Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.


The following is a guest blog post from Justin Hancock.

Looking for an easy way to make your life better? Grow houseplants! Seriously: Having houseplants can improve your quality of life. There’s a wealth of scientific studies out there showing just how good houseplants are for us on a fundamental level.

For example, a study from the University of Michigan found that having a plant in your home office can make you more productive. Turns out having plants in our indoor spaces improves concentration and memory.


Other research shows plants help us relax, making them perfect picks for bedrooms. And when you add in the fact that plants filter indoor air pollution (like dangerous VOCs found in paint, carpet, cabinets, etc.), it seems like an even better idea to keep a houseplant or two nearby.

If you’ve never had a houseplant, now’s the perfect time to get one. It’s National Indoor Plant Week, a time to celebrate the benefits of having plants around us indoors.


So what are some of the best houseplants? Three of the most stylish, easy-care varieties are: snake plant, zeezee plant, and ponytail palm.









About Justin Hancock: A hardcore gardener and professional horticulturist (and former Better Homes and Gardens staffer), Justin lives in Miami and works for Costa Farms, the country’s largest grower of houseplants. He surrounds himself with plants at home and in the office, making him a happy, well-adjusted person. His garden writing has appeared on websites, print, television, and video.







It’s no news to most of you that spring has been slow this year. Exceedingly slow. While I’m starting to see signs in life in my landscape (snowdrops are blooming), it’s my houseplants that are really providing my garden delight.

There are lots of great reasons to have houseplants:

  • They help clean indoor air (and according to the O2 for You website, the EPA ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top threats to public health).
  • Looking at houseplants helps reduce stress, improves concentration, and helps our memory (says some research).
  • Houseplants add moisture to the dry, heated indoor air we suffer with in winter (and early spring this year)
  • There’s a houseplant to work with every style of decor
  • And ultimately, it’s nice to be able to look at something nice and green on your desk or in your home.


Houseplants aren’t hard to grow. Some people think so, but if you choose the right plant for your space and lifestyle, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits without having to feel like your sacrificing your time to maintain them. By the way: Need help picking the perfect plant? Use our Houseplant Finder!

When I get home, I’m greeted by the lush leaves of a 6-foot-tall banana I’ve had for about five years now; the wonderful scent of Arabian jasmine; and a host of other beauties.

Do you have houseplants? If so, what are your favorites?

Did you know that it’s National Indoor Plant Week? We love any opportunity to celebrate gardening! There are lots of reasons to grow plants indoors, especially in your home or office.

University studies have shown that we’re more productive and less stressed when there are plants around. That little plant on your desk is a connection to nature, especially if you can’t easily see a window to look outdoors.

In addition to making us feel better psychologically, plants help us physically. Plants indoors do a marvelous job of filtering out pollutants, especially from super-energy-efficient buildings where air is circulated all day and there’s not much fresh air coming in from outside.

Do you have plants? If not, now’s a GREAT time to add some to your life. Not sure which are best? Take our fun quiz at http://www.bhg.com/gardening/houseplants/houseplant-finder/.

Bromeliads are easy-care indoor plants that pack a punch of color for months on end. Rather than giving your valentine flowers with fleeting color, consider giving a lasting gift of one of these beauties. (While you’re at it, pick up one for yourself too!)

All that these undemanding plants require is bright light and occasional watering. The varieties that form cuplike rosettes make watering a snap. Simply fill the “cup” with water, allowing a bit extra to drip down to the soil. Types with scaly silvery foliage (sometimes called air plants) thrive with twice-weekly misting or dunking.

Because they are tropical in origin, bromeliads appreciate comfortable room-temperature conditions. You can move them outdoors to a shaded location for the summer, but protect them from frost.

'Valentina' is a new variety of guzmania, appropriately named for gift giving to your sweetheart. Its combination of green straplike leaves, bright red bracts, and tiny white flowers is stunning.

Blushing bromeliad (Neoregelia carolinae 'Tricolor') develops a reddish pink blush on its green and white striped leaves when it blooms. The flowers are often hidden in the plant's vase, but the colorful foliage steals the show anyway.

Silver vase plant (Aechmea fasciata) pushes up a starburst of pink bracts and small purplish blue flowers from its silvery vase of foliage.

Pink quill (Tillandsia cyanea) is an air plant bromeliad. Its bright pink bracts remain even after its purple flowers fade.

Earth star (Cryptanthus bivittatus) makes a sculptural statement in a mixed planter. Its cream, rose, and green stripes attract attention.

Who knew that January 10 is Houseplant Appreciation Day? I certainly didn’t until I came across it in an obscure reference. But it makes sense to celebrate the beauty and health benefits that plants bring to indoor living and working spaces during the depths of winter. (Okay, not so much THIS winter when we’ve been enjoying springlike temperatures for weeks on end here in Iowa.)

If you’ve shied away from houseplants because you’re afraid of killing them, it’s time to bring in the heavy artillery with Plants of Steel. This is a term coined by Costa Farms, one of the largest suppliers of houseplants in the world. Among their Plants of Steel, they list four foolproof plants: Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata), snake plant (Sansevieria), and Zeezee plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). I don’t know how they could have missed cast-iron plant (Aspidistra) and the ubiquitous pothos (Epipremnum), often mistakenly called “philodendron”, so I’ve added them to my short list pictured below.

Check out the bhg.com website for more easy-to-grow houseplants.

Most forms of Chinese evergreen have variegated silver and green foliage.

'Valentine' aglaonema is one of the colorful new Thai forms of this easy-care houseplant.

This ponytail palm is more than 30 years old, surviving more than ten moves, a testament to its toughness.

Snake plant is so easy that even my mother could grow it! It's one of the few houseplants that she managed to keep alive.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia is a mouthful to say, so simplify it by calling it zeezee plant. It needs little water because it has thick, succulent leaves.

As it's name suggests, cast-iron plant is a tough-as-nails houseplant.

Silver Queen pothos has lovely marbled cream and green foliage on a vining plant.

Valentine aglaonema

Pink Thai aglaonemas aren’t entirely new. But they certainly haven’t hit mainstream just yet. That may be about to change, if what I saw at the Tropical Plant Industry Expo last month is any indication. At least half a dozen vendors featured these glorious beauties in their booths. They definitely made me lust after them!

These showy cousins of the more common Chinese evergreen make sturdy, dependable houseplants, but are  slower growing, and require a bit more light to maintain their colorful foliage. Slower growth and relative rarity means they are more expensive, if you’re lucky enough to find them.

Some are almost gaudy, like the hot pink ‘Valentine’ pictured at left. (I think that it would make a great Valentine’s Day gift, don’t you?) If you prefer a more subtle effect, perhaps one of the other varieties pictured below would be a better choice.

Look for these colorful foliage plants to make a splash soon in garden centers!

Etta Rose aglaonema

Siam Aurora aglaonema

Aun Ya Manee aglaonema

Sparkling Sarah aglaonema

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