You Need to Stop Buying These Plants, Experts Say

You might be surprised by some that make the list


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It happens to the best of us. We get lured in with attractive leaves, exotic blooms, and the way that houseplant looks impressive in someone's Instagram living room. Also, it doesn't hurt if you score a fantastic houseplant on sale; I mean, it's hard to say no if it's cheap, right? Well, houseplant expert Maria Failla of Bloom and Grow Radio, and houseplant influencer Erin Kobayashi are here to save your sanity, and wallet, with their list of nine houseplants you should stop buying.

  • 01 of 09



    Olivia ZZ / Getty Images

    It's hard to pass up those trendy succulents, especially when they are presented in a fun pot and are relatively inexpensive. "Succulents are the classic plant that everyone thinks is easy to care for," says Failla, "But actually, very few people have the right indoor lighting environment and lifestyle to care for them successfully."

    Most succulents need six to eight hours of direct southern exposure. Unfortunately, most homes and apartments do not have it. "People stick them anywhere: low light bookshelves, 10 feet from the nearest window, entry hallways with no windows, and the succulents eventually get etiolated (stretch looking for the sun) and lose their leaves and die," says Failla.

    Even worse, eager plant parents forget that succulents are very sensitive to overwatering. "One drink too much, and they can turn to mush," says Failla, "So, unless you have super sunny windowsills and don't want to water your plants frequently, I'd steer clear."

    While we are on the topic of succulent plants, Kobayashi says, "I cringe whenever I see big-box retailers selling gem-colored cacti and succulents!" These plants do not produce vibrant colors naturally. Although it's artificial and harmless to the plant, as it grows out, it will not be so cute. "The plant will definitely go through an awkward phase as it grows out the color—it's basically like living with a bad dye job," warns Kobayashi. 

  • 02 of 09

    Maidenhair Fern

    maidenhair fern

    The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak

    Both Kobayashi and Failla agree that maidenhair ferns are attractive but almost impossible to care for unless you live in a jungle.

    "They grow near water sources and are used to high humidity, and very few maidenhair ferns can make the transition to low humidity homes," says Failla.

    "Unless you are going to surround your maidenhair fern with humidifiers or a cloche, I'd avoid this tempting plant." Kobayashi concurs, "Low humidity and dry air will turn this fern crispy very quickly."

  • 03 of 09

    Boston Fern

    Boston fern

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    Similar to maidenhair ferns, the Boston variety needs tons of humidity too. Most people buy them in the spring and leave them outdoors until cool weather arrives.

    "Although I love the way they look on patios and outside, I've found transitioning Boston Ferns from outdoors to indoors too much work for my liking," says Kobayashi.

    Like maidenhairs, if you do not provide them with adequate humidity, they will dry out and litter your home with brown leaves. "You can try placing them in kitchens and bathrooms that naturally have more humidity," suggests Kobayashi, "But that has never worked in my favor."

  • 04 of 09

    Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

    fiddle leaf fig

    AnanR2107 / Getty Images

    This popular plant dominates Instagram feeds and home decor magazines because of its stately beauty, but they are notoriously finicky.

    "They need lots of sunlight and don't like to be moved around or exposed to drafts," says Failla, "If you don't care for it correctly, those big, violin-shaped leaves dropping to the floor can be devastating and totally sour your overall plant care experience."

    Failla doesn't recommend them for beginners, but seasoned houseplant parents who have the time and patience to cater to the drama-prone houseplant should go for it.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Carnivorous Plants

    Venus fly trap

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    Garden centers tempt you with these unusual plants, like the Venus flytrap, as in impulse buy near the checkout. They seem so easy and, as a bonus, they eat bugs—how hard can they be to grow?

    "Carnivorous plants need particular care that is not similar to houseplant care," warns Failla, "And if you don't have the growing media, distilled water, and humidity these plants need to thrive, this plant will be a goner in your home." And, contrary to popular belief, you can't feed them flies or raw meat.

    However, seasoned growers can grow them IF they fully understand the plant's needs. "I know several people who have the proper setups for their carnivorous plants and absolutely adore the practice of caring for them," says Failla.

  • 06 of 09

    Majesty Palm

    majesty palm

    The Spruce / Kara Riley

    Most people love large plants that make a statement in a room, and majesty palms are a natural fit.

    "Majesty palms are so alluring because you can get large ones relatively cheap," says Kobayashi, "Unfortunately, they need to be watered a lot, and they can often succumb to root rot if they aren't in a pot with proper drainage." Like other palms, they need plenty of humidity to thrive.

    Although they are inexpensive, unless you have a conservatory or live in a warm, humid environment, it's best to leave this one at the store.

  • 07 of 09

    Braided Sansevierias

    Sansevieria cylindrica

    Irina Vodneva / Getty Images

    Sansevierias, or snake plants, are very easy to grow, which makes them popular. The braided variety is actually the African spear plant (Sansevieria cylindrica), presented in a woven form for novelty purposes. They look good for a while but as they grow, the plant does not continue to grow in that braided manner.

    "Have you ever unbraided one of these to try to save them from a very unnatural and unappealing look?" asks Kobayashi. Unfortunately, the kinks will never iron out. "You'll be left with crimped looking leaves, although new growth will grow naturally straight and spiky," says Kobayashi.

  • 08 of 09

    Single Hoya Kerriis

    Hoya Kerriis

    emotionalsea / Getty Images

    These heart-shaped Hoyas are all over garden centers around Valentine's Day. "They've been marketed as "sweetheart" plants because of their adorable shape," Kobayashi explains. However, the plant will most like never really grow.

    "The only problem is that they are usually sold in a single leaf form," says Kobayashi, "And if the leaf wasn't propagated with a stem and node, it's not going to grow more leaves, making it a single, lonely heart forever."

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Expensive Plants

    stromanthe triostar

    The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak

    People are spending crazy amounts of money on "rare" plants. "I totally understand that lots of plant collectors see their investment in a variegated monstera in the way a shoe collector would view an investment in Jimmy Choos," says Failla, "But shoes can't die or catch a thrips infestation."

    Kobayashi agrees that the risks that go along with shipping and growing them isn’t worth the cost. "In my opinion, purchasing expensive variegated plants from private sellers online (especially if they are located overseas) can be risky," explains Kobayashi, "Not only because the plant has to travel far to get to you but because they do not care about customer satisfaction, unlike traditional and trusted brick and mortar nurseries."  

    Failla also notes that these super rare exotic plants we all drool over on Instagram are just not well suited for your average home. "Many intense collectors run humidifiers all day to keep humidity levels up to a percentage which a tropical plant would thrive in," Failla explains, "Most people don't take those precautions, and if that expensive plant dies, it can be extremely disheartening."