Many people say they just don’t have a green thumb when it comes to houseplants, but Liz Magnuson, the Wolff’s Apple House annuals manager, believes otherwise. She says it’s just a matter of finding the right houseplant for their personality and environment. She and everyone else at the Wolff’s Garden Center will be happy to match you up with the plants that are right for you.

And when it comes to houseplants, there are many to choose from. Wolff’s currently has over 1,000 houseplants… about thirty varieties, not including succulents!

Why is it worth adding a few houseplants to your indoor space? This time of year, it’s a good way for all of us to fight the winter blues. Studies have shown that plants can make people feel more positive. Although they only purify the air on a very microscopic level, says Liz, they do make their environment more humid, which can make a difference in homes where radiator heat dries things out.

The Best Houseplants for Beginners

Liz says there are two kinds of beginning houseplant owners. The “helicopter plant parent” kind and the “oh no, I’ve forgotten to water it” kind. If you’re the kind who forgets to water plants, Liz recommends the “neglect friendly” Snake Plant.

Snake Plant at Wolff’s Apple House

Pothos, or Devil’s Ivy, are also great for beginners because they “look sad” when they need water, says Liz. You won’t kill it if you don’t water it–it’ll come back to life–but for those who might tend to over-water, it can be helpful to start with a plant that is very assertive about its needs.

Devil’s Ivy at Wolff’s Apple House
Devil’s Ivy at Wolff’s Apple House

Lucky Bamboo (dracaena sanderiana) is another good option for novices.  It’s hard to kill. You can give it a little water, put it in a corner, and almost forget about it. And it’s not technically bamboo, either, so it won’t be invasive even if you wanted to plant it outside.

Lucky Bamboo at Wolff’s Apple House

Houseplants That Are “Tough But Worth It”

Liz calls Fiddle Leaf Figs (Ficus lyrata) an “Instagram friendly” plant because they are structurally interesting and fill space well. However, Fiddle Leaf Figs have their quirks. First off, they are trees, so it’s important to give them enough space. Second, they like bright indirect light, so they can be near a window but not next to it. Third, they don’t like to be moved! It’s best to figure out a good spot for them and then just let them stay there.

Fiddle Leaf Fig at Wolff’s Apple House


Remember the Dormant Period

There are a few mistakes people often make when caring for houseplants. One is overfeeding. Houseplants have a dormant period from November to about March and should not be fertilized during that time.

Common Problems & How to Fix Them

Often, houseplants can develop spots and start to turn brown or yellow and wilt. This, says Liz, means the plant isn’t happy. Something in their environment is off. This could be due to overwatering. Check the soil. If it is really moist, allow the soil to dry completely. You may need to re-pot it since bacteria can grow in very wet soil. If that’s not the problem, they might be in a spot that’s either too bright or too cold.

Houseplants can also develop pest problems, especially if they were outside first. A white fuzz between the stem and leaf can be a sign of mealybugs. Small holes in the leaves can mean aphids are feasting.

If you’re not sure what’s plaguing your plant, Liz recommends turning to Google images. She notes that you can even upload a photo of your plant into the search box (go to Google Images and click the camera icon). And you can always feel free to bring your plant to Wolff’s, or bring a photo. The Garden Center staff will be happy to troubleshoot with you!

Whether you want to nurse a sick plant back to health or select a fun new plant to brighten your winter, we hope you’ll swing by the Garden Center! We’re restocking next week, and exciting new plants are coming soon (including carnivorous plants like Venus Flytraps and Pitcher Plants!)

And be sure to save the date! Liz is hosting a Make Your Own Terrarium Workshop on February 8, 2020!