the Act of Gardening

Houseplants for Beginners!

Everyone assumes that they don’t have a green thumb.

“I’ve even killed a cactus!”
“Oh no, I’ve tried taking care of plants before. I kill everything.”

Okay. Maybe it’s true. I’m not going to say that absolutely everyone has a green thumb. What I will say, however, is that with the right tools and information, you probably can keep some plants alive.

Most people start their plant journey with some random plant that perhaps they received as a gift, in which they know absolutely nothing about. I see it all the time in virtual plant groups, “Help! someone got me this plant for [insert holiday here] and its very pretty, but I have no idea what it is!”

When we try to take care of plants that we know nothing about, the odds are stacked against us from the beginning. Luckily, there are now several ways to identify a plant so you can properly take care of it. Plant blogs, apps, facebook groups,etc are all valid ways to gain important information. However, that still doesn’t guarantee success.

If you want to give yourself the best possible chance to keep your first plant buddy alive, you have to pick the right plant to begin with. Plants that are easier to take care of can boost your confidence, teach you the beginner steps of plant care, and recover quickly from a beginner’s missteps. Its all about finding the right plant for you and taking it from there!

So which plants should you consider trying out? I’m glad you asked! There are tons that you can find via googling, but the ones below are my favorite 🙂

ZZ Plant

ZZ plants are, in my opinion, the most underrated houseplants ever. When Kota the Friend gave them a shoutout in one of his newest songs, Living Room, I squealed. I love ZZ’s so much that I just got a new one. I could have easily propagated a new one from the ZZ I already owned, but I couldn’t mentally handle wounding my plant so I just bought a new one.

These plants are SO EASY to take care of. Seriously. ZZs love having a lot of light, but they can also tolerate low light conditions. I’ve found that as long as they have some sun, they’re happy. During the winter, I water my ZZ roughly once a month and during the summer, maybe once every week or so. Thats it. The ZZ handles the rest. These plants are drought tolerant and handle neglect well, so its okay to err on the side of caution with these guys.

Snake plant

Snake plants are another go to plant for beginners. I love Snake plants because they add a nice pop of color in any space and are really easy to take care of. The number one reason people kill their snake plants is because they drown them. Root rot due to overwatering is common, and beginner plant people often have a habit of using water to show love. Just like the ZZ, err on the side of caution when it comes to watering. It’s better to under water, than to over water.

I water may snake plant maybe once every two weeks or so, waiting for the soil to fully dry out before trying to quench it’s thirst again. In terms of lighting, I try to give mine plenty of light. You can just stick yours by a window and it will do just fine.

Propagating a snake plant is wicked easy, too. I simply just cut off a leaf, put some rooting hormone on the end of it to help it form new roots, and stuck it in some soil. All thats left to do is water it and watch it grow!

ZZ and Snake plants have another great reason to be in your home. While other plants tend to absorb oxygen at night, while these two do the opposite. They release purified oxygen at night, making it easier for you to sleep well. Putting a snake plant or a ZZ on your night stand or a bedroom windowsill, wouldn’t be a bad move if you have trouble sleeping! I keep my ZZs in the bedroom and my snake plant in my office, for example, all to keep me in a relaxed, purified environment. This isn’t hogwash, I swear! Check out this article from Medium that summarizes a clean air study by NASA.

Aloe Vera

Finn here is another plant that purifies the air, increases oxygen for your workspace or bedroom, and can be incredibly easy to take care of. Finn is an Aloe Vera plant!

We all know that Aloes are a great plant to have on hand, as they can help soothe nasty burns, but they are also great to have around because they’re easy to take care of and can be really pretty! As you can see, Finn and I have gone through some trial and error since last summer, when I first bought him. Aloes like a lot of sun, but I originally put him in a spot where he got direct sunlight and he didn’t seem to find that agreeable. Since then, I’ve moved him to a spot where he could get a lot of indirect light and he seems to be doing fine 🙂

Like the other aforementioned plants, Aloes don’t need a ton of water. I water mine about once every two weeks and that seems to be all they need.


All in all, the best method of taking care of new plants is trial and error. Once you have the information you need, its okay to tweak your care instructions to better suit your plant. For example, If your snake plant is potted in a pot without a drainage hole, you might want to take extra precaution with watering and water even less than I do. If your ZZ plant is in a low light environment, it too will need less water than if it was in bright, indirect light. When you start with plants that can tolerate neglect, drought, and occasional bad placement decisions, you are giving yourself extra time to figure out what plants need once they’re in your home. So, maybe don’t buy that fiddle leaf fig just yet.

I would love to hear what plant you settled on as your first growing opportunity! Did you start with one of these? Or maybe you went with another low-maintenance plant? Let me know in the comments! There are so many wonderful plants to start your journey with, so I may end up making this a series!

Categories: the Act of Gardening

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