I have received these four plants as a gift and have no idea how to take care of them. I have no experience with plants. The delivery lady from the shop said that they need light but not direct sunlight, which means what exactly? Also how often do I water and do I need to give any plant food?


enter image description here

2 Answers 2


Working from right to left (anti clockwise) there's Hedera helix (the one with the trailing stems and small leaves), then what appears to be a Parlour Palm, then Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily) and lastly, the one with the feathery, white variegation down the centre of the large leaves. That one is the one I'm not entirely sure of - it's either a Dieffenbachia or one of the Marantas, but I can't find one with exactly that variegation in either category. Luckily, though, the light situation and care is similar for both - bright daylight is best, no sun, but Maranta prefers a somewhat higher humidity than Dieffenbachia, so grouping it together with one or two of the other plants should help with that, and it won't do any harm to do it if its Dieffenbachia either.

The Hedera (ivy) will tolerate some sunlight, it will help to keep the variegation, but not in the middle of the day through a window, especially in summer. Otherwise, it does well in shadier conditions - prefers a cooler spot, it does not like temperatures over 70 deg. F. Both the Parlour Palm and the Spathiphyllum prefer average to reasonably bright light conditions, but no sunlight. None of these plants will appreciate being near a heat source, like a radiator or electrical equipment that gives off heat.

Watering is the same for all - during spring and summer, water when the surface of the potting soil feels dry to the touch, but not shrunken from the sides of the pot, water well, allow to drain down freely, then empty out any outer tray or pot after 30 minutes so the plants are not left sitting in water. Check the plants every 5-7 days to see how dry they are - lifting the pot to check the weight is another way to confirm whether water is needed or not - it will feel much lighter when it's dry. In winter, all these plants will need a little less water, or watering less often, depending on the warmth of your home.

I don't know where you are or whether you can get Baby Bio liquid houseplant food, but 5 drops of that in a pint of water given about every fortnight during spring and early summer will be plenty. Easy to do when you water.

You might be interested to know that these four plants (assuming the one I'm not sure of is Dieffenbachia) are good at taking household pollutants like formaldehyde out of the air and, provided they're not kept far too wet, have the capacity to suppress or reduce air borne mould spores and bacteria. Pets and children should not be allowed to chew or eat any of them though.

The only other thing to say is that the Spathiphyllum appears to have a soil level almost to the top of the pot - I'm guessing its been topped off prior to despatch, but that makes it quite difficult to water, because there should be a gap at the top between soil and pot rim. You may find you need to repot it into a larger or deeper pot because its impossible to water it properly. You will likely find the Spathiphyllum needs watering more often than the others do, even in a larger pot.

  • Great job, Bamboo! Love using the weight of pots to figure watering needs! Grins! Whoa, perfect answer.
    – stormy
    Apr 17, 2017 at 1:01
  • @stormy annoying about the Maranta/Dieffenbachia ID though... that'll drive me mad over the next few days!
    – Bamboo
    Apr 17, 2017 at 1:07
  • Well I am glad! IDing this stuff drives me mad all of the time!! I am pretty weak with indoor plants like this. Gee how what a nice surprise gift! Hope she lets us know what the nursery tells her that these plants are for...curiosity sake. You did good, Bamboo...
    – stormy
    Apr 17, 2017 at 1:12
  • @Bamboo thank you so much for this. REALLY appreciated.
    – skywalker
    Apr 17, 2017 at 21:08

Dypsis lutescens Areca Palm Butterfly palm Majesty Palms

Brazilian Snow Plant Stromanthe Plant Tricolor

English Ivy variegated

The first 2 would be good subjects for the little palm. There are at least 2 others this this guy might be when he gets older.

The next two in the second block are possibles for the upright, variegated plant on the far left in your picture. The next 3 in that block are for both the second from the left plant in your picture and possibly for the farthest on the left as well. THIS IS EASILY PEACE LILY, so disregard. The Ivy is easy. Wait, Bamboo's ID'd the 2nd from the left as Peace lily! Shoot the flower is right there as well! Kudos, Bamboo.

The Ivy is straight forward but that tiny palm is not. There are at least 2 other contenders for this spot besides the two I listed. The upright large plants I've given you a few ideas for each. That middle group

Most of these plants are poisonous, deathly poisonous to kids and cats and dogs. So keep these out of reach. If I were you I would call whoever sent these plants to you for solid ID's. Look for tags. The store that sold them to your friend will KNOW what these are. If the plants were in our hands we would be able to tell but that would be silly when a phone call would pin this down for you.

The plant profiles I am attaching will help with the care and background no matter. Indirect bright light. Water well then allow to dry out before watering again. Do not fertilize until you find out from the people who sent these plants to you if they have already been fertilized (most assuredly). Get a little bottle of OSMOCOTE 14-14-14 beaded fertilizer. It is extended release and I don't apply this fertilizer as often as the directions tell you. These are indoor plants that will be getting little light. They are understory tropical plants that thrive with little light, thus the house plant category. Coming fresh from the nursery, they will already have some sort of fertilizer and the worst thing you could do right now is add fertilizer. A little too much and a little too dead.

When you transplant these plants into SLIGHTLY larger (2" more in diameter) you MUST use potting soil. Do not mess with moisture retention gimmicks like sponges or granules added to the soil. Do not purchase potting soil with fertilizer added. Just potting soil from a bag, no rocks at the bottom, raise the bottom of the pot off the surface with chunks of tile, flat rock or pot 'feet' to enhance drainage.

My ID's are close but can't be exact. That store KNOWS and should have sent directions of some sort along with common and scientific names. Part of the price they exacted from your friend (family)? Nice plants, but if you have a cat or kids keep these out of reach!! Others will be giving you other ID's as well but that store knows and is responsible for the proper ID. Nice gifts!! Hope this helps!!

  • Hi stormy! I'm confused by the way the identifications are listed. Would you mind rearranging them so that we can see what the contenders are for each pot. For instance, "farthest pot on the left could be (choice or choice); beside that could be (choice or choice); next to that could be (choice or choice); and the one on the far right is the English Ivy." I see that you offered some choices for the bigger palms, so even you group them a different way, the Ivy should be listed either first or last, since that's the obvious one. Thanks! Apr 16, 2017 at 21:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.