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7 Easy Tabletop & Hanging Plants For Beginning Houseplant Gardeners

Are you new to the world of houseplant gardening? Start small & work your way up. Here's my list of 7 easy care tabletop & hanging houseplants. These tried & true favorites will get you on your way.

1 golden pothos sits in between 2 small snake plants on a table

We all start somewhere no matter what we’re doing or learning. Plants are my happy zone and they’ve been a part of my life since childhood. Maybe you’re a beginning gardener and have no idea where are how to start.

I was not raised in the digital age so this online business of mine has been a challenge. As a matter of fact, I didn’t start Joy Us garden until I was in my early 50’s. Although it’s been majorly frustrating and confusing at times, I’ve learned so much and the ride has gotten smoother. You’ll find the same to be true as you get more comfortable being around and caring for houseplants.

Here’s my list of 7 easy tabletop and hanging houseplants to get you on your way.

Plants are living things and yes, you can kill them. If it makes you feel any better, a few have died under my watch. That’s why I’m suggesting these 7; they’re tried and true in my book. These houseplants are not only easy care, but are long-lived and easy to find in a local nursery, big box store or online.

close up of many glossy green ZZ Plants

Gorgeous, glossy, tough as nails ZZ Plants. And yes, the foliage is really this glossy!

In case you’re not familiar with the word tabletop, it means anything that goes on a table, shelf, credenza, buffet, armoire, etc. In houseplant terms, these are usually 4″, 6″, 8″ and 10″ grow pot sizes .

I’m going to list 5 runner-ups along with the 7 picks listed below . I chose these houseplants not only based on my own horticultural experiences but also on comments and questions I’ve received from readers and viewers. You’ll find a few care and buying tips, a video and light conditions explained towards the end.

7 Easy Tabletop & Hanging Houseplants

I’m only touching on a few points in regards to these rockstar houseplants. I’ve done posts and videos on all of them so click the links to find out more if any spark your fancy.

Snake Plants

Low to medium light (I explain light levels down below). Snake Plants (Sansevierias, Mother In Law Tongues) are about as tough & easy as it gets. They come in a range of leaf patterns, shapes, sizes & forms. The taller growing varieties can be floor plants.

Snake Plant Care
looking down at many snake plants in a greenhouse

Snake Plants in a grower’s greenhouse waiting to be sleeved up & shipped to a garden center.

ZZ Plant

Medium light. ZZ Plants (Zamioculcas, Zanzibar Gem) have beautiful foliage & have become quite popular in the last 5 years. Larger ones can also be a floor plant. There’s a variegated form but it’s much harder to find.

ZZ Plant Care
a zz plant in a purple pot sits on a table in between 2 chairs on a patio

This is 1 of my ZZ plants which sits on a plant stand in the bedroom. It’s outside for a Kodak moment.

Pothos

Low to medium light. Pothos (Epipremnum, Devil’s Ivy) are the old standby when it trailing plants. The ones with variegation & chartreuse foliage need medium light. Jade Pothos, with solid green foliage, is the one that tolerates lower light.

Pothos Care
golden pothos with long trails hang on a pipe in a greenhouse

Golden Pothos at Green Things Nursery awaiting a new home. I have this variety of Pothos on top of an armoire & it can’t be beat it when it comes to trailing.

Spider Plants

Medium to high light. Spider Plants (Chlorophytum, Airplane Plant) are another hanging plant option. What makes them trailing plants is the easy to propagate babies which they produce. They’ll tolerate low light too but won’t produce babies as readily. Green/white & green/chartreuse are the color combos you usually find them in.

Spider Plant Care
nell foster with joy us garden stands underneath spider plants the babies are touching her head

Standing under the Spider Plants & all their babies.

Aloe Vera

Medium to high light. Aloe vera (Aloe barbedensis, Aloe, First Aid Plant) is a succulent & requires bright light to do well. The plump leaves are full of gel which have various healing properties. If the plants are happy, you’ll see pups (babies) appearing from the base of the mother plant.

Aloe Vera Care
an aloe vera plant with small babies growing in a clay pot sits on the ground in a greenhouse

Aloe vera does great in terra cotta pots. Those are 2 Jade Plants (also succulents) in the background. They made the runners up list.

Ponytail Palm

High light. Ponytail Palms (Beaucarnea, Elephant’s Foot) are interesting as can be with their wild foliage which grows from a bulbous trunk. I almost choose the Jade Plant over this one, but I’ve gotten many more comments & questions about Ponytail Palms.

Ponytail Palm Care
a ponytail palm grows in a terra cotta pot adorned with shells in a front yard

I gave this Ponytail Palm to a friend when I moved from Santa Barbara to Tucson. My 3-headed one came with me though – couldn’t leave that behind!

Lucky Bamboo

Low to medium light. Dracaena sanderiana, Ribbon Plant. This 1 is a novelty because the stalks are commonly sold to grow in water. It can also be grown in soil.

Lucky Bamboo Care
a vase with 3 spiral stems of lucky bamboo sits on the floor behind a grey tabby cat

Riley & 1 of my Lucky Bamboo arrangements. He has no interest in eating houseplants by the way which is fortunate for me because I have a lot of them!

Bonus Plants

I just had to! These plants were very close runners up. Maybe I should have done 12 instead of 7 but sometimes too many choices can be confusing. Overwhelm can prevent us from starting in on anything.

I find these 5 plants easy to grow & care for: Christmas Cactus, Peperomias, Hoyas, Jade Plants & Cast Iron Plants. Chinese Evergreens (Aglaonemas) almost made the list but a few of the readers commented that they didn’t have good luck with them.

a dwarf cast iron plant in a black grow pot sits in front of a yellow wall

This is 1 of the Cast Iron Plants. I just wanted to show you what it looks like because I haven’t done a post on it yet.

Light Levels

I have no experience with artificial light so what I’m referring to here is natural light. Be aware that light levels vary with the seasons so you might have to move your plants closer to a light source in the winter months.

Very few houseplants can take strong, direct sun so keep them out of hot windows or else they’ll burn.

Conversely, a few of the plants above will tolerate low light, but they won’t do too much if any growing. Medium light levels are better.

Low light

Low light isn’t no light. This is a northern exposure with no direct light.

Medium light

This is an east or west exposure with 2-4 of the sun coming in the windows per day.

High light

This is a west or south exposure with at least 5 hours of the sun coming in per day.

Just know that you can have a low light plant in a medium or high light room but it needs to be at least 10-15’ feet away from the windows. I use my instincts when it comes to light and houseplants.

If a plant isn’t doing as well as it should, then I move it. You can find more detailed information on light and houseplants  here.

nell foster of joy us garden holds a chartreuse neon pothos

This is Pothos Neon. It needs good solid medium to high light to keep the chartreuse color this vibrant.

Tips to make your houseplant adventures successful:

Start with small plants.

Small plants are cheaper & they’ll be a great way to build up your confidence. A 6″ Pothos will cost around 8 bucks whereas a 6′ Dracaena can cost about 50 or 60. Just like if you’re new to cooking, you probably don’t want to start with a Thanksgiving dinner for 10!

Don’t buy plants on a whim.

That fluffy little maidenhair fern is pretty as can be, but it isn’t a long lasting houseplant. The same goes quite a few other plants too.

Know the requirements of the plant & where it’s going.

You wouldn’t want to place an Aloe vera in a bathroom with no natural light neither would a Lucky Bamboo do well near a hot, sunny window.

Avoid overwatering.

This is the most common cause of houseplant death. It’s better to keep the majority of houseplants on the dry side rather than constantly moist. The roots also need oxygen & will die from root rot. As I say, “go easy with the liquid love”.

nell foster of joy us garden holds an aglaonema red & a pothos en joy

Oh yes, I do love me some houseplants! This is Pothos En Joy & Aglaonema Red.

Low light does not equal no light. Plants need chlorophyll which absorbs the light & keeps them green & growing (the process explained in a nutshell!). The vast majority of houseplants won’t do well in low light over the haul. Plants labeled low light always do better in medium light.

Give 1 or 2 of these plants a try and you’ll be “houseplant obsessed” in no time. The more plants the merrier I say!

You can find more houseplant info in my simple and easy to digest houseplant care guide: Keep Your Houseplants Alive.

Much more on houseplants here!

Happy gardening,

Nell-Foster-Joy-Us-Garden

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4 comments:

  1. Enjoy your site and blog but I’ve searched for info on fertilizing/feeding houseplants without success. Would you please do a blog on proper fertilizing, i.e. which plants require nitrogen? What do the fertilizer numbers mean and how to determine which plant requires what and when to fertilize, etc. Info appreciated.

  2. I don`t like to many green plants in my home,i like the flower ones.

  3. Flowering plants are wonderful too Ingrid. Green plants live much longer though. Nell

  4. Hi Debra – That’s a great idea. I’ll put it on my list of posts & videos to do. It’ll probably be live in May or June. Nell

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