Houseplants! Don’t just treat them like wallpaper.

Houseplants can often provide that finishing touch in a room that really livens it up and ties all the décor together. Even better, they can actually filter the indoor air, providing improved air quality! But because so many people think of them as decorative elements, it is pretty common that once these plants get in the door of the house, they get mostly ignored—save for the occasional watering. If they’re lucky.

I’m asking you to give a little more thought to your houseplants! These are living creatures that will be interacting with your environment, so a little bit of planning will prevent them from becoming a problem—or shriveling with neglect. So, let’s talk a little bit about how to care for your houseplants!

Choose Wisely

Consider your success with plants in the past. If you have been described as having a black-thumb, don’t choose a high-maintenance plant. There are lots of great houseplants that don’t require much care that also improve indoor air quality, such as Golden Pothos, Dracaena (aka Janet Craig,) and Peace Lily.

If you have allergies, you might think that you have to steer clear of plants; but there are many allergy-friendly plants to choose from(again, Dracaena and Peace Lily, plus many varieties of Palm), and they can actually make the air in your home more tolerable.

Inquire at your local nursery about a plant’s light and watering needs, plus any special care, and ask about choosing a few varieties that will best suit everyone in your household. Double-check any toxicity warnings with good old Google—no nursery worker can be trusted to be familiar with every kind of plant, and you don’t want to make a mistake in that department. If you have small children or pets, you’ll want to be extra cautious and cross-check to make sure that they don’t pose any poison hazards (Peace Lily does).

hanging houseplants

Position Wisely

Pops of green are fun all over the house, so consider the full range of options of where to put your plants. Line them up on a shelf or windowsill, or put one on a bookshelf to break up the look of all those books, you braniac. Plop one on a side table or plant stand that raises them to hip level. A large pot looks cool in a corner, and hanging baskets bring plants up to eye level. Hanging plants is a great option when you want to keep plants out of the way of kids and pets, but be super-super careful not to put them near something that will make it tempting to climb and get at it anyway, particularly if it’s a variety that could be toxic if eaten.

Taking Care of Houseplants!

I have gone through periods of being a plant murderer in my past, so I vowed to come up with a way to remember to take care of them. For the most part, choosing plants that can handle just a weekly watering has worked for me, and I have designated Sundays as the day that I give them a good soaking. If designating a day still isn’t enough for you, pair the task of watering with another weekly chore that you will remember, or set a reminder on your phone. You might actually find that a plant put in a prominent spot, like your kitchen windowsill, that has to be watered daily, is easier to remember than one that only needs a weekly or even a monthly watering.

When it comes to cleaning your houseplants, I briefly describe this process in another article which discusses items in your home that are often overlooked.

Bottom line, if you want to be successful with your houseplants, you have to find ways to not neglect them. Keeping these plants alive not only improves your air quality and your decor, but it’s also really rewarding to know that you’ve overcome your black-thumb and gone green!

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  1. While I love gorgeous plants in my garden, there’s no way I can keep plants in my home due to my two precious kitties. Just last month I put some coleus starts to root in a couple jars of water on my bathroom counter; I returned in less than 3 hours only to discover my darlings had investigated & pulled out & played with each clump of leaves! ???? (Gosh, Melissa, maybe if I did not keep my bathroom counter so clear of clutter, my kitties wouldn’t jump up there? ????)


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