How to Identify Types of House Plants


People give plants as a gesture to express their love and show how much they care. Reasons to receive a houseplant vary from a birthday present to a get well soon gift or to help celebrate a milestone. A purchased houseplant usually comes with a description and care instructions. But sometimes you might receive a plant that you know nothing about. Knowing some facts about a houseplant is very important for its daily care.

Step 1

Take some photos of the plant in question for a reference point. Snap pictures from several different angles to best capture the features of the houseplant. Use the notebook and write down a brief description of the plant. Note the shape of the leaves, coloring of the plant, size and the base of the plant.

Step 2

Visit a home and garden center and speak with a gardening specialist. Show them the photos of the plant and tell them the characteristics of the plant. Ask them to recommend a plant guide book or someone who may be able to identify the plant.

Step 3

Talk to a librarian at a library about plant identification books. Check out some of the books and make sure they include lots of colorful pictures. Look through the books to compare the pictures and descriptions to those of the unknown houseplant.

Step 4

Search online for websites that cater to gardening or indoor houseplants. Look for horticulture websites that have many photos displayed with plant descriptions. Find a houseplant site that has a question forum and post a picture of the plant asking if anyone can identify the plant.

Tips and Warnings

  • Some plants look similar, so consider its characteristics. If you're unsure, ask for the opinion of a gardening specialist. Before bringing the plant home, try to find out its name. Some plants are poisonous to certain pets and can cause allergies to act up in people.

Things You'll Need

  • Camera
  • Notebook
  • Plant identification book


  • Guide to Houseplants: House Plants Encyclopedia A-Z
  • Gflora: The Encyclopedia of House Plants
  • Plant Care: Plant Encyclopedia Database

Who Can Help

  • Dave's Garden: Beginner Houseplants: Houseplant Identification and Care Help
Keywords: identifying house plants, plant guide book, plant classification references

About this Author

Since May 2009, Christina Delegans-Bunch has been pursuing her career as a professional writer. Her work has been published on eHow and GardenGuides. She holds a certification in floral designing and wedding consultation from Harcourt Extended Learning.