Home & Garden

A Beginner’s Guide to Houseplants

Hannah Street of Oasis Plant Shop takes us through the ins and outs.

Thanks to their feel-good benefits and photogenic features, houseplants have been seeing a serious resurgence. But bringing your life to your space isn’t always the easiest endeavor (see: that trend still mourning the death of a finicky fiddle leaf fig). Whether you’re looking to add a leafy accent or want to create a veritable indoor jungle, we caught up with Hannah Street of the newly opened Oasis Plant Shop in Bishop Arts to answer our questions on all things plants.

Bethany Mieth and Hannah Street in their Bishop Arts shop.

First thing’s first, what’s your general advice for caring for houseplants?
They really like to be on a regular watering schedule. We typically water our houseplants every seven to 10 days. They also like to be dusted. In our homes a lot of plants’ leaves get covered in dust. Since they have pores in their leaves that absorb moisture, if they are covered in dust, they don’t get that. I also recommend misting about twice a week. Sometimes in our homes it’s so cold with the A/C running that the humidity level is not there. That mist helps build the humidity level around them, and plants love that. Regular fertilization and the correct light requirement is good, too.

How long do they typically live?
This is a tricky question because it depends on the person. The plant could potentially live as long as you do. It depends on the maintenance of the plant. Are you keeping in the right light and giving it enough water? Or transplanting it when needed? Plants want to live! There are olive trees that are more than 2,000 years old.

What are some examples of common ones?
The Rubber Plant is popular, and the Fiddly Fig is probably the most popular. Aloe Vera is so beneficial. I would definitely say a Sansevieria is one of the most popular due to being so low maintenance. Anyone can have that plant—if you kill that plant, give up.

Which houseplants do you recommend?
One of my favorites right now is a Pothos Silver Dollar. The silver leaf is this really pretty, minty color. Also, a Philodendron Lime Light. Those are both cute and popular right now. The Philodendron is like a lime green. There are so many different colors for plants, and they can be fun and beautiful.

Which ones are the easiest to take care of?
One of my favorites is a Bird’s Nest Fern. People are kind of nervous about ferns—they think they need a lot of water and light and may shed a lot, but the Bird’s Nest Fern is a beautiful, light green ] fern that only needs a drink every 10 to 12 days. They prefer medium light. A houseplant that has become extremely popular this year is a Monstera Philodendron. They require medium to high light and are watered every seven to 10 days. They have beautiful, heart-shaped leaves. They are all over Instagram.

The cacti have yellow blooms that soften their desert look and lend to modern or bohemian styles.

What house plants are best for what seasons?
I recommend Spineless Paddle Cactus for the summer season. It’s probably my number one favorite. It’s super low maintenance and loves our Texas sun. It blooms beautiful yellow flowers. It stays green all year round and does not freeze. One of my favorite trees is the Vitex Tree; some people call it the Texas Lilac Tree. It puts off a beautiful purple spike. It also loves our Texas sun. Agave is super easy, and it puts off a lot of pups, so it can be transplanted. It’s a plant that keeps giving.

How much light do houseplants need? Which require low light?
Typically, they need medium to high light, but there are several low light plants that will work in any dark room. A low light plant is Sansevieria, or a ZZ. The beauty behind a ZZ is he can pretty much grow in the dark. He is great for office spaces that may only have fluorescent lights. Another great thing about both of those plants is that they only get watered about once a month, so they need very low light and are very low maintenance. If you are looking for more of an ivy, I recommend a Pothos Ivy. It can live in low light and only needs a good drink about every three weeks.

How do I know when to repot?
They like to be transplanted out of their pot into a container that is typically 2-4 inches bigger in diameter than the container that it’s grown in. There are two ways that you know a plant needs to be transplanted. One is that the roots are coming up and being exposed on top of the soil, or you see the roots coming out of the bottom of the pot. That’s a big indication that the plant needs more space and more dirt. The other way I recommend is that if you water a plant and the water comes straight out the bottom, there is no soil for that water to cling to, but only roots. If it wasn’t root bound, the water would come out more slowly due to the soil.

What are some common reasons houseplants die?
The number one reason a person kills a plant is either under watering or over watering. Also, everyone needs to remember the natural habitat of a plant. It’s important to not put it in an environment that is completely the opposite of that.

Are there specific places I should put my houseplants?
I do not like to put a plant into a stuffy room that you never go into. That is just asking it to die. Plants feel our energy and know if they are neglected. Most plants end up dying if they are put in that type of space.

Which plants work well for small spaces?
Everything grows, but I would say a Hoya. They are pretty low maintenance houseplants that don’t grow all that fast. Or maybe the Fiddle Leaf Fig. We have small versions of that, but it’s a really popular plant to buy as a tree. The small versions are still super cute, and you can one day grow it into a big tree. Succulents and cactus also with the right amount of light are good for small spaces just because they are not fast growers.

Any advice for any new plant enthusiasts?
It is important to not give up. A lot of people want this life in their home, but if they get one plant and they kill it, they never buy a plant again. It’s something that does take a little trial and error, but once you get it, it’s something that you can take for the rest of your life. There are lot of things out there that suck the life out of you, but all plants do is give life and joy. I would encourage everyone to try again. I believe it is one of the most rewarding things out there.


Stay tuned to OasisPlantShop.com for the soon to be announced plant workshops coming to the shop this fall.