Bringing the natural world inside (biophilic design) is one of the biggest movements in architecture and design today. And, house plants are one of the easiest, least expensive, and accessible ways to incorporate natural elements into your home.
Today I’m partnering with my friend and sister-in-law Melissa Peterson to bring you the latest house plants trends and some of her top tips for helping them thrive.
Melissa is the manager and creative genius behind Ted’s Gardens, one of the top garden centers in Iowa. Melissa has packed her greenhouse full of house plants from trendy to tried and true, making Ted’s Gardens a destination for house plant lovers all over Central Iowa.
Under Melissa’s influence and with her advice, I have grown my own house plant collection over the years. As a designer, I believe plants are one of the most important factors in creating a space that feels layered, lived in and complete. I can’t imagine my house without plants now especially during the long Iowa winter when everything outside is gray and brown.
But plants aren’t just pretty to look at. Research into biophilic design has shown that plants support our wellbeing in a variety of ways from removing toxins in the air to infusing our spaces with a sense of peace and calm.
I sat down with Melissa to chat about which house plants are currently trending and some of the best ways to take care of them once you bring them home.
Trending House Plants #1
We often think of eucalyptus as filler for floral arrangements fresh or dry. I pick it up at Trader Joe’s to use in vases with cut flowers, but Eucalyptus is also a gorgeous house plant. I love how airy and zen it feels especially when paired with an earthy planter.
Melissa says Eucalyptus needs to be kept moist, and I can concur – I let mine dry out, and it quickly perished. Eucalyptus likes bright light and will enjoy living outside for the summer. It can get fairly large depending on the size of your pot.
Trending House Plants #2
Pothos is one of Melissa’s most requested house plants. It is easy to take care as it can thrive in a variety of lighting conditions including low light. Water it when the soil has dried out.
Popular varieties include Rio, Silver Stripe Philodendron, Neon, and Marble Queen.
Trending House Plants #3
ZZ plants are another incredibly popular plant. They are very easy to grown and can thrive in low lighting. I have one that has doubled in size over the last couple years and is one of my favorite plants. I water it every 7-10 days with my other plants, increasing the amount of water as it gets larger. But, I really don’t think I could kill this plant if I tried unless I stopped watering it completely.
I love the architectural quality of the ZZ plant’s leaves and branches and its bright green color.
Melissa says that the ZZ Raven variety, introduced in 2019, is a popular request and trendy new house plant. The Raven has dark purplish leaves vs. the bright green of the more common ZZ plant. Read more about the ZZ Raven in this post on Better Homes & Gardens.
I definitely need to add a Raven to my collection once I figure out where to put it. Because it can live in low light, I think my master bedroom would be the perfect spot.
Trending House Plants #4
Hoyas have been incredibly popular with house plant collectors over the last year. Like begonias, there are so many varieties that you can have an entire house plant collection made up of different types of Hoyas.
Right now, the Hindu Rope, pictured on the left above, and Obovata are two very popular varieties. The Hindu Rope Hoya looks particularly nice planted in a hanging basket.
Melissa says Hoyas like bright indirect light or even direct light from eastern and western windows. Let them dry out in between waterings though some varieties may prefer to stay moist.
Trending House Plants #5
The first time I saw a Cissus Discolor I was immediately struck by it. It was just so different from any house plant I had seen. I brought one home and it lived inside for several months but didn’t seem happy. One it turned warm, I moved it outside to live on my deck with my outdoor begonias.
While the Cissus Discolor resembles a Rex begonia, it is actually not a begonia but a trailing vine related to grapes. It thrives in high humidity, so it can be challenging to keep it healthy during the winter if you live in a colder climate. That would explain why mine did poorly indoors but started thriving when I moved it outside during the summer.
Trending House Plants #6
Begonias are my favorite house plant variety by far. I love the wide range of leaf shapes and colors, the structure of many of the varieties, and the patterns you can find on many of the leaves as well as their rich color.
Rex is one of the most popular and well-known varieties. Sitting here in my living room, I can see six different potted begonias, including two Rex, ranging in size, color and shape, and I have a seventh that I moved out doors for the summer.
Melissa advises that begonias like higher humidity environments and nice even moisture. Don’t let them get too dry in between waterings.
I have found my begonias do best in indirect light. We have a lot of northern and eastern light throughout the day, and every few months, I rotate my begonias so they each get a turn being closer to the windows.
Trending House Plants #7
Calathea are one of my favorite house plants because of their distinctive leaves and rich coloring. I love how the tops of the leaves are different colors from the underside.
I had a Medallion variety for several years, and at night it would close up its leaves displaying the purple underside. In the morning, they would open up again to show off their pattern.
Calathia can handle lower lighting but prefer brighter indirect light. Mine did well until I let the roots get too wet. It’s important to let it dry out in between waterings to keep it healthy and avoid the little black flies.
Trending House Plants #8
Fatsia Japonica are another trendy houseplant. Melissa says that the Spider Web and Camouflage varieties are very popular right now for the unique variegation in their foliage. I’m a fan of the large flat leaves with their distinctive shape.
This plant likes lower indirect light and will bleach in direct sunlight.
The plants listed above are only a small fraction of the plants that you can bring into your home for aesthetic and wellness benefits. Melissa and I discussed several other plants that we love and have in our homes including some larger trees, which I particularly like for adding height in empty corners.
- Olive Trees – I predict olive trees will be the next fiddle leaf fig tree. They are already starting to pop up in design magazines and on home decor and design blogs.
- Citrus Trees – Like any big tree, they will require a decent amount of space and good light. Can be moved outside for summer.
- Burgundy Rubber Tree – My least demanding plant. It grows fast and is easy to take care of. Beautiful dark purple/black foliage.
- Money Plant – Easy to grow and can get very large. I bought a small one from Trader Joe’s that has grown over two feet in a year.
Tips for Keeping Your Plants Healthy & Beautiful
Whenever I consider buying a new house plant, I immediately think about what type of pot I want to put it in. Sometimes I find the pot first, often vintage and pick the perfect plant to go with it. And sometimes I find the plant first, which I think is more difficult.
I asked Melissa for some of her tips for picking the perfect pot for house plants and keeping them healthy. I’ve been growing house plants for years now, and some of these tips were new to me.
- Choose a pot for your plant that is 2″ bigger in diameter than the plastic pot the plant came in.
- Pots should have drain holes. If you find a pot you love without holes, you can drill holes with a diamond bit.
- Place a coffee filter or a small square of needle stitch mesh over the hole to let water drain without losing soil.
- If you must use a pot with no hole, put a layer of fungus and charcoal at the bottom of the pot. It will prevent fungus and mold.
I like to find vintage pots for my house plants, which often don’t have holes. I’ve been too lazy or scared to drill holes so I have been doing the charcoal thing for years. It really does work.
My preferred pots are – vintage or new – the type with an attached dish, which looks so much better than a plastic dish. I am far too lazy to move all of my plants to the bathtub or sink to water them.
From a more aesthetic perspective, I prefer to keep my pots in a specific palette of colors. Most of my planters are either neutral or in shades of blue-green to green. I keep an eye out for interesting textures and glazing and make sure any new planter will work with my existing collection.
Melissa also mentioned that you can move your houseplants out of doors for the summer any time after the frost free date for your area. Keep in mind what type of light your plants like when placing them outdoors.
Thursday 15th of September 2022
Followed both accounts, thanks for the great content!
Tuesday 9th of June 2020
Following you both! 🤞🏼
Tuesday 9th of June 2020
Followed both insta accounted :)
Tuesday 9th of June 2020
I’ve really enjoyed the live presentations that Melissa and Derek have done. I’m a Master Gardener and plants/flowers are my favorite things. Their curbside pick up has been great for picking up the many plants that I couldn’t resist. My mom had a hoya thru out my childhood, and I’m thrilled to find them again. So far I have three!!
I am hoping that liking Teds (which I’ve already done) and Jillian’s on Facebook will be sufficient for entering the contest because I don’t have Instagram. This is a really great place to spend half of your day and all of your money! 👍😂
Tuesday 9th of June 2020
I liked both! 🌿🌵