There are many benefits to adding plants to your living room – not only do they brighten the room with greenery but some also help to purify the air. Whether you add one or more plants, there’s a variety to choose from for every type of living room, from architecturally impressive palms to tiny succulents.
House plants can bring style and colour to your room. Tall plants are perfect for the corners of room, adding a focal point in a place where you can appreciate their height. Small or bushy plants look good on tables and windowsills where it’s easy to see the detail of their foliage, while trailing plants are useful for softening the edges of shelves.
Before choosing plants, consider the type of room you have and how much light and warmth there is. Plants that are native to tropical jungles won't grow well in a draughty cold atmosphere. When grouping plants check they all thrive in the same light and temperature conditions. Aim to combine plants with different leaf shapes or textures for contrast. In a small room, choosing one or two plants that create a big impact will look better than cramming in lots of small plants.
Best for a dark living room
Perk up a gloomy corner of the living room with the glossy foliage of the ZZ plant. Zamioculcas zamiifolia not only tolerates low light levels but it can also cope with dry conditions as it has fleshy roots that can store water for a long time. Water when the compost is dry.
Height x Spread: 90cm x 90cm
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This purple foliage plant is ideal for a shady spot, with striking variegated leaves that are a mix of bold purple, silver and green. It could be grown for its leaves alone, but it also has small pink flowers which can appear throughout the year.
Flowers: January - December
H x S: 35cm x 30cm
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants are not fussy about light levels or watering and will put up with a certain amount of neglect. This makes them a great plant for a beginner. Once a spider plant is mature it will also produce spider plant babies, so it's easy to increase your stocks. The only spot it won't thrive in is a somewhere that gets direct sun.
H x S: 20cm x 30cm
Best for direct light
Bunny ears cactus
The leaf pads on Opuntia microdasys grow in pairs, which explains its common name – bunny ears. It grows best in direct light so would be ideal for a south-facing window. After watering, let the compost dry out completely before watering again.
H x S: 50cm x 50cm
Graptopetalum is a tiny succulent, also known as leatherpetal, and is native to Mexico. When it's mature, it produces white, star-shaped flowers in spring. It thrives in full sun and can tolerate drought conditions, so place it on a sunny windowsill and water just enough to dampen the compost, every few weeks in summer. Leave a few months between watering in winter.
H x S: 10cm x 15cm
Venus fly trap
A house plant that also helps keep down your indoor fly population is bound to be popular. Venus fly trap needs a sunny spot, so a south-facing windowsill is ideal. It is more tricky to look after than some plants as its compost should be kept constantly damp. Stand it in a tray or saucer of rainwater during spring and summer.
H x S: 30cm x 20cm
Best for shelves
String of hearts
Ceropegia linearis subsp. woodii, also known as string of hearts because of the shape of its leaves, has long trailing stems making it an attractive choice for a high shelf. It may also flower during summer, producing purple tubular stems. This plant is easy to look after as it doesn't need frequent watering. Just put it in a spot with bright, indirect light.
H x S: 10cm x 30cm plus (it will keep growing to 2-4m long if left unpruned)
It might not sound the most exciting house plant, but if you struggle to keep your indoor plants alive, this is a great low-maintenance choice. Ivy thrives in cool rooms and can cope with draughts and a bit of shade. Cut it back if gets overgrown and keep the compost moist during the summer.
H x S: 10cm x 3m (if left unpruned)
Brighten shelves with the variegated foliage of Hoya carnosa 'Tricolor', which has green and cream leaves on pink stems. The foliage will tumble over the side of the pot, growing to around 3m if left to its own devices. If the plant is thriving it may also produce scented flowers in summer. Grow in a bright, warm spot. Hoya come from subtropical forests and appreciate humidity so mist your plant regularly.
H x S: 10cm x 3m (but can be kept shorter)
Best for height
Swiss cheese plant
Monstera deliciosa can reach 2m tall indoors with enormous leaves that can grow to 45cm long. Swiss cheese plant is named for its holey, glossy leaves that bring a tropical look to your home. As it grows, your plant will need a support such as a moss or coir pole. Place in bright, indirect light and water when the top couple of inches of compost are dry.
H x S: 2m x 2.5m (maximum indoors)
Palms are a classic choice for a living room, adding architectural interest and impact. Kentia palm is good for a beginner, as it isn't too fussy. It can tolerate low light, although grows best in bright, indirect light, and only needs watering when the top couple of inches of compost are dry. It will also help improve air quality.
H x S: 2.5m x 1m
Dragon tree (Draceana marginata)
Dragon tree is a slow growing plant with narrow green leaves with a red edge. It can take some neglect and will perk up a corner of the living room without causing much trouble. Simply water when the top few inches of the compost are dry. It will do best in bright, indirect light.
H x S: 2m x 1.5m
Areca palm, Dypsis lutescens
Also known as the bamboo palm, areca palm can reach up to 8m in height. Being slow growing, it will take many years to reach this size, but it does make a striking focal point for a living room with its upright stems and graceful fronds. It will thrive in bright, indirect light, with regular watering, when the top few inches of compost is dry.
H x S: 8m x 4m
Best for small spaces
Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomoides)
Chinese money plant is a popular plant for its round leaves that look like lily pads, at the end of long stalks. It's compact at 30cm, perfect for a small table in the living room. It thrives in bright light and only needs watering once the top of the compost has dried out.
H x S: 30cm x 30cm
Nerve plant is ideal for a tiny space as it only reaches 15cm high and slowly spreads to fill its pot. It has patterned leaves in a variety of combinations including pink and green or green and white. Fittonia albivensis can be tricky to look after as it needs high humidity, but this makes it a good option for a terrarium or bottle garden.
H x S: 15cm x 30cm
This succulent takes up very little space, but provides big impact with its fleshy leaves. Place it on a bright windowsill and let the compost dry out inbetween waterings. It will need very little watering over winter. It may also produce pink flowers. Although it makes an attractive house plant year round, you can also put it outside during the summer.
H x S: 10cm x 50cm
Advice on buying house plants for a living room
- Buy plants that are suited to your living room conditions. Avoid plants that need high humidity to thrive if you have a dry or cold living room
- Check the light requirements of your plant before placing it
- Check plants for pests and disease before buying, or on arrival if you have ordered online