It can be soothing to care for houseplants and help them grow. But it’s hard to take good care of your houseplants if you don’t know what they are. Not all plants are created equal, and the ideal care for one plant will quickly cause another to wither. That’s why houseplant identification is so important.
But what if you inherited a plant without a label, or long since forgot what species your houseplant is? How do you ensure that you’re taking good care of it?
Identifying your houseplants is important to ensure that you’re taking care of them properly. Each plant species has different needs regarding:
- Watering. The amount of water that’s ideal for a cactus would kill a venus flytrap. Many houseplants also have specific needs as far as how they should be watered – for example, most bonsais are best watered by soaking and orchids do well with melting ice cubes.
- Soil Type. Not all potting soil is created equal, and not all plants have the same “taste.”
- Sunlight Amount. There are sun-lovers and shade-lovers and everything in between. If your plant is withering, it could be that it’s just not getting the right amount of light!
- Pot Size and Spacing. Some plants like to be kept nice and close – they actually like a smaller pot. Others really thrive when they’re allowed to breathe.
- Mulching or Fertilizer. Most plants need some “plant food” – but the amount and type will vary based on species.
- Pruning. Some plants never really need pruning, while others should be trimmed regularly.
- Common Concerns. Some plants are vulnerable to certain parasites or blights. If you know what those are, you’re more likely to effectively protect your houseplants from them!
Houseplant Identification 101
A good go-to option for identifying plants is our app PlantSnap. This app identifies flowers and leaves using a photo-identification algorithm. It can take a bit of practice to frame the photo correctly, but the app is excellent for identifying houseplants in seconds.
PlantSnap isn’t good at identifying damaged, broken, or very young plants. If you’re having a hard time identifying your houseplant with PlantSnap, it might be time to do some more digging.
Field guides aren’t always very helpful for houseplants because they focus on local plants in a given area. If you have no idea where your plant is native to, it can be really tricky to get a positive identification!
You can generally narrow down your houseplant into one of a few broad categories: is it a small tree, a succulent or cactus, a vine, a fern, or another type of herbaceous plant? What are the veins on the leaves like? Is it flowering? What are the flowers like? What shape are the leaves? From there, you can generally get help at greenhouses or on the PlantSnap Facebook page. Bring in photos when you get help!
Most houseplants are pretty popular around the world. Here are some of the most common houseplants. See if yours matches one of these!
Vines and Creepers
Succulents and Cacti
- Anthurium andraenum or other Anthurium species
- Peace Lily
- Peperomia (variety of species)
- Cast-iron Plant
- Chinese Evergreen
- Spider Plant