Most house plants come in various shades of green, with only occasional, and often conspicuous, flowers to add to the colour palette. However there’s a vast array of colourful house plants to grow, from those with large, vivid blooms to vibrant foliage specimens.
Use colourful foliage plants as a foil for different greens, while flowering plants can add splashes of colour to existing displays.
More on growing houseplants:
- Foolproof houseplants to grow
- How to propagate clump-forming houseplants
- Must-have houseplants
- Indoor plant pots
Discover our pick of the best colourful house plants to grow, below.
Angel wings, Caladium, are tuberous plants, developing from a swollen rootstock. There are many different varieties, offering a huge range in leaf patterning and colour. You can grow them in a variety of locations around the home, including shady spots. Water whenever the soil feels dry but reduce watering in autumn to encourage die-back – this is perfectly normal and part of their natural winter dormancy.
Almost plastic in texture, the ribbed leaves of elephants ear, Alocasia cuprea, have coppery-brown upper surfaces and rich wine-red undersides. Brighter light stimulates better foliage colour.
Grow in a bright spot out of direct sunlight, such as a windowsill facing east or west. Keep away from heat sources such as radiators. Water regularly in spring and summer, then let the soil dry out between waterings in winter. Increase humidity around it by misting.
Deservedly popular, moth orchids are the easiest orchids to grow and they flower for months. Blooms appear at any time and come in a range of colours – trim spent stalks to a bud for more blooms.
Grow in a bright spot out of direct sunlight such as a windowsill facing east or west. Water weekly by soaking the bark compost then draining the excess moisture straight away, and use an orchid fertiliser monthly. Move to a slightly cooler spot to stimulate flowering.
Purple-leaf false shamrock
Purple-leaf false shamrock, Oxalis triangularis papilionacea, is primarily grown for its foliage, although it bears contrasting pale lavender flowers in summer. The clover-like leaves fold at night, completely changing its appearance.
Grow in a bright spot out of direct sunlight. Allow the compost to dry out between watering and stop watering altogether during the dormant season.
Arrowhead plant, Syngonium podophyllum ‘Pink Allusion’ eventually grows into a vigorous vine with pink, heart-shaped foliage.
Preferring high humidity in bright light, it’s ideal for a bathroom, or stand it on a tray of damp gravel. Water weekly in summer, reducing watering slightly in winter.
Watermelon begonia, Peperomia argyreia, bears fleshy oval leaves with opposing silver and green stripes, a bit like watermelons. The bright red stems and green-cream, spikelike flowers give added interest.
Grow out of direct sunlight such as on a windowsill facing east or west. It’s quite tolerant of neglect. Water only when the soil feels dry.
The radiator plant, Peperomia caperata ‘Schumi Red’, has deeply wrinkled, almost maroon foliage. It produces pink, wand-like flower spikes in summer and is a superb choice for a bottle garden.
Grow out of direct sunlight in a warm, humid environment. Water sparingly.
Angelwing begonia, Begonia ‘Lucerna’, is a tall, elegant plant with bamboo-like stems and spotted foliage with reddish-green undersides. Summer brings pendulous clusters of jewel-like coral blooms. Growing to more than 2m tall, it has better foliage colour in brighter light.
Grow in bright light but out of direct sunshine as the leaves can scorch in direct sun. Water weekly in summer and reduce watering in winter, waiting until the top inch of soil is dry.
The nerve plant, Fittonia albivenis ‘Fortissimo’, has neat foliage and is perfect for a bottle garden or terrarium. The colour comes from bright red veins, though cream-coloured flowers sometime develop. It can become leggy, so trim back once or twice a year, using prunings as cuttings.
Grow in a light to shady spot with high humidity, such as a bathroom. It’s quick to wilt when dry, so water weekly in summer, less in winter.