G837

Guide to Selecting Houseplants

This NebGuide provides a list of houseplants to help you choose the ones best suited to your home.


Anne M. Streich, Extension Horticulture Educator


Success in growing flowering or foliage houseplants largely depends on your skill, knowledge of the plant material and the time you want to invest in it. In addition, site selection and cultural practices are also very important. Some houseplants are relatively easy to grow and are easily adaptable, like the cast iron plant. Other plants, like nerve plant, are difficult to grow because of their high moisture and humidity requirements.

The following list will help you select an appropriate houseplant for your home. First you must determine where you want to place the plant in your home and then note the environmental conditions (available light, humidity and temperature) of that location. These are general requirements and may need to be adjusted depending on the type of soil and pot that you use. As light intensity is reduced during the winter months, a decrease in temperature and moisture also is desirable for plant health. In addition, some plants require cooler temperatures during the winter to initiate flower buds.

Water: M — keep uniformly moist, growing media kept moist to touch but not saturated with water
I — intermediate, after watering allow soil to feel dry to touch before rewatering
D — dry out between waterings, periods of soaking between which the soil should be completely dry
Humidity: L — low 25% to 30% (average home)
M — medium 30% to 50%
H — high, above 50%
Light: H — high; place near sunlit window or an area that has strong reflected/indirect light; indirect exposure to a west window, long hours of good light from a south window
M — medium; place in well lit area out of direct sun or in an area with a sheer curtain between the plant and sunlight, north facing window seal or 4 to 8 feet away from window; indirect or filtered sunlight; a close, direct exposure to a north or east window; two to fours hours of sun a day
L — low; place more than 8 feet away from window; filtered light from a small window across the room; light from a shaded window; filtered light to a north window; light reflected around a wall, indirect yet strong enough to cast a shadow

Common Name Botanical Name
Water
Humidity
Light
Night Temp.
Min. (°F)

Bromeliads

    -Earth Stars
    -Living Vase
    -Pineapple
    -Air Plant
Cryptanthus
Aechmea
Ananas
Tillandsia
M
I
I
Soil-less
M
M
M
M
M
M
H
L
50-55
55-62
50-55
50-55

Cactus

    -Barrel Cacti
    -Candelabra Cacti
    -Chin Cacti
    -Christmas Cacti
    -Easter Cacti
    -Hedgehog cacti
    -Pincushion cacti
    -Prickly Pears
    -Thanksgiving Cacti
    -Torch Cacti
Ferocactus
Euphorbia
Gymnocalycium
Schlumbergera bridgesii
Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri
Echinocactus, Lobivia, Rebutia
Mammillaria
Opuntia
Zygocactus truncatus
Trichocereus
D
D
I
M
M
D
D
D
M
D
L-M
L
L
M-H
M-H
L
L
L
M-H
L
H
H
H
M-H
M-H
H
H
H
M-H
H
62-65
62-65
55
55-65
55-65
62-65
62-65
62-65
55-65
62-65

Ferns

    -Asparagus Fern
    -Birdnest Fern
    -Staghorn Fern
    -Sword Fern
    -Boston Fern
Asparagus setaceus
Asplenium nidus
Platycerium
Nephrolepis
Adiantum
M
M
M
M
M
M-H
M
H
M-H
M-H
M
L-M
M
M
M
55-65
55-65
55-65
50-55
55-65

Figs

    -Weeping Fig
    -Creeping Fig
    -Fiddle Leaf Fig
    -Indian Laurel
    -Rubber Plant
Ficus benjamina
Ficus pumila
Ficus lyrata
Ficus retusa nitida
Ficus elastica
D
M
I
M
I
M-H
M
M
M
L-M
M-H
M-H
M-H
M
H

62-65
62-65
62-65
62-65
62-65

Ivy

    -Grape Ivy
    -English Ivy
    -Kangaroo Ivy
    -German Ivy
    -Swedish Ivy
Cissus rhombifolia
Hedra helix
Cissus antarctica
Senecio mikanioides
Plectranthus australis
I
I
I
I
I
M
M
M
M
M
M
M-H
M
M-H
M
50-55
45-50
50-55
50-60
50-55

Palms

    -Bamboo Palm
    -Kentia Palm
    -Lady Palm
    -Ponytail Palm
Chamaedorea erumpens
Howea forsterana
Rhapis excelsa
Beaucarnea recurvata
M
I
M
I
L
M
M
M
L
M
M
H
62-65
50-55
50-55
50-55

Other Houseplants

    -African Violet
    -Aloe
    -Aluminum Plant
    -Amaryllis
    -Artilliery Plant
    -Burro’s Tail
    -Cast Iron Plant
    -Chinese Evergreen
    -Croton
    -Cyclamen
    -Dieffenbachia or Dumbcane
    -Dragon Lilies
    -Episcia, Flame Violet
    -False Aralia
    -Hawaiian Ti
    -Jade Plant
    -Kalanchoe
    -Moses in the Cradle
    -Nerve Plant
    -Norfolk Island Pine
    -Pathos
    -Peacock Plant
    -Peperomia
    -Philodendron
    -Prayer Plant
    -Schefflera
    -Snake Plant or Mother-in-laws Tongue
    -Peace Lily
    -Spider Plant
    -Strawberry Geranium
    -Velvet Plant
    -Wandering Jew
    -Zebra Plant

Saintpaulia ionantha
Aloe
Pilea cadieri
Hippeastrum
Pilea microphylla
Sedum morganianum
Aspidistra elatior
Aglaonema commutatum
Codiaeum
Cyclamen persicum
Dieffenbachia
Dracaena
Episcia
Dizygotheca elegantissima
Cordyline terminalis
Crassula arborescens
Kalanchoe
Rhoeo spathacea
Fittonia verschaffeltii
Araucaria heterophylla
Epipremnum aurea
Calathea makoyana
Peperomia
Philodendron
Maranta leuconeura
Brassaia
Sansevieria trifasciata
Spathiphyllum
Chlorophytum comosum
Saxifraga stolonifera
Gynura aurantiaca
Tradescantia, Zebrina
Aphelandra squarrosa
I
D
I
I
I
D
M
I
I
I
I
M
M
M
M
D
D
I
M
I
M
I
M
M
M
D
I-M
M
I
I
I
I
M
H
M
M
M
M-H
M
M
L-M
H
H
M
M
H
M
H
L-M
L-M
M
H
M
M
M-H
M
M
M-H
M
M
M-H
M
M
M
M
H
M-H
H
M
M-H
M
H
L-M
L
H
H
M
L-M
H
M
M
H
H
M
M
M-H
L-M-H
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
M
H
M-H
M-H
H
60-65
50-55
60-65
50-55
60-65
50-60
45-50
60-65
60-65
50-55
60-65
62-65
60-65
60-65
62-65
50-55
50-60
50-55
62-65
50-55
60-65
60-65
60-65
50-55
62-65
55-65
62-65
60-65
50-55
50-55
62-65
50-60
55-60


Visit the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension Publications Web site for more publications.
Index: Horticulture
Ornamentals
1987, Revised 2001, Revised October 2007

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