Plant care basics

7 not-quite-beginner plants

After having dabbled in some of the easiest plants, it’s time to expand to those that are a bit more challenging.

Best of all, these give you a chance to learn more about how different plants work, and particularly understand issues like watering, light levels, and propagation – which are at the heart of plant parenthood.

These are the ones that I recommend or gift to friends who want to try something different or more challenging

Foliage plants

What I call ‘foliage plants’ are those that are generally leafier and require more watering and less direct bright sunshine than succulent types (below).

1 | Epipremnum aureum | Golden pothos

When happy, golden pothos go feral, even during the winter when most plants rest. They’re also incredibly rewarding to learn how to propagate plants, and will root very easily in water, giving you an endless supply of pots around the house.

And, you can start to experiment with different ways of displaying or growing plants – small bush pots, large trailing ones, up a moss pole, or across a wall.

Read more about pothos care.

2 | Philodendron scandens | Heartleaf philodendron

Though she be plain, she’s quite pretty. These are my favourite philodendron, mainly because they seem to be surprisingly tolerant of shady corners around our home! As long as you adjust your watering according to how much light they get, they’ll happily sprout new leaves.

3 | Tradescantias and callisia repens

Another fast grower, tradescantias aren’t called ‘inch plants’ for nothing. During the summer they seem to sprout beautiful new leaves by the day, creating cascades of colour from your shelves. And like pothos, are incredibly easy to propagate. Read more about tradescantia care.

Callisia repens are related to tradescantia, and appreciate similar growing conditions. Though the leaves are tiny and delicate compared to tradescantia, they also grow like wildfire, and don’t mind slightly shadier spots.

4 | Peperomias

Another of my favourite plant families, these come in an amazingly wide range of types, forms and colour. Most are relatively easy to look after once you get the general gist. I treat mine somewhere between foliage and succulent plants – they seem to like to be on the drier side, so I pot them in terracotta pots to help the soil dry quicker between waterings.

They’re also fun to propagate, though different from those above. Most peperomia can be grown from just one leaf.


Succulents are often recommended as ‘low maintenance’ plants, but without the right conditions, they won’t do very well. These are the ones I recommend to friends as a way to get to know succulents better.

5 | Crassula ovata | Jade plant

Like many succulents, jade plants or money trees are slow growing, but with the right care can become quite magnificent. A bright spot, with occasional thorough watering, is usually enough to keep them happy.

After some time you may find it could do with some pruning to create a more sturdy shape – in which case, you’ll end up with lots of cuttings that can be easily propagated in soil.

6 | Aloe vera

Again, a bright spot and occasional thorough watering is usually enough to keep aloe veras happy. They will go a little brown/orange if sunburnt from too much direct sunlight – but this can be easily remedied by relocating the pot a little further away from the window.

They sprout little pups, and you’ll soon find your pot is bulging with plants, which can be separated into new pots.

7 | Sedum rubrotinctum | Jellybean plant

One of the more unusual succulents, but one that I’ve found ridiculously easy to keep and propagate. The leaves will drop off readily (so maybe not for the clumsier plant parent), and I’ve even found some that rolled on the floor under a desk sprouting some weeks later!

What plants do you think are good for people expanding their knowledge of plant care? Message me @southseajungle on Instagram.

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