Houseplant identification can be tough, luckily there are loads of free tools you can use to find the names of plants.
Garden centers and nurseries place signs on shelves of houseplants that identify them by name, but they may not label each plant individually. If they do, the tags can often be non-specific. So you buy a mixed variety of plants, get them home, and find that each one has the same unhelpful tag that says “foliage plant.”
Or, someone gave you a plant and you’ve had it for some time, but you have no idea what it might be. There’s help out there. Free houseplant identification resources are readily available, and chances are good that you have at least one of them already.
Houseplant Identification using your phone
There are free apps available for both iPhone and Android devices that have been specifically developed to help you identify houseplants. Three of the top-rated apps available for download from both the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store are LeafSnap, Planta, and PlantNet. Each uses your phone’s camera. You simply take pictures of the plants, the apps search for images that match, and the results help you to make positive houseplant identifications.
If you have an Android phone, another great way to identify houseplants is by using the free Google Lens app that may already be installed on your device. If it isn’t, you can download it from the Play Store. Like the apps specifically designed for plant identification, Lens also uses your phone’s camera. You simply open the app and tap the button to take a picture of your houseplant. You’ll quickly get a list of matching results and images.
If you’re an iPhone user and you’ve installed the latest operating system update (iOS 15), you should already have Visual Look Up, Apple’s answer to the Lens app. It works similarly to Lens and can also be used effectively as a houseplant identifier.
Using websites for houseplant identification
Perhaps you’ve made a tentative houseplant identification, but you’re just not sure. You can always go to the My Garden Life Plant Library, enter the name or type of plant that you believe you have, and look through the results and images. If you want to immediately narrow your search to indoor varieties, only, you can choose the Indoor option from the Plant Library dropdown menu.
When you find a potential match, click the plant name for more information including care instructions, sunlight requirements, planting zones, companion plants, and much more. Even if you have no idea what type of plant yours might be, you may find it just by browsing our library. You’ll likely also find some other plants that appeal to you.
Another site where you can find indoor plant identification information is Costa Farms’ plant finder. There you can search by name and further narrow your results by including search criteria like plant type, color, special features, and even plant “personality.”
Houseplant identification by leaf shape and other characteristics
If you’d like to learn about houseplant identification by leaf shape or the shapes of the flowers different plants produce, Houseplant World has posted some very helpful information. Their article discusses leaf colors, patterns, and shapes as well as the different characteristics of houseplant flowers. Also provided is a list of general plant categories.
By observing their leaf and flower characteristics, you can determine which category your plants fit into and how best to care for them to ensure that they stay healthy and flourish. This is especially helpful if you’ve purchased a plant that didn’t come with an identification label or care instructions.
Identify houseplants using reference books
If you like to do your research the old-fashioned way, books like “Exotica,” “Tropica,” and “The Houseplant Expert” can be great alternatives to staring at a computer screen and may be available through your local library. If you’re a houseplant enthusiast, it might be helpful to buy reference books, so you’ll always have information at your fingertips. You can kick back on your sofa and thumb through the pages of images and information looking for what you need.
Make a plant care wheel that you can take along when plant shopping
Another handy resource is a printable plant care wheel. The plant care wheel has photos and care information for twenty of the most popular houseplants. It’s small enough to take with you when you’re plant shopping to provide instant help with plant identification, light needs, and even selecting plants that are safe to have around your pets.
Ask an expert for help identifying your houseplant
You may have access to more plant experts than you realize. If you have a favorite nursery or garden center with a knowledgeable staff, consider taking a picture of your mystery plant and showing it to someone there. Many botanical gardens also have helplines available to the public.
These days social media can be a good resource for getting help identifying your houseplants. For example, Plant Talk is a Facebook group where you can post questions and photos so that other plant lovers can assist with identifying a plant or help if you are having plant problems. Whatever your favorite social platform, just do a search for “houseplant” to bring up a list of possibilities.
Once you’ve identified your plant don’t forget to label it. We’ve got some fun ideas for identifying your indoor or outdoor plants with our Easy and Fun DIY Garden Markers.