Lately, I’ve been obsessing over updating our home for spring and sorting through rows and rows of plants at the local nursery so we can choose a houseplant that’s right for our guest bathroom. I feel like I’m leaning toward a spider plant because it’s so undemanding when it comes to natural light and our bathroom has exactly zero windows in it. Spider plants are also simple low-maintenance plants which makes them perfect for beginners. It’s actually one of the first plants I ever had in my home and I feel like it would be a perfect fit for the space I’m working on right now.
I want to add a few hanging baskets of flowers on our patio and I’m hoping to add a houseplant that is good at filtering air to our bedroom soon. I figure with the dogs sleeping in there (in their crates) and dust, it would be a good idea to have a quality plant or two where we sleep. Brandon has joked I’m going to turn our home into a jungle and he’s not entirely wrong. Lately, I’ve learned that plants are my happy place.
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Last weekend I picked up a red and yellow Easter tulip which now has me feeling full of anxiety because tulips can actually be toxic to dogs. It’s on the corner of my desk in my office so I doubt they could ever really get into it but they are mischievous so I don’t trust them. Plus, I’d rather be safe than sorry, you know? Normally I’d never choose a houseplant that is potentially toxic to my pets (which is why I never have poinsettias during Christmas) but the tulip was so gorgeous that I couldn’t resist. I’ll be careful and they’ll be fine.
If you’re thinking about turning your home into a mini-jungle, here are a few tips to help you choose a houseplant that’s right for your situation:
- Evaluate the light in your home before making any plant purchases. Do you have a lot of natural light? How many hours of natural light do you get per day? It’s a great idea to keep a journal that tracks the light for a week or two so you get an accurate timeframe and can verify consistency then choose a houseplant that suits your light.
- What kind of space do you have for houseplants? Can you accommodate tall or wide plants? Do you have space for tabletop plants or hanging plants? Don’t forget to factor in space for the pots! If it helps, map out your room(s) on a sheet of paper and draw in where you’d place the plants after measuring for space. When you go to the nursery to choose a houseplant, let them know your space requirements so they can guide you appropriately.
- Do you have any pets or allergies to consider? If you have pets there are plants you absolutely must avoid as they can cause serious illness or death if digested by the animal. A few common houseplants that are toxic to dogs are dieffenbachia (a very common houseplant), azaleas, sago palm, daffodils, and tulips. I recommend either avoiding these completely or taking extreme precautions to keep your animals away.
- Are there any problems you want the plant to help you solve? Do you want a plant that prevents specific bugs or rodents from entering your home? What about a plant with a sweet smell to work as a natural air freshener? Is a plant that purifies air and creates clean oxygen a priority for you and your family? Evaluate your needs from a plant so you can be sure to choose a houseplant that is going to provide you the benefits you need.
For more about choosing, growing, and caring for houseplants, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Lisa Eldred Steinkopf’s book Houseplants: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Growing, and Caring for Indoor Plants. In addition to the tips I shared above, Lisa goes into a lot of detail about choosing houseplants, transplanting them into your own pots, how to re-pot them when they outgrow their current home, and how to troubleshoot issues when they arise.
I used to have a lot of issues with watering my houseplants. I was always over-watering or under-watering and I was terrible at reading the signs and figuring out what was wrong with my plants. Her book helped me out so much. Now I’ve learned to recognize the signs of illness in my plants and I have the knowledge to help me heal them. If you’re going to invest in quality houseplants it’s important that you also know how to take care of them and nurture them so they grow. Her book has basically become my houseplant Bible and I cannot recommend it highly enough; you can learn more about it here.