are trying to achieve a rubber tree. Keep in mind that an outdoor placement does not mean direct sunlight.
My rubber plant is still young enough to fit in small areas such as on top of my nightstand. You can see how dark its leaves look when it is not directly under the sun as in the previous images.
Because the rubber plant’s leaves are so dark, I decided to place it in a bright white ceramic pot that is mounted on a black wooden stand. This creates a contrast that is pleasing to the eyes, and that goes with my bedroom’s neutral theme. This planter was also purchased from Target, creating yet another affordable, stylish look for your plants.
I placed other light/dark contrasting objects near the rubber plant, such as the white pillow to the left that features a black stitching and lines that run across, and the cream lamp head that also features dark stitching.
Indoor plants are an attractive addition to any room, but knowing how to care for them is key in keeping them happy indoors. Once you get to know each plant for its unique requirements, you can enjoy all of their benefits for your home.