What are the best houseplants for your new home?

green potted plant on brown wooden table

Learn how houseplants can help transform your new home

Decorating a home can be time consuming and expensive. Some people spend hours perusing thrift shops, yard sales, and antique stores looking for the perfect piece to suit their style. Others spend their time browsing designer catalogs for high-end decor. 

No matter your individual taste, though, houseplants are an affordable, accessible, and effective addition to any room’s design. In this guide to the best houseplants for your new home, we’ll show you how to curate a collection of potted plants for any space and style.

What we’ll cover

  • How houseplants improve mental wellbeing and enhance productivity 
  • Buying indoor plants is an easy way to decorate your new home cheaply and efficiently 
  • Houseplants are pleasant to look at and make a great conversation starter during a housewarming party
  • Which houseplants are best if you have pets
  • Not all houseplants require the same amount of light and water
  • Where to find houseplants
  • Houseplant maintenance isn’t as difficult as it may seem
  • Moving your houseplants outside for the summer

Are houseplants good for you?

Studies have shown the beneficial effects of houseplants time and again. With an ability to improve air quality and enhance mental health and cognition, indoor plants are quickly gaining traction as staples in household wellness.

One study in the UK revealed that a bacterium in plant soil called Mycobacterium vaccae encouraged the production of serotonin in the brain. Cancer patients treated with the bacterium reported significant quality of life increases.

Further studies related to mental cognition exhibit similar results. In one experiment, indoor plants increased office workers’ creativity by 45%, and productivity by 38%. The science suggests that the humble houseplant improves mental and emotional wellbeing, which can transform our time inside while we work.

Are houseplants good for the environment?

Houseplants contribute to environmental diversity and participate in air filtration. Houseplants are the next best thing when you can’t get a break from the computer screen or household chores. They help regulate temperature, absorb sound, and are pleasant to look at in any decor context.

Which houseplants clean the air?

Plants are an integral part of human life because they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, all while removing toxins from the air we inhale. But the bigger and leafier the plant, the better the air purification. Even a marginal improvement in indoor air quality can reduce the number of pollutants in your new home, especially when combined with greenery’s other cognitive and mental benefits.

Houseplants, unfortunately, aren’t as efficient as their outdoor counterparts. Plants work as part of a team to obtain the large-scale purification effects present in a tropical rainforest, for instance. As a result, scientists estimate that houseplants are between 1% and 10% as effective at purifying air as outdoor plants. 

gray sofa chair near green potted plant
Decorators recommend placing houseplants on the exterior of rooms to open up the space so it appears larger

Which houseplants are toxic to pets?

If you have furry friends at home, you’ll want to keep them out of harm’s way by selecting non-toxic houseplants. For dogs and cats, avoid:

  • Aloe vera
  • Devil’s ivy
  • ZZ plant
  • Certain varieties of lilies, including peace lilies
  • Monstera deliciosa
  • Jade plants
  • Dumb cane

These are some of the most common culprits of pet ailments. Keep your pets away from these plants to avoid diarrhea, vomiting, swelling, or a trip to the vet. Look into pet-friendly houseplant alternatives if you know you have a curious cat waiting to nibble on your new greenery.

Which houseplants like direct sunlight?

Whether you’d like to incorporate prickly succulents, aromatic herbs, or tropical flowers into your home decor, there’s a houseplant out there for you. Indoor plants make an especially fun complement in bright, sunny rooms, but not all of them are meant to be exposed to direct sunlight. For the windowsills or sunroom in your new home, consider the following options that thrive off of direct sunlight:

  • Sweet basil
  • Aloe vera
  • Croton
  • Hen and chicks
  • Bird of paradise

Where can you buy houseplants?

Local gardening centers and big chains like Home Depot are often staffed with experts. There are also several online retailers you can turn to, from Amazon to specialty sites like Horti.

Can houseplants survive outside?

As a general rule of thumb, most houseplants can survive in outdoor conditions. This is especially true during the summer months when frosts and cold temperatures aren’t a concern. Your houseplants can thrive outside, provided there’s enough moisture and light to promote growth. That’s great news for new homeowners looking to spruce up their patios and outdoor living spaces with minimal effort.

However, if your plants are accustomed to indoor temperatures and conditions, it’s best to acclimatize them to the elements before transitioning them outside. Wait until springtime, after the last seasonal frost, to bring your plants outside. Leave them in the shade at first, to get them accustomed to the increased intensity of sunlight, and bring them inside at night for the first couple of weeks.

Remember, it’s also important to regularly water your plants, even if they’re outside. And when fall returns, gradually move them back indoors after ensuring no bugs are lurking in the leaves or soil. 

There are certain tropical plants that are best kept indoors. Check with a gardener’s manual or expert before assuming your houseplants can weather the summer outdoors.

Where do you place houseplants?

Where you put your houseplants depends on your hemisphere, exact geographic location, and the kind of plants you have. One thing all of your indoor plants do have in common is that they need access to sunshine in varying amounts. For instance, succulents usually prefer direct, constant sunlight, while most leafy plants prefer partial sunlight.

Be sure to research how much sun your houseplants need and plan their placement accordingly. If you’re looking for plants for a dim room, options like ivy and lucky bamboo could be solid choices. Spider plants and ferns, on the other hand, are ideal for humid bathroom environments. You can always move or adjust the plants if they’re getting too much or too little sun. Generally, avoid placing your plants near north-facing windows unless they are low light plants.

Decorating with houseplants

Decorators recommend placing indoor plants near the perimeter of the room. This can help open up the center of the space and make it appear larger. Hanging plants are trendy, but require a well-thought-out placement to avoid inconveniences like bumping your head or getting in the way of lights and ceiling fans. The sky’s the limit when it comes to indoor plant placement. Feel free to let your creativity flow as you settle into and decorate your new home.

How to maintain houseplants

Each houseplant has different needs when it comes to light, water, and overall maintenance. We’ve broken down each main aspect of houseplant maintenance, so you can give your greenery the best shot at a long, healthy life.

  • Soil: Although some plants (like orchids) tend to be picky about their soil mixture, most aren’t. You can easily find a peat moss, compost, and vermiculite combination online or at your local gardening center that’s perfect for indoor plants.
  • Water: Many plant owners are concerned with under-watering their plants, and as a result end up overwatering. Most plants should only be watered once or twice a week to avoid root over-saturation, less during the winter months.
  • Fertilizer: To enhance the growth and overall health of your houseplants, apply fertilizer as directed on the label. Some fertilizers are meant to be applied biweekly, while others only need to be applied once every few months.
  • Light: Research the native habitat of your chosen houseplants to determine the exact duration and intensity of sunlight they prefer. Houseplants may prefer high, medium, or low light, and each plant will also have preferences on whether this light should be direct or indirect (also known as filtered light).
green plant on brown wooden table
You can move plants around your home throughout the year to ensure they get the idea lighting conditions

Which houseplants are easiest to maintain?

If you’ve never owned a houseplant before and are slightly apprehensive about the maintenance aspect, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a category of plants made just for you. Some of the lowest maintenance houseplants include:

  • Pothos
  • Snake plant
  • ZZ plant
  • Monstera
  • Philodendron heartland
  • Ponytail palm
  • Aloe vera
  • Prayer plant

Get started with greenery

Houseplants inject personality and color into previously drab rooms, provide emotional and cognitive benefits to their owners, and liven up any room. As you look to transform your new house into a home in a stress-free fashion, consider using indoor houseplants as a helpful tool.

About the author: By day, Celita Summa is a Florida-based freelance writer specializing in real estate, technology, sustainability, and a plethora of other topics. By night, Celita can be found developing her talents, which include her black belt in karate, her fluent Italian, and her knack for vegan cooking.