Identifying House Plants: 3 Best Ways

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You have so many houseplants that you have little to no idea what they are. But you love them – so you decide to learn about them so you can take care of each one in the best way possible.

And for that, nothing helps like identifying house plants that you have at home.

We’re going to teach you that and a bit more. You’ll finish this article with enough knowledge to identify the most common houseplants apart EVEN IF YOU’RE CLUELESS!

So, want to hop on in this learning adventure? Then don’t hesitate and learn our ways to identify plants!

1. Use an App

Use an App

It may be the laziest way to identify your houseplants, but it’s a pretty good way nonetheless. Say you have tons of different plants to recognize… what better than an app that does the job automatically?

Here are some of these apps to consider:


It has an extensive database of over 600K species. And houseplants are among the easiest to identify by the application.

You will probably have no problem identifying your houseplant as long as it isn’t a super-rare variety. Some plants may get wrongly identified, but it’s nothing a change of angle can’t fix.

Plus, you have the chance to get the name of each plant in a different language – so there’s no way to use the app without learning something.

TO CONSIDER: It is a free app at first but eventually asks you to buy a subscription. If you’re trying to learn everything you can about your houseplants, the premium version is probably worth a try for a bit.


If you don’t want to rely on the somewhat faulty accuracy of AI from an app, you can use the help of professionals and enthusiasts instead. Here’s where iNaturalist shines.

This is also an app that lets you take photos of the specimens (plants and bugs). You can take pictures of your plants and upload them to the service. Thousands of experts will then drop on your images and tell you what it is, plus a lot more.

Of course, you also get an image recognition service, so you won’t have to rely on the kindness of strangers at all times. You’re getting pretty much everything.

WHAT TO CONSIDER: You can explore through the app’s database and learn about a super-extensive list of plants and animals.

Picture This

Want to have a plant identifier as well as a plant doctor in your pocket? Then go no further than the Picture This app.

It identifies over 10,000 plants in a single snap. This could be pretty much any plant, and the app won’t let you down with the diagnosis.

The best about this app is the depth of the information. You get the name but also every piece of data necessary to take care, heal, or just maintain the plant thriving.

BY THE WAY: You may also find fun facts, user-generated pictures, and a wide array of other features that make it an undoubtedly great contender.


You can use it both on your phone or directly from your computer by simply uploading a photo. The database will analyze the image and tell you what plant it is.

While it is not as accurate as other identification apps, you will find the free usage exceptional. You can start as many identification processes as you’d like, and the app won’t mind.

What’s even better, the database comes with a sturdy array of images, plant species, and general info about each plant out there. This makes it surprisingly more practical in every way.

WORTHWHILE: It is powered by public contributions from people like you. If you’d like to help, you can also contribute information, pictures, and more.

Can Google identify plants?

Yes. You can use the image search for the job by uploading a picture file. If you’re on an Android phone, you can use Google Lens for the same job. This one is way more practical as you’ll be identifying your houseplants directly from the camera.

Just point to the plant you want to identify and capture for the app to tell you everything it can about it.

2. Learn About Different Plant Species

There are many ways to identify plants, but nothing works like LEARNING what kind of plant you’re looking at.

While this is incredibly time-consuming and may take an unsurmountable amount of effort, it’s still worth a try.

Here are some of the houseplant species you should know

Vines and Ivy Plants

Vines and Ivy Plants

As you probably know about a few of these, they need almost no introduction. Vines are pretty straightforward plants with thin stems and branches that CRAWL and CLIMB.

Some of these vines and creepers can grow to over 10 feet in size, sometimes covering areas of up to 100 feet long.

You may find that some produce fruits, while others only develop flowers from time to time. Their leaves also vary, some of them growing larger leaves than you may think, while others boast the tiniest fronds.

Here are some vines and ivies you may find as houseplants:

  • Arrowhead (Syngonium podophyllum)
  • Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Grape Ivy (Cissus striata)
  • Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • A string of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

There are tons of others to consider, but these are the most common. They’re all excellent because they often require little effort to maintain and grow almost effortlessly with little light.

Flowering Perennials

Flowering Perennials

The ability of flowering perennials to withstands all kinds of conditions and still look like they’re thriving is simply unique.

You can say flowering perennials that survive indoors are among the most sought-after – and for a reason. These plants withstand low watering and warm environments, so they’re almost ideal for indoor areas.

The best part is how beautiful these plants can be. Not only are they flowering plants, but they often boast all kinds of colors in their leaves. You will find them pretty easy to identify because the leaves tend to be large and colorful.

Most flowering perennials also honor their name well, producing super-vibrant blooms from time to time.

Did we mention how they fit perfectly on pots and other types of containers? That’s a huge plus.

  • African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha)
  • Cape Primrose (Streptocarpus)
  • Nerve Plant (Fittonia)
  • Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
  • Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
  • Weeping Fig Tree (Ficus benjamina)

These plants are also incredibly long-lasting, so you won’t have to worry much about their lifespan. As long as you take care of them well enough, these perennials can last over 10 years.

Succulents and Cacti

Succulents and Cacti

There are no easier plants to grow than succulents. They include cacti, by the way, so you get not only the easiest plant to maintain but also lovely specimens.

What sets succulents apart from other plants is their thick leaves and bodies. These plants don’t typically grow from our thin stem and several branches but instead feature a thick stem and only a few branches. These branches end up being as thick as the stem itself.

With over 10,000 succulent species to choose from, you’ll also find them in a wide array of sizes, colors, and shapes. The houseplant varieties are typically smaller and fit in a container with little effort.

Some of them may also produce fruits and flowers, but it’s rare. Most succulents grow super-slow as well and don’t require much watering.

Among the best succulents to know about, there is:

  • African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona)
  • Aloe Vera (Aloe)
  • Angel Wings (Opunta albispina)
  • Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus)
  • Bishop’s Cap (Astrophytum ornatum)
  • Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi)
  • Donkey’s Tail (Sedum morganianum)
  • Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum)
  • Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
  • Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana)
  • Snake Plant (Sansevieria)
  • Zebra Haworthia (Haworthia fasciata)

You won’t need much to grow any of these. If you already have one, you’ll know almost immediately because you’ve probably never watered it.

Tropical Plants

Tropical Plants

Some plants thrive in humid and warm environments (like terrariums) but may also withstand households. These plants have a stunning appearance and may go from simple ferns to the most vibrant orchids.

You may find tropical plants large and tall, taking over the entire living room with ease. Others are more reserved, only taking a couple of feet on a container but still featuring exquisite colors. And sure enough, there are also the tropical wonders that look nothing like others plants.

Tropical plants vary enormously, so it’s hard to identify them at once. But if there’s something that will easily tell them apart would be their typical flowerless growth and thin bodies. In contrast with flowering perennials and succulents, tropical plants are mainly used as foliage over anything else.

They will prefer warm environments and a decent amount of light. But the suitable species will thrive as houseplants without a single trouble. These include:

  • Anthurium (Anthurium andraeanum)
  • Bromeliads (Bromeliaceae)
  • Elephant’s Ear (Alocasia)
  • Kentia Palm (Howea)
  • Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
  • Orchids (Orchidaceae)
  • Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)
  • Zanzibar Gem (Zamioculcas)

If the plant looks like it could come from a jungle, that’s probably a tropical plant you’re looking at. Most of them are gorgeous.

Water Plants

Water Plants

Some plants could easily live directly on the water. They will thrive even without a single inch of soil in the container, making them uniquely attractive.

These plants also grow well indoors and are easy to identify. Most of them are small and feature light-green tones in their leaves.

While these water plants may come from many species, most of them hold a similar feature: their roots are often short. Most plants that thrive in water like this won’t have extensive roots to account for.

Many water plants stand out, but these are the best ones to consider:

  • Begonia (Begonia)
  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema species)
  • Coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides)
  • Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia species)
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • Geranium (Pelargonium species)
  • Mint (Mentha)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)

These are only a few, by the way. You’ll find thousands more that grow this way and look awesome indoors.

3. Don’t Get Confused

Don’t Get Confused

You went through the different types of houseplants you’ll find, but you still don’t know what you’re looking at.

Now you ask yourself – what kind of plant do I have?

Well, you’re probably confusing the species. Believe it or not, many of these plants look A LOT like each other. Without enough knowledge, it can be hard to know exactly what you’re looking at.

Here are some typical confusions and how to tell them apart accordingly:

Cacti vs Succulents

You can say that cacti are succulents. But the typical succulent is far from being like a cactus.

Once you’re familiar with both, it becomes an easy job to tell them apart. Meanwhile, you may get confused with little effort.

Both cacti and succulents have thick bodies. They typically hold a lot of water, and their leaves may achieve a waxy or fleshy look. But there’s a huge factor to consider here: cactus are mostly spiky. That is, their branches, leaves, and stems feature spikes. Straight succulents don’t.

Apart from that, cacti don’t have leaves. They instead grow branches from the main stem—these mayflowers in some cases. Succulents almost always boast leaves.

And lastly, cacti mostly grow in deserts and deeply arid areas. Succulents also thrive in these environments, but they also appreciate cooler and moistest areas, which most cacti don’t.

Pothos vs Philodendron

Other easy-to-confuse varieties are the pothos and the philodendrons.

People confuse these two even after years of growing them. The fact is, they’re so similar that even experts have a hard time telling them apart when they’re young.

What you must know is that their main similarities come from the heart-shaped leaves. Most pothos offers this leaf shape but typically stay small. Philodendrons, however, can grow to over 2 feet per leaf in some cases.

Apart from that, their leaves also differ in texture and thickness. Pothos leaves tend to be thick and glossy, while philodendrons are often thinner and slightly harsh given their veins.

And finally, you will also find they both grow like vines. But pothos is more creepers than they are climbers. Philodendrons are more climbers than they are creepers. So you’ll see one climbing and the other creping around.

Dracaena vs Bromeliads

What makes dracaena and bromeliads so similar is their pointy leaves. Both types of plants like to grow hanging leaves that come directly from the center. As such, these leaves end up looking pretty similar.

But there are many differences to consider nonetheless. For example, bromeliads tend to be a lot shorter. You won’t find bromeliads longer than a foot high. Meanwhile, dracaena plants can grow to over 4 feet in some cases, making them surprisingly large.

Also, you can see how both plants have similar shrubby growth. But this is easy to tell apart because bromeliads often have no stem to grow from while dracaenas grow from a large stalk in the center.

And lastly, their flowers grow entirely differently. For example, bromeliads grow a stem where a flower comes from. Dracaenas extend the flower directly from the center of their foliage which is easy to tell apart from the stemmed bromeliad flower.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Which houseplants are safe for cats?

Plants that don’t contain toxic chemicals are always worth a try if you have a cat. These include Bromeliads, Calathea, Peperomias, Palms, Prayer Plant, Bird’s Nest Fern, Money Tree, Violet, Baby Tears, Spider Plant, Polka Dot, Orchid, Haworthia, and most succulents and cacti.

Q2. What houseplant should I get?

We recommend picking a plant that could survive in your household. That is a plant that can grow with light, humidity, and air indoors. If your home is too harsh or doesn’t provide the ideal environment for the plant, you’re better off avoiding it entirely.

Q3. How many houseplants can you have indoors?

As many as you want, there’s no limit to the number of plants as long as you don’t have any problem taking care of them. That’s why we often recommend easy-to-grow varieties like succulents because they thrive in the most hostile environments with little effort on your part.

Learn About Your Houseplants Today!

Whether you want to take better care of your plants or simply avoid confusing them in the future, being more adept at identifying house plants will help you enormously.

The guide above should tell you most of the things you need for that. Once you consider our descriptions and different plants to think about per type, you’ll know exactly what you own.

Either way, what are you waiting for? Check your houseplants’ species NOW!

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