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Greening Your Home: How to Choose the Right Houseplants

Indoor houseplants are an affordable and simple option for bringing nature inside, freshening your air, lowering stress levels and boosting your mood.

If you're new to keeping houseplants, choosing the right option for your home can seem a bit daunting. This guide includes some considerations to keep in mind:

A woman sitting a chair reading a book near her house plant.

  1. Light. Not every houseplant will thrive in the same space. First, determine where you plan to place your plants ─ a living room, bedroom or office, for example ─ and then assess the amount of light these spaces receive. You won't want to place a plant that requires direct sunlight in a windowless bathroom, for example, or a shade-loving plant in a sunny home office.

    A good tip to remember is that most plant labels will list care instructions, including light requirements. Plants are classified based on four types of light exposure: bright, direct light (full sun); bright, indirect light (partial shade with some direct sun); medium, indirect light (primarily shade); and low, indirect light. Consider whether you'll need to open or close window coverings to adjust light exposure during the day.

  2. Water. No green thumb? No worries. Some houseplants can thrive with minimal watering and attention. Others need daily or weekly care, which could pose difficulties if you work long hours or travel frequently. Aloe, snake plant (also known as mother-in-law's tongue), jade plant, spider plant, succulents and cacti require limited watering and very little care. Just remember not to over-water! For these plants, let the soil feel dry to the touch between watering.

  3. Location. If you have pets or small children, placing potted plants on the floor or even a table within reach of small hands or paws may not be the best choice. Plants such as Asian lilies, aloe, bird of paradise and ivy may be fatal when ingested by dogs and cats. Consult the ASPCA and your veterinarian for a full list of houseplants to avoid. If you need to limit access to your houseplants, consider hanging ferns or plants from the ceiling. Have a sunny kitchen window? Potted herbs such as thyme, mint and rosemary are a practical, fragrant and tasty choice.

  4. Design. Plants do more than just freshen the air ─ they also visually freshen up our living spaces with a burst of color, texture and style. When space is at a premium, like in a small city apartment, consider the best option for making a maximum design impact. A single large plant, such as a rubber tree plant or a snake plant, can make a bold impression and bring a pop of color to your space. Philodendrons, begonias, cacti and succulents all add color and texture to a smaller space.

Not ready to take the plunge as a plant owner? If living houseplants are not a good fit for your lifestyle, artificial plants can be a beautiful addition to your living space, no care required.

Family in the kitchen.

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