Winter is on its way in full force, and if you’re anything like me, that means you are filling your life with as much green as possible until spring is here again. In some ways, I feel like becoming a crazy plant lady was inevitable, as so many people my age seem to be falling in love with indoor gardening.
Jeni Mae McKenzie, owner of Ophelia’s Flowers in Columbia, says that she has noticed the uptick of young buyers as well. “I haven't done any real research, but from what I have personally observed, young people are just more into doing things that make them feel better on a spiritual level,” McKenzie says in an email. “Tending to something living, stepping outside of yourself and considering your environment has become part of the normal conversation with younger people.”
Yet some prospective plant parents might find that when they first start collecting plants, it can be overwhelming with the number of resources on what varieties to get and how to care for them. From Pinterest to YouTube to general info sites, it seems like there is no concise source. But fear not! With a little help from McKenzie, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite houseplants, as well as tips on how to care for them.
*As an added bonus, almost every plant on this list is non-toxic to pets, since my cat loves eating plants as much as I love collecting them.
Hear me out — cacti of all shapes and sizes are ideal indoor plants for any beginner due to their hardiness and low maintenance. I own seven cacti and haven’t had to touch one since I bought it, besides to water every now and again. While they might not be what first springs to mind when you think of a houseplant, a quirky cactus is easily the most forgiving plant you can have and makes a great conversation piece.
If you frequent videos by Instagram or YouTube influencers, chances are you’ve seen this plant in the background of a hip apartment. Snake plants are not only easy to care for, but they’re pretty and green year-round. They aren’t pet-friendly, but they don’t need much light or water to look their best.
Easily the plant I have the biggest weakness for, calatheas are sometimes known as prayer plants for their ability to fold up at night like praying hands. There are tons of gorgeous varieties boasting unique patterns and leaf shapes. One thing to keep in mind when caring for calatheas is their finicky personality. These plants require humidity and consistently moist soil and may need to be moved around to find the light that works best for them. However, they’re what McKenzie calls a “straight-up houseplant.”
“If you are the kind of person who keeps the blinds drawn and is never home, this may not be the plant variety for you,” she says.
Baby Rubber Plant
Also called a peperomia, these plants are extremely common and easy to care for. As long as they receive adequate light, these fast growers will put out nice, showy foliage. They come in several varieties and colors, so there is sure to be something for every plant lover.
If you are in the market for a truly unique plant, look no further than this little beauty. Pileas come in several varieties, but the peperomioides is known for its perfectly round leaves. With normal care, the plant can quickly grow large. They’re sure to be unlike any other plant in your repertoire.
Marimo Moss Balls
Another on the unique plant list, these little guys toe the line between plant and pet. In fact, you’re more likely to find them for sale at PetSmart than a garden center. Despite the name, these moss balls are actually a variety of seaweed found in lakes around the world. They create their own oxygen, so you can keep them in a closed jar of fresh water. You will need to swish the water around every once in a while to keep the moss ball from flattening out on one side and change the water now and again to keep it fresh, but other than that, this plant requires almost no maintenance at all.
Technically these are more of a group of plants than singular plants, but terrariums are great pieces for beginners because the tiny ecosystem created within a tank helps sustain itself. Tropical plants fare well in closable containers where they can create their own humidity, whereas succulents and cacti prefer open containers to keep dry. One of the best parts about terrariums is the customization they offer. You can make one as big or small as you like, with decor of your choice to add some personality.
In the end there is no perfect plant for beginners, and each collector is going to be better at caring for certain plants than others. McKenzie says it's important to do your research but, most of all, to enjoy the process of getting and learning about your new plants.