Types of Houseplants by Water & Soil Moisture Needs

Knowing when to water is the biggest thing that goes into caring for houseplants. You should know the soil moisture and watering needs for every type of houseplant you have. You can’t water every plant the same and expect them all to thrive. Succulents and other drought-resistant houseplants may only need water once or twice a month. Houseplants that like moist soil may need water at least once a week. Aquatic plants need constantly wet soil or specialized water environments. Find houseplants by soil moisture and watering needs. This will allow you to develop a houseplant watering schedule that fits with your lifestyle and enthusiasm for houseplants.

Succulents and Xerophytes

These are the plants that thrive on neglect because they have minimal water requirements. Succulents are an informal category for any houseplant which has leaves, stems, or roots that are designed to retain water. In contrast, xerophytes are plants that are well-adapted to arid climates, regardless of whether or not they’ve developed the ability to store water. Though there is a lot of overlap and the two types are frequently confused with one another, but not all succulents are xerophytes and vice versa. The dolphin plant (senecio peregrinus) and the spurge plant (euphorbia) are both succulent plants that store water but still usually like more regular watering. Likewise, bromeliad and cycad houseplants like dry soil conditions even though they store relatively little water.

There are no plants that can survive without any water at all. You may go months between watering, but eventually if you don’t remember to water the plant it will shrivel and die. Most of these plants are also slow-growing, as they conserve energy and protect themselves against drought.

Types of Houseplants that Like Less Water

  • Flaming Katy
  • Jade Plant
  • Aloe Vera
  • Flaming Sword Plant
  • Bunny Ears Cactus
  • Sago Palm
  • Living Stones
  • String of Pearls
  • Cardboard Palm
  • Urn Plant
  • Old Lady Cactus
  • Baby Toes
  • Zebra Plant
  • Virgin’s Palm
  • Scarlet Star

Mesophytes and Houseplants that Like Water

The best watering practices for these types of houseplants is to wait for the soil to dry out, but then immediately give them water. Even still, there are considerable differences even within this category. Some mesophytes like the top inch or so of soil to dry out and may go a week or two between waterings. Other houseplants like soil that is consistently moist and will rarely go more than a week without asking for water. Even houseplants that like wet soil are susceptible to overwatering. If the soil becomes waterlogged, if the roots are in standing water for any significant period of time, the part of the plant nourished by the affected roots will quickly die. Once you get the conditions right, many types of houseplants that like more water can really put on a show in terms of their foliage, colorful flowers, and new growth.

Even more so than other houseplants, it’s critical that you monitor the plant for signs of both overwatering and underwatering. Shriveled, dried, browning leaves are a common sign of underwatering; droopy, watery, yellowing leaves are a common sign of overwatering. Some houseplants have their own way of telling you that they need more or less water, but it’s also helpful to have a soil moisture meter to better determine your watering schedule. Most every houseplant will want slightly less water in the winter and slightly more water in the summer. This is a big reason why you can’t simply follow a set a schedule and expect to get the best results from these plants.

Types of Houseplants that Like Regular Water

  • Spider Plant
  • Golden Pothos
  • Peace Lily
  • Kentia Palm
  • Heartleaf Philodendron
  • Lucky Bamboo
  • African Violet
  • Croton Plant
  • Parlor Palm
  • Wandering Jew
  • English Ivy
  • Red-leaf Philodendron
  • Begonias
  • Geraniums
  • Coleus

Hydrophytes, Hygrophytes, and Aquatic Plants

Hydrophytes, or true aquatic plants, are those plants which have adapted to living in water environments. There are three basic kinds of hydrophytes (emergent, floating, and submerged) that describe the plant’s growth pattern in relation to the water. These plants can be grown indoors, but not very easily. More than just nutrient-rich water, these plants need large containers of regularly replenished water to prevent algae growth. So, rather than simply adding a hydrophyte to your collection of houseplants, you need to add an indoor water garden or a large aquarium to support these aquatic plants.

Hygrophytes are plants that are well-suited to moist, even wet conditions. These plants have adapted to forests, swamps, and meadows that receive a lot of rain and water runoff. You can think of these plants as a mild type of hydrophyte; they don’t live in water permanently, but they don’t mind getting inundated with water. If you find a list of houseplants that don’t get root rot, many will be hygrophytes. These plants do tend to be easy to grow, so long as you water them regularly. In the summer months, these plants may need to be watered multiple times a week.

Living near water has also caused some of these plants to develop the ability to catch and consume insects. The pitcher plant and sundew plant are carnivorous plants. Some houseplants like consistently wet soil but aren’t described as true aquatic plants. Elephant ears, Boston fern, and some orchids are all good examples of these types of houseplants.

Types of Houseplants that Like Lots of Water

  • Oxalis
  • Cyperus
  • Sundew Plant
  • Pitcher Plant
  • Elephant Ears
  • Boston Fern
  • Baby’s Tears
  • Club Moss
  • Spike Moss
  • Lotus
  • Water Lilies
  • Venus Flytrap
  • Swamp Azaleas
  • Water Hyacinth
  • Marsh Marigold

Growing Houseplants in Water

Even many non-aquatic houseplants can be grown in water. A few houseplants are perfectly happy to live in water their entire lives; other plants will readily grow roots and new foliage from a simple cutting, but eventually prefer to be planted in soil to live their best lives. In many ways, growing houseplants in water is easier than it is in soil. There’s no mess, fewer diseases and pests, and you don’t have to worry about underwatering or overwatering. Learn more about growing houseplants in water.

Types of Houseplants that Grow in Water

  • Philodendrons
  • Pothos
  • Spider Plant
  • English Ivy
  • Jade Plant
  • Lucky Bamboo
  • Croton
  • Wandering Jew
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Dumbcane
  • Impatiens
  • Coleus
  • Fiddle leaf fig
  • Begonia
  • Geranium