20 Easy-Care Plants for your Home or Office
Mar 1st 2017 | Posted by Melanie E.

20 Easy-Care Plants for your Home or Office

I think we all know that plants are good for us. They improve air quality, affect our mood, and of course look awesome, adding color and texture to our homes and nicely complimenting our decor.

But, taking care of plants can be difficult, and we aren't all blessed with a green thumb! If you're anything like me, the less maintenance, the better! In my search for attractive, easy-care plants I compiled a list of my top 20, and how to take care of them. 

Here are the names of them if you don't wanna scroll through them all:

Aloe Vera //  Anthurium //  Cactus //  Calathea //  Chrysanthemum //  Dracaena //  Echeveria //  English Ivy //  Jade Plant //  Kalanchoe //  Kentia Palm //  Money Tree //  Peace Lily //  Philodendron //  Pothos //  Rubber Plant //  Snake Plant //  Spider Plant //  Umbrella Plant //  Zz Plant

* If you have young children and/or pets, please note which ones are toxic if ingested.

Aloe Vera *

Aloe (Aloe Vera) Photo credit: paramountlandscaping.com

Aloe Vera is best known for its medicinal qualities - its plump leaves contain gel that's great for soothing skin after burns and cuts.

A lesser-known quality: Aloe can also help to monitor the air quality in your home. It can help clear the air of pollutants such as formaldehyde and benzene, which can be a byproduct of chemical-based cleaners, paints and more. When the amount of harmful chemicals in the air becomes excessive, the plants’ leaves will begin to show brown spots.

Varieties: Many varieties ranging in size, growth habit and color, including Red Aloe, Orange Aloe, and 'Gold Tooth'.

Size: Some varieties can grow up to 3 ft tall

Soil: A good cactus mix (potting soil, sand, and perlite)

Sunlight: Lots of indirect sunlight. Aloe likes room temperatures around 70°F

Water: As little as every 2-3 weeks, depending on the humidity of your home. Allow the soil to dry completely between watering.

Placement: A sunny window sill. Looks great on its own, or with other succulents

Safe for pets/young kids? No. Aloe Vera is surprisingly toxic to pets. The toxic parts are limited to the skin and inner layers of the plant, not so much the gel itself. Ingestion of the leafy portions can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even tremors in cats and dogs.

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Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum) *

Also known as the flamingo flower, this tropical plant's showy flowers give bright color for eight weeks or more each year. The blossoms make long-lasting cut flowers, too (up to 6 weeks!).

Varieties: The heart-shaped flowers are typically red, but you can find hybrids in shades of pink, lavender, white and even green.

Size: Up to 3 ft tall and 2 ft wide

Soil: A mix of potting soil and orchid soil with good drainage

Sunlight: Medium to bright indirect sunlight; direct light can burn the leaves. Ideal temperature: 65 - 80°F. Anthuriums growing in low light will have fewer flowers and will grow slower.

Water: As little as every 2-3 weeks, depending on the humidity of your home. Allow the soil to dry completely between watering. Be careful not to over water.

Placement: Anthuriums aren't picky; they can tolerate all levels of indirect light.

Safe for pets/young kids? No. All parts of the plant are poisonous. If ingested, it may cause mild stomach disorders. The plant's sap is toxic and can cause skin irritation.

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Cactus (Cactaceae)

Cactus (Cactaceae)

Cacti come in many weird and wonderful shapes (generally globular or cylindrical). A lot of cacti have prominent spines, barbs or bristles and some have woolly hair. In fact, all cacti have spines even though they might be so small they’re insignificant.

All cacti flower, and flower regularly if they are well-looked after. Cacti look great on their own or grouped with succulents. When potting them, make sure there is a minimum of 1/4 inch of space between the cactus and the pot's rim.

Varieties: There are many, many kinds (too many to list), but they're generally grouped into Desert Cacti, and Forest or Jungle Cacti.

Size: Various, from tiny and cute to tall enough to outgrow your space!

Soil: Potting soil that is formulated for cacti (you can find mixes at the nursery/garden center). For desert cacti, a mix of potting soil and gravel or sand for drainage; for forest cacti, organic soil mixed with peat moss and sand.

Sunlight: Plenty of bright light, ideally 12+ hours per day. Temperature between 65 and 90°F.

Water: Modest amounts, 1-2 times per month. Before watering, check to see if the soil is dry. Then water well, especially in the growing months and let the water drain off (very important to prevent rotting). In the winter, water sparingly, e.g. once a month if required. Adjust according to conditions. Fertilize only during their growing months (spring and summer), not their dormant months (winter).

Placement: A bright, sunny, (ideally south- or west-facing) window.

Safe for pets/young kids? Toxicity-wise they are ok, but... no. I mean, ouch!

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Calathea (Marantaceae)

Calathea (Marantaceae)

The Calathea plant, also know as the arrowroot plant, is recognized by its interesting and unique leaf markings that add texture to any room. To keep this plant looking its best, wipe any dust off the leaves with a clean, damp cloth and remove any yellow leaves.

Varieties: Dozens of varieties, including the prayer plant (Maranta leucoreura), zebra plant (Calathea zebrina), round-leaf (Calathea orbifolia), pinstripe Calathea ornata) and 'Freddie'. The leaves comes in colors such as green, pink, purple, red and variegated.

Size: Typically 1-3 ft tall

Soil: Tropical plants need soil that holds moisture but is also well draining. Without good drainage, the roots will rot.

Sunlight: Bright, indirect sunlight. Warm temperatures; at least 60 - 70 °F.

Water: This plant needs moisture, but shouldn't sit in water. It thrives in high high humidity. You can provide ample humidity by placing the potted plant on top of a saucer filled with pebbles. Add water to the pebbles and the humidity will travel up through the pebbles and the pot to the plant's roots.

Placement: A north-facing window, table top or low plant stand

Safe for pets/young kids? Yes

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Chrysanthemum (C. morifolium) *

Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)

If you're looking for something with more color...

Also know as daisies, 'Pot Mum's or 'Florist's Mum's, Chrysanthemums are a classic houseplant often gifted at Christmas, Easter or Mothering Sunday. The colorful flowers can do more than brighten a room, the blooms also help purify the air, filtering out benzene.

Make sure you choose a floral mum and not a garden variety, which does best when planted outdoors. Once the flowers are spent (after 3-4 weeks), you can keep the green foliage until the next flowering season.

Varieties: They come in almost every color except true blue

Size: Up to 3 ft tall

Soil: Fresh houseplant soil with good drainage

Sunlight: Bright, direct sunlight

Water: Regular watering is important (it's the trade-off for colorful blooms). 1-2 times per week. Water the plant from under the leaves to help prevent fungal issues when caring for container mums.

Placement: Near an open window with direct sunlight

Safe for pets/young kids? No. Every part of the plant is toxic if ingested, potentially causing vomiting, diarrhea, hyper-salivation and problems with coordination in pets.

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Dracaena *

Dracaena (Dracaena spp.)

The Dracaena is grown for its dramatic, long, strap-like foliage and carefree nature. It's an undemanding plant that will forgive the occasional missed watering. Stems of the houseplant are called canes and can be pruned at any point to keep the plant under control.

Varieties: There are many species including the Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans) and the Mona Lisa, but the most popular seems to be the Red-edged/Rainbow Dracaena (Dracaena marginata)

Size: 1-10 ft tall and 1-3 ft wide

Soil: Potting soil with good drainage

Sunlight: Medium to bright indirect light. Temperature: 65 - 75°F

Water: Once a week. Drooping or yellowing leaves indicates over-watering or poor drainage. Fertilize every two weeks in the summer.

Placement: Young plants: tabletops, older plants: a plant stand on or the floor

Safe for pets/young kids? No. The plant contains Saponin, which if ingested, can cause vomiting, appetite loss, and increased salivation in pets.

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Echeveria

Echeveria

These beautiful succulents are valued for their shape and range of pretty colors

Varieties: Dozens of varieties including 'Afterglow', 'Decora', 'Donda', 'Ben Badis', 'Briar Rose', 'Black Prince', 'Captain Hay', and 'Mexican Giant'.

Size: Their rosettes range in size from 1-20 inches in diameter

Soil: Good quality potting soil, or a cactus mix. Like all succulents, Echeveria need soil that drains quickly to prevent moisture from rotting the roots.

Sunlight: Bright sunlight

Water: Once a week. Keep the succulents moist but not flooded

Placement: Individually on a desk, or in a group of other succulents and cacti

Safe for pets/young kids? Yes

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English Ivy (Hedera helix) *

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

English Ivy is the most effective plant when it comes to absorbing formaldehyde. It’s also incredibly easy to grow and adaptable Suitable as a hanging or floor plant. The stems can grow very long but can be easily controlled with pruning.

Size: 6-12 inches tall and 6-72 inches wide, trailing

Soil: Organically rich

Sunlight: Low to bright indirect sunlight for 4+ hours per day. Temperature: 55 - 70°F

Water: Water them enough to keep the soil moist, however, they can tolerate a couple of missed waterings.

Placement: Hanging basket, or in a pot on a shelf or mantel where the vine can hang down.

Safe for pets/young kids? No. Irritation of the mouth and gastrointestinal tract can occur if ingested. Symptoms of intoxication can include abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea or excessive salivation.

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Jade Plant (Crassula ovata) *

Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

Also known as the Dollar Plant or Money Plant, the Jade Plant is a succulent with fleshy leaves that will tolerate irregular watering and a range of sun exposure. Like Pothos, Jade can be grown easily from cuttings to propagate more plants. Indoors, jade plants can grow into small trees or shrubs as tall as five feet.

Varieties: California Red Tip, Bronze Beauty, Sunset, Tricolor, Cosby's Miniature or Compact Jade

Size: Varies from small (a few inches) to 5 ft tall

Soil: Good quality potting soil, or a cactus mix

Sunlight: Medium to bright, direct sunlight. Temperature: 65 - 75°F

Water: Water it a little when the soil feels dry. If it starts to display brown spots or loses a leaf, it needs a little more water. Fertilize once in the summer.

Placement: Individually on a desk, or in a group of other succulents and cacti

Safe for pets/young kids? No, they are highly toxic if ingested

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Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) *

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

Pretty on the outside, tough on the inside, the tropical Kalanchoe is a great choice if you want a little more color in your home. The clusters of tiny, bright flowers produce a large bloom on stems above the majority of the foliage.

Varieties: K. blossfeldiana, K. porphyrocalyx, 'Rabbit's Ear' (K. beharensis), 'Mother of Thousands' (K. pinnata).

Size: Varies from small (a few inches) to 5 ft tall

Soil: Good quality potting soil, or a cactus mix with good drainage

Sunlight: Medium to bright, indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight can burn the leaves. Temperature: Mild; at least 60°F during the day; cooler at night. After the flowers are spent, the plant needs six weeks of 12-14 hours of darkness per day to form new flowers.

Water: Water the plant deeply and then allow it to dry out completely before you give it further moisture. They can tolerate a couple of missed waterings. Fertilize once per month in the summer.

Placement: Individually on a desk, or in a group of other succulents and cacti in a hanging basket

Safe for pets/young kids? No. Toxic if ingested.

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Studies worldwide have shown that having plants in an office space, particularly when visible when working, can increase productivity by up to 15%!

Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana)

Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana)

Also known as the Paradise Palm or Thatch Palm, the Kentia does very well indoors since it is extremely durable and slow growing. It is so forgiving, it will tolerate low-light and low-humidity conditions, as well as dust, heat, and general neglect.

What's more, it is one of the best plants when it comes to removing pollution from the air, and transpires heavily making it a natural humidifier.

Varieties: Howea is a genus of only two palms, Howea forsteriana (Kentia Palm) and Howea belmoreana (Sentry Palm)

Size: 5-12 ft tall

Soil: Fast draining potting mix, ideally on the sandy side

Sunlight: Low to medium, indirect sunlight

Water: Water only when the top inch of soil starts to dry out. Over watering can lead to root rot. Browning of leaves can also be caused by dry air and/or lack of water. Mist your palm with a water bottle occasionally to provide some humidity and remove dust.

Placement: Makes a great addition to a living room or office

One downside: There are a couple small-scale insects that attack palms: mealybugs and mites, but spraying the palm with a drop of peppermint essential oil in a bottle full of water, or treating it with Neem oil can repel them.

Safe for pets/young kids? Yes

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Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)

Also known as the Malabar chestnut, Guiana chestnut, Mexican Fortune Tree or Braided Money Tree, this tropical plant is extremely low maintenance and can survive without much water. Some people believe the money tree brings good luck and fortune. Its thin trunks are often braided by growers to add to its appeal. It requires very occasional pruning to look its best.

Size: Varies from 1-10+ ft but its growth is restricted by the size of its container

Soil: A peat moss-based potting mix with perlite or sand added for good drainage

Sunlight: Low to medium, indirect sunlight or fluorescent lighting. Temperature: 65 - 75°F

Water: Water evenly and let the soil dry between waterings. Mist the leaves occasionally.

Placement: If taller than 4 ft, it works well in a living room or near patio doors. If small, it makes a nice addition to an entryway or office.

Safe for pets/young kids? Yes

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Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) *

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

The beautiful Peace Lily is not only hardy and low maintenance, but also one of the most efficient natural air filters, removing formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene from the air. It can also combat toluene and xylene.

Varieties: 'Power Petite', 'Wallisii', 'Mauna Loa Supreme', 'Clevelandii', 'Sensation', 'Domino'

Size: 1-6 ft tall and 1-5 ft wide

Soil: Well draining

Sunlight: Low to medium, indirect sunlight. Temperature: 60 - 85°F

Water: Once a week water it well but let the soil dry between waterings. If the flower head starts to droop, it's thirsty. It likes misting too.

Placement: 6 ft away from a south- or west-facing window is perfect

Safe for pets/young kids? No, it's mildly toxic. Be sure to wash your hands after handling your plant as it produces crystals that can irritate skin.

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Philodendron *

Philodendron

Also known as the Hurricane or Swiss Cheese Plant, this house plant comes in many different sizes, shapes, and coloring, including the popular split-leaf version. It's one of the better plants at removing VOCs from the air.

Varieties: The two main types of philodendron houseplants are vining and non-climbing varieties. Vining philodendrons need a post or other supporting structure to climb on (like blushing and heartleaf philodendrons) Non-climbing philodendrons have an upright, spreading growth habit (such as lacy tree and bird’s nest philodendrons).

Size: 1-10 ft tall and 1-6 ft wide

Soil: A mixture of peat moss, potting soil and sand

Sunlight: Low to bright, indirect sunlight. Temperature: 60 - 80°F

Water: Let the surface of the soil dry between watering; it should not be constantly wet.

Placement: On a shelf or mantel

Safe for pets/young kids? No. The leaves are poisonous to people if eaten in large amount. If cats and dogs chew on plants that contain calcium oxalates like this one, it releases small crystals which can irritate the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. It can also irritate the skin.

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Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) *

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

This cheerful plant will brighten up any space. It works well as a hanging plant or climber, it is adaptable, and can survive in artificial light too, making it a great office plant.

Also referred to as the 'Hunter's robe', 'ivy arum, money plant, silver vine,he Pothos is also great at clearing formaldehyde from the air.

Varieties: Neon, Jade, Marble Queen, Golden

Size: The Pothos can produce stems that trail 8 ft or longer, so just cut them back when they get too long and your plant will continue to look full and healthy.

Soil: Use a well-draining all-purpose houseplant mix

Sunlight: Low to bright, indirect. One of the few plants that can tolerate low light.

Water: Once a week. Be careful not to over-water it.

Placement: These look best high up, like on a shelf in a living room or office, where the leaves can eventually hang over. Another good option is a hanging basket.

Safe for pets/young kids? No, it is poisonous if ingested.

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Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica) *

Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)

Also referred to as Rubber Fig, Indian Rubber Plant, Rubber Bush, Rubber Tree, the Rubber Plant is not only low maintenance, it is a powerful toxin eliminator and air purifier. The outdoor variety can grow to over 30 ft tall, but the indoor kind is smaller and more manageable. To keep it looking its best, clean the leaves occasionally with a damp cloth.

Varieties: 'F.elastica Burgundy', 'F.elastica decora', 'F.elastica robusta', 'F. elastica Black Prince'

Size: 1-8 ft tall. Once the rubber plant has grown to the height you want it to grow up to, you can cut the top off. You may also want to prune back any unwanted branches to give the plant a fuller shape.

Soil: A well-draining and well-aerated potting soil

Sunlight: Medium to bright, indirect sunlight. Temperature: 60 - 75°F. Sudden drops in temperature or cold drafts are not good.

Water: Water once the soil becomes slightly dry to the touch (approx. once per week). Be careful not to over water.

Placement: If over 3 ft tall, it looks good in an entryway or living room

Safe for pets/young kids? No. Toxic if ingested.

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Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) *

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

The Snake Plant, also known as 'Mother-in-law's tongue(!)' and Ribbon Plant), is a succulent with thick, waxy leaves. This plant is very forgiving; it can survive neglect for weeks at a time. It clears the air of formaldehyde and, interestingly, absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen during the night (the opposite of most plans), so one in your bedroom may give you a little oxygen boost. To keep it looking its best, clean the leaves occasionally with a damp cloth.

Varieties: There are round 70 species of snake plant, including the ‘Golden Hahnii’ (Sansevieria), Cylindrical Snake Plant (Sansevieria cylindrical), 'Twist' (Sansevieria trifasciata), Rhino Grass (Sansevieria desertii), White Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Size: 6 inches to 12 ft tall and 6-36 inches wide

Soil: Free draining

Sunlight: Low to bright, indirect sunlight. Temperature: 60 - 85°F

Water: Once a week or less (be careful not to over water).

Placement: Snake plants don’t need much light or water to survive, so they’re an easy choice for any corner of your home. The dwarf rosette varieties make nice desktop or tabletop plants.

Safe for pets/young kids? No. Toxic if ingested.

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Spider Plant(Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) Photo credit: bigstockphoto.com

One of the most common and low-maintenance house plants, Spider Plants are decorative, easy to grow, and one of the best air-purifying plants. They are effective at fighting pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene.

Varieties: Spider plants come in a number of varieties

Size: 6-12 ft tall and 6-24 inches wide

Soil: Free draining

Sunlight: Medium to bright, indirect sunlight. Temperature: 65 - 75°F

Water: Once a week. Spider plants do best with moist (not flooded) soil. Brown leaf tips, which are common with spider plants, are due to contaminated water, usually from fluoride, or to over-fertilization, low humidity or dry soil conditions. Trim damaged leaves with scissors. Use rainwater or distilled water if your tap water is fluoridated.

Placement: Looks great in a hanging basket or on a plant tower

Safe for pets/young kids? Yes

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Umbrella Plant (Schefflera arboricola) *

Also known as the Dwarf Umbrella Tree, Parasol Plant and Octopus Tree, the Umbrella Plant is fast-growing and easy to contain in size by clipping the top leaves. The leaves are shaped like umbrellas (hence the name), which together, form a green and dense canopy. The dwarf version makes a beautiful Bonsai tree.

Varieties: There are several species, usually in one of two groups: S. actinophylla (more all green varieties), and S. arboricola (variegated leaves). 'Gold Capella', 'Green Gold' and 'Compacta' are popular types of Umbrella Plant.

Size: 3-8 ft tall

Soil: A peat moss based potting mix with 2 parts peat moss and 1 part perlite

Sunlight: Bright, indirect sunlight. Wilting is usually a sign that it needs more light. Direct sunlight however, may burn the leaves. Temperature: 60 - 70°F

Water: Wait until the soil is dry to the touch and then evenly water the soil, being careful not to over water it. Mist the leaves occasionally if the air is dry.

An umbrella plant will naturally lose it's lower leaves to encourage new growth. If it's losing a lot of upper leaves it could be from over-watering (most common), under-watering (the leaves will feel dry), sudden temperature change, or lack of light.

Placement: Near a window

Safe for pets/young kids? No. Poisonous if ingested. It can cause a burning sensation, swelling, difficulty swallowing, and in severe cases, difficult breathing.

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ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) *

Also known as the Aroid Palm and Eternity Plant, the tropical ZZ Plant is native to Eastern Africa and has become popular worldwide in recent years due to its tolerance of a wide range of conditions including low light and little water. Some of the stems from the same ZZ Plant grow straight up and then others arch over, so a little pruning will keep the plant looking its best.

Size: Up to 3 ft tall and 2 ft wide

Soil: Well draining

Sunlight: Moderate, indirect sunlight but will do fine in extremely low levels of light. Direct sunlight may burn the leaves. Curling leaves, yellowing and leaning can all be an indication of too much light. Temperature: 60 - 85°F (average home temperature).

Water: Much like cacti, ZZ Plants need less rather than more water. Water the plant only when the soil has dried out. A ZZ plant turning yellow means it is getting too much water and its roots may be rotting. Watering frequency also depends on lighting conditions. Bright light requires more frequent watering; low light requires less.

Placement: This plant makes an ideal plant for a window-less office or room where it will only receive small amounts of fluorescent light. Make sure it's out of reach of small children and pets.

Safe for pets/young kids? No. All parts of this plant are said to be toxic if ingested by children, cats and dogs. Calcium oxalate crystals in the sap coming in contact with the skin may cause irritation.

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Our home is becoming more green now that I've got my gardening game on, and it feels good!

What are your favorite indoor plants? Share your best tips for keeping them happy.

For an extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants from the ASPCA, click here.

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