Houseplants come in a vast array of shapes, forms, heights and colors, often so many that it's sometimes difficult to know either their common or scientific names. Several resources exist that allow you to investigate plants through visual comparison or by asking more knowledgeable plant enthusiasts for their identification skills. Consulting photo-rich literature, visiting garden centers and botanical gardens with collections of interior and tropical plants in greenhouses can lessen the dilemma in trying to learn a houseplant's identity. Taking and posting digital photos online is also an easy solution.
Ask a "green-thumbed" neighbor or extended family member if he knows the name of your houseplant, especially if he has seen the plant in your home. If you have a photo of the plant, show it or email it.
Go to the local library or bookstore. Look through directories or sections of the facility with plant and gardening books and magazines. Investigate books with titles like "tropical plants" or "common houseplants" to see if there is a broad selection of full-color photographs to examine. See if you spot your plant in these photo rosters.
Write down the names, common or botanical, of the plant you think may be a match of your mystery houseplant on a piece of paper. Include the botanical names as they are the definitive way to research and identify a specific plant. Some plant experts or resources may only know or list botanical names.
Surf the Internet for "houseplants," "interiorscape plants" or "interior plants." Include an image-only search for houseplants, too, to try to spy a photo that resembles the plant you wish to identify. Write down names of plants that look similar and further research them online.
Visit a local retail garden center or nursery with a tropical greenhouse that sells houseplants. Often looking at the benches filled with plants will reveal the plant you already have in your home. Look for a plant label or ask a store worker for help learning a name; write down any information gleaned.
Take a digital photograph of your mystery plant and post it to a photo-hosting website. This will allow you to post your photo in plant-identification forums online and ask people world-wide to identify the plant in the photo. Check back regularly to the website where you posted your image and request and monitor responses and investigate leads other plant enthusiasts provide.