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The illustrated guide to the best indoor plants for your home

By Emma Bergmeier

Updated: October 20th, 2018

These are the ten houseplants you need in your life, and where to put them for maximum greenery.

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Easy on the eye and not likely to leave dirty washing on the bathroom floor, houseplants are perfect housemates.

Transform your living space into an urban jungle or add life to an overlooked shelf or windowsill with hardy houseplants guaranteed to make an unbe-leaf-able difference to your abode.

Fiddle leaf fig indoor plant

1) Fiddle Leaf Fig

If you don’t own a Fiddle Leaf Fig do you even #houseplant? The most popular houseplant in the world (according to the gospels of Instagram and Pinterest), Fiddles are prized for their large, luscious leaves.

Much like a toddler that loses its cool when it’s not getting enough attention, Fiddles are temperamental and will sulk if conditions aren’t exactly to their liking. The key to keeping your Fiddle in a good mood is to position it in a well lit spot (but not immediately next to a window where it’s likely to cop the brunt of the Australian sun) and only water occasionally.

Before watering, stick your finger into the soil and if it feels wet, don’t water again until it has dried out (this is a good rule of thumb for all houseplants).

Monstera deliciosa indoor plant

2) Monstera Deliciosa

Monstera Deliciosa, Swiss Cheese, Split Leaf Philodendron, Mexican Breadfruit or Fruit Salad plant… whatever you call it, there’s no denying the popularity of this suburban favourite. Not convinced? Check out #MonsteraMonday on Instagram for bulk inspo.

While some houseplants are content to grow in a small pot, Monsteras need room to move, so think big when deciding on a pot and where to position it in your home as they can be hard to move once established (unless you hire a helper on Airtasker, of course!).

Hailing from the tropics, Monsteras love humidity, so will flourish when placed in your bathroom (so long as there is plenty of natural light available) where they can soak up your post-shower mist.

String of pearls indoor plant

3) String of Pearls

No shelfie is complete without the cascading tendrils of a String of Pearls but before you race out to the shops, think twice because this highly photogenic plant is a tricky beast to keep alive.

As with many indoor plants, this beauty prefers indirect sunlight and well drained soil, so you’ll need to pop it in a pot with numerous drainage holes and resist the urge to water regularly. Alternatively, find a vessel you love without drainage holes (anything from an old kettle to a beautiful bowl will do) and hire a clever Airtasker to drill some drainage holes for you!

When purchasing String of Pearls you will likely only find small, immature versions available at major nurseries; for more established plants checkout Gumtree or plant auction Facebook groups in your area.

Tried everything but still can’t seem to keep your beloved String of Pearls happy? Find a gardener in the know to help!

Devil's ivy indoor plant

4) Devil’s Ivy

Don’t be fooled by the name, Devil’s Ivy is a heavenly addition to any home/plant collection. Second only to a succulent in terms of its ability to survive living with somebody who isn’t blessed with the gardening gene, Devil’s Ivy is made of tough stuff.

Plant in a pot or vessel of your choosing (size doesn’t matter) and position wherever you like. Dark corner? No worries. Bright window sill? Not a problem. You can place Devil’s Ivy just about anywhere and it will continue to survive against the odds so long as you water it regularly.

As your Devil’s Ivy grows fuller, propagate new plants by cutting off established leaves and leaving the stems in water until they grow new roots. Voila – free plants!

Mother in law's tongue indoor plant

5) Mother In Law’s Tongue

A popular decor choice in trendy cafes across the country, the eye catching Mother In Law’s Tongue is a distant relative of asparagus (which explains the tall, shoot-like leaves) but please, try to resist the urge to serve it up with hollandaise on toast.

Tough in appearance and durability, this breed is harder to kill than a bad guy in a horror film so don’t worry too much about over or under watering.

Sold at most commercial garden centres, Mother In Law’s Tongue is so common and easy to grow that websites like Gumtree are packed with them, where they’re generally a lot cheaper than your neighbourhood nursery. Shop around to find the best plant at the best price and if you locate a particularly large one that won’t fit in your car (they can grow up to 3-4 feet tall!), hit up Airtasker for help with transport.

Calathea indoor plant

6) Calathea

A rising star on the houseplant scene due to its striking leaves, the elegant Calathea is quickly gaining traction with plant collectors and amateur green thumbs.

To flourish, Calathea require some serious TLC including being kept hydrated with distilled water (as poor quality tap water can cause leaf burn), plus regular fertilisation.

Prune off dead leaves to support new growth and expect to experiment with different spots in your home until you find one with the perfect blend of light and humidity – your bathroom is a good starting point. You’ll know you’ve found its dream destination when new leaves start to grow.

If you’re trying your best and still struggling to keep your Calathea alive, click here for additional tips.

Tillandsia indoor plant

7) Tillandsia

Are you a self confessed black thumb capable of killing a houseplant with nothing more than a sidewards glance? Fear not because Tillandsia thrives in the unforgiving deserts of Mexico, so chances are it will flourish in your one bed apartment or family residence.

So long as you protect this spiky stunner from frosty weather and cold draughts, Tillandsia will reward you by surviving longer than any family pet you’ve owned to date.

While most houseplants require a dedicated pot filled with potting mix or soil, Tillandsia plants get all of the nutrients they need from the air, so they’ll grow just about anywhere. Forget about them in winter but give them a quick spritz of water every couple of weeks in summer.

Rubber plant indoor plant

8) Rubber Plant

Any indoor gardener worth their watering can owns a Rubber Plant or two. Poised to overtake Fiddle Leaf Figs as the most popular houseplant of 2018, Rubber Plants will grow huge, or stay small, depending on the pot they’re in.

For a Rubber Plant that towers over your couch, opt for a gigantic pot. For a pint sized plant that won’t overshadow the prized midcentury pottery collection on your vintage sideboard, go for a compact pot.

Water regularly, position in a sunny nook and wipe the leaves clean of dust from time to time to encourage growth.

Haworthiopsis fasciata indoor plant

9) Haworthiopsis Fasciata

The gateway species of the gardening world, succulents appreciate minimal watering and maximum sunlight, so they’re a cinch to keep alive.

For newcomers to houseplants we suggest earning your stripes with Haworthiopsis Fasciata, also known as the Zebra Plant. Guaranteed to thrive on neglect, Haworthiopsis Fasciata is at its happiest when positioned on a well lit windowsill with minimal intervention (ie: it doesn’t require regular watering).

This spiky fella will only grow up to 10cm-13cm at best, so pick a small pot and let mother nature do the rest.

String of hearts indoor plant

10) String of Hearts

Unlike that person you met on Tinder who seemed so promising but is now ghosting you, this succulent vine won’t go breaking your heart.

Also known as Ceropegia woodii or Chain of Hearts this delicate trailing vine is the perfect match for that gluten free, free range, fair trade artisan hanging planter you’ve been eyeing on Etsy. A happy String of Hearts will grow tendrils up to four metres long when not overwatered and planted in well draining soil in a bright, sunny location. Like a succulent String of Hearts appreciates dry air, so best to avoid the bathroom/laundry.

Illustrations by Jin Ju Hong.

Need a handyman to help install your new hanging planter? Find one on Airtasker.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emma

Obsessed with florals, foliage and fashion.

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Comments

  1. Vicki

    Love this article which is right on topic, helpful and yet subtle as an ad for Airtasker

  2. Anonymous

    Thank you

  3. Jennet Menezes

    Yes I did . At least now I know which are the best and popular house plants to look for. Nice to see such information easily available from you

  4. Sibrina Harry Anthony

    Very interesting read thank you. Love plants and need to keep some indoor but because I have hard wood flooring so worried it will rot my floor. The Devil’s Ivy that plant is that a climber and also known as Money Plant? I know they are perfect for indoor and I do have it but the name is the confusion.
    Thank you Emma for your write up. Anyone who loves plants can make out that you do love yours too and encourage people who are just beginners

  5. Emma Bergmeier

    Hi Sibrina, I have hard wood flooring at my place too. The way I keep my floors dry is with plastic or ceramic ‘saucers’ under my pots to catch excess water. And yes, money plant/Devil’s Ivy are one and the same. Happy gardening!