Houseplants are a lovely addition to any home, and there's so much more to them than meets the eye.
They purify the air, brighten up your space, and have been shown to have mood boosting properties.
At Appleyard, we’ve recently expanded our range of house plants to include a much wider selection of green plants, including Yuccas, Parlour Palms, Boston Ferns, and Dracaena Plants. Each one is beautiful and unique in its own way; however, we know it’s not always easy to pick the right one for your home.
In this article, we’ll be talking you through our house plant collection and answering some commonly asked questions about each one, such as whether or not a plant is safe for cats and dogs, and how effective it is at purifying the air.
We hope with this comprehensive guide, you’ll find it much easier to choose a houseplant that suits you and your home.
1. Yucca Plant
The Yucca is a modern and bold houseplant, with a bare trunk and sword-like, arching leaves. They are part of the Agave family and are native to arid areas of the Americas and Caribbean, including Mexico, California, and the Southwestern USA. There are over 40 species of Yucca.
How to Care for Yucca Plants
Yuccas are a great choice for plant novices, as they’re very low maintenance.
Being native to hot, dry climates, they don’t require too much watering and they’re nearly impossible to accidentally kill. You only really need to water Yuccas when the soil has completely dried out.
Remember to water it more regularly in the spring and summer as this is its main growing season - even so, once every 10 days should do the trick. In the colder months, you only need to water it once or twice a month as it will be dormant. Remember, you are more likely to kill a Yucca through overwatering than underwatering.
Yuccas should be kept in a bright, well lit area to ensure they get enough light. A south facing window is ideal. Rotate the pot regularly - Yuccas will grow towards the light and can become lopsided. Their leaves can also get dusty which can limit photosynthesis, so give them the occasional clean with a microfibre cloth to keep them your plant in good shape.
Do Yucca Plants Purify the Air?
Yuccas do purify the air; however, other plants are better at it. If this is a main consideration then you may want to choose a different plant.
Are Yucca Plants Safe for Pets?
Sadly, this plant is not entirely safe for pets. All parts of the Yucca plant are poisonous to dogs and cats, and in large amounts can cause drooling, vomiting, weakness, reduced coordination and dilated pupils.
However, in most cases it’s unlikely that a dog or cat will eat enough Yucca for it to cause serious problems, and usually they’ll only get an upset tummy with mild vomiting and diarrhea. To be safe, (and to avoid the mess!) we would recommend keeping this plant in a place your pets can’t reach it.
2. Boston Ferns
The Boston Fern is an attractive fern with long, ruffled fronds growing in all directions. It’s native to tropical, humid regions such as swamps and forests. It is widespread and found growing in the Americas, the West Indies, Polynesia, and Africa.
How to Care for Boston Ferns
Boston Ferns are resilient plants, and fairly easy to care for. They do well in pots, but can also be moved to hanging baskets if you want something a bit different.These plants are happiest in bright, indirect light.
Boston Ferns should never be allowed to completely dry out, and you should water them when the top inch of soil has dried out. When it’s hot, you may need to water your plant every couple of days but in cooler weather twice a week should be fine. Be careful to not allow the plant to become waterlogged as this can cause the plant to rot. Avoid pouring water over the crown (where new fronds come in), as this can damage the plant and cause rot.
These pretty plants love humidity, so keeping them in a bathroom or kitchen is a great way to help them stay healthy. You can also mist the leaves occasionally.
It's normal for a couple of fronds to dry out and brown as the fern ages - simply prune them, or just shake the plant to remove any debris.
Do Boston Ferns Purify the Air?
The Boston Fern’s luscious foliage makes it excellent at purifying the air. This plant was identified in a study by NASA scientist B.C Wolverton as being one of the best house plants at removing toxins from the air, and it’s particularly effective at reducing the levels of formaldehyde.
Are Boston Ferns Safe for Pets?
The Boston Fern is perfectly safe for both cats and dogs. Cats do like to play with the fronds though, so if you want your plant to keep looking lush, it might be best to keep your cats away from it.
3. Chamaedorea (Parlour Palm)
The Parlour Palm originally became popular in Victorian times and has remained so ever since. It’s a classic indoor palm with feathered leaves on elegant, arching stems. This evergreen plant originates from rainforests in Mexico and Guatemala. Indoors, it can grow to around 1.2 metres in height.
How to Care for Chamedorea
This plant is a great choice for beginners, as it’s easy to care for and happy even in low light conditions. However, for the best growth and condition, it’s best to keep the Parlour Palm in bright, indirect light. In warmer weather, it can be placed in a shady spot outside. Keep it out of direct sunlight whether indoors or outdoors, as this can dry the leaves.
It doesn’t need watering often, and you should avoid overwatering Chamaedorea. You should water it weekly during the main growing seasons of spring and summer, and not allow the soil to dry out.
Watering can be reduced as the weather cools. In winter, allow the soil to dry slightly before watering it again. Always make sure the pot can drain properly.
Do Parlour Palms Purify the Air?
The Parlour Palm is one of the very best plants for purifying the air, and NASA’s Clean Air study showed it was one of only three plants that could remove all common air pollutants.
Are Parlour Palms Safe for Pets?
Parlour Palms are non-toxic and safe for both cats and dogs.
4. Areca Palm
The Areca Palm is a large indoor palm plant, with bamboo like stems and feathery fronds. Originally from Madagascar, it now also grows in other locations including the Canaries and the Caribbean, and southern Florida.
How to Care for Areca Palms
Areca Palms can be a little trickier than other houseplants to care for, and can’t be neglected. They are quite fussy about light, and need bright, indirect light to thrive. Ideally, they should be near a south or west facing window. Direct sunlight and shade should both be avoided. Try to keep it in a room with a consistent temperature, as draughts can cause the leaves to turn brown.
Check the soil regularly, and ensure it is kept moist at all times in the spring, summer and autumn. In the winter, it can be allowed to dry slightly. Areca Palms do much better in a humid environment - if the air is dry, we recommend misting the leaves.
Do Areca Palms Purify the Air?
The Areca Palm is an excellent air purifier. It helps to maintain humidity, whilst also removing toxins.
Are Areca Palms Safe for Pets?
The Areca Palm is non-toxic to both dogs and cats.
5. Ficus Benjamina (Weeping Fig)
The Ficus Benjamina, or Weeping Fig is a tropical evergreen tree with a slender trunk and dense, shiny leaves on attractive arching branches. It’s a popular houseplant, native to Southeast Asia and Australia.
This plant has been known to cause skin allergies in some people, and the plant contains latex. With this in mind, we recommend choosing a different plant if you have sensitive skin, asthma or a latex allergy.
How to Care for Weeping Figs
Weeping Figs are resilient plants and can tolerate a range of conditions, but generally prefer rooms with higher humidity. Display them in bright, indirect light throughout the year.
Let these tree dry out slightly between each watering, and avoid letting it become waterlogged. If the leaves turn yellow, this is a sign you are overwatering the plant. As with other houseplants, it needs to be watered less frequently in the winter. You can mist the leaves to help maintain humidity.
Do Weeping Figs Purify the Air?
The Weeping Fig is great at purifying the air, and the NASA Clean Air study proved it could remove formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene, which are common pollutants from carpets and appliances.
Are Weeping Figs Safe for Pets?
Unfortunately, the Ficus Benjamina is toxic to both cats and dogs. The sap can cause irritation of the mouth, digestive system, and skin.
6. Dracaena Plants
Commonly known as Dragon Trees, Dracaena Plants are small trees with thick, woody stems and long sword like leaves. We offer the Dracaena Marginata, which has green leaves with red edges, as well as the larger Dracaena Lemon and Lime which is double stemmed with vibrant yellow and green variegated leaves. These tropical trees are native to Madagascar.
How to Care for Dracaena Plants
Dragon Trees are easy to care for and very durable, meaning they’re a good choice for beginners. They’re a slender plant, so can fit in well in a variety of smaller spaces.
Keep your Dracaena in bright, indirect light to avoid scorching the leaves. Dracaena plants do not need a lot of water, and overwatering can damage the plant. Let the soil dry out before you water it again. As it’s a tropical plant, place it in a room where the temperature stays above 15°C.
Do Dracaena Plants Purify the Air?
Dracaena plants were identified in NASA’s Clean Air Study as being highly effective at purifying the air, and could cleanse most common air pollutants, including benzene, formaldehyde, tricloroethylene, xylene and tolune.
Are Dracaena Plants Safe for Pets?
Dracaena plants are not safe for cats or dogs, and have been shown to cause symptoms such as vomiting, drooling, and abdominal pain. In cats, they can cause dilated pupils.
7. Zamioculcas Zamiifolia (ZZ Plants)
Zamioculcas Zamiifolia is a tropical plant native to eastern Africa. It has attractive foliage, with wide, dark green, glossy leaves and tall slender stems. It’s often known as the ZZ Plant, or Zanzibar Gem.
How to Care for ZZ Plant
The Zamioculcas Zamiifolia is very easy to care for, making it one of the best choices for those new to plant care. It prefers bright, indirect light but can cope well with lower light levels as well.
ZZ plants have bulbous rhizome roots which hold large amounts of water. This means overwatering is much more of a threat than underwatering. Let the soil dry out completely before watering it again. This might mean only watering it once a month, or every couple of weeks in warmer weather.
Be aware this plant can cause skin irritation, particularly if you have sensitive skin. You may wish to wear gloves when handling it, or wash your hands afterwards.
Do ZZ Plants Purify the Air?
ZZ plants are great air purifiers, and can remove large amounts of common airborne toxins.
Are ZZ Plants Safe for Pets?
Sadly, ZZ plants are not ideal for pet owners, as all parts of the plant are toxic to cats and dogs. These plants can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested, and skin irritation if your cat or dog rubs against it.
8. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum)
The Spider Plant is a classic houseplant with rosettes of slender, variegated, bright green leaves. It’s native to tropical regions of Africa, but also now grows in other areas of the world such as Australia.
How to Care for Spider Plants
The Spider Plant is incredibly adaptable and one of the easiest houseplants to care for. Even if you have a habit of letting plants die, this one is hard to kill.
Place your Spider Plant in an area with medium to bright indirect light. They prefer slightly cooler temperatures, so bear this in mind when choosing the perfect place for it.
These plants do appreciate moist soil, so don’t let them dry out too much. Usually they’ll need watering once the top inch of soil has dried, and you should make sure the water drains properly to avoid it getting too wet. They’ll normally need watering around once a week.
Spider plants grow extensive root systems quickly - keep an eye on the drainage holes and sides of the pot. They don't mind being a bit rootbound, but if the roots are getting out of control it can be worth repotting your plant to encourage further growth. When you repot your plant, make sure to only repot it to a pot an inch or two bigger to avoid putting too much stress on the roots.
Do Spider Plants Purify the Air?
The Spider Plant is great at purifying the air, and is especially good at removing formaldehyde.
Are Spider Plants Safe for Pets?
Spider Plants are non-toxic and safe for both cats and dogs.
However, Spider Plants do have slightly hallucinogenic effects on cats (similar to catnip), so you may notice that your cat is attracted to the plant. With this in mind, it’s worth keeping it a little out of reach if possible. If your cats eat a lot of it, it may cause an upset tummy.
9. Calathea Medallion
The Calathea Medallion is a beautiful, decorative house plant with large, banded dark green leaves with a deep red-purple underside. They are native to tropical regions of the Americas.
How to Care for Calathea Medallions
Calathea Medallions are slightly higher maintenance than some other plants, so bear this in mind when selecting a houseplant for your home. These tips should help you keep yours in the best condition.
Calathea Medallions are happiest in an area with medium to bright indirect light. Direct sunlight should always be avoided as this will damage the leaves.
These plants need to be kept in damp soil, so check the soil regularly and water as needed. Usually, it’s best to add just a little water on a regular basis so the soil doesn’t get too wet. Watering frequency will depend on other conditions, such as the humidity of your home, and it may need watering several times a week.
Speaking of which, these plants definitely prefer a warm, humid environment, and we recommend placing the pot on a dish with water and stones to maintain the humidity around the plant. You’ll know if the air is too dry, as the tips of the leaves will turn brown. You can also mist the leaves to help keep them in good shape.
Do Calathea Medallions Purify the Air?
Calathea Medallions were not tested in the NASA Clean Air Study, so it’s unknown which chemicals they can remove. However, as with most houseplants it probably has a beneficial effect on overall air quality.
Are Calathea Medallions Safe for Pets?
Calathea Medallions are non-toxic and safe for both cats and dogs.
Simply can't decide which house plant to buy? Choose from our plant bundles. The Tropical Trio is a collection of plants chosen to bring a tropical twist to your home, containing a Yucca Plant, Calathea Medallion, and Spider Plant. Our Air Purifying Bundle is a selection of the very best air purifying plants, including a ZZ Plant, Boston Fern, and Dracaena Plant.