Houseplants 101: Selecting Plants

Houseplants 101: Selecting Plants

There are many factors to take into consideration when choosing houseplants.

Of course, the easiest way to decide is to come to Cornell Farm and let your joy drive you -- by purchasing the plants you love and figure it out from there -- that is exactly how lots of houseplant lovers get started!

If you want to take a slightly more measured approach, let us help you figure out how.

Ease of Care

Articles about plants often try to identify which plants are “easy care.” The truth is, what’s easy for each person to care for will depend a lot on their natural tendencies and space.

If you are someone who travels often, is very busy day to day, and you have a super bright apartment, a plant like a succulent might be the easiest for you to care for. However, if you’re someone who likes to dote on your plants by giving them lots of water and you have a big, dark home succulents wouldn’t be easy care for you at all -- a calathea might do better.

We have created a chart that shows basic general care (light and water) for a wide range of plants. By referring to it, you can find your perfect plant matches.

Here's a link to the light and water chart!

Take a Look at Your Space - Light

One of the main considerations for choosing the right plant is taking into consideration the light conditions you have. For an in-depth discussion of light, read our post on the subject.

Plant Size

Another important question to ask is about how big will it get and how fast will it grow. As an example, let’s take a look at the growth projection for a Monstera deliciosa. (There’s a clue in its name -- it grows to be a monster!)

If your new plant outgrows the current space you have, will you have somewhere to move it? If it grows fast can you prune it to maintain a smaller size? Is it going to bush out? Or grow into a long vine? What kind of support might it need as it grows?

Related to size, will your plant need a bigger pot soon? Read our post about containers and repotting for more on that topic.


Houseplants come in so many different styles!

Do you like the look of large leaves of lush tropical foliage? Or do you prefer thin, long blades for leaves? Vining? Bushy? Tree-like? Flowering?

Bushy, tropical look - Bird of Paradise, Chinese evergreens, Coffee Plant, cordylines, ferns, monsteras, Ornamental Ginger, palms, philodendrons, zz plants

Narrow-leaves - Chinese evergreen (narrow form,) Dracaena, False Aralia, snake plants

Hanging / vining plants - Chenille Plant, Cissus, goldfish plants, heart-leaf philodendrons, Hoyas, lipstick plants, orchid cactus, pothos, sedums, Spanish Moss, spider plants, String of Hearts, String of Fishhooks, String of Pearls, Rat Tail Cactus, pitcher plants, Tradescantia

Indoor trees - Ficus Audrey, Ficus benjamina, Ficus triangularis, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Norfolk Pine, palms, rubber plants

Flowering plants (many houseplants will flower, but these are grown specifically for their flowers) - African violets, anthuriums, amaryllis, Arabian jasmine, bromeliads, cyclamen, Goldfish Plant, holiday cacti, kalanchoe, orchids

Plants that tend to stay smaller longer- air plants, African violets, bonsai ficus, cacti, nerve plants, peperomias, pileas, polka dot plants, succulents, Venus Fly Trap


Foliage and flowers also come in a wide range of colors. You might be surprised how many options there are beyond green! (Although green is lovely too!) If you’re looking for a certain color, check the list below for plants that have some, or a lot, of the listed colors.

White - African violet flowers, anthurium flowers, caladium, Calathea vittata, Calathea White Fusion,  cyclamen flowers, dracaena, gardenia flowers, Hoya Tricolor, jasmine flowers, Nerve Plant, orchid flowers, Polka Dot Plant, Spider Plant, variegated Tradescantia, peace lily flowers, variegated Rubber Plant, Pilea mycrophylla variegata, variegated Aralia, variegated Ficus benjamina, variegated Peace Lily, Peperomia scandens variegata, variegated Schefflera, Zebra Plant

Pink - air plant flowers, African violet flowers, amaryllis flowers, Arrowhead Plant Pink Splash, Begonia rex, many cacti flowers, Calathea ornata, Chinese evergreen, Crown of Thorns flowers, cordylines, Earth Star, echeveria, hoya flowers, Hoya Krimson Princess, iresine, kalanchoe, kalanchoe flowers, Moses-in-a-cradle, Nerve Plant, Stromanthe triostar, Tradescantia lilac, poinsettias, Polka Dot Plant, variegated Rubber Plant

Red - amaryllis flowers, anthurium flowers, Begonia rex, bromeliads, Chenille Plant flowers, caladium, cyclamen flowers, desert rose flowers, Dracaena marginata, Dyckia red, holiday cactus flowers, Iresine, kalanchoe flowers, nerve plant, Peperomia Ruby Cascade, Peperomia Watermelon,  Philodendron Burgundy, poinsettias, Polka Dot Plant, Prayer Plant Red, rubber plant

Purple - air plant flowers, African violet flowers, calathea, Lipstick Plant Black Pagoda, orchid flowers, Persian Shield, Purple Oxalis, Purple Passion, Tradescantia Purple Heart, Tradescantia zebrina

Silver - Aluminum Plant, begonia, Bromeliad Silver Vase, Chinese evergreen, Peperomia Watermelon, Pothos Silver Satin, Silver Squill, Tradescantia zebrina

Yellow - Bromeliad, croton, Heartleaf Philodendron Neon, Peperomia variegata, Pothos Golden, Pothos Neon, snake plant, Ornamental Ginger

Silvery blue - air plants, echeveria, Peperomia Silver Ripple, many succulents, String of Bananas

Orange - Bird of Paradise flowers, cacti flowers, croton, Goldfish Plant flowers, Kalanchoe flowers, Philodendron Prince of Orange

Blue - African violet flowers, Bird of Paradise flowers

Black - Philodendron Black Cardinal

We hope this article helps you choose the very best houseplant matches for you and your house!