What Are the Most Common House Plants?


Thousands of American homes have added splashes of color and luster to indoor spaces with just a handful of easy-to-care-for house plants.

As well as looking great, most common house plants are also believed to help relieve stress, boost mood and improve mental well-being.

In fact, a NASA study revealed that a handful of familiar house plants can even remove harmful toxic chemicals from the air by absorbing the pollutants into their leaves, roots and soil through a process called phytoremediation.

Here, we look at the most common houseplants found in the home and how to make sure they stand the test of time.

Indoor plants
Indoor plants seen in a 1970s living room. Thousands of American homes have added splashes of color and luster with house plants.
Armstrong Roberts/Getty Images

Moth Orchid

Scientific name: Phalaenopsis.

The moth orchid boasts spectacularly bright colored, long-lasting flowers which are said to resemble butterflies or moths.

The orchid comes in a variety of colors, including white, purple, pink, salmon, or yellow and provides an easy way to bring vibrancy to the home while being surprisingly easy to take care of.

“Available at any supermarket and amazingly durable as well as extremely glam, this orchid holds its moth-like flowers fluttering on long stems for months,” Tovah Martin, houseplant expert and author of The Unexpected Houseplant, tells Newsweek. “Gardeners like to boast about their achievement when phalaenopsis orchids blossom, but it’s really easy to get them to form flowering spikes—no special green thumb needed.”

Moth orchids combine spectacular, long-lasting flowers with an easy-care regimen.
Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

Scientific name: Sansevieria trifasciata.

This hardy yellow-tipped succulent can grow up to 2 meters (over 6 feet) in height. There’s little risk of neglecting this plant as they thrive in dry conditions and prefer not to be overwatered.

“The snake plant is easy to grow, tolerates a great deal of neglect and resists insects,” Dr. Bill Wolverton, author of Eco-Friendly Houseplants and former NASA researcher and scientist, tells Newsweek. “For these reasons, it is good to always include them in any mixture of houseplants.”

Gardening Know How says that these plants “can be neglected for weeks at a time; yet, with their strappy leaves and architectural shape, they still look fresh.”

Mother-in-Law's Tongue
The Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is a hardy yellow-tipped succulent that can grow up to 2 meters in height. There’s little risk of neglecting this plant as it thrives in dry conditions and prefers not to be overwatered.
G.CIGOLINI/Getty Images

Aloe Vera

Scientific name: Aloe barbadensis.

Even a gardening novice will find the aloe vera plant extremely easy to maintain in the home. The succulent is even believed to help purify the air of formaldehyde and benzene.

It also provides great herbal healing benefits for any at-home remedies due to its natural anti-inflammatory properties, multiple studies suggest.

All that’s needed to keep this plant alive and thriving is bright, indirect light and a good watering every two weeks, advises Good Housekeeping.

Aloe vera plant
A Barbados aloe plant growing in a pot, otherwise known as Aloe vera.
G.CIGOLINI/Getty Images


Scientific name: Cactaceae.

A popular choice for the windowsill gardener, this desert-dwelling plant is one of the hardiest and more tolerant choices.

This plant can “withstand tremendous abuse” and “truly thrive on neglect,” according to The Spruce.

Cactus Plant
Cactus in the the Kyoto botanical garden, Kansai region, Kyoto, Japan.
Eric Lafforgue/Getty Images

ZZ Plant

Scientific name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia.

The ZZ plant is native to the arid landscapes of East Africa, can grow up to 3 feet tall and is often referred to as “indestructible.”

With polished leaves of a “magnificent luster,” this is “perfect for anyone who claims they can’t keep houseplants alive,” the Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia notes.

The ZZ Plant is “virtually indestructible,” according to Bloomscape, and “will do best if you basically ignore it,” making it ideal for neglectful gardeners.

The easy-to-grow houseplant thrives in low light conditions so is a top choice for adding some luster to dark corners. It produces upright, slightly arching stems covered in shiny, dark green leaves.

ZZ Plant
The ZZ Plant is “virtually indestructible,” according to Bloomscape, and “will do best if you basically ignore it,” making it ideal for neglectful gardeners.

Rubber Plant

Scientific name: Ficus robusta.

This plant not only fits into almost any home aesthetic, it’s hardy and low maintenance with large, thick, glossy green leaves. Rubber plants can grow well in most homes with very little care.

“The rubber plant was a favorite plant of the Victorians and remains equally popular today,” explains Dr. Wolverton. “Architects and designers value it for its aesthetic qualities and ease of growth. It will tolerate dim light and cool temperatures.”

Rubber plants should be moved out of the line of harsh direct sunlight as this can singe the leaves. Plants that do not receive sufficient light will become floppy and dull instead of glossy and vibrant, Jon VanZile, the author of Houseplants for a Healthy Home, writes on The Spruce.

Indoor plants
A variety of plants seen during the launch of Selfridges Garden Centre in London, England.
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Peace Lily

Scientific name: Spathiphyllum wallisii.

A popular choice for many homes and even office lobbies, the peace lily is both pretty and practical and one of the few flowering house plants.

“This popular houseplant is one of the few that will reliably bloom indoors,” Dr. Wolverton tells Newsweek. “It has a high transpiration rate, which means it pumps moisture into the often dry indoor environment.”

The peace lily is also a good choice for low-light spaces because it can thrive in shade and will even let you know when they need water by drooping slightly, urban agriculturist Bonnie Grant writes in Gardening Know How.

However, it can be mildly toxic to pets, so it’s best to keep it out of their reach, American Kennel Club chief veterinary expert, Dr. Jerry Klein, tells Newsweek.

Peace Lily
Peace Lilies are one of the easiest indoor house plants to care for.
Grumpy Cow Studios/iStock

Bird’s Nest Fern

Scientific name: Asplenium nidus.

Not all ferns are easy to host, but the bird’s nest is a cinch, explains Tovah Martin.

Most plants in this variety boast long, broad fronds but newer versions including the crested bird’s nests and crinkled bird’s nests can add more intrigue to a home.

“The beauty of ferns is that they thrive despite low light. So if you lack a bright window, this is the plant for you,” says Martin.

Bird's Nest Fern
The beauty of the Bird’s Nest Fern is that it thrives despite low light.
Michel VIARD/iStock / Getty Images Plus

Chinese Evergreen

Scientific name: Aglaonema.

The Chinese Evergreen is a beautiful plant with striking leaves and comes in a spectrum of colors, including green, pink, white, and red.

It is “one of the most popular houseplants grown in the home due to its ease of care,” according to Gardening Know How.

Chinese Evergreen
Chinese Evergreens are a popular choice, easy to take care of and come in a spectrum of colors, including green, pink, white, and red.

Air Plant

Scientific name: Tillandsia.

This plant is a new and popular contender on the indoor house plant scene. Unlike every other plant on this list, there’s no need for potting or even soil for this hardy little shrub.

“Just dunk them in water for about two or three hours every 10 days or so,” advises Martin.

Air plants are bromeliads which tend to live in desert areas, meaning they can thrive and survive on very little. Rather than being required to live in soil for their nutrients, they are able to retain absorb these from moisture in the air, meaning they are far easier to maintain.

File photo of an air plant
There’s no need for potting or even soil for air plants.
Getty Images

“Tillandsia leaves are coated in water-absorbent cells known as trichomes which are the primary moisture source,” Calum Maddock, gardening expert at HomeHow.co.uk, tells Newsweek. “Some air plant species have such dense leaves that they give off a frost-like appearance.”

An air plant can add an exotic flair to a home, according to horticulture magazine writer and garden designer Elizabeth Waddington.

“Air plants can look very interesting in aerial displays, in terrariums or in other ornamental arrangements—often they are attached to or placed on ornamental objects like pieces of wood, stones, or shells,” she tells Newsweek.

Andrew Duff, garden design faculty director at the Inchbald School of Design suggests a light spray of water “every week or so is all that it takes to keep them going for many years.”

Indoor plants
A indoor fern sits in the corner of a bedroom. Not all ferns are easy to host, but the bird’s nest is a cinch.
Armstrong Roberts

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