7 Up-and-Coming Houseplants You’re About to See All Over Instagram

updated Jun 26, 2020
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You already know that Instagram’s a training ground for influencers, but the platform is where a lot of houseplants take off, too. There, devoted houseplant parents share their new finds and old favorites—and every once in a while, a “new” plant appears on the scene and blows everyone else’s plant babies out of the water. Hello, fiddle leaf fig and monstera!

I love lurking in the houseplant corners of Instagram, waiting for the next big thing in the houseplant world to appear. Then it’s all about the thrill of the hunt—scouring all of my favorite houseplant stores and peppering the owners with questions as to when they might get this plant in. If you’re also ahead of the game, you might be able to snag a gem.

These seven plants are all starting to get buzz in plant circles on social media—some of them are new to the scene, while others are old favorites that are coming around again. Put them on your wish list and get shopping now, before it’s too late!

Variegated string of pearls (senecio rowleyanus variegata)

The variegated string of pearls is the normal string of pearls’ cool older sister. It’s a gorgeous plant—the succulent pearls are variegated in the most delicious looking fashion. Some owners have said that the plant can grow an entire strand of the pearls that are white! 

Just like its sibling, this variety of string of pearls can be temperamental. It needs bright light, and that is a non-negotiable aspect of having this plant and keeping it alive.

Watering can also be tricky. Yes, this plant is a succulent, but how much and how frequently you water really depends on how mature the plant is. A lot of shops sell string of pearls plants in 4-inch pots, which means that the plants are juvenile and haven’t had much of a chance to establish a strong root system. I’ve had the most success with a string of pearls plant by following this care regimen: If I have a smaller plant, I water it more frequently with a smaller quantity of water. This might mean that I water it twice a week, but only a few tablespoons at a time. I let that dry and then water it again. If you have a more mature plant, you can water it once every week or two with a more substantial amount of water; then, let it dry out completely and then water it again. Important note: This plant is toxic to both dogs and cats.

Buy: Variegated string of pearls in 2-inch pot, $9.99 at Etsy

String of hearts (ceropegia woodii)

The string of hearts plant has been around for a while, but can still be difficult to find in shops—especially if you’re searching for those long, trailing, mature specimens you see all over social media. The plant itself is very delicate looking, but when given the accurate amount of water and light, it can be very hardy. 

Even though this plant is semi-succulent, it doesn’t like direct sun. Find a place in your home that gets bright, indirect light for your string of hearts. As for watering, don’t go overboard. Water only when the soil is completely dry. String of hearts have a tendency to rot when overwatered or exposed to a damp environment. 

Once your string of hearts starts growing, you’ll notice that it will quickly grow into itself and become a mass of tangled vines. It helps to gently adjust the plant weekly to keep it from turning into a mess. Keep an eye out for the variegated version of this plant—it’s even more difficult to hunt down!

Buy: String of hearts in 4-inch pot, $17.99 at Etsy

Calathea orbifolia

In my opinion, all calatheas are amazing, but the Calathea orbifolia is the variety that’s making the most waves. It’s at the top of my wish list and I’ve been on the search for this one for over a year now. The C. orbifolia is a gorgeous, big leafed babe that makes a great floor plant once it has matured. Don’t fret if you can only find a small plant—they are just as amazing! A C. orbifolia makes a great addition to any table or shelf… at least until it gets too big!

Like most calatheas, this variety thrives in indirect light. Too much light and you’ll end up with a sunburned plant. Calatheas also need lots of water. One skipped week of watering will certainly damage your plant, so stay on top of it! A definite sign of underwatering is if you notice the leaves start to get brown and crisp. While those leaves won’t technically recover, the plant can still produce new growth, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Another great thing about calatheas? They’re nontoxic for both dogs and cats.

Buy: Calathea Orbifolia, from $15 at Etsy

Philodendron birkin

Okay, I have to confess that the first time I saw a photo of this plant, I didn’t get the big deal. I thought it looked like a tiny dieffenbachia with its coloring. However, the more I looked around and saw other plants, the more excited I got. I’m a big lover of philodendrons and I own quite a few of them. The shape of the P. birkin is similar to that of an “Orange Prince,” but the plant is more structural. The variegation on the leaves is exquisite, so perhaps this is the Birkin bag of the plant world!

Basic philodendron care applies here. Bright, indirect light because the variegation on the leaves means that the plant will need a little more light than usual to perform photosynthesis. Bright, indirect light also helps the plant develop more defined variegation on its leaves. This philodendron will thrive in a humid environment, so get yourself a spray bottle and mist your plant multiple times a week. Water when the soil dries an inch from the surface. Keep in mind that philodendrons are toxic to dogs and cats.

This plant is a rising star and is getting increasingly hard to find, especially at a reasonable price. If you want one and are able to find one, scoop it up! It will be worth it.

Monstera minima (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma)

This plant is commercially known as a Monstera minima, but it technically is not a monstera. The Rhaphidophora tetrasperma is an adorable plant that looks like a mini version of the Monstera deliciosa. It’s a small plant but it grows much faster than any monstera. In fact, this plant will quickly grow up a totem or trellis when given the chance. Another bonus is that its leaves that come on with new growth split almost immediately after emerging, unlike true monsteras.

Bright, indirect light will do just fine for this plant. Water when the soil is dry to the touch. Don’t let it dry out; mist frequently.

Monstera obliqua

The Monstera obliqua is an elusive plant. A lot of folks accidently buy a Monstera adansonii (a pretty cool plant in its own right) thinking that they found a true M. obliqua. A lot of plants are misadvertised as well, due to lack of knowledge. 

It is said that there have only been a handful of instances where the obliqua has been sighted in the wild, making it very difficult to believe that some online sellers can deliver what they’re promising. The truth is that there probably isn’t a true obliqua out there in cultivation, and what is being sold as a “true” M. obliqua is simply a hybrid. Probably. There is a lot of speculation on the subject!  The closest thing to real that I’ve found is through the extremely reputable NSE Tropicals, where a single 4-inch plant sold recently for $2900.  

The main difference between an M. adansonii and an M. obliqua is the size of the holes, also called fenestrations, in the leaves. The M. obliqua looks like there’s barely any leaf hanging on in between the massive holes. The M. adansonii has significantly more leaf mass. That said, some leaves on the M. obliqua don’t have holes at all!

While other monsteras have the reputation as being “easy” to grow, the obliqua is a true exception to the rule. They are notoriously difficult to grow and require a continuously humid environment and damp soil to thrive. If you manage to get one, place it somewhere that gets bright, indirect light and then fret over it day and night. 

Variegated fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata variegata)

Yet again, another blockbuster plant with variegated foliage. But can you really blame folks for going bonkers over gorgeous foliage? This hybrid variegated fiddle leaf fig would make a really cool addition to any ficus-lover’s collection. If you’ve been able to keep a fiddle leaf fig alive for a few years, it might be time to try out the new model. This plant is similar looking to the Ficus triangularis variegata, but you probably won’t have the opportunity to mix the two up as they’re both pretty difficult to find. This, like the monstera obliqua, is one to add to your treasure list!

The same fiddle leaf fig rules apply here: bright, indirect light. Water thoroughly when the soil gets dry an inch from the surface. Mist frequently. Keep away from radically changing temperatures and your pets—ficus is toxic to both dogs and cats.