Houseplants can essentially be any plant that can survive in a household. The types of plants that can survive indoor conditions can be expanded if a combination of incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs is used in order to give plants the various color lights they need. However, there are some plants that are specifically designated as houseplants because of their ability to survive in partial or full shade and their preference to the same temperatures that people prefer.
Houses can sometimes be very dry, especially during the winter. Plants that prefer dry air will thrive in a home and can be considered houseplants as long as the other conditions for the plant are right. However, homes can be brought to the humidity level preferable for most plants, which is between 40 and 60 percent. Humidity can be increased for houseplants by grouping them together, since they tend to release water through transpiration.
Plants that prefer shade make the best houseplants. The more shade that the plant can tolerate, the more flexibility that home owners have in where they place their houseplants. Aglaonemas, Fittonias, Philodendron scandens and Sansevierias are plants that thrive in shade. Plants that prefer more sunlight can be houseplants if the home has enough sunlight coming in through the windows, just as long as the plant is placed near the window.
Houseplants usually want temperatures that range from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit at night, according to Texas A&M University. Flowers are brighter and last longer when the temperatures are lower at night.
Plants that need a lot of sun tend to have small, thick leaves, since larger leaves can become overwhelmed with sunlight. Shade plants will often have thin, broad leaves in order to collect the greatest amount of sunlight possible while having structures that use up as little energy as possible. However, some plants have leaves that can acclimate, meaning that the plant's leaves fall off when conditions change, allowing the plant to develop leaves that are beneficial to the plant. The leaves of houseplants also tend to be light green, according to Texas A&M University.
Houseplants usually need to be a size that is manageable in a household. Plants that are larger such as shrubs are not houseplants because they take up too much room in the house and can make a mess when they shed their leaves or flowers.