Have you decided you’d like to become a plant person? Plants create a wonderful indoor environment and a way to bring a little of the outdoors inside. Plus, certain varieties improve your indoor air quality. I’ve been tending to indoor plants my entire adult life (a couple decades now), and after many successes and failures, I have advice to share on how to make the foray into plant parenthood: Start out with indoor plants suitable for beginners! Don’t go choosing a maidenhair fern if you’ve never brought a plant baby home.
Here are the ten best indoor plants for beginners so you’ll set yourself and your plant baby up for success. Make sure you also read my post about houseplant care tips here.
Ten Best Indoor Plants for Beginners
These plants are all easy keepers; most are fast growing; and all add a beautiful green lushness to your indoor space. These guys are great if you’re just dipping your toe into the waters of plant parenthood.
First things first: Before you head out to adopt your plant babies, I’d recommend taking a quick look around your space. Assess the light and where you have room for new plants. Do you get bright morning light? Indirect light? Is your place mostly dark? Do you have space around windows to place plants so they get adequate light? Could you hang plants from the ceiling next to windows if you don’t have shelf or surface space? What about your bathroom? Many tropical houseplants thrive in humid environments and love being in the bathroom. Doing an audit of your space will help you choose the best plants for your environment and lighting.
Secondly, note that there are often many different varieties of plants within a species. For example, there are about 15 popular types of pothos plants (one of my favorites) and about 120 types of dracaena. I’m just mentioning the general species below.
Here are a my top ten best indoor plants for beginners.
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum): We’ll start with my favorite, and perhaps the easiest houseplant around. Pothos are so easy to care for and very tolerant of a variety of different environments and light. They grow fast (rewarding!) and have attractive bushy green leaves. They’re also quite forgiving if you forget to water them or if you over water them, a very common novice plant parent mistake (you just want to give them alllll the love and water). Pothos are great for offices because they do fine under artificial and low light. The other cool thing about pothos is they are super easy to propagate so you can make free plants from your original! I have created 5 new pothos from my original, and all are bushy and thriving. They also grow in either soil or water (like a vase).
Light needs: They’ll do fine in low light areas like bathrooms & offices but will grow faster in brighter light and prefer bright, indirect light. Just be careful not to place your pothos in direct sunlight, as it may burn the leaves.
Care & watering: These guys like to dry out a bit in between waterings. Water when the soil is about 50% dry. Stick your finger in the soil, and if it’s mostly dry to the touch, it needs water. I fertilize my pothos every month during the summer and every 2-3 months during colder months and winter.
Snake Plant AKA Sansevieria is super easy and attractive with its hearty, stiff, strappy leaves that can grown 8 feet tall. Native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of Europe, Africa, and Asia, these guys prefer a warm, cozy environment (keep away from cold drafts). They’re one of the most tolerant houseplants around and are basically indestructible. They can be neglected for weeks and grow in bright or low light, though they grow faster in bright light. They just need well draining soil. The one thing to keep in mind with your snake plant is not to overwater it. It can go up to 8 weeks without water and really only prefers a monthly watering depending on how dry the air is. There are several different varieties of this one, and all are easy keepers.
Monstera AKA Swiss cheese plant is another one of my fast growing favorites. Its best known for its large, split “fenestrated” leaves that allow more light to hit the leaf surface. The more light your monstera gets, the larger and more attractive splits the leaves have. These guys are also tropical and prefer a warm, humid environment. You can run a humidifier near it to keep it happy. These guys are also climbers and would like a trellis to climb up if you really want to get into it. Let the soil dry between waterings, and make sure it’s in a well draining pot and not sitting in water.
Succulents There are probably 200+ varieties of succulents out there, and you can get super creative with these guys by planting several different types in an attractive pot. Succulents have fleshy leaves that store water, so they’re also very drought tolerant and can be grown both indoors and out. They tend to thrive in warm, dry climates and do fine with neglect. Most do need bright light though, so choose a sunny corner. They also need well draining potting soil. In fact I often take an all purpose potting soil and mix it with some sand, or you can buy soil specific to succulents and cacti. Make sure you let the soil dry out thoroughly between waterings. My favorite is the Kalanchoe AKA Widow’s thrill, because they pop the most beautiful flowers. I also love Jade plants, and they do fine indoors or out. Aloe is another succulent that’s very easy to grow, and you can use the gel in the leaves topically for skin health & scraped in smoothies for constipation and gut soothing!
Peace Lily is another tropical beauty that will bloom occasionally when she’s happy and gets the right care. These plants are hardy and will do fine in lower light but can also tolerate bright, indirect light. Too much light will scorch the leaves. Water them when the leaves start to droop; they like to dry out in between waterings. They also enjoy humidity and regular spritzing. Peace lilies are a great choice to brighten up a dull corner in your house and also make a great gift.
Dracaena is another one that includes many different varieties that look different and tolerate a wide variety of conditions. They often have long and narrow leaves that can be striped like this white jewel that sits happily in my living room. These guys are easy keepers but do require well drained soil that dries completely between waterings. They do NOT do well if over watered or soggy. Can also tolerate lower light and do well in offices. Also check out the lemon lime dracaena, another one of my faves.
Arrowhead Plant is native to the tropical rain forests in Central and South America, and true to its name, has leaves shaped like arrowheads. As these guys grow they can produce long, trailing foliage and would do well in hanging baskets once mature. They’ll tolerate low light but do best in medium-bright light. They like humidity. If you live in a dry home, they’ll appreciate a spritz. Need semi-frequent watering. Allow them to dry out just a bit between waterings. They grow pretty fast and are rewarding plants. Their leaves vary in color depending on the variety,
Spider Plant is another great one for first time plant parents. These do well with neglect or in poor light, and there are many different varieties of spider plant. It’s called spider plant because of its dangling ‘spider babies’ that hang from the mother plant. Spider plants can be easily propagated by snipping off the spider babies and planting those.
Cast Iron Plant AKA Aspidistra is another one of my favorites. It’s earned its name, as it’s virtually impossible to kill, and even though I hate this term: It truly does thrive on neglect. If I even slightly overwater mine or dote on it too much its leaves will start to yellow. It really is happier being left alone. It can survive low light conditions and can be grown in or outdoors (depending on your climate). It has beautiful lush, green foliage and does well in corners of the house that other plants don’t like. Avoid direct sun and make sure it has a well draining pot and soil. They disliked being water logged. Make sure you dust its leaves so it’s able to properly absorb light.
A few bonus guys that I haven’t personally acquired but are also good for beginners: the ZZ plant, rubber plant, and philodendron. Give those a try too!
Mary Vance is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and author specializing in digestive health. She combines a science-based approach with natural therapies to rebalance the body. In addition to her 1:1 coaching, she offers courses to help you heal your gut and improve your health. Mary lives in San Francisco and Lake Tahoe in Northern California. Read more about her coaching practice here and her background here.