How to Identify Flowering House Plants


Growing flowering houseplants means the satisfaction of gardening year-round, but perhaps you're wondering what kind of houseplant you have, especially if you received it as a gift. Hundreds of varieties of flowering houseplants exist, so identifying them can be tricky, particularly for a novice gardener. To help you get started, consider some general guidelines for identifying some common flowering houseplants. Flowering house plants require more light than foliage-only (nonflowering) plants but, given you provide the right conditions, will reward you with beautiful, fragrant blooms much of the year.

Step 1

Inspect the plant's foliage for clues to its identity. African violets have fuzzy, thick leaves. Begonias have elongated apple-green leaves, some with spots or a dark green cross in the center. Amaryllis have elongated spearlike leaves. Easter lily cactus resembles a small barrel cactus.

Step 2

Consider the time of year the plant blooms. If it blooms for a brief time during the holiday season it is probably an amaryllis, which are traditionally forced at Christmas. Other forced bulbs include hyacinth, paper white, crocus or amaryllis. Poke around in the soil for bulbs instead of roots to be sure.

Step 3

Examine the flowers. Begonias have multiple petals and come in a variety of colors. African violets are small, purple and dainty. Clivia has multiple blossoms on a spearlike stem. Cape primrose blossoms resemble azaleas and come in lavender, white, red, pink or violet.

Step 4

Visit a local nursery if you still haven't determined what that mystery flowering house plant is. Try to visit a nursery that carries flowering houseplants, and bring your mystery plant along to visually compare it to those in the nursery.


  • University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Office: Growing Indoor Plants With Success
  • "The Garden Primer"; Barbara Damrosch; 1988

Who Can Help

  • Cornell University Gardening Resources: Low-Cost Grow-Light Frame Plans
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About this Author

Julie Christensen has been writing for five years. Her work has appeared in "The Friend" and "Western New York Parent" magazines. Her guide for teachers, "Helping Young Children Cope with Grief" will be published this spring. Christensen studied early childhood education at Ricks College and recently returned to school to complete a degree in communications/English.