What You Need to Know Before Buying Indoor Plants Online

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Ready to buy indoor plants online? Read these tips from an indoor plant expert about what you should know before you buy.

No backyard? No problem. At last count, plant expert Summer Rayne Oakes had more than 1,000 plants inside her Brooklyn apartment. She gets so many questions on plant care that she started a YouTube channel to help people with everything from watering schedules to propagating to upcyling tea tins into plant containers.

Hearing her story of bringing the outdoors inside inspired us to learn more about how to buy indoor plants online, then make sure they’re happy and thriving. Oakes gave us her expert tips on purchasing and caring for indoor plants. Green thumb, here we come!

Do Research Before You Buy Indoor Plants Online

We’ve all been browsing online or at the garden center and seen a plant or succulent too pretty to pass up. Two months later, you’re tossing the dead brown or yellow leaves in the trash.

Before you add anything to your cart, Oakes recommends doing some due diligence. Start with the basics. “It’s good to understand the quantity, quality and intensity of light in your home,” she says. If you have dim early morning sun and buy tropical plants that require intense sunlight, you’re setting yourself and the plant up for failure.

Also consider your tendencies as a plant owner. “Are you someone who wants to follow a strict routine with indoor plants?” Oakes says. “Or do you travel a lot and have a tendency to neglect plants?” Then shop for low or high maintenance plants accordingly. You can also look for grow lights or heat pads if your heart is set on a plant that won’t thrive under the natural conditions of your home.

Finally, its fine to shop for plants online! Oakes uses sites like Etsy, Terrain and Steve’s Leaves to find plants, seeds and propagations. She also suggests checking local plant stores to see if they offer delivery or curbside pickup.

Indoor Plants You Can Buy Online

While it’s possible to grow most plants indoors with the right natural or artificial light, we asked Oakes for her recommendations. “Some plants and trees have a resiliency to withstand a variety of water and light regimens,” she says. Here are a few of her top picks.

ZZ Plant

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First up, Oakes recommends the ZZ plant, which starts as a structural plant but fountains over as it grows larger. It’s an air purifying option that can tolerate low light, making it the perfect indoor plant for beginners.

Oakes suggests watering all the way around the plant. “If you water in just one area that can push away soil, expose roots and encourage roots to grow one way,” she says.

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Silver Pothos Plant

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Want to hang an indoor plant? Oakes likes silver pothos plants for hanging baskets. “I’ve been growing these in a range of conditions in my house and they do well even in dryer conditions,” she says.

Choose a pot or container with a drainage hole in the bottom. “Decorative containers without any drainage will easily kill a plant,” she says. Consider drilling a hole in the bottom or a pot you love. Don’t forget to add a basin underneath to catch water and protect your furniture or windowsill.

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Ox Tongue Succulent

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Succulents seem like a no-brainer indoor plant to buy online, but looks can be deceiving. “Some of us don’t have proper light to grow succulents indoors,” Oakes says. “It’s also easy to water them wrong.”

She suggests an ox tongue succulent, which is more tolerant to moderate light conditions. For soil, Oakes recommends adding a grittier or bonsai mix to standard soil. Traditional potting soil is hard to rewet when it completely dries between waterings.

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Fairy Washboard Succulent

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Fairy washboard or Haworthia succulents are another Oakes-approved suggestion. “These are a hardy plant, and they don’t grow very big which means they’re easily contained,” she says. “These are the succulents that can live on your table or desk.” Just be sure they’re in a container with drainage at the bottom or the roots will rot.

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Umbrella Tree

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Looking for a tree to grow indoors? Oakes recommends umbrella trees for their leafy structure. With bright indirect light it can grow up to five feet tall. Oakes suggests keeping them in their nursery pot. If you want something prettier, camouflage it with a basket  Just be sure to add a basin to collect water.

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Bird of Paradise

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A bird of paradise sort of resembles a tree, with banana leaf-looking leaves. It’s a tropical plant so it needs a sunny spot to thrive. If you have an outdoor area like a fire escape or balcony, Oakes suggests moving the plant there in the warmer months.

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Megan Wood
As Deputy Affiliate eCommerce Editor, Megan Wood helps Family Handyman readers find the best products to make their lives better, easier, and more joyful. She has 10 years of service journalism and product review experience across a variety of national websites. When she’s not tracking down the best sales and deals, you can probably find her walking her dog.