What Kind of Houseplant is This? Discovering Your Mystery Greenery

Have you ever found yourself scratching your head in puzzlement, wondering “what kind of houseplant is this?” It’s not uncommon to purchase a plant from a nursery or receive one as a gift, only to find out that you have no idea what type of plant it is. Identifying houseplants can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not familiar with different plant varieties. However, with a little bit of knowledge and some careful observation, you can discover the identity of your mystery plant in no time.

Why Identifying Houseplants Is Important

Identifying your houseplant is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it will help you to determine what care requirements your plant needs, such as watering, sunlight, soil type, and humidity levels. Secondly, identifying your plant can help you to prevent or manage any pests or diseases that may affect your plant. Finally, knowing the identity of your plant can provide you with a sense of satisfaction and help you appreciate its unique qualities.

Understanding Plant Terminology

Before you begin identifying your houseplant, it’s essential to familiarise yourself with some common plant terms. Here are a few key terms you may encounter:

  • Plant Species: A group of plants that share similar characteristics and produce offspring with similar features.
  • Leaf Blade: The wide, flat part of a leaf.
  • Leaflet: A smaller leaf that is part of a larger leaf.
  • Petiole: The stalk that attaches a leaf to a stem.
  • Stem: The main trunk or branch of a plant.

Using Plant Identification Resources

Several resources are available to help you identify your houseplant species. Here are a few options to consider:

Plant Identification Apps

With the advancement of technology, there are several plant identification apps available for download. These apps use advanced algorithms to identify plant species by analyzing photos of the plant’s leaves, flowers, and stems. Some popular plant identification apps include PlantSnap, PictureThis, and Pl@ntNet.

Plant Identification Books

If you prefer a more old-fashioned approach, a plant identification book may be a useful resource. These books provide detailed descriptions and photos of various plant species, making it easier to identify your mystery plant. Some popular plant identification books include “The Complete Guide to Houseplant Care” by Barbara Pleasant and “Indoor Plants” by George S. Williamson.

Online Plant Identification Services

Several online plant identification services are available, where you can submit a photo of your plant and receive advice from experts. Some popular online plant identification services include the Reddit “What’s this plant” subreddit and the iNaturalist website.

Observing Your Plant

If you’re unsure where to start with identifying your houseplant, start by observing its unique features. Take note of its leaf shape, size, and colour, as well as the texture of the leaves and stems. Observe the shape and structure of the plant, including whether it grows upright or spreads out. Finally, look for any special features, such as flowers or unusual growth patterns.

Common Houseplant Species

While there are thousands of houseplant species available, there are a few types of plants that are more commonly seen. Here are a few popular houseplant species and their identifying features:

Snake Plant

  • Long, spiky leaves
  • Green, striped or variegated leaves
  • Thick and sturdy leaves

Spider Plant

  • Long, thin leaves
  • Curved leaves
  • Green leaves with white or yellow stripes
  • Produces small spiderettes


  • Large, heart-shaped leaves
  • Green or variegated leaves
  • Climbing or trailing growth habit
  • Produces aerial roots

Rubber Plant

  • Large, shiny leaves
  • Dark green or burgundy leaves
  • Upright growth habit

Fiddle Leaf Fig

  • Large, fiddle-shaped leaves
  • Leathery, glossy leaves
  • Green or variegated leaves
  • Grows tall and narrow

Common Mistakes When Identifying Houseplants

While identifying houseplants can be challenging, there are a few common mistakes people make when attempting to identify plants. Here are a few mistakes to avoid:

Assuming All Plants Look the Same

Not all plants look the same, and there can be significant variations in leaf shape, size, colour, and growth habit within the same species. Be careful not to assume that your plant will look exactly like the photos you find in plant identification resources.

Not Looking at the Plant’s Unique Features

While it’s essential to consider the big-picture characteristics of a plant, such as its shape and size, it’s also crucial to observe its unique features, such as leaf texture, colour, and shape. Ignoring these unique features can make identifying your plant more difficult.

Comparing Plants Without Proper Identification

Comparing your plant to other plants without properly identifying it can be a dangerous practice. You may end up following the wrong care instructions or miss an opportunity to manage a pest or disease properly.


Identifying houseplants may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. By familiarising yourself with plant terminology, using online resources or books, observing your plant’s unique features, and avoiding common mistakes, you can quickly discover the identity of your mystery plant. Remember that each plant is unique and comes with its own care requirements, so taking the time to identify your plant can help you provide it with the best care possible.


  • Q: What kind of houseplant is easiest to care for?
  • A: Some of the easiest houseplants to care for include snake plants, spider plants, pothos, and ZZ plants.
  • Q: What is the best light for houseplants?
  • A: Most houseplants prefer bright, indirect light. However, some plants, such as succulents, prefer direct sunlight, while others, such as ferns, prefer low light.
  • Q: How often should I water my houseplants?
  • A: The frequency of watering depends on the type of plant, the size of the pot, and environmental factors such as temperature and humidity. Generally, it’s better to underwater than overwater your plants, and it’s always essential to allow the soil to dry out between watering.
  • Q: How can I tell if my houseplant is getting too much or too little water?
  • A: Signs that your plant is not getting enough water include drooping leaves, dry or brittle leaves, and brown leaf tips. Signs that your plant is getting too much water include yellowing leaves, mushy or slimy stems, and foul odours from the soil.


  • House Plants Expert. (n.d.). Identification. https://www.houseplantsexpert.com/identification
  • Let’s Talk Plants. (2020, May 15). Identifying Plants: How to Identify Houseplants (Step-by-Step Guide). https://letstalkplants.com/how-to-identify-houseplants/
  • Plantsome. (2021, June 11). How to Identify Your Houseplants: The Ultimate Guide. https://plantsome.ca/blogs/plantsome-blog/how-to-identify-your-houseplants

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