Indoor Plants: Selection

December 22, 2010 Print Friendly and PDF

Indoor Plants | Selection | Care and Management | Problems

Links to external web pages are followed by the source's name in parentheses.



Selecting and purchasing a healthy plant right from the beginning is important.

For more on selecting houseplants:

  • Selecting Houseplants (University of Illinois Extension) is a one-page article discussing what to look for when purchasing indoor plants and what to expect thereafter.

Light Requirements

This jade plant is best suited to high light conditions. (Photo credit: Deb Brown)

One of the greatest limiting factors in selecting indoor plants is the amount of light the plant receives in its indoor environment. This point is further exemplified by most indoor plant selection guides, which categorize indoor plants by light. Of course, plant needs such as water, humidity, nutrients, and space all affect the quality of the indoor plant, but those factors are usually much easier to modify in a home or building than placement of windows, skylights, or doors.

Find out what defines a low-, medium-, or high-light indoor plant see:

Selection Guides and Recommendations

(Photo credit: Karen Jeannette)

Aside from choosing indoor plants by light preference, homeowners often choose plants for decorative qualities, whether the plant is toxic to children or pets, and even the ability to improve air quality.

Search Engine and Guides

The following plant selector and references can help you find plants that match specific light conditions, cultural needs, and decorative qualities:

Indoor Plant Selector

Indoor Plant Selection Lists

The following are lists of indoor plants that are suitable to indoor conditions:

  • Types of Houseplants (University of Illinois Extension) provides lists of plants by common name, scientific name, and light requirements.

Household Safety and Toxicity

The Toxicity of Common Houseplants, the first resource below, recommends that homes with children contain only nontoxic plants indoors. Use the following guides to eliminate certain indoor plants if access by children or pets may be a concern.


Air Quality

Philodendron. (Photo credit: Deb Brown)

Could it be too good to be true? Some indoor plants have been proven to improve indoor air quality. Check out the following Web link:

  • Cleaning Air with Houseplants (Colorado State University Extension) provides information about plants that are effective at cleaning the air of common indoor air pollutants.

Connect with us

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Google+


This is where you can find research-based information from America's land-grant universities enabled by




This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.