To be honest, this is an impossible question to answer.
What is the best houseplant to have is really a question only you can answer for your own self.
I know what types of houseplants I want to have, but you’re not me. We don’t want exactly the same things. We have different lives.
So instead of telling you what is the best houseplant to have for you, I’m going to tell you about my houseplants, past, present and future.
Why Do People Have Houseplants?
There’s a difference between features and benefits.
Features are the things that a product or service does. Benefits are how that product or feature improve the buyers life.
This is true for everything that you buy.
A Snickers has chocolate and peanuts and caramel and calories. Those are its features.
The benefit of a Snickers? Well, that’s the temporary euphoria of eating a very sweet treat.
So what about houseplants?
The features are easy. They look pretty. They do have some ability to purify the air in your home.
Alright that’s all well and good, but you could also just buy a painting for pretty and an actual air purifier (which would be far more effective than a houseplant).
So why have houseplants become so popular then?
Because of the benefits.
The benefit of having a houseplant or two in your home is that they satisfy our human need to take care of something and watch it grow.
When my kids were little I tried houseplants.
It didn’t work out very well for me. I already had two humans that I had to pour my attention into and make sure they grew tall and straight and good.
I also had two cats and, to be honest, cats are probably easier to take care of than houseplants.
When cats are hungry, they meow. Or, actually, if they just aren’t happy with the way the food has formed in their dish, they meow. They might even trip you on the way to the fridge if they have to.
Cats know how to get your attention.
Plants just sit in silence. There are clues, of course, if your plant is in need, but when your attention is being pulled in a bunch of different directions, it can be easy to ignore your plants.
Which can lead to the demise of even the easiest houseplants.
Trust me I know.
Eulogies to My Past Houseplants
RIP Snake Plant that withered to nothing in the corner of my dining room.
You looked so cool and healthy and vibrant when I brought you home. You lived in a pretty blue pot.
Unfortunately, you lived on the floor in the corner of the dining room and although you might not need a lot of light, you probably got zero light.
And I also I watered you barely ever and then I would realize I was forgetting to water you and I would water you constantly. Until I forget about watering you again.
RIP Succulent garden that was supposed to be so easy to care for except for that I didn’t learn anything about succulents and I just kept watering and watering you, thinking that watering you was going to fix you when in fact watering them was the very thing that was KILLING you.
And, of course, there’s the Pothos that escaped my plant-murdering hands and lives safely at my mother’s house.
My mother who can make a Poinsettia re-bloom every year. Did you even know they could do that? She didn’t even try. It just happened and she was surprised.
If green thumbs were genetic, then it clearly skipped a generation.
But green thumbs are not genetic, in fact, I don’t think they exist at all.
My 2020, I Can Do This This Time Houseplants!
I took a long break from houseplants. I realized taking care of two little humans, a couple of cats and a house were just too much for me.
But this year, good old 2020, my kids are 13 and 16. My cats have both sadly gone to the great cat tree in the sky (TOTALLY NOT MY FAULT. I was an excellent cat carer and they lived long and happy lives). I do have a dog, but she’s strangely easy to take care of.
So, I decided to try plants again.
I work at home now. My kids are becoming very independent little beings. The dog, well, actually, after taking care of a puppy which is equally difficult to taking care of a baby (fight me, babies wear diapers and you don’t have to stand outside in 19 degree weather waiting for them to go to the bathroom) I figured, I was really well equipped to take care of some more things.
So the plants made a comeback.
Deciding What Is the Best Houseplant to Have
This is what I’ve learned about houseplants from having killed houseplants.
Don’t believe anyone who says “That’s the easiest houseplant. It’s unkillable”.
It’s just not true. Plants are living things and if they don’t have the right conditions and care, they can in fact die.
It’s just a fact of life.
What you should do with any houseplant that you bring into your home is commit yourself to learning something about it.
Before I started collecting houseplants, I bought some great books for houseplant owners.
You don’t need to get a Masters degree in Plantology (that’s not a thing) but you should learn about light, water and then about how your particular plant prefers those things.
That’s what I did.
I figured out first what type of light I get (not very much, but I do have some big windows in the dining room and they get some good southern, filtered light in the morning) and I chose my first plant based on that.
My oldest plant which I didn’t buy, I adopted it from my daughter, is a Pothos:
I love this plant. I think it’s so pretty and I love the shape that it’s taking as it grows.
And it’s doing really, really well in my house. I’ve had this plant for a while and it has not shown any signs of hating me as it’s care taker.
The Pothos gave me the confidence to buy some plants.
This is the first plant I bought:
Hedge Hog Aloe Vera
That’s a Hedgehog Aloe Vera plant and I got it from Bloomscape.
There are a couple of things to know about why I felt this was a good plant for me to start with.
First of all, I wanted to buy my plants online and I really liked Bloomscape. A lot.
Yes, that’s right, access to a Plant Mom who can help you if you have any misfortune with your plants!
And I chose the Hedgehog Aloe Vera because the idea of a plant that looks really cool and produces Aloe was very appealing to me.
For my next three plants, I did something completely different.
Instead of picking out my own plant, I went with the Plant Parent Starter Set from The Sill.
This kind of goes against what I said about picking plants that make sense for the light you have in your home, but I figured The Sill would pick plants that work in most homes and that weren’t thought to be too difficult to care for.
Well, got 5 plants from the Sill.
I got a this cute little guy:
It’s an adorable little heart-shaped succulent. So far it seems to be doing really well.
I water it when it is completely dried out and it sits in front of the big window in the dining room, about 5 feet from the window.
The second plant from The Sill was this handsome one:
The Aglaonema has really pretty dark green leaves with some lighter green. It’s a really stunning plant.
It is known to be “easy to care for”, but so far it’s the only plant that I got a little worried about.
It started to look a little droopy and the leaves were looking like they were curling, so I was worried that the spot on the dining room table might be too sunny, but I ended up moving it behind some of the bigger sun-loving plants (like that Hedgehog Aloe) and it seems to be doing great!
My Sill order of plants came in two shipments. The next thing out of the box of the first shipment was this:
Fiddle Leaf Fig
I was scared the second I pulled it out of it’s brown paper wrapping and double-checked the order receipt to make sure it really was a Fiddle Leaf.
I’ve read over and over that they are notoriously finicky plants. They like certain light and watering and they can get root rot really easily. I never would have picked this for myself.
But, it is a really pretty plant. And it will be a challenge. So I’m glad The Sill picked it for me. It will be fun to see how it does.
So far, so good!
The second shipment from The Sill brought me one of these:
Yes, this is one of the plants that I have killed in the past. But I am reformed. I know I can do this.
And seeing this beautiful Snake plant come out of the box reminded me of why I chose a snake plant years ago. It really is striking, even in it’s plain growth pot!
I’m excited to have a second chance with this plant.
And finally, the last plant that I came in my 5 piece Plant Parent Set was another succulent. Another plant I have sadly killed before. 🙁
I am most concerned with this one, too be honest.
Succulents are supposed to be so easy. I remember when I worked in an office we had a little succulent garden and the IT guy in the office took care of it and it flourished.
It’s why I got my own several years ago. If he could do it, I probably could.
Well, I couldn’t. At least not back then.
It looks so fragile to me, so, I will have to just keep a close eye on it and do my best with it. And brush that dirt off of its leaves (it just arrived a few hours ago!).
What Is The Best Houseplant to Have Then?
I hope hearing my story of the houseplants that I have will help you decide what is the best houseplant to have for you.
I think the lessons I want you to remember are to pick plants that are right for your home and learn about what those plants need.
And then do your best!