The houseplant craze is spreading like wildfire, producing more and more new plant parents. I love having a customer walk into the greenhouse excited about buying their very first plant baby. Many of them are eager to confess “I don’t know anything about plants!” to which I usually respond by asking: what type of light do you have in your home, and how much care are you willing and able to invest in your plant?
The first question is perhaps the most important because light source is one thing you can’t change (unless you buy a grow light) and therefore dictates which plants you can successfully grow in your home.
Houseplants are commonly divided into three categories that indicate the amount of light they need to grow: low light, medium light, and high light. These categories are sometimes subjective and hard to define so I will let Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA) do it for me.
- High light areas are within four feet of large south, east, and west-facing windows.
- Medium light locations are in a range of four to eight feet from south and east windows, and west windows that do not receive direct sun.
- Low light areas are more than eight feet from windows as in the center of a room, a hallway, or an inside wall. Northern exposures often fall into this category, even when close to the window. Many locations that receive only artificial light are also low light situations.
These descriptions can be further complicated by trees or other obstructions that might turn an otherwise sunny window into a dim one. When in doubt about the brightness of your room, it’s a safe bet to go with any of the following favorites: Aglaonema, Sansevieria, ZZ plant, Pothos, Neanthe Bella Palm, and Dracaena.
Are you ready for a surprise? All of these previously mentioned plants are also low maintenance! That means they are not finicky when it comes to water or humidity. Each of these plants wants to have their potting medium dry out between waterings and would be a perfect starter plant.
Now let’s switch over to the opposite side of the houseplant spectrum and discuss what you can do if you have a fabulously bright Florida room with floor-to-ceiling windows: anything you want. If you are lucky enough to have such a perfect setup, you basically can have your pick of the litter in terms of houseplants. But still, I must ask, “How much maintenance time do you want to invest?” Do you want to go straight for a majestic fiddle leaf fig? (Yes, you do.) Just know it is going to have to be babied and you will need to watch your watering like a hawk. I am not one for high-maintenance plant babies and have found great success with Spider plants, Hoyas, various Ficus trees, and Philodendron hybrids. I even came to think of orchids as low maintenance once I understood how they grow in nature and therefore in what conditions they thrive.
So, before you jump head-first into the houseplant world, my advice is to think about these things so that you will have a positive and successful experience. When you’re ready or once you have questions, come on in! We’re eager to help you pick out some new plants.