POPULAR HOUSEPLANTS


Because they prefer temperatures in the typical indoor range, these popular houseplants rank among the easiest to grow.

African violet: Not true violets, these fuzzy favorites were introduced to Europe from Africa in 1893. Hundreds of varieties have been developed with blooms from white to dark purple. A key to repeat blooming: humidity. Don’t splash leaves with cold water; they’ll spot.

Anthurium: These Hawaiian favorites can last for years, even decades. They prefer higher temperatures and bright indirect light. Don’t overwater.

Aralia: These plants with pretty foliage come in many varieties. They like full, bright but indirect light, away from heaters but above 65 degrees. Let the soil dry out between waterings.

Dracaena: These plants can grow tall — up to the ceiling — and prefer bright filtered light. They like their soil to dry out. Mist once a week.

Ferns: They need medium or bright indirect light. The Boston fern is a good pollution-fighting variety that requires little maintenance.

Ficus tree: An indoor-pollution fighter, this small tree prefers medium to bright light. Don’t water until the leaves begin to turn yellow. The ficus is sensitive to cold drafts and changes in light.

Grape ivy: These fast-growing vines are tolerant of low light but prefer good air circulation.

Ivy: An outdoor plant adapted to the indoors, this vine likes indirect light and evenly spaced watering but doesn’t mind drying out occasionally.

Jade plants: Members of the Crassula genus, these low-care succulents like to be left alone. They prefer a sunny window with light four hours a day, but keep the plant at least 3 inches from the glass to avoid scorching leaves. They need little water in fall and winter; otherwise, let the soil dry out completely between waterings.

Orchids: Moth or butterfly orchids (Phalaenopsis) and Dendrobiums prefer indirect light, away from gas heat. Avoid overwatering. Ideally, water every three weeks if the orchid is planted in moss, every other week if planted in bark. Don’t let pots stand in water, either; roots can rot.

Palms: Probably the world’s most popular houseplants, palms grow tall (up to the ceiling) and need space as well as indirect light, good air circulation and a regular weekly watering schedule. Salts can build up in soil; palms prefer distilled or filtered water and occasional misting.

Philodendron: Native to the jungles of Central and South America, these are among the most durable houseplants. They tolerate low light. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings; yellow leaves indicate too much water.

Pothos: Among America’s favorites, these low-maintenance vines from Malaysian jungles can handle low light; they prefer a north-side window. Water when the soil feels dry.

Sansevieria: With nicknames such as mother-in-law’s tongue and snake plant, this favorite is almost indestructible and now comes in dozens of varieties. It can tolerate low light and go two months without water in winter. Otherwise, water every other week. Treat like a cactus. Watch out for sharp tips!

Spathiphyllum: A great indoor air filter, the popular Peace Lily tells you when it needs watering — it wilts. Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. They tolerate low light.

Spider plant: Among the best pollution fighters, Chlorophytum plants need moderate light to thrive. They’re great for beginners or dorm rooms. Water when the soil feels dry. Another bonus: This spider attracts few insects or other pests.

Wandering Jew: Perfect for hanging baskets, Tradescantia is a super-easy vine with silver, green, white and/or purple foliage; for best color, place in east- or south-facing window. Water every other week, but mist frequently.

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