Published on January 10, 2019

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

No, the most popular houseplant is not the fiddle-leaf fig. It’s not even the monstera plant—though Instagram would have you believe otherwise. According to a recent Insider Data survey, the two plants that hold the mantle for most popular are aloe vera and cacti. And they have the country divided.

Insider worked with Google Labs to analyze search data from the last 12 months, finding two clear winners. What’s more interesting is that, barring a few outliers, the plant preference is split almost perfectly by coast. The East Coast has a thing for aloe, while the West Coast is all about cacti. Cactus plants are marginally more popular, with 27 states claiming them as the most-searched houseplant.

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Courtesy of Insider

It’s also worth noting that one thing unifies the coasts: Both plants are famously hard to kill. It’s comforting to know that involuntary plantslaughter is a problem that everyone has on the brain.

We spoke to Christopher Satch, plant scientist over at The Sill, to get intel on how to best care for cacti and aloe vera. “The care for both plants is actually super similar,” Satch explains. “Aloe comes from the deserts of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Northern Africa. Cacti all hail from the deserts of the Americas. Although they are unrelated, because they grow in the same environments, you can care for them the same way.”

Read on for how to keep your new plant babies alive and well, no matter the climate.

Get that vitamin D

“Because they are desert natives, they need to be blasted with as much direct sunlight as possible,” says Satch. “The more, the better.” Pick up a few mini succulents to line your windowsill or keep your new aloe plant on display in your sunny living room.

Try a new watering technique

How much water your plants need will vary according to the amount of light they receive and what season it is. Satch recommends checking the soil every few days, watering whenever you find that the soil is bone-dry a few inches deep. “For these plants, we recommend pouring warm water over their soil and letting them sit in their own flow-through for a few hours until the soil is saturated,” he says, noting that you should plant your new greenery with drainage. “Then, drain all the water and do not add water again until the soil is completely dry.”

Do regular maintenance

Both cacti and aloe vera should be fertilized once every three months. Satch advises repotting every new plant you get, and then again once a year to allow for growth.

Indulge Your Green Thumb:
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