How to Identify Small Leaf House Plants


Any plant that grows successfully indoors may be classified as a house plant. Many house plants have small leaves and are popular for their attractive foliage. A number of factors are considered when identifying plants. Plants have a scientific and a common name. The scientific name is consistent throughout the world, but there may be several common names that differ by region. A comparison of the house plant features with detailed color pictures of house plants is a common method of identification.

Step 1

Observe the general shape and size of the house plant. Small leaf house plants may have a creeping, cascading, rounded or upright growth shape. Measure the height of the plant and note the width.

Step 2

Examine the color, texture and shape of the small leaves. Note if the leaves are hairy, smooth, shiny or spotted and if the margin (leaf edge) is smooth or serrated. Classify the leaf shape as rounded, heart-shape, long or thin and find if the leaves have a petiole (stalk).

Step 3

Look closely where the leaves attach to the stem. With an opposite leave arrangement, the leaves are located directly across the stem from each other while with an alternate arrangement, the leaves are staggered on the stem. Two or more leaves emerge from a node with a whorled arrangement.

Step 4

Observe the veins in the leaves. Veins that radiate from a point at the base of the leaf are classified as palmate veins while leaves with pinnate veins have a long main vein running the length of the leaf with branching small veins.

Step 5

Note the size, shape and color of any flowers. Determine when the small leaf house plant blooms during the year. Examine any berries or fruit produced by the plant.

Step 6

Consider the optimal growing conditions for the small leaf house plant. Does the plant prefer bright, medium or low light, low or high humidity, cooler or warmer temperatures?

Step 7

Search reference books to find matching small leaf house plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Plant guide
  • Magnifying glass


  • G Flora: The Encyclopedia of House Plants
  • BBC: Gardening
  • Texas A&M Extension: Interiorscape Plants Picture Pages
  • North Carolina State University Extension: House Plants
  • University of Illinois Extension: House Plants
Keywords: house plant identification, small leaf plants, house plant characteristics

About this Author

Kim Dieter has taught agriscience classes, developed curriculum and participated in the school accreditation process at the secondary and community college levels since 1980. She holds a Master of Science degree from the University of California, Davis, in animal science.

Article provided by eHow Home & Garden | How to Identify Small Leaf House Plants