What You Need to Know Before You Buy Indoor Plants Online

Ready to become a new plant parent or want to buy indoor plants online? Get tips from an indoor plant expert about what you should know before you buy.

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No backyard? No problem. At last count, plant expert Summer Rayne Oakes, had over 1,000 plants inside her Brooklyn apartment. She gets so many questions on plant care that she started a YouTube channel to help people with everything from watering schedules to propagating to upcyling tea tins into plant containers. Hearing her story of bringing the outdoors inside inspired us to learn more about how to buy indoor plants online, then make sure they’re happy and thriving. Oakes gave us her expert tips on purchasing and caring for indoor plants. Green thumb here you come!

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Do Research Before You Buy Indoor Plants Online

We’ve all been at the plant store, browsing plants online or inside Whole Foods and seen a plant or succulent that was too pretty to pass up. Fast forward two months later, and you’re tossing the dead brown or yellow leaves in the trash. Before you start plant shopping, Oakes recommends doing your due diligence and asking yourself some plant-related questions before you add anything to your cart.

She says, “Before you buy any indoor plants, it’s good to understand the quantity, quality and intensity of light in your home.” If you have dim early morning sun and buy tropical plants that require intense sunlight, you’re setting yourself and the plant up for failure. Psst—here’s how to get rid of indoor plant bugs.

Another thing to keep in mind when shopping for indoor plants to buy online is how you are as a plant owner. Oakes says, “Are you someone who wants to follow a strict routine with indoor plants? Or do you travel a lot and have a tendency to neglect plants?” Then shop for low or high maintenance plants accordingly. You can also look for grow lights or heat pads ahead of time if your heart is set on a plant that won’t thrive under the natural conditions of your home.

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Finally, its totally fine to shop for plants online! Oakes uses sites like Etsy, Terrain and Steve’s Leaves to find plants, seeds and propagations. She also suggests checking local plant stores to see if they offer delivery or curbside pickup.

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Indoor Plants You Can Buy Online

While it’s possible to grow most plants indoors with the right natural or artificial light conditions, we asked Oakes for her recommendations on plants and trees you can buy online that will thrive indoors. She advises, “Some plants and trees have a resiliency to withstand a variety of water and light regimens.” Here are a few of her top picks.

ZzplantVia The Sill

ZZ Plant

Oakes first recommendation for an indoor plant is the ZZ plant. She explains that it starts as a structural plant but fountains over as it gets larger. It’s an air purifying option that can tolerate low light, making it the perfect indoor plant for beginners. Oakes recommends watering all the way around the plant, not just in one spot. She explains, “If you water in just one area that can push away soil, expose roots and encourage roots to grow one way.”

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silver pothos plantVia Etsy

Silver Pothos Plant

Want to hang an indoor plant? Oakes likes silver pothos plants for hanging baskets. She says, “I’ve been growing these in a range of conditions in my house and they do well even in dryer conditions.” Oakes warns plants parents to ensure they’re using a pot or container with a drainage hole in the bottom. She advises, “Decorative containers without any drainage will easily kill a plant.” Consider drilling a hole in the bottom or a pot you love, and don’t forget to add a basin underneath to catch water and protect your furniture or windowsill.

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ox tongue succulentVia Etsy

Ox Tongue Succulent

Succulents seem like a no-brainer easy indoor plant to buy online, but looks can be deceiving. Oakes warns, “Some of us don’t have proper light to grow succulents indoors. It’s also easy to water them wrong.” She suggests an ox tongue succulent, which is more tolerant to moderate light conditions. For soil, Oakes recommends adding a grittier or bonsai mix to standard soil when caring for succulents. Traditional potting soil is hard to rewet when it completely dries between waterings.

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fairy washboard succulentVia Terrain

Fairy Washboard Succulent

Fairy washboard succulents, or Haworthia succulents, are another Oakes-approved indoor succulent suggestion. “These are a hardy plant, and they don’t grow very big which means they’re easily contained. These are the succulents that can live on your table or desk.” Just be sure they’re in a container with drainage at the bottom, or the roots will rot.

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umbrella treeVia Etsy

Umbrella Tree

Looking for a tree to grow indoors? Oakes recommends umbrella trees for their leafy structure. With bright indirect light it can grow up to five feet tall. Oakes suggests keeping them in their nursery pot and camouflaging it with a basket if you want something prettier. Just be sure to add a basin to collect water.

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bird of paradise, buying indoor plants onlineVia The Sill

Bird of Paradise

A bird of paradise is a big plant that sort of resembles a tree, with banana leaf looking leaves. It’s a tropical plant so it does require a sunny spot to thrive. If you have an outdoor area like a fire escape or balcony, Oakes suggests moving the plant outdoors in the warmer months.

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Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.