Understanding Houseplant Basics: A Comprehensive Guide

Understanding Houseplant Basics: A Comprehensive Guide

Welcome to our House Plant Keeper Blog, where we will introduce and delve into the wonderful world of indoor gardening and the essential role houseplants play in creating a healthy home and a healthy you.

If you've ever wondered why people are going crazy for houseplants, you're about to discover the incredible benefits they bring to your living space! Not only do they add a touch of natural beauty, but they also work tirelessly behind the scenes to purify the air we breathe, reducing toxins and promoting better air quality.




In this Beginner's Guide, we'll walk you through the ins-and-outs of finding the right plant for you, even if you're a complete newbie. You'll learn the secrets to caring for different houseplants and explore their origins. We’ll discuss finding the perfect spot for them and providing the right amount of light and water. We will also introduce you to some of the easiest and iconic plants to start with including the classics such as Monstera and Philodendron.

So, let's embark on this green journey and unlock the wonders of houseplants – bringing joy and improved well-being to your home!


What are houseplants?




When we think of a houseplant, we often think of an exotic tropical species that wouldn’t typically thrive outdoors in a garden setting. Conversely in our homes the comfortable temperatures we provide for ourselves are also perfect for providing an ideal environment for these more sensitive species.

 Indoor tropical plant growing has a fascinating history that can be traced back to the opulent Victorian era in the United Kingdom. During the 19th century, the British elite developed a keen interest in exotic plants from far-flung corners of the globe. These well-to-do plant enthusiasts sought to showcase their status and wealth by cultivating rare and beautiful tropical plants in their homes.

To accommodate their growing collections, elaborate conservatories and glasshouses were constructed. These impressive structures not only served as a testament to the exploratory spirit of the time, but also provided the perfect environment for nurturing the foundations of what would become modern horticulture.

Moving forward to the present day, houseplants have evolved from a symbol of luxury to a significant aspect of modern interior design and a way of life for many. Embracing houseplants is no longer limited to the elite; they have become an accessible and cherished addition to homes worldwide, providing aesthetic and holistic benefits.

Understanding the basics of houseplants is essential for every indoor gardener. Houseplants encompass a diverse range of plant species specifically grown indoors, varying from low-maintenance options like the Snake Plant to more demanding plants like some Monstera and Philodendron species that may require specific growing medium or climbing poles.

With a little thought around houseplant care and selection, you can create a greener and healthier living space suited to you and your space. So, whether you're an experienced plant parent or just starting your journey, let's explore the enchanting world of houseplants together!


Where do I even begin?


Houseplants have taken the world by storm, turning living spaces into vibrant indoor jungles. With an array of options available, let's look at some of the most popular types of houseplants and learn how to care for them, discuss what may be right for you and introduce you to The Green Grower Plant Care Guides.

So, you’ve been staring at the shelf in your living room thinking ‘I really need to fill that space with something green, but where do I begin?'

Below we’ve grouped some popular house plants into four broad groups giving a brief outline of the types that are readily available. 

  •  Succulents and Cacti:

Succulents and Cacti have stolen hearts with their unique charm and low-maintenance nature. Popular succulents like Snake Plants (Sansevieria) and Aloe Vera thrive in various light conditions, handle neglect and are known for their air-purifying properties. Cacti, with their sculptural forms, need minimal watering and add an adventurous and prickly touch to any home.

  • Leafy Greens:

Leafy greens bring a lush and refreshing feel to indoor spaces. Hoya Multiflora, with its wax-like leaves, and Fittonia, known for its intricate patterns, are beloved choices. Calatheas, with their striking patterns and vibrant colours, ZZ plants, as well as Begonias with their delicate foliage and the many Ficus varieties also make delightful additions.

  • Flowering Plants:

If you are considering bringing a splash of colour and elegance to your home with flowering plants, Anthuriums, with their heart-shaped blooms and Begonias, which come in various bright colours, are crowd favourites. Chrysanthemums offer a burst of autumnal charm, while Cyclamens bring a touch of elegance and are perfect for cooler months. Peace Lilies, with their white spathes, are renowned for their air-purifying abilities and are often a ‘gateway plant’ as they are frequently gifted.

  • Tropical Houseplants:

Bringing a tropical vibe indoors is easy with these lush beauties. There are many Palm species that thrive as house plants. Monstera deliciosa (‘Swiss cheese plant’) known for its dramatic split leaves, is a true icon in this group and will grow into a worthy statement piece.

Philodendrons come in various shapes and sizes, adding a touch of versatility to your green collection. Pothos, with their trailing vines, are perfect for hanging displays, while Scindapsus offer attractive heart-shaped leaves. Anthuriums, with their striking foliage and vibrant spathes, and Alocasia, with their amazing elephant ear-shaped leaves, can also thrive in an indoors setting.

The key to maintaining thriving houseplants will lie in providing the right care to ensure your plants receive adequate sunlight according to their needs. Selecting the right houseplants for your home can be an exciting yet overwhelming task. With the multitude of options available, it's essential to consider factors such as light conditions and available space.  That’s where we’re here to help. Let's explore some valuable tips to guide you in finding the perfect plant for you and your living space!


Assessing Light Conditions in Your Home:


Understanding the lighting in your home is crucial for the well-being of your houseplants. Some plants thrive in bright, direct sunlight, while others prefer indirect or low-light conditions. Here's how you can assess light levels:

  1. Observe Your Rooms: Spend time observing the different areas in your home throughout the day. Note which rooms receive the most sunlight and at what times in New Zealand north-facing windows typically receive the most intense sunlight. South facing windows offer more indirect light.
  2. Light Meters: Light meters are handy devices that measure the intensity of light in specific areas. You can use smartphone apps or standalone light meters to get accurate readings.
  3. Shadow Test: Place your hand between the light source and the spot where you want to place your plant. If you see a sharp shadow, it indicates high light levels. A faint or blurred shadow suggests moderate or low light.

Selecting Houseplants Based on Light Conditions:


Once you've determined the light levels in your home, you can choose houseplants that match those conditions. Here are some popular choices referring to our grouping list:

  1. High Light Plants: Succulents, cacti, and many flowering plants love bright, direct sunlight. Consider Aloe Vera, Echeveria or Geraniums for these areas.
  2. Medium Light Plants: These plants thrive in bright, indirect light or moderate light conditions. Examples include Spider Plants, Philodendrons, Monstera and Peace Lilies.
  3. Low Light Plants: If you have areas with minimal natural light, worry not! Snake Plants, ZZ Plants, Pothos and Parlor palms are excellent choices that can thrive in low-light environments.

 Considering Space and Size:


While envisioning your indoor oasis, consider the available space and the size of your chosen plants. Here's how to do it:

  1. Room Size: In spacious rooms, tall and bushy plants like Fiddle Leaf Figs or Kentia Palms can make a bold statement. For smaller rooms, compact plants like Snake Plants or Pothos are ideal.
  2. Vertical Space: Utilize wall shelves or hanging planters to make the most of vertical space, especially in rooms with limited floor area.
  3. Grouping Plants: Create stunning displays by grouping plants with similar light and humidity needs. This not only looks visually appealing but also helps create a microclimate for your plants.
  4. Matching Pots: Choose pots that complement your interiors and allow for proper drainage. Our recommendation is to use cover pots so your plants can be removed and re-potted easily Remember you will have to repot your plants as they develop to ensure they have enough room to grow.
  5. Consider Your Commitment Level: Some houseplants require more attention and care than others. If you have a busy lifestyle, opt for low-maintenance plants that can thrive with minimal care.

 By considering the light conditions in your home and the available space, you'll be well-equipped to select the perfect houseplants.

The Best Houseplants for Beginners:


If you're new to the world of indoor gardening, welcome aboard! If you are a relative  beginner, we at The Green Grower think it’s essential that you start with plants that are easy to care for and can withstand some neglect. This will build confidence as a new plant parent as you gain in experience.  Let’s explore some of the best houseplants for beginners.

These houseplants are perfect for beginners, as they require minimal attention and can thrive in various conditions. Here are some top picks:

  1. Snake Plant (Sansevieria): Known for its durability and air-purifying qualities, the Snake Plant can tolerate low light and irregular watering.
  2. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia): This plant is practically indestructible and can survive in low light with minimal water.
  3. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum): With its trailing vines and vibrant leaves, Pothos is forgiving and can adapt to different light conditions.
  4. Heart leaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum): An excellent choice for beginners and is available in some stunning forms such as ‘brasil’ ‘micans’ & ‘lemon lime’. They tend to be forgiving and low-light tolerant.
  5. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum): Known for its elegant white blooms, Peace Lilies are relatively easy to care for and can thrive in low to moderate light.

It's no mistake that these are some of the most widely available houseplants on the market due to their durability and ease of care and we would recommend any one of these as an ideal beginner plant.


Purchasing Healthy Plants: What to Look For?


When shopping for houseplants, it's crucial to choose healthy specimens to ensure you are off to the best start on your plant journey. Here are some key factors to consider:

Vibrant Foliage: Look for plants with lush, vibrant leaves. Avoid those with brown/browning, yellow, or wilted foliage, as it could indicate poor health or improper care. The leaves should be holding themselves proud and not wilted in any way.

No Pests or Diseases: Check the plant thoroughly for any signs of pests or diseases, such as yellowing leaves, webbing, or spots. Bringing home a pest-infested plant could lead to problems that may spread to other plants you may have at home.

Well-Rooted: Gently remove the plant from its pot to inspect the roots. Healthy roots should be white or light-coloured, not brown or mushy.

Balanced Growth: Avoid plants that are leaning heavily to one side, as it could be a sign of poor lighting or improper care.

Age and Size: Consider the age and size of the plant in relation to your gardening experience and available space. Younger, smaller plants are generally easier to care for than mature, larger ones.

Pot and Soil: Ensure that the plant is potted in well-draining soil and a suitable pot. If the plant comes in a decorative pot without drainage holes, consider re-potting it into a functional one.

At The Green Grower you will find a ‘Plant Care Guide’ on each of our plant listings that will outline the correct light, watering, and soil type for that specific plant, along with a bio discussing the origins and overall requirements for the plant.

 In our next blog, we will discuss how you can create the Ideal Indoor Garden and discuss more advanced house plant care and techniques.

Go check out part 2 of this guide, "How To Take Care Of Your Indoor Plants"

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