What to look for when buying them and what to do with them once you have brought them home.
First things first, how to choose them.
It can all be a little overwhelming when you are a the Garden store but you need to keep in mind what you are looking for and what you have to work with in your space, i.e. loads of light but you know you will forget to water them, succulents are you friends, doting on them, singing to them, watering every couple of days just in case, but not much light, ferns might be your answer.
Look for healthy looking plants, the half dead ones in the sale section are not for beginners leave them for the experts who know what they are doing. Also avoid the temptation to buy small plants because your afraid your going to kill them anyway and don't want to waste money, bigger plants are going to be a little more resilient as you figure out how best to take care of them once you get it home.
This lipstick plant (how could I not bring this home!) is the perfect example of this, a good size so even though I had no idea how to care for it until I read the instructions after I got home, (normally a big mistake but worked out ok this time,) it seems to be doing well.
(Update Oct 2014, this baby wasn't doing so well inside so I have moved him outside to see if that helps, not dead yet but not looking great)
Which bring me to tip two, keep the care cards! Until you have settled into a routine and the plant is thriving, hold on to the care instructions and read them if your not sure and definitely refer to them if your plant isn't happy.
For some reason when I brought this fern home, I thought that the bookcase was a great spot for it as it prefers low light, but low light doesn't mean no light so the rear of the plant began to die. So I moved it. If your plant isn't happy where it is, try somewhere else, this little guy is now quite happy on the window sill in the bedroom, no direct light, just a little filtered light because of the blinds in the sunroom which adjoins the bedroom.
(Update Oct 2014, this little one, has had a few more moves but I haven't been able to find the right spot yet, will try re-potting as the pot he came in may be squishing his roots)
Also try moving them outside if you can't find a spot inside. I haven't been able to keep a Tricolour alive inside, but I have a very happy one outside, completely neglected by me.
(Update Oct 2014, still neglected and happy)
With bonus succulent of some description that even flowered over summer.
My indoor succulents are in glass jars, because a, I like the look of the glass and the added texture of the soil indoors and b, succulents prefer to have their soil dry out in-between waterings, so with glass I can see the moisture content of the soil.
(Update Oct 2014, doing great, new growth visible coming into spring right on schedule)
For plants that prefer more water, try keeping a water vessel near the plant, that way when you remember you need to water it you can, it's not a matter of noticing it needs water and then actually managing to do so, see, do. simple. Just like my lipstick plant above.
My peace lily is very good at reminding me that it needs to be watered as it's leaves completely droop.
(Update Oct 2014, doing great, I am even remembering to water it before it wilts completely!)
How about if you have acknowledged that you can't keep living plants alive and have chosen to stick with flowers and artificial plants. Does that mean that there is no care involved? Well it is up to you, but with my artificial plants I like to clean the leaves every now and again so they don't look too fake. (Real plants also need to have their leaves dusted)
The ones in the bathroom are easy I just run them under the shower.
As for flowers sometimes it's nice to choose ones that look great dried as well, so much more bang for your buck.