Houseplants remain a popular hobby; here’s what beginners need to know | Home and Garden

Houseplants remain a popular hobby; here’s what beginners need to know | Home and Garden

More people took up new hobbies during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many of them turning to plant-collecting and gardening to pass time at home.

Now, according to a recent report from the Floral Marketing Fund, over 70 percent of the plant owners who dove headfirst into the hobby in 2021 plan to maintain it as a pastime. 

Amelia White, a greenhouse manager for Hyams Garden and Accent Store on James Island, said the boom in houseplant sales started years before the pandemic. But she agreed that plant collectors of all levels, especially beginners, are continuing to indulge in the hobby.  

“People have been home more to study their space,” White said. “They’ve been online more going down the Pinterest rabbit hole of interior trends and landscaping and come away with a solid case of plant envy.” 

Reports from FMF rank flowering houseplants such as philodendrons and monsteras, followed by broad-leaf foliage plants and succulents, as the most frequently purchased houseplants in 2021.  

According to White, philodendrons, sansevierias, and nephthytis are great for beginner plant parents, who usually seek plants that can tolerate low amounts of light, fill up small empty spaces in condos or apartment homes and are easy to care for overall.

House Plants

Sara Donahue picks out houseplants at Hyams Garden March 3, 2022. Brad Nettles/Staff

White recommended five plants to The Post and Courier for beginner collectors. 

Here’s what you need to know

1. Nephthytis

Nephthytis, commonly known as the arrowhead vine because of its arrowhead-shaped leaves, are great starter plants.

“These come in an exciting array of colorful leaves and have very average needs to keep them happy for years,” White said. 

House Plants

According to Amelia White at Hyams Garden the Nephthytis are flexible houseplants that anyone can grow. “They have very average needs to keep them happy for years,” White said. Brad Nettles/Staff

Nephthytis can be placed in small containers up to eight inches in diameter and are frequently used in combination planters, like dish gardens. 

According to an article from the Mid-Florida Research and Education Center, people often use hanging baskets from 5½ to 12 inches in diameter to pot these plants. They are also excellent candidates to be grown on totems, or poles placed in the soil that allow the plant to grow upright, which is common among climbing plants like nephthytis.

2. Hoya

Hoyas are commonly known as wax plants because of their thick and shiny foliage. They grow in a wide variety of leaf sizes, patterns and shapes. 

According to White, the plant group was “all the rage” in the 1970s and has come back in style as houseplants grew more popular. The plant can live a very long time, producing red star-shaped or light pink foliage. 

House Plants

The Hoya family of houseplants are easy to care for and produce an abundance of tiny, waxy flowers in clusters of various colors and fragrances. Brad Nettles/Staff

While the plant does best in humid conditions, Espoma Organic, the blog of a popular organic fertilizer brand, suggests using a humidifier during the winter or misting with room temperature water. These plants should be watered regularly throughout the spring and summer seasons, allowing the top layer of soil to dry between watering cycles. They perform best when placed in areas with bright, indirect light. 

3. Rhipsalis

Rhipsalis is a popular succulent at Hyams and one of White’s favorites to recommend for beginners. The plant is a member of the cacti family. It is commonly known as the mistletoe cacti and has over 30 different species. However, most rhipsalis don’t have needles that are common to other cacti. 

House Plants

Rhipsalis house plants are great succulents for beginners. White said while they don’t offer a wide array of colors like other succulent species, they offer really interesting textures and growth habits.  Brad Nettles/Staff

“While they don’t offer the wide array of colors as other succulents, they offer really interesting textures and growth habits,” White said. 

White said this type of succulent is happiest in good filtered light rather than bright light, and regular watering, after soil has dried out, is essential. 

4. Sansevierias

According to White, sansevierias, a species of succulents also known as snake plants, are for plant owners who tend not to water their plants very often. 

“Anyone who has ever owned a sansevieria knows that it takes a long spell of forgetting to water (before problems arise),” White said. 

House Plants

Sansevieria houseplants are some of the easiest to care for and great for beginner plant owners according to White.  Brad Nettles/Staff

But while the plant can go long stretches without any water, it is recommended to water sansevierias once the soil is completely dry. Depending on the type of soil and light, that could be from every two to four weeks. 

According to an article published by the MFREC, quality growth of sansevierias is observed at temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant can also tolerate low and high light and grows faster or slower depending on the amount of light it gets.

“Sansevierias are low maintenance, sleek, adaptable and forgiving,” White said. “A lot of customers are surprised by how many different varieties there are, such as cylindrical leafed, yellow-edged and dwarf hybrid versions of the species.”

5. Starfish Sansevierias

The starfish sansevieria is a smaller version of the drought-hardy plant, and is called the starfish because of its star-shaped succulent leaves that grow wider and shorter than in traditional varieties.

House Plants

According to Amelia White at Hyams Garden Sans Starfish houseplants offer an interesting aesthetic in challenging spaces in the home. Brad Nettles/Staff

According to White, the starfish variant of this sansevierias serve as great décor for some of the more challenging empty spaces in a home. 

The care for these plants is similar to the traditional sansevierias. Place them indoors with indirect sunlight, and only water them when the soil or potting mix is completely dry. 

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