2020 House Plant Trends and Tips

House Plant Trends & Tips for Getting the Best Results

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Bringing the natural world inside (biophilic design) is one of the biggest movements in architecture and design today. And, house plants are one of the easiest, least expensive, and accessible ways to incorporate natural elements into your home.

Today I’m partnering with my friend and sister-in-law Melissa Peterson to bring you the latest house plants trends and some of her top tips for helping them thrive.

Melissa is the manager and creative genius behind Ted’s Gardens, one of the top garden centers in Iowa. Melissa has packed her greenhouse full of house plants from trendy to tried and true, making Ted’s Gardens a destination for house plant lovers all over Central Iowa.

Be sure to read to the end of the post for a fun giveaway for Central Iowa residents with Ted’s Gardens.

Under Melissa’s influence and with her advice, I have grown my own house plant collection over the years. As a designer, I believe plants are one of the most important factors in creating a space that feels layered, lived in and complete. I can’t imagine my house without plants now especially during the long Iowa winter when everything outside is gray and brown.

But plants aren’t just pretty to look at. Research into biophilic design has shown that plants support our wellbeing in a variety of ways from removing toxins in the air to infusing our spaces with a sense of peace and calm.

I sat down with Melissa to chat about which house plants are currently trending and some of the best ways to take care of them once you bring them home.

Trending House Plants #1


via Unsplash

We often think of eucalyptus as filler for floral arrangements fresh or dry. I pick it up at Trader Joe’s to use in vases with cut flowers, but Eucalyptus is also a gorgeous house plant. I love how airy and zen it feels especially when paired with an earthy planter.

Melissa says Eucalyptus needs to be kept moist, and I can concur – I let mine dry out, and it quickly perished. Eucalyptus likes bright light and will enjoy living outside for the summer. It can get fairly large depending on the size of your pot.

Trending House Plants #2


Photo by gryffyn m on Unsplash

Pothos is one of Melissa’s most requested house plants. It is easy to take care as it can thrive in a variety of lighting conditions including low light. Water it when the soil has dried out.

Popular varieties include Rio, Silver Stripe Philodendron, Neon, and Marble Queen.

Trending House Plants #3

ZZ Plant

Ted Lare Garden Center ZZ Plant Des Moines Iowa
A ZZ plant for sale at Ted's Gardens

ZZ plants are another incredibly popular plant. They are very easy to grown and can thrive in low lighting. I have one that has doubled in size over the last couple years and is one of my favorite plants. I water it every 7-10 days with my other plants, increasing the amount of water as it gets larger. But, I really don’t think I could kill this plant if I tried unless I stopped watering it completely.

I love the architectural quality of the ZZ plant’s leaves and branches and its bright green color.

Ted Lare Garden Center ZZ Plant Des Moines Iowa
My own ZZ plant lives behind my sofa

Melissa says that the ZZ Raven variety, introduced in 2019, is a popular request and trendy new house plant. The Raven has dark purplish leaves vs. the bright green of the more common ZZ plant. Read more about the ZZ Raven in this post on Better Homes & Gardens.

I definitely need to add a Raven to my collection once I figure out where to put it. Because it can live in low light, I think my master bedroom would be the perfect spot.

Trending House Plants #4


Ted Lare Garden Center Hindu Rope Hoya Plant Des Moines Iowa
Hindu Rope Hoya growing up a center post at Ted's Gardens

Hoyas have been incredibly popular with house plant collectors over the last year. Like begonias, there are so many varieties that you can have an entire house plant collection made up of different types of Hoyas.

Right now, the Hindu Rope, pictured on the left above, and Obovata are two very popular varieties. The Hindu Rope Hoya looks particularly nice planted in a hanging basket.

Melissa says Hoyas like bright indirect light or even direct light from eastern and western windows. Let them dry out in between waterings though some varieties may prefer to stay moist.

Trending House Plants #5

Cissus Discolor

Ted Lare Garden Center Cissus Discolor Des Moines Iowa
Ted Lare Garden Center Cissus Discolor Des Moines Iowa

The first time I saw a Cissus Discolor I was immediately struck by it. It was just so different from any house plant I had seen. I brought one home and it lived inside for several months but didn’t seem happy. One it turned warm, I moved it outside to live on my deck with my outdoor begonias.

While the Cissus Discolor resembles a Rex begonia, it is actually not a begonia but a trailing vine related to grapes. It thrives in high humidity, so it can be challenging to keep it healthy during the winter if you live in a colder climate. That would explain why mine did poorly indoors but started thriving when I moved it outside during the summer. 

Trending House Plants #6


A variety of begonias at Ted's Gardens
Ted Lare Garden Center Begonias Des Moines Iowa

Begonias are my favorite house plant variety by far. I love the wide range of leaf shapes and colors, the structure of many of the varieties, and the patterns you can find on many of the leaves as well as their rich color.

Rex is one of the most popular and well-known varieties. Sitting here in my living room, I can see six different potted begonias, including two Rex, ranging in size, color and shape, and I have a seventh that I moved out doors for the summer. 

Melissa advises that begonias like higher humidity environments and nice even moisture. Don’t let them get too dry in between waterings.

I have found my begonias do best in indirect light. We have a lot of northern and eastern light throughout the day, and every few months, I rotate my begonias so they each get a turn being closer to the windows.

A trailing begonia on my mantle

Trending House Plants #7


Medallion Calathea at Ted's Gardens
Ted Lare Garden Center Calathia Medallion Des Moines Iowa
Medallion Calathea at Ted's Gardens
Ted Lare Garden Center Calathia Des Moines Iowa
Rattlesnake Calathea at Ted's Gardens

Calathea are one of my favorite house plants because of their distinctive leaves and rich coloring. I love how the tops of the leaves are different colors from the underside.

I had a Medallion variety for several years, and at night it would close up its leaves displaying the purple underside. In the morning, they would open up again to show off  their pattern.

Calathia can handle lower lighting but prefer brighter indirect light. Mine did well until I let the roots get too wet. It’s important to let it dry out in between waterings to keep it healthy and avoid the little black flies.

Trending House Plants #8

Fatsia Japonica

Fatsia Japonica House Plant
My own Fatsia Japonica in a vintage basket planter
Fatsia Japonica House Plant Trends 2020

Fatsia Japonica are another trendy houseplant. Melissa says that the Spider Web and Camouflage varieties are very popular right now for the unique variegation in their foliage. I’m a fan of the large flat leaves with their distinctive shape.

This plant likes lower indirect light and will bleach in direct sunlight. 

Honorable Mentions

The plants listed above are only a small fraction of the plants that you can bring into your home for aesthetic and wellness benefits. Melissa and I discussed several other plants that we love and have in our homes including some larger trees, which I particularly like for adding height in empty corners.

Tips for Keeping Your Plants Healthy & Beautiful

Teds Gardens Hanging Planters
Hanging planters available at Ted's Gardens

Whenever I consider buying a new house plant, I immediately think about what type of pot I want to put it in. Sometimes I find the pot first, often vintage and pick the perfect plant to go with it. And sometimes I find the plant first, which I think is more difficult.

I asked Melissa for some of her tips for picking the perfect pot for house plants and keeping them healthy. I’ve been growing house plants for years now, and some of these tips were new to me.

I like to find vintage pots for my house plants, which often don’t have holes. I’ve been too lazy or scared to drill holes so I have been doing the charcoal thing for years. It really does work.

My preferred pots are – vintage or new – the type with an attached dish, which looks so much better than a plastic dish. I am far too lazy to move all of my plants to the bathtub or sink to water them.

From a more aesthetic perspective, I prefer to keep my pots in a specific palette of colors. Most of my planters are either neutral or in shades of blue-green to green. I keep an eye out for interesting textures and glazing and make sure any new planter will work with my existing collection.

Melissa also mentioned that you can move your houseplants out of doors for the summer any time after the frost free date for your area. Keep in mind what type of light your plants like when placing them outdoors.

Ted's Gardens Giveaway

I’m really grateful to Melissa for letting me interview her for this post. In case you didn’t know, Ted is Melissa’s dad and my father-in-law. He started Ted Lare Design Build over 35 years ago and opened the garden center in Cumming, Iowa, in 2007.

Over the past several years, Melissa and her dedicated staff have grown the garden center into a must-see destination for plant lovers all over Iowa. Before Covid, they offered an ever increasing roster of in-person classes, and this Spring they have been going live on their Facebook page regularly to educate their followers on house plants, annuals, and more. 

The garden center staff are incredibly knowledgable and can help out any house plant beginners with picking plants, pairing them with the right pots. They are available to offer advice on dealing with pests and choosing the right fertilizers and supplements for your houseplants.

The garden center is open for business, and Melissa has generously provided a $100 gift card to Ted’s Gardens for me to giveaway to my readers. In order to qualify to win, you must be able to redeem the gift card in person.

I have been following the news for the last several days with a heavy heart. I have a long list of reading to do so I can better educate myself on racial injustice, but I wanted to do something more immediate. For every entry – and you have three changes to enter – I will donate $5 up to $1500 to the ACLU of Iowa.

How to Enter

To enter, submit your name and email address using the form below. By entering, you agree that both myself and Ted’s Gardens may email you. You are free to unsubscribe at any time after the contest.

For a second entry, like @jillian_lare and @tedsgardens on Instagram and comment back here to let us know that you did.

The giveaway will close on June 11th at 11:59 PM. The winner will be notified via email and sent the gift card in the mail.

Good luck!


Enter to Win

Sign up below to submit your entry for the giveaway. Card must be redeemed in person. Winner will be notified by email.

Thank you for subscribing!

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Jillian Lare is a Des Moines based interior designer. She blogs about her current projects, interior design tips and tricks, and her life in Iowa with her young son, husband, and lovable Labrador.

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