There are plants that don’t like each other. It’s hilarious to think that our green friends can act like kindergarteners in the schoolyard. As plant parents, we do all our best to make our houseplants happy and healthy, but sometimes, no matter what we do, some plants are just designed not to go well with others.
In my childhood, my grandfather showed me how important it was to carefully learn about each plant. To properly care for them, we must know how each one responds to the environment. He made me plant tomatoes along with beans. The tomatoes grew taller, as my grandfather expected, and created a shade for the sun-hungry beans. This was how I learned from actual experience that some plants don’t go well together.
In the wild, plants have a way of grouping themselves, naturally based on their living requirements. The plants that need sunlight and the plants that need shade are found together. Then, the different plants that need plenty of water are near sources of water. You will also find the plants that need some levels of humidity to grow are often grouped together.
It should make sense that when we are keeping plants indoors, whether we are trying to create a dish garden or planting them together, we must know which ones are compatible and which ones aren’t.
How To Group Plants Together
There are plenty of reasons why you would want to put plants together. There’s beauty in a stand-alone plant in the corner of your room. Birds of paradise or Monstera deliciosa on their own glorious beauty will always command attention. But clustering indoor plants together is another visually pleasing sight.
Grouping plants of the same care needs together is a plant parent life hack. Imagine the convenience you will enjoy when you know which clusters to water on the same day! You’ll know which group can sit by the window the whole time and which ones to move away from direct light.
You can easily group plants by having them beside each other on separate pots. Or you can group plants by having them share the same planter with the same soil. Below, we’ve created a list of criteria for you to remember when deciding to group and pair houseplants.
Before putting two and two together, first ask yourself: what are the light requirements of these plants? Taking this into consideration will help you determine whether two plants can manage the morning sun together. If one plant prefers the afternoon sun while another does not need full sun at all, then these two should not be paired.
Another factor we must always have in mind is the humidity preference of each plant you plan to pair. Most plants thrive in high humidity. With the cold season here to stay, the forced heat we bring into our home makes our place much drier. This isn’t conducive to the growth of humidity-loving plants.
Use a humidifier to help your plants continue to thrive this season. But there is also another alternative to increase the moisture in the air. You can create a miniature biome where you add pebbles and water. Even grouping plants together already helps with humidity. When you plant to mist plants, be mindful that the paired plant is not unfavorable to misting. Another way to maintain humidity is keeping plants in a bathroom or kitchen.
Tropical plants, flowering plants, or herbs, these houseplants vary in temperature preferences. Some need 65-75° during the day and 55-60° at night. While others go as high up as 90° or more. You should have a working knowledge of which of your plants are built for drafty windows and which ones should not be near heaters or vents.
This is one of the more crucial criteria in grouping plants together. It’s also one of the most overlooked. Some plant lovers have been guilty of grouping together a thirsty plant with a dry-spell preferring plant. This spells disaster for both of your houseplants!
Take advantage of rainwater or melted snow because plants respond especially well to these. Avoid water that may contain sodium.
If you are putting two or more plants in the same planter, make sure that during watering, you do not wet the foliage. Instead, make sure the entire soil mass is moistened.
Read more: Best watering cans for your plants
This leads us to another criterion for consideration. Good drainage is essential for all houseplants, and it starts with quality organic potting soil. But we know that not all kinds of soil work for all types of plants. So if you are pairing plants in one container, they should both be able to thrive in the soil.
Choose a container with drainage holes that are large enough to avoid blockage. If there are no holes in the bottom, put a layer of pebbles instead. Ensure that none of the plants stand in water as this causes root rot and damage in the long run.
Whether you have pets or children, you must determine whether your indoor plants are toxic or not. You can group these ones together and keep them out of reach from curious cats or playful babies.
Finally, once you’ve identified plants according to their growth requirements, you are ready to group and pair them together. There’s no rule when it comes to how you want to mix and match your plants. But a cluster with tall plants and shrubby foliage is a good place to start.
Pairings To Avoid
Now that we know how to group plants together. Let’s look at some plant pairings that we should generally avoid.
The popular YouTube channel Planterina shares which plants should never mix together. She points out why certain types of pairings are deadly based on the conditions we’ve listed above.
Again, these houseplant combinations should be avoided because they are different in terms of watering needs, light requirements, growth rate, and aesthetics.
According to channel host Amanda, these are some indoor plants you should not mix together:
- Ferns and Snake Plants
- Ferns and Aloe
- Ferns and Peperomia
- Chinese Evergreen and Calathea
- Chinese Evergreen and Ctenanthe
- Senecio and Syngonium
- Jade and Pothos
- Jade and Peperomia
- Philodendron and Fittonia
If you are considering grouping plants, you can start with these happy pairs:
- Monstera deliciosa and Philodendron
- Several of the same Genus, like Norfolk Island Pines or Snake Plants
- Snake Plants and ZZ Plants
- Dieffenbachia and Chinese Evergreen
- Spathiphyllum and Ferns
Take the time to get to know your plants and what their specific needs are. Happy planting!