How to Choose a Houseplant Based on Your Plant Parent Style
Like any successful relationship, selecting the best houseplant comes down to finding your perfect match. Whether you have a watchful eye, favor a more hands-off approach, or fall somewhere in between, 1-800 Flowers' vice president of merchandising, Alfred Palomares, says that the best variety for you, personally, is entirely based on your style. Ahead, options for each.
Plant Enthusiasts: Maiden Hair Fern
For those who rarely go a day without thinking about their plants—closely monitoring everything from leaf health to soil conditions—set your sights, first, on maiden hair ferns. Featuring a bushy head of fan-shaped citrine-colored leaves, these houseplants perform best in shaded, humid environments where soil stays moist. "Plant parents will need to provide daily misting, along with regular drinks of water," says Palomares. "Maiden hair ferns are also particular about the quality of their soil and thrive with a more alkaline pH." To ensure this, add limestone to your potting soil to help maintain the proper levels.
Plant Enthusiasts: Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees
Despite being one of the most popular houseplants out there, fiddle leaf fig trees are typically challenging. This tropical native requires consistent indirect light and will need to be rotated every few days to ensure its waxy leaves receive even sun exposure. Palomares suggests watering it thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch—nothing more, nothing less.
Plant Enthusiasts: Gardenias
Searching for a flowering plant with a beautiful aroma? Palomares recommends gardenias, which can be grown either indoors or out. Situate this perennial where it can receive six to eight hours of partially direct sunlight and opt for well-drained soil and a fertilizer specific to acid-loving plants. Water is the key to your gardenias' success, notes Palomares, as the variety doesn't like dry soil. Skip misting, though; this selective iteration doesn't like that much.
If you prefer to just let your greenery simply, well, grow—or you've experienced one too many plant deaths to take on anything high-maintenance—try out a succulent, which are resilient and, best of all, require minimal care. These petite, light-loving plants require little watering—only twice a month, according to Palomares—and can survive in temperatures ranging from 40- to 90-degrees. Select a potting soil mixture that is porous for easy drainage.
Hands-Off: Snake Plant
A workhorse that requires little attention, sansevieria, also known as snake plants, are "strong enough to live in a shaded, low-light location thanks to their broad leaves that make it more energy efficient and able to catch and absorb more light," says Palomares.
Hands-Off: Boston Ferns
Light misting once to twice per week is all that's required for this fern species, which does best situated in a room with indirect, bright light. Even better, Boston ferns can survive outside, so long as the temperature doesn't fall below 55 degrees.
Happy Medium: Alocasia Polly
Perhaps you want to find some middle ground between finicky, high-maintenance plants and those that can go stretches of time without so much as a drop of water. If so, this is the category for you. Moisture is the name of the game with an Alocasia Polly, which is why Palomares suggests it as a great option for adding greenery to a well-lit bathroom where it can live happily amid humid, steamy air. "[They] prefer moist soil, but only give it another drink if the top three inches of the soil are dry," he says. "Over-watering can cause root rot." It's also important to regularly dust its variegated, elephant ear-shaped leaves, where mites are known to hide.
Happy Medium: Red Maranta
A member of the calathea family, a red maranta is commonly referred to as a "prayer plant" for the way its leaves fold in the evening, resembling clasped hands. Place yours in a bright space with indirect light and simply monitor the soil's moisture level; it should never feel dry to the touch. "If its environment is on the drier side, it is recommended to place it next to a humidifier or sit the potted plant over a tray filled with water and pebbles to boost moisture," advises Palomares.