My 8 favorite houseplants

dried eucalyptus in glass

Growing up, I thought it was ridiculous how many plants my mom keeps around the house until I turned into a plant lover myself. Apparently ‘plant lady’ is the new cat lady, but that’s rather sexist since I follow a few knowledgeable plant guys on YouTube.

Snake plant home decor

I’ve watched one too many YouTube houseplant tours (often parenthesized with titles like “MY +100 PLANTS”) to know not to go overboard. However, it doesn’t help that my good friend & guest blogger Katie is also a plants fanatic, and our collections have been growing via one another’s influence.

I’d say I have a moderate collection so far, with the following 8 plants being my favorite ones around the house.

The order reflects when I got them, earliest to most recent.

1. Snake plant (Sansevieria)

Snake plant, Sansevieria

My snake plant is easily my most favorite plant. It earns the #1 spot not only because it’s the longest I’ve kept a plant alive, but also because it has grown so much & so well. Look how tiny it was when I bought it from Ikea two years ago:

It’s gotten so big! The tallest leaf is a little over 2 ft. Another tall leaf fell over so I cut it in half for water propagation. I definitely did not give the same TLC to my other two snake plants as I did to this OG one.

Roots on the snake plant propagations are already appearing

2. ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

My second oldest plant, the ZZ plant, did not experience the same growth spurt as my snake plant above.

ZZ plant, Zamioculcas Zamiifolia

It’s still quite lovely and has gotten taller as well. I accidentally separated the tuber-like roots when changing its soil recently, which led me to propagate one part of it. I love the minimal look from the propagation; the black pot on the other hand..

ZZ plant repotted

3. Bunny ear cactus (Opuntia microdasys)

This cactus was one of twelve brought back from Arizona. It’s grown nicely, perhaps with the help of some magical dirt I’ve sprinkled on top of the soil.

bunny ear cactus, Opuntia microdasys

4. Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomioides)

Pileas have been the it plant as of late. Mine sadly doesn’t look as great as when I got it last summer. The stems used to be super long like fireworks shooting out, but now it only grows upwards and hasn’t been shooting out anymore pups.

Chinese money plant, Pilea peperomioides

I’ve only been able to successfully propagate one of its three original pups. It’s grown a lot through water propagation, but now I’m scared to transfer it to soil. It looks really nice in water anyways.

Pilea propagation

Katie also gave me one of her pups when she repotted the pilea I gave her for her birthday. It’s come a full circle!

Baby pilea in water propagation

5. Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata)

Fiddle leaf figs and I have a love-hate relationship. Simply put, I love them. They hate me. This fiddle leaf from Costco is the 5th one that’s been under my care; I’m doing everything I can to keep it alive but it is not a happy camper.

costco fiddle leaf fig

I transitioned it outside after a series of unfortunate events, including mushroom growth, fungus gnat infestation, and poor lighting / placement. All in all, it transitioned OK, but the embarrassing events continue with 1) edema on the only two new growths it shot out after 10 months, and 2) horrible sunburns from the recent heat waves.

Edema on new fiddle leaf fig baby leaf
Edema (red spots on new growth) due to incongruous watering
burnt fiddle leaf fig
Sunburnt even though it was mostly shaded :'(

6. Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)

Like my snake plant, this rubber tree plant is also from Ikea. My parents were in town for ‘Take Your Parents to Work Day’ (such an amazing perk we never partook in previously) and they got this for me when we were hiding from the unbearable heat wave.

rubber plant, Ficus Elastica

It’s been shooting out new leaves almost every day, and I can’t wait for it to get really tall.

new growth on rubber plant

7. Dried eucalyptus

Eucalyptus isn’t your typical houseplant, but it is a $5 steal from the SF Flower Mart. They are a home decor focal point, vertical space filler, and always aesthetically pleasing.

eucalyptus as home decor

Eucalyptus smells so good fresh, as it did when I picked up one too many bunches for friends & myself.

Transporting eucalyptus – windows down, branches out

On the negative side, I realized I’m also quite allergic to eucalyptus after the bunch that I hung in my shower stung my eyes like crazy. I sadly removed the pretty addition from the bathroom.

Once the eucalyptus dries naturally, you can essentially keep them forever. Though recently, my eyes have been irritated from the dried eucalyptus as well.. I might have to move them with my outdoor bunch (which turned lovely shades of pink from being sun-dried).

dried eucalyptus home decor
I’ll miss having them inside

8. Aloe vera

Last but not least, my 2nd aloe plant that pricks me with equal amounts of remorse & hope. I previously had a similar-sized aloe that grew huge and strong, only to die of root rot from overwatering. I tried everything to save it to no avail, and decided to give it another go with this second chance aloe.

aloe vera

So far it’s been OK, but I’m impatiently waiting for it to get as huge as my previous one. In the meantime, I propagated the one baby aloe it came with and hope it’ll get at least as big as its momma.

baby aloe pup

Bonus 2: Living stones (Lithops) and Unknown

The following two plants aren’t my favorites (yet), but they’re so unique looking! The lithop was purchased locally after Katie and I killed our rare lapidaria (Lapidaria margaretae) from the Arizona cacti farm. I haven’t identified the right one yet.

I also love the cute cups they’re in. They’re part of Iittala’s City Mug series that Peggy and I collected during our 10 year friendversary trip to Scandinavia and Iceland.

Lithops, Living stones, Iittala city mug series

Lithop (left), an African native, is super interesting. Its leaves split in the winter, and then open up and split into two new halves come summer. It takes a looong time to see any progress but apparently lithops can live for decades.

Cute white spots from where the leaves bound together before splitting open

Wow this was long. We’ll see which of these houseplants remain as favorites after a few seasons and additions (I’ve been eyeing some new plants).

I haven’t even documented the rest of my plants; that’ll be for another day.

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