9 Beginner Houseplants and Finding the Right One for You

Not everyone has an inborn green thumb and hey, not every plant really requires one! A lot of the common houseplants are great all-rounders and do not have overly specific requirements that can’t be met in a regular home.

Good beginner houseplants are highly adaptive to varying light and water requirements as well as low in maintenance. The most common beginner houseplants are:

  • Spider Plant
  • Devil’s Ivy or Golden Pothos
  • Chinese Money Plant
  • Tree Lover or Sweetheart Plant
  • Wax Plant
  • Yucca Plant
  • Madagascar Jewel
  • ZZ Plant
  • Snake Plant

All of these plants make for great beginner plants but that doesn’t mean they are all just the same. It comes in handy to know a little something about what characterizes each of these plants which is what I will share with you in this post. After reading this post, you will know which of these plants fits you best!

What Is the Easiest Beginner Plant?

This is a question often asked by people who want to start out with houseplants.

In my opinion, there is no single plant species that is by far the easiest beginner plant to have. Instead, there are many plant species with low maintenance requirements that are perfectly well-suited for beginner plant parents. After all, the majority of plant species are survivalist pros out in nature, and becoming a plant parent is no rocket science either!

What to Keep in Mind as a Houseplant Beginner

Becoming a plant parent is a little bit like getting a green pet. You do need a certain routine for plant care, that’s for sure. But apart from that, there is not much that should stop you from getting some green housemates.

Here is some advice to keep in mind when you start off with houseplants:

  • Do not get a whole legion of plants all at once: It’s better to concentrate on one or two single plants and then grow the green family from there.
  • Try to establish a routine of being at home regularly before you get plants: If your lifestyle is being on the road or home only very irregularly, getting houseplants might not be the best decision (unless you have someone else to care for while you are away). Establishing a routine of being at home at least once a week or more often would be recommendable (That’s not asking too much, right? After all, it’s your home!)
  • Ask friends who are plant parents for plant recommendations: It is always best to get some first-hand experience from someone who has a certain plant.
  • Ask friends for offshoots of their plants: If you have friends with plants, ask them for offshoots of their plants. That way, you can start by propagating the plant yourself from the very start and your friends can also give you helpful advice about that plant because they own it themselves, too. Also, if your plant (against all odds) dies off, you didn’t spend much money on it either.
  • Preferably buy new plants in spring: Springtime is the start of their growth period which makes it much easier for plants to adapt to their new environment. In winter instead, plants are resting and are more prone to get pests and diseases when changing their environments.

With these tips in mind, let’s dive right into the plant types that might soon become your first green housemates!

9 Plant Types For Beginners and Which One Suits You Best

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) – An Entourage Of Little Spiderettes

The Spider Plant is one of the most common houseplants to be found, especially the variegated one with its white stripes on green leaves. With its lush foliage, it looks great anywhere you put it.

Spider Plants like bright light but not direct sunlight as this might scorch their leaves. As they like a lot of humidity, they are perfect plants for the bathroom or kitchen. As with all the beginner plants mentioned here, it is very low maintenance and can tolerate varying amounts of water as well as light.

A special benefit of the Spider Plant is that any mature plant will start making pretty little flowers out of which it produces offshoots that hang down from the main plant. Soon enough, the one plant you bought will look more like a mother hen with all her chicks around her! It is probably one of the easiest plants to propagate as all of these offshoots, also called “spiderettes”, can just be repotted and grown into another Spider Plant.

The Spider plant is for you if:

  • If you have pets: The Spider Plant is not toxic and hence no danger for your pets
  • If you want a lush but small plant
  • If you like plants with flowers
  • If you don’t want your plant to grow all around your living room
  • If you prefer to place your plants on a shelf instead of on the floor
  • If you want to start propagating plants, the Spider Plant is perfect with all its tiny “spiderettes” that can be grown into new plants

Devil’s Ivy or Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) – The Jungle Feel

The Golden Pothos is also called Devil’s Ivy because it just seems impossible to kill this plant. The Pothos certainly is a pro-survivalist at its best!

Its oval or even heart-shaped leaves resemble a philodendron’s though it does not grow as bushy as a philodendron would. Rather, Pothos plants grow into very long vines that climb anywhere they can reach.

It also grows incredibly fast. Even with just one or two short vines from a mother plant, you will soon be able to decorate your whole living room with them, like lianas in the jungle. Combined with their dark green colored (or even variegated) leaves, you will get that jungle feel for sure.

Pothos are also known to grow well in lighter as well as shadier spots. Hence, if you have a couple of spots in your home where it seems too dark for other plants, the Pothos can do it!

The Golden Pothos is for you if:

  • If you want to create a real jungle feel in your home
  • If some rooms do not have much light
  • If you want to place your plant on a shelf rather than on the floor
  • If you want a hanging plant that doesn’t need a big pot
  • If you want a fast-growing plant

Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides) – Like Pancakes on a String

The Chinese Money Plant or Pancake Plant is one of the more recent discoveries on the houseplant market, it seems. A couple of years ago, you wouldn’t see them very often while today they are just everywhere. This might also have to do with their immense production of offshoots once they mature.

With its particular round leaves, it is a true eye-catcher for your indoor jungle. The shape and arrangement of its leaves as well as its bright green color are simply stunning. No wonder the Chinese Money Plant gained a special place in many a plant lover’s heart!

What I find particularly great about this plant is that it is very versatile in what direction it grows and hence what overall aesthetics it has. With age, it starts to grow a stem in the middle. If you add a growth pole to the pot, it will grow straight up, like a little pancake tree. If you let it grow freely, it might do some twists and turns, and if you put it on a shelf you will eventually even have a beautiful hanging plant!

Again, this is also a very low-maintenance plant and it loves to have a bright spot.

The Chinese Money Plant is for you if:

  • If you want your plant to be an eyecatcher
  • If you like playful aesthetics
  • If you want to be able to put your plant either on a shelf or on the floor (both work here)
  • If you have a bright spot in your home

Tree Lover or Sweetheart Plant (Philodendron hederaceum) – A Heart-Shaped Green Curtain

Philodendrons come in a wide variety of types, one of the most common ones is the Sweetheart Plant. They are also called Tree Lover Plants because, in their tropical and subtropical natural habitats, they tightly hug the trees they climb on.

The Philodendron hederaceum has heart-shaped leaves of intense green color. When placed in a bright spot and trimmed regularly, it grows very dense and will look like a green curtain that flows from the shelf.

As a tropical plant, it is a rather water-loving plant and likes humidity but it can do with less of both as well. This plant looks absolutely stunning in a hanger or on a top shelf with its lush foliage hanging down.

The Sweetheart Plant is for you if:

  • If you want a hanging plant
  • If you want a lush foliage
  • If you like evenly colored green leaves
  • If you don’t mind trimming some vines every now and then

Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa) – The Nosy One

The Hoya carnosa, also called Wax Plant or Porcelain Flower, naturally grows in East Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Australia. It got its name from its waxy-looking beautiful flower buds. Those flowers are definitely what makes this plant unique!

Hoya plants are very easy to grow and keep happy. They like bright spots but not too much direct midday sun. If you put it in a bright spot that suits it well, it will reward you with lots of amazing semi-circle flower buds. Those flowers don’t just smell so sweet, they also give off droplets of a honey-like sap (you can taste the sap, it’s edible!).

From my experience, it is also quite a nosy plant. It stretches out its growing vines literally into all directions in search of some object to cling onto. That comes from it being a tree climber in its natural habitat, wrapping around other plants to find its way up toward the light.

I find Hoyas to be incredibly adaptable to irregular watering: Even in hot summer weeks at the office, when its soil got a bit too dry and then probably a bit too moist right after watering, it was thriving and blooming nonetheless.

The Wax Plant is for you if:

  • If you like plants with flowers
  • If you want something unique compared to other houseplants
  • If you want a hanging plant

Yucca Plant (Yucca elephantipes) – For Some Beach Vibes

Another all-time favorite among houseplants is the Yucca Plant. The Yucca houseplant is not to be confused with the yuca or cassava plant with its edible roots, they are not related.

In the images above, you can see two rather recently repotted head cuttings of an older Yucca Plant that grew too big. As Yuccas grow older, they grow a woody main stem with a crown of bright green leaves.

Although they look a lot like a palm tree at that age, botanically they are not palm trees but to the Agave family. Given their wide range of natural habitats from desert, arid regions in Mexico and the American Southwest to humid subtropical rainforests in the Caribbean, Yuccas are very adaptive to various water requirements. This is a plant that can do with some periods of drought as well.

With its palm-like aesthetics and the bright green leaves, it does remind one of a beautiful beach somewhere on a tropical island. This plant will certainly bring some beach vibes into your home!

The Yucca Plant is for you if:

  • If you worry about forgetting to water your plants
  • If your watering schedule might be a bit more irregular than regular
  • If you want a tree-like plant
  • If you want to place your plant on the floor, growing up tall
  • If you want those beach vibes at home

Madagascar Jewel (Euphorbia leuconeura) – The Sociable Plant

The Madagascar Jewel might not be on everyone’s beginner plant list but I find this to be one of the easiest plants to keep and they look beautiful. As the name suggests, its natural habitat is the tropical forests of Madagascar. When growing older, it grows a stem that reminds one of some sort of cactus while it keeps a crown of leaves that reminds one of a palm tree.

This plant does not naturally grow in direct sunlight but rather in the brushwood and hence it likes bright indirect light but no harsh sunlight as this can burn the leaves.

Apart from its beautiful appearance, the Madagascar Jewel is also quite an entertaining plant. It is said to be a very sociable plant that likes to be around other plants, preferably of its own type. Now, it’s not going to wait until you give it company: It creates its own little Madagascar Jewel forest by producing tons of seeds in the tiny white flowers on its crest and spitting them out every other day.

Through the pressure created when opening the seed capsules, the seeds are propelled several meters away. If you are sitting in your living room reading a book, you can very well hear the “pop” of the capsule and then the next “pop” when the seed hits the window or the floor. Eventually, some of the seeds will land in other plant pots, germinate, and grow into good company for the mother plant.

You might think I am exaggerating but just wait until you have one of these plants blooming and you will certainly understand what I am talking about. With these plants, you definitely have something going on in your living space! They are indeed quite entertaining.

The Madagascar Jewel is for you if:

  • If you like the looks of cacti and palm trees
  • If you want to place your plant on the floor (it grows pretty tall with time)
  • If you want some action!
  • If you don’t mind picking up the distributed seeds from your living room floor
  • If you don’t mind having tiny baby jewels growing in your other plant pots

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) – A True All-rounder

The ZZ Plant is a true all-rounder among beginner houseplants. It just grows anywhere, can do with varying light and water conditions, and grows fast.

The good thing about the ZZ Plant is that even though it grows quite fast, it doesn’t take that much space as it mainly grows upward with its thick, stem-like vines. If it ever becomes too bushy or spread out, it is very easy to just bundle it up and out of the way.

Its thick, dark-green leaves almost look a bit like plastic sometimes, and just like plastic, they don’t seem to change or grow old. This makes for a very reliable good-looking green fellow.

An interesting fact about the ZZ Plant, native to the tropical regions of Eastern Africa, is that it has evolved for millions of years – and doesn’t it look a little like one of those prehistoric plants that were there when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth? I think it does (and I think that’s so cool)!

The ZZ Plant is for you if:

  • If your watering routine might be a bit more irregular than regular
  • If you want a reliable evergreen plant that just looks good all the time
  • If you want to place your plant on the floor
  • If you don’t want to do much trimming or other maintenance
  • If you are a fan of dinosaurs and want some prehistoric ambiance at home

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) – The Drought-Resistant One

The Snake Plant is another plant that looks truly unique among houseplants and creates more aesthetic variety in your green home. This succulent with its sword-like tall leaves has its origins in the deserty areas of Western and Central Africa. As being a succulent already suggests, they are capable of doing with less water for quite a while. From the plants presented here it is, along with maybe the Yucca Plant, the most drought-resistant one for sure.

Light-wise, Snake Plants like bright spots with some direct light but they also do well in shadier spots. They are a bit slow when it comes to growth which is probably the reason why it doesn’t matter that much if its in a sunny or shady spot, it will look the same for quite some time anyways.

Although they can grow very tall leaves, most of them remain straight, so the plant doesn’t really take much space at all.

The Snake Plant is for you if:

  • If you want to change the looks of your indoor jungle with a unique plant
  • If prefer a reliable green fellow that looks the same all the time
  • If you tend to forget to water your plants
  • If you want a plant in your bedroom: Snake Plants are among those plants that release oxygen at night and carbon dioxide during the day
  • If you want to place your plant on the floor

What to Do When You First Get a Plant

Here are some tips on what to take care of when you first bring a plant home:

  • Check the plant tag for light requirements: Does it need full sun, half shade, or full shade? Then place it in an appropriate spot. If unsure about the light conditions, always opt for a medium spot and not bright sunlight. Otherwise, you risk burning the plant’s leaves if the sun happens to be too strong. With medium light, the plant has time to adapt to its new surroundings.

Tip: If you want to know more accurately what kind of light you have at what spot in your flat, there are a few plant care apps out there with an integrated light meter. Check the 7 best free plant care apps out in my post linked here!

  • Check the moisture of the soil: Stick your finger about one inch (2cm) deep into the top layer of the soil. If it is still moist, do not water the plant right now. Put it in its spot and check again in a couple of days. Only water the plant when that top layer has dried out.
  • Check the plant tag for water requirements: Take a look at what it says on the plant tag about how much water this plant needs and note it down somewhere.
  • In case the plant type is mentioned on the tag, note it down somewhere and research online or in a plant care app for more accurate care advice for your plant type.
  • Put the plant in a planter or on a saucer: If you bought the plant in just a nursery pot, make sure you either place it on a saucer or put it in a planter right away to avoid leaving stains on the floor or shelf it is on.

These are the first steps you should take. After that, it is best to just let the plant sit and adapt to its new environment. Try not to move it all the time but rather give it time to adjust to one spot. Moving plants is stressful for them as they need to constantly readjust to different light conditions.

In the first few days, check regularly whether your plant needs water yet and get used to a certain watering routine that fits your plant. Again, please do not overwater your plant!

If you are keen to learn the basics of how to water your indoor plants to avoid making any beginner’s mistakes, I recommend checking out my complete guide on how to water your houseplants.

Plants bought in-store usually have already outgrown their pots. I recommend repotting your plants a couple of weeks after bringing them home (unless it is in the middle of winter, then wait until spring with repotting). This will give them more space and a growth boost.

Before you do any repotting, it is good to know what kind of soil indoor plants need. In my post on the best soil for indoor plants, I explain some easy ways how to make a good indoor soil mix for your plants.

Related Questions

How to Know What Plant Types You Have?

Sometimes you might buy a plant and all it says on the plant tag is “greenery” or the like. To say the least, plant tags are often not very helpful to figure out what plant type it really is.

Luckily, there is a convenient way to find out yourself by installing a plant identification app. I present the best five plant identifier apps in this post linked here. Check them out, they are incredibly accurate. One photo is enough and you’ll know what plant is in front of you!

How to Know If My Houseplants Are Healthy?

It is not always visible at first sight whether your houseplants are healthy or not. Though there are certain clear signs that something is wrong. Find out what signs to look out for with my step-by-step plant health check!

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