This week we are putting some of the most common houseplants on the throne they deserve.
Many of them I didn’t properly appreciate until relatively recently. Several of them I sold off in the early days of serious plant collecting to make room for less common plants, only to regret letting them go eventually. Why?
Because these plants are beautiful, reliable, and easy to grow.
Sometimes they become forgettable in their commonality, and we develop a blindspot for them, but that is a huge mistake.
Given the love and care they deserve, these plants are stars and can bring life and beauty to any space. They are also very resilient, inexpensive, and accessible.
To celebrate them, I will take glamour shots of each plant, list what I love about them, and briefly discuss their care.
Cheers to our common plants – they never go out of style, in my opinion!
Table of Contents
- ZZ Plant
- The Heartleaf Philodendron and Golden Pothos (I’m cheating and picking two for this one!)
- Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)
- Snake Plants (Sansevieria formerly, now Dracaena)
- Related Posts
The ZZ Plant is on the top of this list for me because of how far I’ve gone from little appreciation to true love for the ZZ Plant.
At first, I found its appearance boring and when I tried to grow it (specifically to talk about it for this blog) I would inevitably give it away eventually. I just lost interest so fast.
Then something changed. I couldn’t tell you why, but I started to see this plant through a different lens.
I realized that it really can be quite beautiful, with its glossy foliage. People tend to say that this plant is an incredibly slow grower and that you should only water it once a year (that might be a slight exaggeration 🙂 ). I’ve probably said something similar in the past.
That is just not true!
I think people say this because the poor ZZ Plant is often shoved into the darkest corners of our homes where it literally gets no light and no love.
Well, of course it needs no water if it is getting no light. It can’t use any water without any light. And, how do we expect it to grow without light and water!?
The truth is, in my experience, that if we actually give these plants a good amount of light and regular water when they’ve dried out, they are decent growers. They don’t grow as fast as pothos, but they are not quite what people label them.
If you want to give your zz plant its best shot to show you what it’s made of, try growing it outside for summer. Given the heat, light, and an ample amount of water… it’s pretty darn surprising how fast they truly grow.
I have a standard ZZ Plant, a Raven ZZ, and most recently found a Chameleon ZZ. All three are growing consistently.
This plant is a winner, and I owe it an apology for not realizing that years ago!
The Heartleaf Philodendron and Golden Pothos (I’m cheating and picking two for this one!)
Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and the Heartleaf Philodendron cultivar Aureum (Philodendron hederaceum var. oxycardium ‘Aureum’) two are wonderful standard houseplants that I couldn’t choose between – so I stopped trying. Haha.
The golden pothos is probably the most common houseplant, in my mind, and for good reason. It is so forgiving and is so beautiful. It is often taken for granted because it is so incredibly cheap and common.
The heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum var. oxycardium ‘Aureum’) is another wonderful and common houseplant. The Aureum variety is a particular cultivar with neon green leaves though it is often called “Lemon Lime.”
In fact, I just learned that the correct name for this variety is actually Aureum, thanks to Leslie Halleck, a professional horticulturist, who posted about it on Instagram here!
The neon green leaves just glow against the darker green foliage of most of our other plants.
These plants are often advertised as tolerant of neglect and, in my experience, you aren’t going to have a pretty plant if you do that. But they will survive the neglect; they will just look rough.
The leaves are pretty thin, particularly on the philodendron.
The plants don’t have anywhere to store excess water to survive periods of drought.
In reality, these plants really need water shortly before drying out or right when they’ve dried out.
If the plants are droopy and the leaves are matte and sad looking, the plants are VERY thirsty and dehydrated.
If your plant is losing a lot of the foliage near the surface of the soil – where the leaves are turning yellow, drying up, and falling off – this is a sign the plant is going too long without water.
These plant also needs good light to grow well.
How much light? Choose a window that receives some sun throughout the day. Then place the plant within a couple of feet of that window.
This will keep it looking healthy and resilient and allow it to light needed to grow vigorously.
Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)
Pachira aquatica or the Money Tree is one of the first plants I can remember buying as a young adult.
When I was in the dorm rooms, living with three of my girlfriends at age 19, I remember buying a Money Tree with this purple-blue-green ombre pot (that I still have) from Target.
Unfortunately for the Money Tree, I had no concept of how close to a window a plant needed to be.
I kept the Money Tree along with a lucky bamboo about 10 feet away (possibly more) from the window. I was surprised when it didn’t survive, but I kept replacing it and trying again.
Even then, I was a houseplant and nature lover, and those were the two plants that spoke to me. Truth be told, my love of nature started long before that, but that’s a tale for another time. 🙂
20 years later, at age 39, I still love Pachira aquatica. It is an absolutely gorgeous plant and it’s relatively forgiving. It’s also a thirsty plant, which is great for those who enjoy watering their plants regularly. And, it’s a pretty fast grower!
You can buy them at small sizes or pretty large! You can also grow them into surprisingly large sizes over time. The world is your oyster.
Mine happens to be very large, which I love!
The Money Tree also has a special place in my heart because my wife and I had one as part of our wedding ceremony! In place of a unity candle where you light the candle together, we planted a Money Tree together with dirt from our first house where we built our life together.
It turns out, when I was looking for the pictures to add to this post, that I chose to use the same ombre pot from college that I told you about earlier. I had completely forgotten about that! 🙂
Snake Plants (Sansevieria formerly, now Dracaena)
Snake plants are a staple houseplant that can become a real showpiece if you let them. Kind of similar to ZZ Plants, we often hear that they can be shoved into dark corners and watered never. It’s just not true.
Well, it’s true if you want them to die slowly and never grow. But if you want the plant to thrive and look beautiful, give that baby some light and water!
Yes, let it dry out before watering it thoroughly. But no long period of drought is necessary unless you are growing one of the less common, very succulent varieties.
These guys love light! I have relatives that live in Florida and have snake plants planted in their front yards receiving full sun all day and they are loving life. That’s right! They are getting full sun, Florida-heat, and humidity, with regular rain.
The message that snake plants thrive in low light is a myth. It is bad advice.
If you have snake plants in low light right now and you want to move them to bright light, acclimate them slowly. They will burn otherwise.
You can acclimate slowly by moving them slowly toward the window or by increasing the amount of time they are in a new position over the span of a week or two.
Aglaonemas are such wonderful, hardy houseplants that come in a huge array of colors and patterns.
These plants thrive in windows that get some sun and I’ve learned that they can prolifically bloom over time.
The flowers look very similar to a peace lily, but the blooms blend in more with the foliage and are slightly smaller. The foliage is really the showstopper though.
They are super easy to care for. They prefer to be watered when dry or nearly dry, but if you let them sit dry for a bit they will survive. This makes them great houseplants for beginners.
Some of them give a bit of a peace lily vibe, but with more robust foliage and more variety of patterns and colors.
And, lastly, they are super affordable and very accessible. Such wonderful plants!
Like the ZZ Plants, I really didn’t understand the allure of these plants. I’m not sure why. I just wasn’t super attracted to them, particularly the varieties with red or green in the foliage. But then I started to grow some of the more green or green and white varieties and I absolutely adore those!