Houseplants provide your home with color and a cozy ambiance by bringing a touch of the outdoors inside. Identifying a houseplant can be difficult if you receive one as a gift or purchase one with a plant care label or tag. Different varieties require different kinds and amounts of light; some do better with moist soil and misting, while others thrive in drier soils. Figuring out what kind of plant you have will determine what fertilizer, pruning techniques or other care is necessary to help it thrive.
Consult an Expert
People who own nurseries or work at cooperative extension offices are knowledgeable about different types of plants. Take your houseplant, or a picture of it, to one of these places. The staff will be glad to assist you in identifying the houseplant. Often, they may be able to ask you a few questions over the phone and identify the plant for you that way as well.
Friends, neighbors and relatives who enjoy gardening might be able to identify a plant for you, particularly if it is a common household plant. Even if they do not know how to care for the plant, just knowing its name will enable you to find out more about it through library or online research
Compare your houseplant to photographs on plant databases, such as the Floridata or Gflora websites (see Resources). GFlora has a step-by-step process under the "Plant Identification Guide" in which you start by determining the shape of the leaf and then go on to other characteristics until you determine the plant's name. Libraries and bookstores have many books on household plants and their care. The pictures in these resources will lead you to the identity of your particular plant.