The Coast News Group
A great beginner is the spider plant. It is incredibly easy to repot and grow its “spider babies” or “spiderettes” to place more spider plants throughout the home. Courtesy photo

Starting your indoor plant collection

Not all plants were meant for the great outdoors. Instead, many plants prefer and are better served inside the home as interior decoration and even as air purifiers.

But what kind of plants should be in the home? That will depend on if the person is a beginner indoor plant collector or a more experienced collector with a green thumb.

When it comes to indoor plants, the first recommended step is to research how to take care of the plants that one has or wants.

Even indoor plants will vary on how much water and sunlight they need, and it is important that plants get those necessary levels of hydration and sunshine. Research will help a plant owner from over or under watering their plants and will also help them to determine the best spot for the plant to look good while also getting the right amount of UV rays.

Many indoor plants, especially ones that prefer bright, indirect sunlight, will always do well beside a window according to Debbie Ortega of Leucadia Nursery. These plants include succulents, Ficus varieties, most palms and Nematanthus varieties.

“Just remember that by a window the plants will do fine,” Ortega said via email. “But if they do a stretch of time without water and it’s really hot, they will probably burn where the sun hits them.”

Ortega explained that plants with higher light requirements will also need more water while plants with lower light requirements will need less water.

According to Ortega, coastal plants like ferns and tillandsias also do well as indoor plants in the San Diego region.

“Our temperate coastal temperatures make it easy for plants to survive,” Ortega said via email.

Researching a plant before a purchase is recommended, but if you suddenly find yourself in the garden section unable to resist the urge to buy a cool plant, don’t leave without more information on how to take care of it.

“If they’re not going to research before they buy a plant, they should at least ask somebody at their local nursery how to take care of it,” said Scott Bergquist, garden expert on indoor houseplants at Green Thumb Nursery in San Marcos.

Bergquist recommends houseplants such as snake plants and Zanzibar Gems (ZZ plant) as good beginner plants. Both are native to tropical regions of Africa and are drought resistant, making them difficult to kill.

“Their water requirements are so low you can get away with watering them once a month,” Bergquist said. “If you forget about watering them, they’ll survive.”

Let both the snake and the ZZ plant’s soil completely dry before adding more water, and keep them in indirect sunlight.

Both plants are also known for their air purifying abilities. According to a NASA study, the snake plant produces oxygen at night and removing benzene, formaldehyde, toluene and xylene from the air, while the ZZ plant removes toxins like toluene and xylene.

Another great beginner indoor plant that also just looks great regardless of whether or not the owner has a green thumb is the spider plant. It is also incredibly easy to repot and grow its “spider babies” or “spiderettes” to place more spider plants throughout the home.

Spider plants also prefer indirect sunlight, and their soil should be kept moist but not soggy.

Spider plants are also great air purifiers known for removing toxins like carbon monoxide and xylene.

It is important to note that most houseplants are toxic to animals, but the spider plant is one of the few that are non-toxic.

Another popular indoor plant is the pothos plant, which is also great for beginners. Pothos do well in bright, indirect sunlight as well as low light, making them great for either offices or bathrooms, and the plant can grow well in both nutrient rich and poor soils.

Pothos can also grow in straight water. Cutting one of its vines and placing it in water to let it grow from there is a common interior design practice with these plants.

According to Bergquist, it’s currently trendy to have rare houseplants in the home. One of these plants is called the swiss cheese plant, which earns its name from its large, heart shaped leaves and the little holes that fill the leaves.

Another coveted rare plant is the watermelon peperomia plant, which is tricky to find but great for beginners. The plant likes indirect sunlight, well-drained soil and a light once-a-week watering.

“Everyone is asking for the peperomia watermelon,” Bergquist said. “They sell out almost within a day because they are so popular, so if you find one I recommend snagging one.”

Where to place a plant will certainly depend on its access to light, but plants can generally be placed anywhere in the home.

Ortega recommended clusters of small and medium-sized plants on a teacart or bookshelves, fireplace mantels and hearths. She also suggested a tall floor plant or a long-hanging plant to fill a corner.

Once you get your indoor plant collection started you may find it hard to stop, but don’t worry — indoor plants are beautiful and useful to you and your home, just make sure your pets aren’t nibbling on them.