The 3 most underrated houseplants according to houseplant experts

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So where do you start when it comes to selecting a new green friend for your space? The choices can be overwhelming, and it usually feels easiest to go with the popular options. All it takes is a quick look on Instagram to see that plants like Monstera deliciosa and fiddle leaf fig have cemented their place as some of the trendiest and most sought after houseplants. But there are so many other amazing plants that don’t get the same love and attention online. I asked a few houseplant experts and self-proclaimed green thumbs which plant they think deserves a little more attention, and here’s what they had to say.

When it comes to houseplants, air plants (Tillandsia) is probably not one of the first things that comes to mind. These versatile little plants are called air plants because they don’t need soil to survive – they can literally be grown successfully, well… in the air. That is because Tillandsia are epiphytes, meaning that in their natural environment they primarily grow on other plants and obtain their nutrients and moisture from the air and from the debris around them. There are over 650 species of plants in the Tillandsia genus, so you won’t be spoiled for choice when it comes to finding the perfect air plant for your space.

Air plants “make great houseplants…they can literally be used to decorate any boring room” says Instagrammer Kim of Botanical House. Since they don’t need soil, they can really integrate into your home decor and be displayed on bookshelves, bedside tables and even tabletops. “They’re also super fun to add to hanging glass domes and make great DIY projects for terrariums,” she adds. Kim’s favorite air plants include Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), Tillandsia magnusianaand Tillandsia xerographica. The best thing about air plants? They are super easy to fit – perfect for both beginners and experts!

Often categorized as ideal low-light houseplants, ZZ plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) typically does not get the recognition and impact that other tropical houseplants do. Also commonly known as Zanzibar pearl, ZZ plants are characterized by tall arching stems and thick, waxy leaves. Instagrammer Erin Kobayashi love ZZ plants for their subdued nature and natural upright growth habit. “ZZ plants have been unfairly categorized as a staple plant you’d find in a corporate environment or hotel lobby because they’re undemanding, low-light and slow-growing,” she says. “What I love about ZZ plants is that they grow upright without the help of a trellis or moss stake, so they make great plants for a small space.”

Plus, what many people don’t know is that there are actually a few different cultivars of the standard ZZ plant that you can choose from. The most common cultivator is Zamioculcas zamiifolia ‘Zenzi’, which is a dwarf variety, tops out at about 6 to 8 inches tall and is characterized by thick, plump stems and slightly curled leaves. You can also find some rarer variants such as Zamioculcas zamiifolia “Raven,” which has elegant dark green to black foliage, and the Zamioculcas zamiifolia “variegata” which has brilliant light green and yellow variegation on the leaves.

My favorite underrated houseplant has to be the bean plant (Maranta leuconeura). Bean plants are a species of tropical flowering plant that got their nickname thanks to their leaves that fold up and down throughout the day like praying hands. They do well in a variety of light conditions, from low light to strong indirect light, and enjoy warm temperatures, which is why they thrive indoors. In addition, you can find them in a few different cool and interesting colors. My favorite bean plant is Maranta leuconeura “Lemon Llime”, which has striped oval leaves in several shades of green.

While house plants like ZZ plants and air plants thrive with minimal watering, bed plants enjoy consistent moisture, which is actually one of the reasons I love them. Personally, I have to be super careful not to overwater my houseplants, so I enjoy plants that like a little extra attention. So if you’re anything like me and find yourself over-loving your houseplants, the bean plant might just be perfect for you.

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