Plants can improve any garden or yard and brighten up any home. Maintaining a healthy and attractive collection of plants is no easy task, though.
For starters, you have to choose which plants you want to grow. With over 300,000 known species of plants, this is not a straightforward decision. Then there’s everything you need to learn about each plant. What growing conditions does it favor? What kind of care does it require? What pests and diseases does it attract?
These are just a few of the many questions you’ll want answers to. There are also several challenges you’ll need to overcome when growing plants. Fortunately, we’re here to help.
In this section of our website, we explain the different types of plants and their characteristics. We discuss the factors to consider when choosing which plants you want and compare the relative merits of buying plants to growing your own. We also answer a range of frequently asked questions about plants and provide a glossary of related terms.
Our plant directory is especially useful. We have written individual guides for various plants, covering everything from common houseplants to rare and exotic species. Each one features key details along with expert growing tips and more.
Whether you’re a novice gardener or a seasoned pro, we’re confident you’ll love all the information and advice we offer here.
Classifying Plants – The Different Types of Plants
It’s fair to say that plant classification is a complex topic, not least because there are all sorts of different ways to classify plants. For example, you can classify them by their flower type, leaf shape, or growth habit. You can also categorize them by their fruit type, bark type, or seed type.
To further complicate matters, botanists are effectively re-evaluating how we should group plants together on an almost constant basis. New discoveries can mean that a plant that was once thought to be part of one group is moved into another.
Trying to understand the ever-evolving system for classifying plants can be daunting. Especially for beginners, but even experienced gardeners can get confused by all the different types of plants.
The good news is that you don’t need to know all the scientific details to enjoy growing plants or gardening in general. A basic understanding is more than adequate.
If you’d like to learn a little more, we recommend the following two articles.
Our Plant Directory – Guides to Individual Plants
Our plant guides are excellent for learning more about specific plants. Each guide contains all the general information you might want to know, such as a plant’s scientific name, common names, appearance, optimal growing conditions, and more.
We also provide some essential advice on growing and caring for each plant, explain some common problems you might encounter, and answer frequently asked questions. Where applicable, we include tips for harvesting, details of similar plants, and anything else relevant.
A particularly useful feature of our plant guides is that we link to additional resources that cover related subjects in more depth. For example, our experts regularly write posts to expand on certain topics relating to a specific plant or group of plants. We always link to these from the appropriate guides, and also to any suitable high-quality articles we discover on other websites.
In short, our plant guides serve as an unbeatable resource for gardeners. Here’s a list of our most popular ones.
- Dracaena (Genus)
- Jacobinia/Justicia Carnea
- Manjula Pothos
- Hoya Linearis
- Happy Wanderer (Hardenbergia Violacea)
- String of Pearls
Choosing Which Plants to Grow
There isn’t a “correct” way to decide which plants you will grow. Which plants are best for your home and garden depends on several factors, not least what you are trying to achieve.
If you want an attractive garden with colorful flowers, for example, you’ll want to grow very different plants than if your goal is to have a bountiful vegetable patch. If you’re simply looking to brighten up your house with a few indoor plants, your choice should be different again.
You also need to consider at least some of the following factors when choosing which plants to grow.
- Space – How much space do you have to work with?
- Light – How much natural light does the space receive?
- Soil – What is the quality of the soil like, and what type is it?
- Temperature – What is the average temperature in the space?
- Humidity – How much humidity is there in the space?
- Expertise – How much plant growing experience and knowledge do you have?
- Time – How much time are you willing to spend on plant care?
- Budget – How much money do you want to spend on plants and supplies?
If you have a clear objective in mind and can answer all of these questions, you can start to research your options and narrow down your choices. Once you’ve shortlisted a few viable plants, it’s then simply a matter of personal preference.
We recommend reading the following article for some additional advice on making your decision.
Buying Plants vs. Growing Your Own
When it comes to adding some greenery to your home and garden, you have a couple of options. You can buy plants or grow your own, and both choices have pros and cons.
Perhaps the most important consideration when deciding whether to buy plants or grow your own is cost. Buying plants can be expensive, especially if you purchase them from a nursery or garden center.
Growing your own plants is relatively inexpensive. You can start with seeds or cuttings, which are often available for free or at a low cost. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get brilliant results, but there are plenty of plants that are relatively easy to grow.
Another factor to consider is time. Growing your own plants takes considerably more time than simply buying them. If you’re short on time (or patience!), buying plants may be the better option.
You should also take your level of expertise into account. If you’re an experienced gardener, you may have more success growing your own plants than someone with no gardening experience.
The bottom line is that there is no right or wrong way to go here. There’s also no reason why you can’t combine both options, and buy some plants as well as grow your own. This is an excellent way to go for gardening beginners.
There are many, many words and phrases relating to plants that you may not be familiar with. To help you out, we’ve compiled a glossary of some of the most common terms.
- Aerial root – A plant’s root that is produced above the ground.
- Alicaceous – Plants that need alkaline soil to grow.
- Angiosperms – Flowering plants that produce seeds enclosed in a fruit or carpal.
- Annual – Plants that complete their life cycle in one year or season.
- Biennial – Plants that take two years to complete their life cycle.
- Bulb – An underground storage unit consisting of a short stem with modified leaves that contain food reserves.
- Deciduous – Plants that shed their leaves at the end of the growing season.
- Ericaceous – Plants that need acid soil to grow.
- Evergreen – Plants that retain all or most of their leaves throughout the year.
- Foliage – Collective term for the leaves of a plant.
- Fruit – The seed-bearing part of some plants that is often edible.
- Germination – The process of a seed beginning to grow.
- Gymnosperms – Vascular plants that have exposed seeds.
- Hardy – Plants that can withstand climatic conditions year-round without additional protection.
- Herbaceous – Non-woody perennial plants.
- Hybrid – Plants that result from the cross-pollination of two or more different plant varieties.
- Nonvascular – A type of non-flowering plant with no roots, stems, or leaves.
- Perennial – Plants that live more than two years.
- Propagate – The process of growing plants from seeds or cuttings.
- Seedling – A young plant that’s developed from seeds.
- Shrub – Woody plants that are smaller than trees and typically have multiple main stems.
- Storage root – A plant’s root that is typically produced below the ground and store food and/or water.
- Vascular – A type of plant with specialized cells for conducting water, minerals, and food.
- Vine – A plant that climbs or creeps.
- Weed – A wild and unwanted plant.
To finish up this page, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about plants.
Is growing plants difficult?
It depends on the type of plant, your level of expertise, and where you want to grow them. Some plants are very easy to grow, while others require more care and attention.
Is it expensive to grow plants?
It doesn’t have to be. You can start with just a few plants and grow them from seed. You can add more expensive plants to your collection if or when you want to, but it’s not essential by any means.
What type of plants should I grow?
This is ultimately a personal choice that depends on several factors. Among the most important are location, the local climate, and how much space you have.
What are the best plants for beginners?
If you’re new to gardening, we recommend starting with some easy-to-grow plants like succulents, cacti, or herbs.
Can I grow plants indoors?
Yes, many plants can be grown indoors. However, it’s important to ensure they have enough light and water.
What are the benefits of growing plants?
In addition to making your home and garden look beautiful, plants can purify the air, improve your mood, and even boost your cognitive performance. They can also help to reduce stress and anxiety.
What type of soil should I use for my plants?
The type of soil you should use depends on the plants you’re growing. Some plants need acidic soil, while others need alkaline soil.
How do I take care of my plants?
This depends on the type of plants you have. Make sure you research how to care for your specific plants before you get started.
How can I protect my plants from pests and diseases?
There are several ways to protect your plants from pests and diseases. These include using pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Check out our guide to garden pests and plant diseases to learn more.
What equipment do I need to grow plants?
Some basic equipment includes pots, soil, fertilizer, and a watering can. You may need other gardening tools and machinery, too, depending on what you’re growing and where.