5 Things to Consider Before Buying an Indoor Plant

By: Debbie Neese
March 12, 2021
5 Things to Consider Before Buying an Indoor Plant
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Find out what to consider before buying an indoor plant, so you have the "right plant for the right space!" No more dying plants after you check this list.

Many people buy a plant on the fly, and then when it arrives, they are frustrated because they don't have the right light or not enough humidity or whatnot. There are several things to consider before buying an indoor plant online. You definitely want to make your job easier, once you receive the plant to set yourself and the plant up for success. Let's consider the essential considerations of choosing the right plant for your home!

Lighting Conditions to Consider for Buying an Indoor Plant

Consider what light and direction exposure you have in your home before buying an indoor plant. You can use our 3 in 1 plant meter to determine the number of footcandles (the amount of light received on a surface) registering in the spot you're considering placing your indoor plant. For instance, in an indirect bright area at certain times of the day, the meter may register 1000-2000 f.c. (bright) while on a cloudy day, it may register just 500 f.c. (medium) Place the light meter at the same position as the leaves to take an accurate reading several times a day. Plants need 16 hours or so of light per day.

Get your compass out if you don't know your exposure direction. An eastern lite window has the coolest exposure, and some plants can tolerate the direct sun in this light without burning their leaves. As the sun rises and goes center stage, the light is more intense and closest to the earth. This midday sun is the brightest but indirect during the summer due to roof overhangs. As the sun moves into a downward arc, the light returns into the room and is still bright. The west-facing windows shine in light that is more intense and hotter. A northern exposure gives the least amount of light and heat throughout the year. While it's fairly consistent, there is less footcandle variation since the sun isn't passing by this window. A northern exposure can register 100 f.c. or low range. 

See the chart below to give you direction for your plant placement. 

In general, a colorful foliage plant primarily prefers brighter light, or the color will not be as intense and could fade. Placing a croton in a northern window will keep it less colorful, and the leaves would revert to green without the veining we admire. This goes for flowering plants also. Plants with active flower growth typically prefer a brighter exposure rather than a northern one. If you see your plant getting leggy or stretchy, it's time to move it into another orientation or start supplementing with artificial light. 

If you're in question about a plant's light needs, a safe bet is to place it in an eastern exposure since it's cooler light and will be less dehydrating too. 

Humidity Levels to Consider Before Buying Indoor Plants

An average home with heating and air will have between 30-45% humidity. A higher humidity would be between 45-60%, and a greenhouse-like humidity is above 60%. If you have an aquarium, the humidity may be higher depending on the size of the tank. A whole-house humidifier also works, so you can set it to different levels to adjust the moisture content in the air. Measure your home's humidity by getting a hygrometer and placing it near the plant's designated spot. This way, you'll know if you've picked a humid enough place or not. 

Learn other ways to increase humidity around your plants in our blog here

Busy Bee vs. Nurturer Factor

Some indoor plants are very low maintenance, but some take a little TLC and nurturing. What do we consider nurturing? Plants that need more humidity or more watering and may be a bit finicky if you forget to water one week. It may need supplemental light if your home's interiors aren't bright enough. If you are a nurturing kind-a-person, this is right up your alley. If you're a world traveler and are always running late, not so much. It's time to decide how much energy you want to put into your plants. If you see it as a relaxing task to talk to your plants, water them, check them consistently, you're a nurturer. You can choose plants that are medium to difficult for most but rank easy in your world! 

For the world traveler and late for an important date, but you still love the idea of clean air and green foliage, get the easy category! Here are a few that fit the category for each. 

Space accommodations for Indoor Plants

Some plants will grow taller than you. Do you have the headroom to let them spread their leaves (wings) and grow? Others just need a simple tabletop on which to rest. Look around the room and see how far your home gardening space is and if it will be enough light in that space. Then measure the height and width and give your plant plenty of room when it grows, so you don't have to keep moving it around. Plants like to acclimate to their space and stay there. Moving from one room to the next with a different environment may put it in shock, so be careful and pick your spot carefully. You also want to put it in a place that won't be hit or knocked around or prone to fall over. Study the traffic flow around the house and decide accordingly. "Right plant, right place" is the best setup for success!

Pet-friendly Indoor Plants

Don't forget your four-legged fur babies. We have a fur-tastic grouping of pet-friendly plants you can choose. 

If you still want the bigger picture, check out our plant care tips here. Now that you have all the tools to choose the plant, what is the right plant for you? It's time to green up your space and earn your green thumb. Head over to our home page and let the growing begin!