Home & Garden Garden 20 Best Indoor Plants for Beginners By Starre Vartan Writer Columbia University Syracuse University Starre Vartan has been an environmental and science journalist for 15-plus years. She founded an award-winning eco-website and wrote a book on living green. our editorial process Starre Vartan Updated April 28, 2021 Sutthiwat Srikhrueadam / Getty Images Share Twitter Pinterest Email Home & Garden Planting Guides Indoor Gardening Urban Farms Insects Plant care might generally be simple, but it's not always easy. If you're a first-time plant owner or are just beginning your plant journey, set yourself up for success by choosing options that are more resilient and easier to tend to from the get-go. The following 20 plants are ideal for beginner plant parents and will also teach you a thing or two about plant care along the way. Warning Some of the plants on this list are toxic to pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database. 1 of 20 Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) GrumpyCow Studios / Getty Images Snake plants are very easy to care for and quite forgiving. They also have a great visual impact, with dramatic, upwardly pointing, angular leaves. They are slow growers, so you won't need to repot them for a while. Snake plants like the same temperature and humidity conditions that people do, and their light requirements are pretty flexible (no direct sun or full shade, but they will make do with most light types in between). Plant Care Tips Light: Indirect light; tolerates some sun and shade. Water: Water regularly, allowing soil to dry well before rewatering. Soil: Rich, well-draining potting mix. Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs. 2 of 20 Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) FeelPic / Getty Images Spider plants are good communicators, which is why they're a great plant for beginners. When they need water, the tips of their leaves will get brown. When they are being overwatered, their long leaves will flop and look waterlogged. If they get a lot of sun, the lighter variegation will get wider; and when they are in a darker place, the stripes will get narrower or disappear. When they're happy for a few weeks at a time, they'll produce "spiderettes," which are baby versions of themselves. You can easily transplant the spiderettes to create new plants. Plant Care Tips Light: Bright, indirect light (not too much direct sun). Water: Regular watering, but let dry between waterings. Soil: Regular houseplant potting soil. Pet Safety: Nontoxic, but cats like to play with them and sometimes chew on their leaves, which will make the cat vomit (like any plant). 3 of 20 Moon Orchid (Phalaenopsis orchid) MaximFesenko / Getty Images Orchids have the reputation for being difficult to care for, but modern orchids are much hardier, especially the Phalaenopsis, which comes in a variety of colors. This is the kind you'll see in a variety of colors in grocery and home goods stores. Orchids like a moist environment and partial sun, so a bathroom or kitchen shelf could be a perfect spot for them. A spritz of water once a week is all they need — overwatering is a common mistake. They prefer cooler indoor temperatures and don't like direct sun, so they'll do best in a place that gets some indirect light every day. Plant Care Tips Light: Mostly shady with a couple of hours of indirect light per day. Water: Light and regular, but don't let them sit in water. Soil: Sphagnum moss and bark (look for an orchid mix); they do not do well in regular potting soil. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 4 of 20 Silver Torch Cacti (Cleistocactus strausii) Coin Up / Getty Images Since it's a cactus, this plant needs full sun for at least six hours per day, but it needs little else. It will grow slowly, but extra sun will help it grow faster. A little water every three or four weeks is sufficient; a bit less in winter, a bit more in spring. Since cacti have shallow roots to pick up desert dew, water away from the center of the plant. Plant Care Tips Light: Full sun. Water: Water sparingly, every three or four weeks. Soil: Combination of 50/50 sand and potting soil. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 5 of 20 Pearl of Nurnberg Echeveria (Perle von Nurnberg Echeveria) Alina Marasca / Getty Images Echeveria are circular succulents, and this variety has greyish-green leaves with pink highlights (the more sun it gets, the pinker it will be). They need plenty of sun, and watering every couple of weeks is enough. Echeveria are a great succulent to learn from because they are especially hardy and will grow to a pleasing size of about 6 inches across. Be careful not to overwater and make sure that liquid doesn't collect in the leaves, which can rot the core of the plant. Expect pink and yellow flowers in the summer. Plant Care Tips Light: Bright, direct light. Water: Let dry out well before re-watering. Soil: Sandy and well-drained. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 6 of 20 Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides) cerro photography / Getty Images This cheery little plant needs some light (but full sun is too much), and weekly watering. Other than that, it pretty much takes care of itself. It will produce offshoots that sprout from the stem's base, which means you can get free new money plants — simply place them in soil and add them to your collection. Plant Care Tips Light: Medium to low light. Water: Let the soil dry out well between waterings. Soil: Regular potting soil. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 7 of 20 Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura) Firn / Getty Images This is a low-light plant that thrives in humid environments. It might make a great addition to your bathroom, where it will get doused with warm, damp air regularly. Although it likes humidity, it doesn't want wet roots — in the tropical areas where it grows, rain is often caught by plants and trees higher up in the forest, leaving less water to get to the plant's roots. Prayer plants are not difficult to care for, but they do like a particular type of environment. This is a good option for beginners who have appropriate homes. Plant Care Tips Light: Medium, indirect light to low light Water: Weekly; allow soil to dry several inches from the top between waterings. Soil: Peat-based, well-draining mix. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 8 of 20 Florist Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) Tatanya Abramovich / Getty Images This plant is great for beginners because it requires little care but gives a lot back, including bright flowers that bloom for a long time. It's a succulent with about 125 varieties; flowers come in different shades of yellow, pink, orange, and red. Kalanchoe does well in different temperatures. Plant Care Tips Light: Full sun. Water: Weekly in spring, less often in winter; allow soil to dry between waterings. Soil: Sand and potting soil in a 50/50 mix. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 9 of 20 Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii) Gavin D / Getty Images Peace lilies are ideal for beginners because they communicate well, like spider plants. They will get floppy leaves if they are watered too much or not watered enough (just touch the top of the soil to determine which one), and will get brown edges and start to curl if left too long without enough water. They need some light, but not direct sun, and can do fine in a relatively shady spot. Make sure that they are watered regularly but don't let them sit in water. Plant Care Tips Light: Medium, indirect light. Water: Water when top inch of soil has dried out. Soil: Well-draining; peat moss and sand blend. Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs. 10 of 20 Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) klenova / Getty Images Aloe vera is a great plant for beginners because it is easy to grow and very useful. You can clip off a stalk of this plant and use it to treat a burn or to cool a sunburn, or just smooth it over your skin for a free high-quality moisturizer. It needs plenty of sun and shouldn't be overwatered, but other than that, it's an easy and rewarding plant. Plant Care Tips Light: Bright, direct light for at least four hours a day. Water: Let dry out well between waterings. Soil: Sandy and well-drained. Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs. 11 of 20 Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans) Sataporn Kumsuka / Getty Images Corn plants have what seems like a magical power: You can basically kill them (at least they will look dead), and then revive them. Just trim off the dead leaves, repot in fresh soil, keep soil damp, and wait. Corn plants like shadier spots in your house, though they need some indirect light. Ends will turn brown if they aren't getting enough water, and leaves will burn if they get too much sun. Plant Care Tips Light: Lower to medium indirect light, filtered sun. Water: Keep soil moist but not soggy. Soil: Rich, well-draining. Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs. 12 of 20 Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) grbender / Getty Images Boston ferns, like most ferns, need some spritzing every week or so, since they thrive in an environment that's usually a bit more moist than what is found in our homes. They need cooler temperatures and low light, so don't put them in a sunny window. And be sure to keep their soil moist (think of the understory tropics where they come from for a cue). Plant Care Tips Light: Moderate indirect light. Water: Regular watering, and keep soil damp Soil: Regular potting mix with good drainage. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 13 of 20 Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii) Jeff Foott / Getty Images This cactus needs lots of full sun — at least six hours a day. Given the right conditions, your plant will display one of the largest cactus blooms when spring rolls around. The blooms are bright magenta, pink, or red and last for five days. Like other cacti, this one doesn't need much water (once a month in the winter but more frequently in the spring). Plant Care Tips Light: Bright, full sun. Water: Weekly watering in the spring, monthly in the winter. Soil: Sand mixed with potting mix. Pet Safety: Nontoxic but spines can poke curious noses. 14 of 20 Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) Olga Ostapenko / Getty Images The Norfolk Island pine isn't a pine tree at all; it's a tropical plant that does grow to large tree-like proportions in its native land in Australia and other locations that are warm and moist enough. Because they grow near the ocean, these are moisture-loving plants, so you might want to get a mister or place the plant on a tray of pebbles with some water in it. Plant Care Tips Light: Direct, bright light. Water: Soak and let dry out between waterings. Soil: Regular potting mix with good drainage. Pet Safety: Toxic to dogs and cats. 15 of 20 Basil (Ocimum basilicum) westend61 / Getty Images Growing basil yourself is easy — although you do have to keep an eye on it as it will grow pretty fast. You can start from seeds in a sunny window or buy a small plant or two (they are often available at the grocery store). Basil likes to be warm and well-watered. You'll also want to trim the leaves consistently (aim to remove 1/4 of the leaves every week or so) and pinch from the top to keep flowers from forming. It's an annual, so your basil plant will only last for a few months. Plant Care Tips Light: Direct, bright light. Water: Water every few days, keep soil damp. Soil: Regular potting mix with good drainage. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 16 of 20 Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa) Catherine Falls Commercial / Getty Images Monstera plants are fairly easy to care for. Moderate light and weekly watering is pretty much all they need. As this plant grows, it will need to be attached to a trellis or a piece of furniture. Learning how to do that is a great lesson in climbing plant care. Plant Care Tips Light: Moderate indirect light. Water: Regular watering, but let dry out between waterings. Soil: Regular potting mix with good drainage. Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs. 17 of 20 Jade Plant (Crassula argentea) Andrey Nikitin / Getty Images Jade plants are very easy to grow as long as they have plenty of light (but not direct sun). One good lesson a beginner plant owner might learn is trimming. As part of the succulent family, jade plants may grow fairly quickly and can easily overwhelm their trunks. Invest in a good pair of sharp gardening shears and keep an eye out after a growth spurt (usually in the spring). You can also learn how to turn the cut limbs into more jade plants by letting a scab form and then rooting them. Plant Care Tips Light: Bright light but not direct sun. Water: Regular watering, but let top of the soil dry completely between waterings. Soil: Regular potting soil mixed with some sand. Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs. 18 of 20 Air Plant (Tillandsia ) baranova h / Getty Images Air plants are a little trickier than other plants on this list. Because they have no soil, you'll need to mist them at least weekly (if not more frequently) or dunk them in water. They are notorious for gathering nutrients from the air; just don't put them in direct sun. Plant Care Tips Light: Indirect light and shade. Water: A humid environment and misting can replace watering. Soil: Not needed. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs. 19 of 20 Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia seguine) Bogdan Kurlyo / Getty Images This plant's pretty variegated leaves and upright attitude make it a popular choice in all kinds of indoor environments. It's easy to overwater this one because it prefers moist soil, so keep an eye on that balance. Plant Care Tips Light: Diffused light or partial shade; tolerates full shade. Water: Water thoroughly, allowing top of soil to dry before re-watering. Soil: Rich, well-draining potting mix. Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs. 20 of 20 Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior) skymoon13 / Getty Images The name says it all — this is a tough plant that's hard to kill and will probably be the easiest plant in your house to care for. It grows really slowly and does well in low-light and even low-moisture environments. Be careful not to overwater it. Plant Care Tips Light: Diffused light or partial shade. Water: Water twice a month, allowing top of soil to dry before re-watering. Soil: Rich, well-draining potting mix. Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.