House plants: the coolest common house plants and how to care for them | Real Homes

House plants: the coolest common house plants and how to care for them

Our house plant care tips will ensure that your house is full of the most content common house plants.

(Image credit: Bloomscape)

House plants are a must in every modern home, and you're likely to see them floating around your favourite cafés and bars too, for the simple reason that they just look great. 

Our favourite common house plants do far more than just look cool too. Many species can actually purify the air around you which will instantly make your space a touch more zen. And, to keep your house plant care routine as chilled out as possible too, we've put this guide together to show you the most popular house plants around, and how to care for them – rather than kill them.

Keep reading for all the Monstera deliciosa care tips and more that you'll need when choosing the best indoor plants for your home.

Top common house plants

a collection of houseplants displayed across a desk

An eclectic mix of houseplants really enhances the use of natural materials. Find similar at Cuckooland

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

Here's a roundup of popular house plants that will keep every space happy. Including some recommendations from house plant expert, Jane Perrone – host of On The Ledge houstplant podcast.

1. Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa)

The Insta-plant of the century, of course we were going to make this our number one house plant, the dear Monstera deliciosa is instantly recognisable by its unique tropical-looking leaves. 

Monstera deliciosa care tips

The Monstera deliciosa house plant is happiest in warm spots, with indirect sunlight. This is one that should only be watered once the soil has dried out completely as it's prone to root rot. When your Monstera starts forming aerial roots – to support its growth –, you can add even more support with a moss or coconut-covered support stick.

2. Asparagus Fern (Asparagus setaceus)

Actually not a fern at all, but part of the lily family, this bushy-tailed house plant is a green crowd pleaser, not so demanding and very air purifying. 

Asparagus Fern care

Ideal on a windowsill – not too bright so as not to scorch its delicate leaves in summer – or even in a shady spot. Mist yours regularly and keep the soil damp, feed with a little house plant solution in growing season and watch it grow. For easy humidity keep this one in a bright kitchen or bathroom space.

3. Wax plant (Hoya carnosa)

In addition to being cool looking and easy to care for, wax plants are also renowned for their ability to flower. 

Hoya carnosa care

Perrone recommends placing them somewhere high and watching their red stems snake throughout a space. If you’d like to control the growth of your wax plant, think about training it up a trellis. 

4. Five holes plant (Monstera Adansonii)

If your space is too small for a Swiss cheese plant, it’s little brother (Monstera adansoii) may be the option for you. With its spectacularly unique foliage, this is a gorgeous addition to every indoor space.

Monstera adansonii care

As long as it’s placed in bright, indirect sunlight, this houseplant makes for a easy keeping, and much like the Monstera deliciosa, be sure to only water it when the soil is at least 75% dry.

5. Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatoir)

As its name might suggest, the cast iron plant is a strong sort able to withstand minimal care and an imposing pot. 

Cast iron plant care

Able to survive in minimal levels of lighting, the cast iron plant makes a great option for dark and shady spaces, with less natural light.

6. Indoor Yucca plant (Yucca Elephantipes Tree) 

The Yucca plant is a great tall house plant to keep and sure to bring tropical vibes to your space. 

Yucca plant care

A Yucca simply needs sun, and this one is sensitive to overwatering so shouldn't be potted in too much soil, and should only be watered when the soil has dried out completely.  

House plants you can't kill

If you’re really concerned about your ability to care for a high-maintenance plant, or have a long and varied history of plant neglect, these easy to care for house plants will be ideal. They are hardy and require minimal attention, but still make great additions to your home.

7. Mother-in-law's tongue (Dracena –Sansevieria – trifasciata)

Also known as the snake plant for the shape of its leaves, this tropical house plant comes complete with incredible colour and texture so is a great addition to every modern space.

Mother-in-law's tongue care

Able to withstand up to a month without water, you’ll be hard pressed trying to kill a mother-in-law’s tongue. Not only are they a hardy species, but their thick, extending leaves make a real visual impact.

8. ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

The ZZ plant has been around for centuries and was native to Eastern Africa where it thrived outdoors in drought conditions. Its smooth, waxy leaves never fail to add energy to a room and this can become a very tall house plant indeed, with little effort on your part!

Zamioculcas zamiifolia care

House plant expert, Jane Perrone, recommends a ZZ plant to even the most forgetful of plant owners. Capable of ‘shrugging off deep shade, direct sun, no water for months on end and desert-dry air,’ they require minimal attention and make a great addition to minimalist rooms.  

9. Air plants (Tillandsia)

Native to forests, these gorgeous tiny plants get most of their nutrients from the air. So not only do air plants look amazing, anywhere, – especially when displayed in a terrarium – but they also require relatively little attention. 

Air plant care

No need for soil, as these peculiar little plants thrive on sweet air, and will enjoy the occasional mist and weekly soak in water.

10. Philodendron (Araceae family)

Beautiful foliage, flowering, what more could you want from a house plant?

Philodendron care

Due to their minimal needs, the philodendron is a great option for even the least experienced of plant parents. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, all it asks for is a bright spot, out of direct sunlight, and a weekly water. What could go wrong? 

11. Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller)

Funky looking, aloe vera also has well documented healing properties. Make a shady spot in your kitchen the home for your new found friend and know that you have a cooling gel on hand, should you burn yourself.

Aloe vera care

Aloe will need watering every couple of weeks, and you'll know when it's happy because the leaves will be swell with lovely aloe gel. Keep yours on a window sill with indirect sunlight.

House plant care: the basics

a wooden coffee table topped with assorted plant pots and vases

Choosing the right pot for your plant is an important first step.  Beaumonde have a great selection, meaning you're sure to find something that suits your style as well as your plants needs

(Image credit: Beaumonde)

No house plant is the same, from watering and feeding, to light, humidity and potting compost, every species requires a different standard of care. If you have a house plant that we haven't included above, or if you’re a brand new house plant-parent, follow our general advice and you’ll have a thriving indoor garden in no time at all.

How to water house plants 

Watering is best done in the morning, and as simple as it sounds, watering house plants can be a difficult balance to strike. As a basic rule of thumb (literally) always ensure to feel for a plant's moisture before making a decision about watering. If the soil is bone dry, it is usually safe to water, while if the soil is still moist, it may be better holding off as soggy soil can cause root rot and ultimately kill your poor plants. This depends on the season too, in summer which tends to be growing season for many (and generally warmer), your plants (especially ferns) will need more regular watering and misting.

House plant baths

If the soil has dried out for an extended period of time, you can give your house plants a bath by letting them sit in water until moist again, before ensuring the excess has drained off.

This can be useful especially if you've gone on holiday. Whilst many house plants can survive a length of time with a thorough water prior to this; smaller potted species and those that favour humidity like ferns and peace lilies may be better suited to a soak in the bath (or sink). Rest on water-soaked towels with plenty of shade and expect to find your house plants in equally healthy condition on your return.

The best pots for house plants

Your choice of pot also affects a plant's water retention and ability to grow. Ceramic pots are porous which will help with the effects of any overwatering, while plastic pots are easy to clean and lightweight so your plant will be easy to transport.

Make sure that the pot you select is large enough for a growing house plant and allows for good drainage. Contrary to growing your own veg for example, not all house plants need a lot of soil to thrive and will actually do fine/better in less soil, even with exposed roots. Yucca plants for example will support exposed roots far better than too much soil and the likelihood of damp.

How to clean house plant leaves

Like everything else in your home, house plants accumulate dust. Waxy leaves can be cleaned with water soaked cotton wool, or a soft, wet cloth, while a soft bristled paintbrush is the best option for spikier breeds. Avoid using polish, as this can block a plant's pores and affect its growth. While using milk is said to help bring shine back to dull house plant leaves. Mix 1/2 a cup of milk with a 3/4 cup of water, spray the solution on the top and underneath the leaves before gently rubbing the leaf clean using a clean and dry cloth.

Aesthetic appeal, whilst important when selecting a house plant, shouldn't be the only factor taken into account when choosing where to position it. If you want your plants to thrive, it's important to carefully consider their needs when deciding where you place them. Here are our top tips to get you started:

Best positioning for house plants

Take a moment to really think about your home: which areas receive the most natural sunlight; which are in constant shade; and the average temperature of each room. Remember that as the sun changes, so will the light in a room. It’s important to know what you’re working with before you start understanding your plants' needs and choosing where to house them. 

Sunlight needs

Don't just assume that all plants need sunlight and leave it at that, take the time to research just how much light they require. For some, it seems that the more sunlight the better, whilst others (generally the larger and more leafy species) are better suited to somewhere a little more shaded.

Consider heat sources

Temperature is also an important thing to consider when deciding where to position your house plants. As a rule of thumb, house plants are at their happiest around 20 degrees, so if you're planning on cranking up the radiator in the depths of winter, definitely make sure your house plants aren't too close.

While most plants can tolerate a slight fluctuation in temperature, for more tropical species, consistency is key.

How to handle humidity

Heat from a radiator creates an atmosphere too dry for most species, meaning regular water spritzing during the winter months is a must. Keep an eye on your plants; dry leaves and discolouration are a sign that they can't stand the dry heat.

glass airplant containers hanging from ceiling

Despite their delicate charm, air plants have proven somewhat difficult to kill. Find similar at Garden Trading

(Image credit: Garden Trading )

Poisonous house plants for pets

Unfortunately there are many plants that, while aesthetically pleasing and safe for humans, just aren’t an option for a home shared with pets. If you have furry (or not furry) friends around, it is worth avoiding the following all-together, or keeping them completely out of reach.  

  • Aloe Vera
  • Lily (Belladona and Kaffir are particularly toxic)
  • Hawaiian Ti
  • Ornamental Pepper Plant
  • Sago Palm
  • Winter Cherry
  • Amaryllis 

Pet-friendly house plants

However, this doesn’t mean you should miss out on the calming properties of plants, as there are still many pet-friendly options available. We’ve gathered together a selection of house plants guaranteed to keep you and your furry friends happy.

Money Tree

As well as bringing good fortune to your home, money trees are a perfectly safe addition to a home shared with pets. Win, win!

Pick your palms carefully

In cooler climates, palms make wonderful additions to a home. However, caution must be taken when selecting an appropriate species. Whilst Sago palms are toxic to pets, Areca palms are perfectly safe. 

Bamboo

Genuine bamboo species, as opposed to look a-likes, are non-toxic to pets and, if allowed to grow, can make a striking addition to a living space.

Selected succulents

Particularly popular amongst millennials, succulents are a welcome addition to many a desk. Opt for species such as Blue Echeveria, Burro’s Tail, Ruby Heart and Opuntia if you have furry friends sniffing around. Kalanchoes are to be avoided, often causing sickness in animals.

Calathea

For a slightly more leafy option, Calathea are worth a thought. Best positioned in a shady corner, they’re entirely harmless to pets.

More plant advice and inspiration: