House plants, or indoor plants, provide interest, beauty and clean air in the home. They come in a huge variety of forms, from large-leaved jungle plants to tiny succulents that look like stones. There are house plants for sun and shade, dry conditions and humid bathrooms – almost a house plant for every situation and every home gardener.
Indoor plants have been proven to improve mental health and air quality in the home. Some house plants even absorb pollutants from household items such as fire-retardant furniture. Whatever your experience of growing house plants, there are plenty to suit you. Some indoor plants barely need watering or repotting at all!
How to grow house plants
Most house plants are tropical or desert plants used to warmer, more humid or drier conditions than we can offer them in our gardens. However, with a little care and attention, they will thrive in our homes. Some indoor plants have evolved to cope with very little rainfall, while others need regular watering to survive.
Before you buy your house plant, check which conditions it needs to grow well and whether you can provide those conditions in your home. Most indoor plants thrive in bright but indirect light – a few feet from a window is ideal. No house plant will be happy next to a radiator, open fire or air conditioning unit.
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Brush up on how to care for your house plant, as all have slightly different needs. For example, indoor plants are often killed by overwatering. As a rule of thumb, water only when the top 1-2cm of compost is dry. Many plants also need humid conditions so mist plants regularly, spritzing them with a misting spray to raise the humidity levels in warm, dry rooms. Feed regularly (around once a month) with a specialist house plant feed during the growing season, from spring to autumn. Many house plants cease growing in the winter months, so need less feeding and watering at this time.
Choosing house plants
When choosing indoor plants to grow in your home, take time to work out which conditions you can provide for them. There's no point in buying sun-loving cactus plants if you have only dark rooms and north-facing windows to offer. Similarly, humidity-loving jungle plants are best grown in a bathroom and don't thrive in other, drier areas of the home. Do a bit of research – if you fall in love with a plant, find out how to grow it before taking it home, so you can give it the best chance of survival possible.
For help choosing pots for your house plants see our guide to 15 of the best indoor plant pots
More on growing indoor plants:
- Must-have house plants
- Growing house plants
- Eight house plants to grow on a windowsill
- How to propagate clump-forming house plants
- 10 exotic house plants to grow
- Indoor plant pots
BBC Gardeners' World Magazine offer: Save 20% on indoor plants rangeBrighten up your home with a range of cheery house plants for a variety of different room conditions at You Garden.
We've picked 25 of our favourite indoor plants below, listed below.
Spider plants (Chlorophytum) are easy to grow and will reward you with frequent offsets that can be grown on and given to friends. As well as the variegated varieties 'Vittatum' and 'Variegatum', you could also grow 'Lemon', which has fresh green foliage. They look fabulous in hanging containers. Grow out of direct sunlight, and water and feed regularly while in active growth.
As a testament to their toughness, aspidistras are commonly known as cast iron plants. They're hardier than one might think, too, capable of surviving temperatures as low as -5ºC. Lush, broad leaves make them great foliage plants. Grow out of direct sunlight and feed and water regularly from spring to autumn.
One of the best-loved and most popular house plants, monsteras are exotic beauties that will reward the grower with broad leaves with little effort. Grow in a bright spot out of direct sunlight and water regularly while in active growth. Best grown with a moss pole so they can climb. Monstera adansonii is a smaller though no less attractive alternative.
These twining evergreen climbers bear clusters of richly scented flowers, and enjoy growing in bright shade in a free-draining soil. Hoya carnosa and Hoya kerrii are perhaps the most commonly grown hoyas, but there are many more exciting and easily grown types to branch out into, too.
One of many gorgeous philodendrons to grow as house plants, Philodendron xanadu is a clump-forming species with lobed leaves that enjoys growing in a shady location. Provide it with the humidity it enjoys by misting regularly. Other attractive philodendrons to grow include Philodendron scandens, Philodendron erubescens and Philodendron 'Imperial Red'.
Rubber plants, Ficus elastica, are easy evergreens to grow with glossy leaves and a stunning architectural growth habit. There are several cultivars to choose from, such as the variegated 'Tineke', or 'Bali', which has deep green-purple leaves. It's far from the only ficus to grow, though. Others include the fiddle leaf fig, Ficus benghalensis and Ficus benjamina. Grow them in a bright spot out of direct sunlight.
With masses of upright, divided leaves, Chrysalidocarpus lutescens is bound to make a statement. For a similar look, you could also try growing Howea fosteriana or Chamaedorea elegans, which have slightly larger leaflets. Grow in bright light out of direct sunlight, water well when in active growth and give it a good mist regularly.
Ceropegia linearis subsp. woodii
Ceropegia woodii is a trailing house plant, which makes a fabulous vertical accent for growing indoors. The stems can quickly reach over two metres in length and look lovely draping over the edge of a bookcase or mantelpiece. Very easy to grow, as long as it's not overwatered, it enjoys a bright spot out of direct sunlight.
Pilea peperomioides is an easy-to-grow plant with distinctive round, succulent leaves. They're constantly producing offsets so you'll never be short of baby plants to give away as presents. Give it a bright spot out of direct sunlight.
The upright, sword-shaped leaves of snake plants (Sansevieria) are instantly recognisable. Sansevieria trifasciata var. laurentii has creamy margins, while Sansevieria zeylandica has lovely striated leaves. Sansevieria masoniana 'Victoria' has much broader leaves. Great for a bright location out of direct sunlight.
The rabbit's foot fern, Phlebodium aureum, has gorgeous, glaucous leaves. These are produced from creeping rhizomes covered in lots of small hairs, giving them a furry appearance. Very easy to grow if grown in bright, indirect sunlight. Keep well watered and mist the leaves regularly.
The maidenhair fern, Adiantum raddianum, makes a gorgeous, leafy house plant. Each frond bears small, delicate leaves held on contrasting dark stems. Thriving in a humid environment, it's perfect for a steamy bathroom.
H x S: 40cm x 40cm
Cape primrose, Streptocarpus, makes a fantastic houseplant in the British Isles. They come in a huge range of flower colours, and bloom from spring to autumn. They’re easy to grow grow them on a bright window sill away from direct sunlight, and avoid over-watering.
Crassula ovata 'Gollum'
Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ is an unusual plant with tubular, trumpet shaped leaves. It looks like a small tree, and the branching trunk becomes thick with age. It may produce clusters of small, star-like, white or pinkish-white flowers with pink stamens in winter.
H x S: 80cm x 40cm
Deuterocohnia lanata is a bromeliad, native to Bolivia. It bears small, sharply pointed, toothed leaves in blue-green, with reddish tips. Grow in bright light and water regularly, reducing watering in winter.
H x S: 40cm x 30cm
Staghorn fern, Platycerium wandae, is an unusual house plant, native to lowland rainforests of New Guinea. An epiphyte, it has large, antler-like, lobed, leathery fronds.
H x S: 2m x 2m
There are several varieties of Rhipsalis, which are technically a cactus, but with a beautiful trailing habit, perfect for making indoor hanging displays. Grow in bright light and water sparingly.
H x S: 20cm x 60cm
Angel's wings. Caladium Bicolor, has beautiful heart-shaped green leaves in a variety of different colours. Grow in bright light and water freely in summer, keeping the compost completely dry in winter.
H x S: 50cm x 50cm
Alocasia cuprea bears large, leathery heart-shaped leaves in a variety of colours. Grow in bright light to partial shade, with a good degree of humidity - a bright bathroom is ideal.
H x S: 25cm x 25cm
Usually grown for Christmas, Hippeastrum (amaryllis) is a bulbous plant, bearing large, velvety flowers in a variety of colours. Plant in peat-free, multi-purpose compost around eight weeks before you want it to flower, and keep in a cool room with plenty of light to ensure it develops slowly, maintaining a strong flower shoot and leaves.
H x S: 75cm x 20cm
Fiddle leaf fig, Ficus lyrata, is a pricey plant that can be a little fickle – it has a habit of dropping its leaves if it’s not happy. This could be due to dry air, under- or overwatering, under- or over feeding, or sudden changes in temperature. Once you have found the right place for it – a bright spot, out of direct sun, in a warm room – leave it there, as it doesn’t like being moved. Wipe the leaves to keep them free of dust.
Height and Spread: 2m x 50cm
Purple shamrock, Oxalis triangularis, has purple leaves and pale pink, nodding flowers. It is a bulb and dies back in winter. It likes some humidity so is a good choice for a bathroom.
H x S: 50cm x 2m
Succulents and cacti
Succulents and cacti are extremely popular and it’s easy to see why – they come in range of shapes, sizes and colours, such as the bunny-eared prickly pear cactus. Most will grow on a sunny windowsill and are low maintenance. Let the compost dry out between watering in summer. Find out how to make a succulent and cacti terrarium.
H x S: 20cm x 30cm
Air plants don’t need compost – in nature, they take moisture from the air. They do need watering, however – either by regular misting, or by plunging in a bowl of water for around 30 minutes, allowing to drain well. A humid room, such as kitchen or bathroom, is ideal.
H x S: 20cm x 20cm
Crown of thorns
Crown of thorns, Euphorbia milii, is a pretty plant with fleshy leaves that seems to flower almost non-stop, given plenty of bright light. The flowers are actually coloured bracts that last for several weeks. It has fleshy leaves and stems, so doesn’t need too much watering. Wear gloves when handling – the plant has sharp thorns and also an irritant sap.
H x S: 50cm x 50cm
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