House Plant Identification

There are literally hundreds of different types of plants that people grow indoors to add a bit of nature, colour and decoration to their homes. These range from tiny cacti to large indoor trees. However, there are some standard plants that are very common to find in a home. These include spider plants, jade plants, rubber plants, dumb cane, weeping fig, dragon tree and mother-in-law's tongue, also known as snake plant.

Spider Plant

The spider plant or aeroplane plant, known scientifically as Chlorophytum, has one to two-foot long leaves that are green or striped with creamy white and that grow from the centre of the plant. A native of South Africa, the spider plant produces plantlets at the ends of its long stalks. These plantlets can then easily be removed and rooted for replanting. Spider plants are often kept in hanging baskets within the home.

Jade Plant

The jade plant, known scientifically as Crassula, and also called silver dollar and elephant bush plant, are succulents. They grow into small trees and live for many years. The jade plant has a fleshy trunk and thick branches and leaves. The bark of the jade plant is green and its leaves are circular and sit at right angles to one another. Jade plants produce small, star-shaped pink to purple flowers.


Ficus are plants that include the weeping fig, rubber tree and Indian laurel. The ficus are indoor trees with dark green, glossy leaves and slender, smooth, grey trunks. There are different varieties of ficus trees, including the Ficus Benjamina, also known as the weeping fig tree. The best way to identify this ficus is its weeping branches. The Ficus Amstel King has leaves that are shaped like bananas and has a very tropical appearance. The Ficus Monique is an upright ficus tree with bushy foliage made up of elliptical leaves in shiny bright green colours.

Mother-In-Law's Tongue

Mother-in-law's tongue plants, also known as snake plants and scientifically called Sansevieria, are one of the most common houseplants. They grow in clumps of erect leaves that reach 18 to 30 inches in height. They are dark green with bands of light green or yellow outlining the edges of the leaves. The mother-in-law's tongue plant has been grown indoors in the United States since the 1920s and includes 15 varieties that are sold commercially.

Dumb Cane

The dumb cane plant is known scientifically as Dieffenbachia. It produces large, variegated leaves in an oval shape. The dumb cane plant comes from tropical rainforests in the America and West Indies. It grows to about 4 feet in height and to more than a foot in width. The name dumb cane comes from the presence of oxalic acid in its leaves and makes you speechless if you eat it. It also causes severe stomach illness when consumed.

Dragon Tree

Dragon tree, known scientifically as Dracaena, is a type of houseplant that grows slowly. There are various varieties of Dracaena that are grown indoors, some of which grow low and others of which produce large stems. All of the Dracaena plants have in common long, slender leaves. Some of the leaves are solid green and others are variegated. It looks like a palm tree and is tropical looking in appearance. It can grow to heights of 15 feet when planted outdoors but remains smaller as a houseplant, achieving about 6 feet in height.

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About the Author

Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication "Holy Heretic." She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.