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Match Your Houseplants With Your Work-From-Home Vibe

Whether you're curious, artsy, rigid or lazy, here's how to choose the perfect plants to fit your vibe and workload.

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Man caring for his indoor plantsELECTRAVK/GETTY IMAGES

As the work-from-home movement continues to flourish, so does our love of houseplants. But discovering the right one to thrive in your space depends a lot on your personality.

“Of course, different people have different styles,” says Puneet Sabharwal, CEO and co-founder of the Horti plant subscription service. “So it’s really fun to be able to match your houseplants to your work-from-home vibe and create a cohesive aesthetic that’s suited to your houseplant skill level.”

Here’s how to find that perfect match.

Types of Plant Parents

Before choosing your next green friend, Lisa Eldred Steinkoph, The Houseplant Guru, says you should ask yourself what kind of plant parent you are. Her types:

Helicopter: You want to water every day and fuss over your plants, sometimes loving them to death. Ferns and calatheas are great for you because they never dry out. Stay away from succulents. And definitely use pots with drainage holes so you can see if you’re overwatering.

Absent-minded: You buy a plant and think it’s going to take care of itself. If you prefer real over fake, you might do well with cacti and succulents. These can survive long periods without watering, provided you keep them in a room with bright but not direct sunlight.

Tinkerer: You research every plant before bringing it home. If this is you, the world’s your oyster. You’ll probably enjoy any species, especially challenging ones with specific needs.

Cave dweller: You’ve got a dark den or basement office. Get a grow light. Even if a plant can live without much sunlight, it will likely do much better with supplemental rays. Try semi succulents that adapt well to various light conditions, like peperomias and hoyas. Both are upbeat and leafy.

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Adiantum capillus-veneris, the Southern maidenhair fernZloyel/Getty Images

Maidenhair Fern for Helicopter Plant Parents

The delicate, lacy maidenhair fern is great for over-attentive plant lovers but a disaster for all others. It requires bright light and consistently moist soil. “Allowing it to dry out is a death knell,” says Steinkoph. “And an east window is perfect.”

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Calathea makoyana The plants are in white pots in the white wall decorated room.sarayut Thaneerat/Getty Images

Calathea Makayona for Helicopter Plant Parents

Calathea makayona’s large, tropical, waxy leaves evolved to catch dripping water from the rainforest canopy.

“It’s perfect for someone with a communal office space, where you’re either bumping elbows with your partner or your kids and pets are running underfoot,” says Sabharwal. “It helps designate your space from other activities while ensuring that they are non-toxic to everyone around you.”

It likes bright, indirect light and minimal water.

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Zebra Plant via merchant

Goeppertias for Helicopter Plant Parents

Formerly called calatheas, these plants offer a jungly vibe and delicate flowers. They’re also finicky, so good for helicopter plant parents. To grow well, they need to be kept moist with elevated humidity, in bright light but out of full sun.

“They also do not like fluorinated water,” says Steinkoph. “If your tap water contains fluoride, use distilled, spring or rainwater.”

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Aglaonema Maria houseplant cuttings in a red glass vase in front of a white wall, Chinese EvergreendropStock/Getty Images

Aglaonema for Absent-Minded Plant Parents

Perky aglaonema’s elongated leaves sporting green and yellow patterns add nice texture to any room. They’re easy plants to keep alive because they don’t need a lot of light and their succulent stems can tolerate drying out between waterings. For movie buffs, this is the plant Leon carried with him in The Professional.

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Platyceriumkyoshino/Getty Images

Staghorn Fern for Those Who Crave Order

Antler-shaped fronds give staghorn fern character, energy and personality. “It’s perfect for the workspace of someone who can count on one hand all of their objects that spark joy and where everything has a place, from the alphabetized books down to the personalized letterhead and custom cable keepers,” says Sabharwal.

It also craves humidity, so keep the soil moist and shield it from direct light.

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Tropical 'Epipremnum Aureum Marble Queen' pothos houseplant in flower potFirn/Getty Images

Pothos for New and Neglectful Plant Parents

Also called devil’s ivy, this houseplant is popular because it’s so easy to grow. “Pothos can collapse when allowed to dry out, but they usually come back,” Steinkoph says. Just add water and pick out the yellowing or dead leaves. It tolerates low light but prefers it bright. It will flourish more if kept evenly moist.

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Air puryfing house plants in home concept. Spathiphyllum are commonly known as spath or peace lilies growing in pot in home room and cleaning indoor air.Helin Loik-Tomson/Getty Images

Spathiphyllum for Absent-Minded Plant Parents

These plants, also called peace lilies, grow deep-green leaves and large, elegant white flowers. They’re another species that won’t die right away just because the soil dried out. “When it’s watered again, it pops right back up,” says Steinkoph.

They also tolerate low light, but prefer it bright, and flourish more when evenly moist. It had a moment in the limelight as Constable Angel’s plant in the movie Hot Fuzz.

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Episcia Cupreata / Flame VioletJaysonPhotography/Getty Images

Episcias for Tinkerers

Some episcias aren’t hard to grow. But the more variegated forms, like Cleopatra, need to be in a terrarium for success. “Many grow them under lights with African violets and other gesneriads,” says Steinkoph. Keep them evenly moist with elevated humidity.

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houseplant Asplenium nidus in white flowerpotOlgaMiltsova/Getty Images

Crispy Wave Fern for Artistic Spaces

Crispy wave fern is one of the hardiest ferns and one of the oldest living plants on earth.

“This plant is ideal for someone with an eclectic office with pizzazz,” says Sabharwal. “Imagine colorful artwork lining the walls, handmade pottery from an ecovillage in South America dotting the bookshelves, and the ambient sounds of Enya wafting through the airwaves.”

These grow well in many places, but excel in bright and humid rooms shielded from direct sun.

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Oxalis or false shamrock plant.Melissa Ross/Getty Images

Oxalis for Tinkerers

Oxalis plants fill up pots with a green or purple clover-like canopy of leaves and delicate flowers, which can range from purple and pink to white and yellow. They’re easy to grow but go dormant if they dry out.

“People think they have died and throw them away,” says Steinkoph. “But after a short dormancy period, they appear again.”

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Amaryllis flowers on windowsillJohner Images/Getty Images

Amaryllis for Tinkerers

Amaryllis bulbs aren’t hard to grow, but they can be perplexing. To continue flowering each year, they need a dormant period. After they flower for the first time, add a little fertilizer and let the foliage grow through the summer. That lets the bulb store up energy for next year’s bloom.

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Potted Native South and Central American Plant (Peperomia serpens) Against a Stylish Brick WallAlexandre Morin-Laprise/Getty Images

Peperomia Hope for Tight Spaces

This semi-succulent is sometimes called trailing jade because of its wandering stems and bright-green leaves. It does well in medium to bright light.

This plant is perfect for the person with a snug office, whether it’s the corner of your dining room or the multipurpose room in which your desk competes for space with the guest bed and workout equipment,” Sabharwal says.

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Decorative Sansevieria Plant On Wooden Table In Living Room. Sansevieria Trifasciata Prain.Tharakorn Arunothai/Getty Images

Sansevieria for Nocturnal Plant Parents

Also called snake plant, sansevieria‘s upward growth means it doesn’t take up much desktop space. It’s drought tolerant, handles lower light conditions, and is one of the few plants that release oxygen at night.

“This plant is perfect for someone whose office leans toward cluttered,” Sabharwal says. “[Imagine] a lair of day-old coffee cups, half-read books and stacks of file folders that precariously tower over your desk like an abandoned game of Jenga.”

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Monstera Monkey Mask or Obliqua or Adansonii stands on a white pedestal on a light backgroundKseniia Soloveva/Getty Images

Monstera Adansonii for Air Quality

Also called philodendron Swiss cheese, this fast-growing, quirky plant can hang down from a basket, wrap itself around a pole or even scale the walls. “These plants banish negative energy and remove airborne toxins like formaldehyde from the air,” says Sabharwal.

They’re easy to care for, but need bright indirect light and moist soil. If you’re in search of a jungle feel in your apartment, try combining them with other aroids, alocasias and pothos.

Karuna Eberl
Karuna writes about wildlife, nature, history and travel for magazines, newspapers and websites including National Geographic, National Parks, Discovery Channel, Atlas Obscura and the High Country News. She's also produced a number of independent films and directed the documentary The Guerrero Project, about the search for a sunken slave ship. She and her husband, Steve, wrote an award-winning guidebook to the Florida Keys and are currently completely renovating an abandoned house in a ghost town. She holds a B.A. in journalism and geology from the University of Montana. Member of OWAA, SATW.