With more than 1,000 varieties of houseplants, identifying one may seem like a daunting task. However, the process of identification becomes much easier when you know what to look for. Once you have a list of attributes, you can identify the plant through a horticultural encyclopedia. Knowing the plant has nine leaves should help your detective work.
Analyze the leaf pattern. With nine leaves, the plant has a pattern that is "alternating"--when leaves comes out on one side of the stem and then the other side, slightly higher than the last one. The other type of leaf pattern is "opposite." Opposite leaf patterns occur when the leaves seem to come out in pairs across from each other on the stem.
Look at the leaf structure. Some important characteristics are the degree of gloss, the overall size and the shape around the edges of the leaves.
Determine if the plant has a flower. Many houseplants have a magnificently showy flower, which is important for identification purposes. If you see a flower, take note of the color, size, scent and any other attribute that seems important to you. If you do not see a flower, record what time of the year it is so you can check the flowering times of possible matches.
Take note of any other characteristics, including stem color and the existence of thorns.
Start your identification search. If you are using a horticultural encyclopedia, start with the index to find possible matches. If you are using an online identification service, follow the steps to making an identification.