Proper houseplant identification is important to give the plant proper care. It becomes vital if the plant begins to die and you have to try and figure out what the problem is. Without identifying the plant you might miss important signals that could save it. There are helpful pictorial sites online and many books to help you discover the identification of your plant. With tens of thousands of species, knowing what to look for can make using any of these resources easier.
This is the most basic of plant questions to start a search with. Knowing any basic types your plant falls into--cactus or palm, succulent or shrub--can help start a search. Write down information that will help you recognize the plant from a picture, or describe it to a professional who can help. Take note of its leaf size, texture and shape. Are the leaves are curled or the edges are serrated? Are the surfaces of the leaves smooth, soft, thick, fuzzy or glossy? Color patterns are good indicators as well. Do leaves have stripes of color or are they solid? What color is the leaf and what shade of that color? Does the plant have flowers, and if so, what shape, size and color?
Take pictures of your plant. This is especially helpful if it is healthy and you just need to know what it is. Pictures of a sick plant can help professionals give you advice on how to care for general problems even if they can't tell what the plant is in a deteriorated state.
Online resources such as plant identification websites, or care guides can help if you know enough about your plant to narrow down the search. It helps that species of plants tend to follow patterns in color, texture and type. Use your pictures and recorded information to compare to find a similar species.
Who To Talk To
Take your information to a local florist or to a local state university extension service. Most state universities have an agricultural extension that can give you good advice on native plants and species. Other sources are garden centers and greenhouses.
The plant information you recorded can be posted on plant forums for opinions on species and cures for any problem you are encountering. If you live too far from your state university, but want help from the extension, find out if you can email them your information for an answer.