Houseplant Girl

What Are Some of the Most Common House Plants?

Always Start With Common House Plants

most common houseplants

Do you daydream of having an urban oasis filled with plants, shrubs and greenery? Are you envious of your friends with green thumbs who make green living look like easy living? Don’t worry, we prepared a list to get you started with the 10 most common house plants.

These are the most famous varieties, living in your favorite office, apartment building, or suburban oasis. Find your own plants and make yourself the envy of the neighborhood.



Most Common House Plants

Bathroom of all our dreams

But where do you even begin? If you’ve never had any experience with indoor gardening and want some tips, check out our post here

Gorgeous homes filled with amazing plants don’t happen overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? So start slowly and begin to work up your confidence keeping these treasures alive.

A great place to start is to learn about the most common house plants, giving yourself a grounded understanding in common gardening knowledge, allowing yourself to start at the beginning. We’ve all been there, not knowing which plants to choose first, which are more likely to perish under your newbie care and how to prevent any mass losses in the first few weeks and months.


Common house plantsLearning about the most common house plants will give you assurance they will be stocked at your local garden store or Home Depot awaiting your arrival so you can begin your green garden revival. Once you dive deeper into becoming a house plant connoisseur, you’ll be able to broaden your horizons and delve more extensively in the hunt for a more fragile species. But first and foremost, really learn to conquer these more popular and traditional plants before seeking out the exotic and unknown house plants. It may be very enticing to go out of your comfort zone and try your hand at a Totem Pole Cactus, for example, but hold your horses. Once you master the commoners, you’ll be able to go out and conquer the rare and exciting kinds.

Brief History of House Plants

Are you curious as to how plants became a part of our domesticated life? Well, our relationship with plants as home decor goes way back, with the early Egyptian Pharos using them as decorations. The Egyptians began decorating their sparse quarters during the third century BC, with heavily adorned courtyards and various kinds of pottery.

Container gardening was used in Ancient Greece and Rome, with greenhouses being used to grow roses, grapes, lilies and other tropical plants that weren’t native to their home.

But I must say, we have evolved to use plants and herbs as medicines first, (an example is the Ancient Chinese) cultivating them for their medicinal and nutritional properties. Think about traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and all the traditional physicians around the world. All these cultures have a history of cultivating herbs and plants as a means for survival. Remember, we have evolved WITH plants, allowing each other to survive in this world. We may think that we are the manipulators of the plant kingdom, cultivating and gardening them, but they have manipulated us as well. If you are interested in this co-existence, read Michael Pollan’s fascinating book, ‘The Botany of Desire’.

Herbs for health

Herbs for health

However, going back even 3,000 years, plants were being used as decorations rather than utility. Images of potted plants were found on walls of tombs and the ruins of Egypt, China, Iraq, Pompeii, Greece, etc. We have a worldwide phenomenon of plant domesticity. Yes, the Chinese may have used plants as medicinals, but they are one of the first cultures to grow plants in their homes as ornaments over 3,000 years ago.

In Pompeii, for example, terra cotta pots were found that were clearly used to hold indoor plants and flowers. We don’t know exactly what they planted, but we have a clue they were for decorative uses.



Terra Cotta planting pots of Pompeii for common house plants

Terra Cotta planting pots of Pompeii


After the fall of the Roman empire, decorative gardening began to lose favor to the more utilitarian approach of growing herbs and foods for their functional properties. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs were grown rather than purely decorative varieties. But the Renaissance arrived with its focus on ornamental container gardening.

Common house plant

Bring in Christopher Colombus and his far-out explorations, finding exotic plants from all over the world, contributing to the idea of decorative-only gardening. Many of these tropical and exotic plants are precursors to our now most common plants such as  ferns, ivies, and succulents—-the office plant varieties of today.

Christopher Colombus and common house plants

However, the style of indoor gardening that many of us do today truly began in the Victorian era when more than 5,000 exotic plant species were introduced to the folks of England—and thus the greenhouses and temperature controlled hot houses began to take shape. If you visit your local botanic garden and take a stroll through the greenhouse, you too can feel like a Victorian, strolling with a big hat and prudish tendencies.


Dublin Botanical Garden Greenhouse----Common house plants

Dublin Botanical Garden Greenhouse

But it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that books on indoor house plants and their care began to appear for the greater public needs. It was in the Victorian age that indoor plants exploded, with paintings and photographs really showcasing their use. The wealthy and middle class truly made it their mission to have the best gardens and indoor displays; with window gardens, parlor gardens and some even owning their own private greenhouses.


Most Common House Plants



Most Common House Plants

So now, when you look at the current common varieties of indoor plants, know they were once tropical species brought over by the likes of Colombus and other explorers. Fast forward and your Victorian cousins made their homes look like tropical oases, showing off their pruning and gardening talents. Get excited because now it’s your turn to test your green thumb and showcase your gardening expertise.

There may be tons of varieties of house plants, of which many folks love to place in their homes, but what are the most common house plants? Look at the table below to get more information on our favorite green friends.


Plant NamePictureDescriptionLightingWateringEase of Keeping Alive
Jadejade-plantSucculent and popular house plant. Deep green, tough and thick leaves.Indoor south or west facing window is best. Or locate an artificial light source. Protect from cold drafts in winter.Keep soil moderately dry. Allow soil to dry completely between waterings. If brown spots occur, it needs more water.Great plant for beginners.
English IvyEnglish_Ivy_Hedera_helixVines that you see along the English countryside along your favorite cottages.Bright light, but no direct sun.Keep soil evenly moist, drier in winter.Vines grow vigorously and easily.
Spider Plant
Spider Plant

Spider Plant

Stringy long leaves, one of the easiest house plants to care for.Bright, indirect light.Well drained soil a must. Don't let soil become soggy.Number 1 for beginners.
Cactusstk213072rke_XSThink Arizona.Depending on cactus, bright indirect light will work well.Water once every two to three weeks. Don't let soil get soggy. Need good drainage.Smaller cacti easier for beginners
Peace Lily flowerplilBeautiful plant with white flowers.Medium indirect sunlight. If leaves become yellow, it means it has too much light. They do fine under fluorescent light and/or rooms with no windows.Keep soil moist at all times. During winter, fertilize every 6 weeks or so.A beginner's must have.
Golden PothosGolden-PothosThe quintessential house plant.Bright, indirect or even low light. Don't do well in direct light.Water thoroughly and allow to dry between waterings.Perfect houseplant for plant killers
Aloe VeraimagesYour sunburn medicinal.Indirect light is best.Greater danger of being overwatered than under-watered. Make sure soil drains well. Water sparingly in winter.Great first succulent and medicinal house plant.
African VioletRoot-an-African-Violet-Leaf-Step-6-Version-2Purple beauties.Moderate to bright, indirect light.Adequate mois soil is satisfactory.Go wild.
Lady Palmlady palmBroad, fan shaped foliage. Feel like you're in Miami.East Facing windows work the best.Consistent moist and well drained soil. In fall, allow the water to dry to 2 inches deep. In summer allow soil to dry to 1 inch depth.Not as easy as the others. Don't start here.
Prayer PlantStriking-leaves-of-the-prayer-plantBeautiful and distinct leaves.Does best in bright, indirect sunlight.Well drained soil and high humidity. Keep them moist but not soggy. Use warm water.2nd tier easy.


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After finishing her masters degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Michelle wanted to share her love of plants and all things medicinal. With her knowledge of Chinese herbs and household plants, she decided to create a site sharing her love of indoor plants.

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