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  • African Violet (Saintpaulia): Classic blooming plant for the windowsill. Requires good light, regular feeding, consistent watering and high humidity. Leaves are sensitive so keep water off by focusing only on the soil, and only use room temp water. To increase year-round flowering, feed regularly and add supplemental lighting in winter so that it gets 14 hours of light a day. Toxic to pets.

  • Airplant (Tillandsia): An epiphyte (Greek for 'upon a plant'), tillandsia attach their roots to other plants, typically trees, and draw their nutrients and moisture from it and the surrounding surfaces. Larger varieties, such as Xerographica, can go up to a month without watering, but all would appreciate a drink every two weeks. Fully submerse in a sink filled with room temp water for 1-3 hours then dry upside down for at least a few hours so that water doesn't sit in the base and cause rot. If tips seem dry, up watering to weekly or add weekly misting to your routine. Feed with bromeliad or orchid fertilizer. Toxic to pets.

  • Azalea (Rhododendron): High maintenance dwarf bush version of the classic landscape cool-blooming rhododendron. Keep in a cooler area, away from direct sun, mist leaves daily and keep soil moist at all times. Immersion watering method works best (fill up sink or bucket and dip entire growpot or pot with drainage until thoroughly soaked through then allow to drain). Great option for a patio plant that lives outside in spring and summer and overwinters indoor.

  • Banana Leaf Fig (Ficus Alii): Distinctive oblong leaves and great height (17" pots typically are around 7'), but tricky for beginners. Prone to leaf drop during transition after arrival to new settings, which can be helped by using supplemental lighting for the first month or so, gradually dialing it back. Medium to high light ideal but no direct sun. Allow soil to dry out to half the depth before watering again (a chopstick is a good way to test). Avoid repotting unless absolutely necessary.

  • Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Nicolai): Big leaves and fairly easy to grow, this plant is popular for good reason. High light is ideal, but protect from hot afternoon sun. Mist occasionally, and water once soil is dry to two inches down. Don't expect flowers for the first four years, then avoid repotting once it does bloom as it needs root restriction for annual blooming. Toxic to pets.

  • Bromeliad: Easy plants that add rewarding size and color to a room. Prefer brighter light and to be watered via their central rosette rather than the soil. Drainage is key, and be careful not to waterlog.

  • Cactus: Fun and easy plant for beginners but require good light and thrive in high light. Will go dormant in winter and require very little water, just enough to prevent shriveling. In summer, water thoroughly and regularly to promote new growth and flowering. Easy to propagate from cuttings.

  • Calathea: Often called Prayer Plant because they fold and raise their leaves at night, this group within the Maranta family is known for striking leaf patterns and being a bit tricky for beginners. High humidity is key, making them ideal for large terrariums, and keep from direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. Keep soil damp, mist leaves often and try a water pebble tray for added humidity.

  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema): Tolerant of lower lighting, but do best in medium light settings. Shriveled leaves or brown tips will tell you your air is too dry, so add humidity vis fine mist spray or humidifier. Don't place near drafts or cold windows in winter.

  • Dragon Plant (Dracaena): Many varieties, many nicknames, much confusion. Marginata, Cordyline, Pleomele...all are part of the Dracanea family. Marginata types (like Tarzan) are more tolerant of lower light, while Cordyline (including Ti plants) prefer brighter light and Pleomele (including Reflexa) land somewhere in between. All prefer higher humidity and moist soil. Also known as 'false palms,' it's their growth habit to shed lower leaves so that eventually you're left with a main trunk and top crown, so don't fret if you're seeing lower leaves yellow and drop occasionally.

  • Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia): Sensitive to cold and dry air, keep humidity up and move to brighter areas in winter. Let soil dry one to two inches down between watering and mist regularly with room temp water. Can get leggy after a couple of years, but recovers well from lobbing off top crown and repotting as a cutting, and the stump will resprout as well. Wear gloves and avoid touching face when cutting as the sap is toxic. Toxic to pets.

  • Fabian Aralia (Polyscias 'Fabian'): Asian in origin and appearance, aralia varieties like Fabian, Dinnerplate and Ming are pricy and a bit tricky, but are uniquely cool plants. The key is to go easy on direct watering (letting soil dry out halfway down before watering again) but be consistent and keep surrounding air moist at all times. Mist frequently, and invest in a humidifier for this guy.

  • Fishtail Palm (Caryota Mitis): With widening 'fishtail'-shaped leaves, this Asian native likes warmth, so keep it away from drafts, cold windows in winter and out of direct contact with HVAC vents that cause temperature fluctuations. Medium to bright light is best, as is high humidity. Allow top quarter to half of rootball to dry out between waterings. Clean leaves monthly with a diluted insecticidal soap to prevent spider mites and mealybug.

  • Grape Ivy (Cissus Rhombifolia): A favorite hanging plant for its ability to twine and climb, this vine is fairly easy to grow if given medium to high light. Avoid direct sun and hotter spots, mist occasionally and keep lightly moist in spring and summer when growth rate is high. Pinch back leggy tips to encourage bushy growth.

  • Hope or Tree Philodendron (Philodendron Selloum): Big leaves, fast growth and ability to tolerate medium light make this a popular plant. Average temps, average moisture and added humidity via misting are keys to success. Fairly easy plant for beginners.

  • Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata or Argentea): Popular member of the succulent family. Water infrequently in winter but regularly in summer, roughly when soil is dry halfway down. Shallow pots and brighter light preferred. Keep out of direct sun and do not mist. Brown spots on leaves typically are a sign of too little water; drooping yellow leaves are a sign of too much water.

  • Jasmine: One of the prettiest winter bloomers, and definitely the most fragrant. Keep cool but in bright light. Keep soil moist, mist leaves, provide a trellis for it to climb and let it live outside in summer.

  • Kentia Palm (Howea Forsteriana): This gorgeous slow-grower is among the priciest palms on the market, partly due to popularity and partly due to its bulletproof nature. Will tolerate lower to medium light like a champ, but keep humidity up, especially in winter. Drainage is key; do not allow roots to sit in water but do keep soil slightly moist. Allowing it to dry out between waterings leads to brown leaf tips. Natural for lower leaves to brown out occasionally, simply remove at the main stem with clean snips.

  • Monstera (Monstera Adansonii, Monstera Deliciosa): Few plants have such recognizable leaves, rounded palm-sized beauties with split edges and occasional peek-through holes (hence the trailing variety's nickname 'Swiss Cheese'). Essential to provide a totem pole via moss stick or coconut coir stick, which are easy to DIY. Aerial roots will attach to the pole, which should be kept moist via misting. Soil should be kept lightly damp in winter and allowed to dry out during summer. Regularly clean leaves with a lightly damp cloth.

  • Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis): There are literally 100,000 varieties of orchids on record, but these are by far the most common for beginner collectors. Good light is key, so adding supplemental lighting in winter is ideal. Bottom watering and good aeration are two reasons 'orchid pots' were invented, their holes allowing air to reach the roots and the plant to absorb water via submersion. If keeping in the plastic growpot, puncture a few holes throughout, fill the outer cachepot/vase with water, dunk the growpot and allow to sit in water for a few minutes then dump out excess water and pop growpot back in. Feed regularly during summer.

  • Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria Heterophylla): Mostly seen in the Midwest around the holidays, but a great plant year-round that's fairly forgiving so long as humidity is high. Medium to bright indirect light. Water regularly but dial back in winter. Will benefit from being outdoor in summer, so long as its kept out of direct sun.

  • Parlor Palm (Chamadorea Elegans/Neanthe Bella): Graceful, pretty and fairly easy to care for. Like Kentia, Parlor can tolerate lower to medium lighting. Like most palms, be consistent with watering, keeping the soil lightly damp and misting regularly.

  • Philodendron, Climbing (Cordatum): Heart-leaf and Brasil are the two most common in this philo sub-family, fast growers that will either climb or trail. For height, provide a coconut coir pole for it to climb, helping it along with soft ties or strips of pantyhose. For hanging, be sure to rotate plant weekly for even growth and pinch back any leggy trailers for fullness. Keep soil barely moist but don't let roots sit in standing water. Don't be alarmed by reddish leaves, typical of new growth.

  • Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica): Tolerant of lower to medium light. Be careful not to overwater, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings and making sure to dump any excess standing water from decorative pots. Green varieties are easier to grow than variegated, which can easily develop splotches on the leaves for reasons difficult to identify (typically water PH issues or temperature fluctuation). Prone to scale, so keep an eye out.

  • Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta): Resembles a pineapple with its bulbous base and long fanned leaves. Medium to high light is ideal. Water thoroughly but allow soil to completely dry out between waterings, and keep water off the leaves when watering. Feed regularly to keep leaves nice and green. Careful when handling as the leaves have tiny spike-like thorns. Toxic to pets.

  • Snake Plant (Sansevieria): Nicknamed "Mother-in-Law's Tongue" for its sharp, pointed leaves, sansevieria come in countless varieties and are a beginner's favorite. Tolerant of low light settings, though the more white in the variegated varieties, the more light it requires. Typically only killed by overwatering, it needs very little water in winter and prefers the soil to dry out between waterings in summer. No need to mist. Water the soil surrounding plant rather than the crown to avoid basal rot.

  • Succulent: With hundreds of varieties, ease of care and ubiquitous availability, this family of plants is deservedly popular. The common misconception is that you never have to water them, but in reality they prefer regular watering in summer, so long as you wait until the soil has nearly dried out to water again. Dial back to monthly in winter. Prefers compact, shallow pots as being surrounded by too much soil leads to root rot. Needs high light to thrive. Loves fresh air so set outside (but not in direct sun) in summer.

  • Umbrella Plant (Schefflera Amate, Schefflera Arboricola): Adaptable, dependable, fairly easy to grow and offered in a wide range of heights. Medium light is ideal, misting is helpful and average watering is preferred, letting the soil dry to a couple inches down before watering again in summer but somewhat less in winter. Keep an eye out for scale.

  • ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia): A low-maintenance, highly tolerant favorite, recognizable by its arching stems loaded with waxy oblong leaves. Will do fine in lower light settings but might require support if not enough light for continued upright growth. Medium light is best, as is average watering. Keep leaves clean to avoid pests in the many nooks and crannies. Visible bulbous rhizomes at soil surface make splitting the plant a breeze; just carefully open up the rootball by untangling the lower roots and repot anything from a single bulb to a cluster of them.

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Plant Glossary

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