What are the best houseplants?

House plants, in addition to retaining moisture and beautifying rooms  with their splendid colors and graceful shapes, are also able to purify the air. Let’s find out more and how to cure them.

Many of us don’t have an outdoor green space to dedicate to greenery, but don’t worry! There are tons  of indoor plants . To take care of them in the right way and ensure a beautiful flowering, sometimes it is useful to have the right advice.

The 8 best houseplants to know

Each variety requires special attention. Let’s see the best known or the most interesting, what are their characteristics, specific needs, diseases and the most common parasites.

Boston fern (Nephrolentis)

With lush foliage, the Boston fern is easy to care for as long as you maintain a good degree of humidity, aren’t exposed to direct sunlight, and water often. It has a  rather fast growth .

Native to rainforests, it resists up to 7 ° and prefers a mixture of heather earth and compost over a layer of gravel.

indoor plants

Regular watering is necessary, even in winter, and daily nebulizations of the foliage using, if possible, non-calcareous water. The ideal temperature must remain between 15 ° -20 °. It is good to remove dry dead leaves.

Nephrolepis is one of the   most sensitive houseplants to insect attacks, especially the cochineal, but also to the lack or excess of water.

Areca (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

One of the most interesting varieties of houseplants is the Areca  Chrysalidocarpus lutescens,  a small palm that can reach 2 m in height, with thin, lanceolate, bright green leaves.

Being a plant coming from the rainforests of Madagascar, where it can reach 10 m in height, it needs a minimum temperature of 10 °. It’s cheap, you can even find it at Ikea!

It is also one of the cleansing houseplants, used to remove exhaled xylene  from paints and formaldehyde from building materials. Beware, it is toxic to pets, especially cats.

It needs a mixture of soil, compost and sand, and lots and lots of light.

In the summer it is necessary to water it 1-2 times a week, but in the winter it does not need to be wet. It needs a draining soil, preferably a layer of clay balls. It fears  ladybugs  and  red spider mites .

Wax Flower (Hoya)

The wax flower ( Hoya Carnosa ) is a perennial with bright green foliage, reaching 70 cm in height, native to tropical regions, so it needs at least 7-13 °.

It owes its name to the white, star-shaped flowers that carry another small inflorescence of a different color inside, from fuchsia to pale yellow, from red to pink. The characteristic of these flowers, gathered in umbrellas, is a ‘waxy’ consistency and a nocturnal perfume only.

Among houseplants it is a climbing variety, so it needs a support to attach itself to. It prefers a mix of peat, sand, bark, leaf compost and charcoal. It must be exposed to direct sun and requires a temperature between 19 and 24 °.

It is necessary to wet the Hoya  a lot during the summer season, avoiding however stagnation of water, and add fertilizer. In summer, it is good to take it to a more shaded area.

indoor plants

Avoid pruning because the buds form on the stems of the previous year. Flour butterflies are   the wax flower’s worst enemies, but it also fears aphids and red spiders.

There are more than 200 species, but the Hoya carnosa  is the most common, with its umbrellas of 10-20 starry flowers from 0.5 to 2 cm in diameter, of a waxy white color, with a red crown.

Medinilla (Magnificent Medinilla)

Of tropical origin, the Medinilla Magnifica  cannot stand the frost and should not be placed at temperatures lower than 15 °. It forms a small erect shrub, with quadrangular branches, vigorous but not very numerous. The leaves are large and dark green with well marked light green veins. The small flowers 1 to 3 cm in diameter have waxy petals of pink or coral red color with yellow stamens, accompanied by large, pointed and pink bracts.

It is not an easy plant to grow, except for those who are experimenting with the orchid , as the care to be given is essentially the same.

It must be placed in full light, but it must be shaded when the sun is strongest. A universal potting soil is fine. It needs a certain humidity, so it should be watered twice a week in summer and once in winter. Foliage can be sprayed, even with rainwater, and withered flowers must be removed after flowering.

There are nearly 150 species of  Medinilla  that grow naturally in tropical rainforests in Africa, the Pacific, and Southeast Asia. However, the Medinilla magnifica is the only widespread species in Italy.

Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera)

Schlumbergera is also called Christmas  cactus because it has its maximum flowering in December, and is named after the Frenchman Fréderic Schlumberger, a famous plant collector.

It is a variety of cactus characterized by smooth, flat and thornless leaves. The erect stems have serrated edges. The trumpet-shaped flowers, on the other hand, sprout directly from the stems and can be white, pink or red depending on the variety.

It is a depolluting plant  that can last for years and you learn to take care of it in the right way. Originally from the Brazilian rainforests, it does not withstand the cold and must never go below 10 °! Ideally it would prefer 20 ° but  it is good to avoid the proximity of heat sources and direct sunlight.

In summer, you can take it outdoors, but always in the shade. A well-drained, pH-neutral mixture of heather and sand should be used. To ensure a beautiful flowering, it is good to prune it in spring and remove the withered flowers.

Water regularly, letting the soil dry out between waterings, without leaving stagnant water, which can cause the roots to rot. Even if it needs light to bloom, don’t place it in a room that is heavily exposed to the sun. Choose shady but bright places.

Its flowers are so delicate that if you move the vase you can make them fall. Once flowering is complete, stop watering for about a month and a half to allow the plant to rest. Resume irrigation when a new stem is formed.

indoor plants

In September and October, place the  Schlumbergera  in a room with a temperature between 10 and 15 °, watering moderately and keeping it dark for at least 12 hours a day: this will favor the  formation of new buds. 

As they begin to shed, maintain good humidity by watering more regularly so that the soil is always slightly damp on the surface. Ladybugs are   the main enemies.

There are six great varieties:  Schlumbergera x buckleyi  (hybrid, the true Christmas star),  Schlumbergera opuntioides  (with dark pink flowers),  Schlumbergera orssichiana  (white and purple flowering),  Schlumbergera russelli.

Norfolk Pine (Heterophyllous Araucaria)

The Norfolk Island pine ( Araucaria heterophylla ) is one of the rare conifers that can be grown indoors. Native to Norfolk Island, in the Pacific, it can reach 60 m in height, but in the house it will not exceed the meter and a half, and in any case it has a slow growth, not more than 15 cm per year.

When purchasing, make sure the needles are green, tight, flexible and sticky . In the adult tree the leaves become very dense, scaly and curved.

Norfolk Island Pine, a conifer that is part of the houseplant varieties

It prefers forest soil and  will appreciate a location near a south-facing window,  without full midday sun. It is a plant that grows well in pots, but tends to shed its lower branches. It does not like the cold  and the temperature must not drop below 5 °.

In summer, water twice a week, in winter it will be enough to keep the soil moist. It is advisable to cut low branches and not to turn the tree upside down. Powdery mildew is its deadly enemy.

Misery grass (Tradescantia fluminensis)

It is a hanging characterized by a high resistance to almost everything: drought, heat, humidity, light. The foliage of the misery grass is available in many shades of green, depending on the species, even striped or bi-colored.

The botanical name Tradescantia fluminensis  comes from the famous gardener of King Charles I of England, John Tradescant .

In Tradescantia zebrina, con foglie violette e dark green

In spring, small white flowers appear. The plant develops well at a temperature between 10 ° and 22 ° and for its ease of cultivation and speed of reproduction it is recommended for those who do not have a green thumb.

Just place a stem in a glass full of water and the roots develop in a few days. The ideal plant to introduce children to gardening! However, it has a tendency to invade other plants. You need to prune the stems, so it will become richer.

You will need to use a universal soil with a little sand, or half garden soil and half peat, and always with excellent drainage at the bottom. Direct sun causes the leaves to turn yellow, although it requires a good source of light. It must be watered abundantly twice a week in summer, while in winter it is enough once.

Among the more than 60 species, there are the Tradescantia fluminensis aurea , with yellow striped foliage, the Tradescantia zebrina , with purple striped leaves, Tradescantia fluminensis variegata , with leaves of various colors.

Ficus (Ficus)

The ficus  has more than 800 species . It is an evergreen native to tropical rainforests. For this reason it is above all a houseplant and cannot tolerate temperatures below 15 °.

It produces neither flowers nor fruit. Care must be taken that it is not eaten by animals or children, because the leaves are toxic and the sap irritating or even allergenic.

However, it is considered one of the most effective plants against pollution, because it absorbs formaldehyde, emitted by many furnishing materials.

Indoor plants

It needs a fertile and well-drained soil, enriched with compost. They tolerate the twilight well, except for the darling, who needs light.

Never cut the aerial roots, but pruning of the branches is allowed if the plant becomes too invasive. It has a tendency to become large and tall, so adequate space must be provided. For this reason it is often used as an ornamental plant for the entrance or atrium of a building.

Give regular watering in summer, and less frequent in winter, avoiding stagnations which would cause yellowing of the leaves. Like many indoor plants, it can be attacked by spider mites, ladybugs and mushrooms.