Indoor Plants for Beginners: A Homegrown Guide to Lush Indoor Spaces

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If you haven’t been keeping up with the times, indoor gardening is totally in. From cut flower decor to terrariums full of colorful succulents, there are options for every stage of green thumb (or wannabe green thumb) to have an awesome indoor oasis.

If you haven’t yet delved into indoor greenery for yourself, but you’d like to dip your toes in (or hands, that would probably make more sense) this might be the article for you. Whether you need indoor plants for beginners or you’re ready to start pulling your living room jungle together, we’ll discuss your options.

Grab some pots and dirt, pull up your favorite local greenhouse websites, and get ready to take notes. Here’s a quick guide to making your own lush and colorful space with an indoor garden that will make your friends jealous (or a little worried about your wellbeing).

Why Indoor Plants?

Indoor plants are all the rage right now, but what’s the deal? Do we just like having something to take care of? Is it because they smell nice?

Well, yes, but there are also psychological and physical health benefits to keeping indoor plants that make people feel a lot better when they’re keeping them. They don’t just look nice! From getting a flower subscription to growing a garden, flowers and plants make our brains operate better.

Mental Health Benefits

Overall, indoor plants have been shown to have a positive effect on stress and anxiety levels. Gardening can help to decrease your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the “fight-or-flight” hormone that sounds off alarm bells when your body registers danger. It triggers stress and anxiety.

Gardening can also help lengthen short attention spans. Gardening is a mindful activity with a clear cause and effect response. When one doesn’t pay enough attention to their leafy green charge, it can perish. Mindful awareness of the plants over time can lengthen the attention span.

In children (or even some adults suffering from insecurity) plants can also help boost self-worth. While the world pushes constant progress and “keeping up” with everyone else on social media, which can be quite stressful, plants are a way to have small successes all alone. A plant sprouting a new leaf, or a new plant sprouting from seeds, can feel like a great success to an insecure gardener.

Physical Health Benefits

Keeping a few plants around can also help boost your physical health. It might seem unlikely unless you’re growing vegetables (which is still an option indoors), but it’s tested to be true. We help plants and plants help us.

It’s no mystery that plants produce oxygen while they’re completing photosynthesis. They also help to filter impurities from the air as they go through their daily processes. Indoor air can sometimes contain more contaminates than outdoor air. If you spend a lot of time indoors (which most Americans do) a few indoor plants can boost your health.

Because of that filtration effect, indoor plants can also help stave off some forms of illnesses. Whether it’s allergens in the air or harmful microbes, your healthy plants act as an air filter to catch some of the potential threats to your immune system.

Not a Plant Natural? That’s Okay.

Not everyone is a green thumb. Some people never got the gardening experience as a kid, and all of this is going to be brand new. Some people are afraid to get started for fear of failing. There’s no need to be afraid. You may fail a few times, but plants are pretty forgiving and you can always try again.

In this guide of indoor plants for beginners, we’re mostly going to discuss the plants that are great for newbies to the gardening game. Seasoned plant professionals will be able to step in and handle them with no problems and new plant parents will be able to take the first few shaky steps into gardening greatness.

First, The Impossible to Kill: Marimo

This is coming first only because it’s very different from everything else on the list. If you’re brand new to plants or if you have somewhat of a cursed thumb (does everything you touch die? We’ve been there) then a marimo is a great way to get yourself into the plant-raising game.

There are a few different ways to take care of these cute little green friends and different options will suit you depending on your lifestyle.

Marimo technically aren’t plants at all, they’re algae balls. They look like small balls of moss that can be as petite as a marble or as large as a softball. They’re incredibly easy to care for and they can even be kept in community tanks if you already have aquatic life living with you in your home. They’re a great addition to a tank.

You can also keep them enclosed in jars, or in open bowls (similar to fishbowls). If you have any terrestrial pets, though, consider an enclosed space. The only thing that can really kill a marimo is an animal that wants to play with it.

Once you’ve established some plant-raising success with your marimo, you can move forward with a renewed confidence for your land-dwelling plants. Healthy indoor plants are in your future.

Leafy Friends that Will Not Die

Some of us have that cursed thumb. Everything that we touch wilts, from cactuses to trees. Even herbs are not safe from our dangerous gaze.

There are some leafy indoor plants that are very resilient, though. And because of all of the health and psychological benefits of plants, it can be great to still get that gardening experience.

Spider Plants

Don’t let the creepy-crawly name fool you, these plants don’t attract any 8-legged intruders.

Spider plants are incredibly tough little troopers and they’re cool looking to boot. They’re generally a soft green with thin tendril-like leaves that cascade over whatever container you choose to put them in.

Spider plants do really well in hanging baskets, making them great for tight spaces like bedrooms, bathrooms, or even small studio apartments. They’re not snobby plants and they can handle most kinds of treatment. They require some light and water, like all plants, but if you ignore them a little they won’t hold a grudge.

They produce small baby plants that can also be planted so you can keep them and have multiple spider plants or give some to friends. It’s a social plant.

Bamboo

These are leafy enough to fit into this category.

Bamboo is often the bane of an outdoor gardener’s existence. This plant can multiply like no other, growing over everything in its path. It’s aggressive, intrusive, and sometimes a downright pest.

That said, if you’re indoors, a bamboo pot is great. There’s nowhere for it to go. It can’t spread onto your floor (we hope) and its reign of terror will be contained to the pot that you leave it in.

Bamboo often won’t die if you actively try to kill it, so this is a great choice for someone who is really struggling to keep something alive. It’s also considered good luck in some cultures!

Snake Plants

Another plant named after a creepy creature, we have the snake plant.

Snake plants are also resilient. They come in many different varieties, but most look like mid-to-dark green snakeheads shooting up towards the sky from the pot.

These plants can tolerate a lot of abuse.

If you’re someone who lives in a dark space, or who often forgets to water your plants, you don’t have to worry too much about this one. The plants only have to be watered when their soil is already bone dry. Try for about once per week, but it will depend on your climate.

They’re also tolerant of a lack of sunlight. If you’re in a basement apartment that gets about a 2-hour sliver of sunlight per day? Don’t worry.

Devil’s Ivy

These plants are another variety that fares well in hanging pots and look great doing it. They look kind of high-maintenance while being relatively easy to care for.

Similar to the snake plant, they don’t mind if their soil gets a little dry. Watering them when you can no longer feel moisture is good enough. They will forgive you. Although they’re hanging, they don’t actually need that much sunlight to survive either. They will do well in dim apartments.

You don’t need to trim these plants, but if you don’t, you might find the tendrils of ivy hanging down to your furniture or floor before you know it. Ivy grows fast.

Fittonias

So maybe you’re not an under-waterer. Maybe you have the problem of accidentally drowning your plants every time you get a new one. These plant suggestions may horrify you.

If so, a fittonia might be just the right plant for you.

You can still overwater these plants, so be careful to avoid root-rot. They stand up better to it though because they thrive in humidity. They’re also very pretty and look great in any indoor garden. They’d be great in a nice steamy bathroom and they’d probably thrive in there.

Philodendrons

Philodendrons are a great 2nd step for the new gardener. You can’t harass these plants like you can the others, but they’re easy to care for. They’ll let you know what you’re doing wrong. They also look great in a living room.

These plants like indirect sunlight, so they’re actually still good for dim apartments. They can get sunburned easily so their leaves prefer to stay shaded.

They will wilt quickly when over or under watered but will perk back up when the problem is solved. This plant lets you play doctor a little bit and it’s still tough enough to put up with the process.

Something Different: Succulents and More

Succulents are popular, cute little plants that have been blowing up social media lately. They’re almost jewel-like in appearance, often making beautiful shapes and likes with fun pastel colors. They come in a bunch of varieties and many people consider them hard to kill.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll lump succulents together with a few similar plants. These are all great for very small spaces and to get that “tiny garden” look.

Sempervivum

These succulents come in several varieties and colors and some can even be found outside growing wildly in yards across various climates. This means they’re pretty hardy. From experience, these things can survive harsh winters and come back stronger by spring.

Plucking a rosette from a sempervivum that’s sprouted and nuzzling it into some soil is all it takes to plant a new sempervivum. While getting it to initially take root requires a bit of care, once it’s there it will be fairly resilient to over-watering, under-watering, and all manners of light. It prefers heavy sunlight but it starts small enough to keep on a windowsill.

Opuntia Cactus

Some cactuses are finicky. This one should be pretty good at holding up wherever you decide to put it.

One of the best things about cactuses is that your pets are likely to leave it alone. Now, the rogue cat may try to take a bite, but probably only once. It will learn.

Cacti prefer lots of light, but they are great at being left alone. If you forget to water a cactus it will continue to thrive. Don’t forget forever, but don’t stress over it.

Aloe Vera

Do you like buying aloe for tea or skincare? You can grow some in your home. Bonus: they’re pretty easy.

Aloe really doesn’t want a lot of attention. It’s easy to over-water and it mostly wants to be left alone. You can water it about once every other week and it will thrive. They do need a lot of sunlight if you want them to grow consistently (so, if you want to use them for their gel).

Which of These Indoor Plants for Beginners is For You?

Are you starting your gardening journey? All you need is a pot of soil, a decently sunny window, and a positive attitude (and probably a few plants) and you’re ready to get started. There are so many indoor plants for beginners that nearly anyone can grow.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time. A few succulents were lost in the making of this gardener. Eventually, you’ll find your stride and have your own perfect indoor garden.

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