The humble houseplant can transform your home by improving the indoor environment and elevating your mood, one leaf at a time. “Plants can increase creativity and reduce stress,” says Lindsay Pangborn, a gardening expert at Bloomscape. “For some, plants provide ‘gezellig’ (a Dutch word meaning a feeling of coziness, comfort, and relaxation) and give us a sense of well-being.”
A plant is a living being, and to thrive, it needs its own version of TLC—namely, water, light, and fertilizer. But even if you’re missing a green thumb, our guide to easy-to-maintain houseplants helps you create your own indoor jungle. To help you in your search, we researched the best indoor plants for your home, considering each plant based on its required amount of care, whether it flowers, and more.
Our top pick is the Bloombox Club Dracaena ‘Limelight’, a beginner-friendly option that is easy to care for and adapts well to different environments and conditions.
Ahead, our pick of the best indoor plants to add some greenery to your home.
Bloombox Club Dracaena ‘Limelight’
Leaves can get dusty
If you’re unsure about your gardening skills, opt for the Dracaena Limelight, a low-maintenance option that’s native to tropical Africa. One of the easiest plants to care for, “it can flourish and adapt to almost any environment,” says Pangborn.
With a fountain of vibrant lime-hued leaves on a branchless stem, the Dracaena ‘Limelight’ is sometimes referred to as the corn plant, given its uncanny resemblance to the food as it grows. In the wild, it can grow nearly 50 feet tall, but don’t let that deter you: as a houseplant, it’s a slow-growing perennial that can extend to a little over 6 feet and stays happy with regular potting mix. Water this plant only when the soil is almost dry, as it does best when the soil is not soggy or overly moist. You can easily propagate a dracaena by taking a few cuttings from the plant and placing them in water until it develops roots.
“This houseplant tolerates low light and can even adapt to fluorescent lighting if needed,” says Pangborn, but avoid placing it in direct sunlight. It’s a tough plant that requires little fussing around to flourish.
Price at time of publish: $25
Yarden Silver Pothos
Speckled, heart-shaped leaves
Works as hanging plant
Sensitive to drafts
Brighten your desk, shelf, or mantle with the Silver or Satin Pothos and its shimmering silver-gray speckled heart-shaped leaves. A great choice for a smaller indoor plant, Pangborn says, “They are best known for their easy-care regime and durability. They thrive in bright light but can adapt to lower light as well.” It looks lovely in a hanging planter, too, with its tendrils tumbling downwards.
Keep the Silver Pothos away from drafty corners. Mist the plant occasionally, snip any dead leaves, and keep the soil moist, watering when around 2 inches of the top soil is dry. Keep it away from the direct sun, which can burn its leaves. To propagate a new plant, simply snip a few cuttings off and plant them in potting soil and water. While ordering from Soil & Clay, you can opt for a small or medium-sized grower pot. If it dies within two weeks, they will replace it for free.
Price at time of publish: $42
Bloomscape ZZ Plant
Taller stems can topple over
The popular ZZ Plant, or the Zanzibar Gem, is a resilient drought-tolerant plant with waxy, oval-shaped leaves. Medium-sized, this near-indestructible plant grows well in any light except direct sunlight. “This is the perfect option for the 'hands off' plant owner who still wants to have a statement piece in their home,” explains Pangborn. This houseplant can easily be propagated to create more plants by dividing the rhizomes.
What’s more, when you order from Bloomscape, it comes in a lovely 11.8 inches diameter ecopot with a detached drainage saucer. You can choose amongst five lovely earthy colors, namely Charcoal, Clay, Slate, Stone, and Indigo, that complement this heirloom plant. You can also order an optional wooden stand, keeping it out of reach of pets and toddlers.
Price at time of publish: $149
Léon & George Monstera Deliciosa
Dark green, heart-shaped leaves
In the plant popularity stakes, nothing has overrun our homes and Instagram faster than the Swiss Cheese Plant, aka Monstera Deliciosa. The "it" plant with deep green, heart-shaped, cut-out leaves is native to rainforests in Central America yet has adapted well to urban, indoor living. “Monstera makes a great addition to any home. When given the proper environment, this plant is low maintenance and extremely fast growing!” says Pangborn.
Monstera Deliciosa needs space to spread out and thrive and does best in bright, indirect sunlight. Water this houseplant weekly when the soil is dry or if you see drooping leaves and stems. New plants can be grown from taking stem cuttings of the mature plant. The Léon & George Monstera is 2.5 feet high from the bottom of the pot, and you can opt for a mid-century or a nouvelle ceramic container. It is a pricey but delicious addition to your home.
Price at time of publish: $329 for mid-century ceramic pot with dark wood stand
Just Add Ice JAI266 Money Tree
Believed to bring good luck
Leaves may fall if relocated often
Let good juju waft through your home with the Money Tree, which is said to bring luck and abundance, according to Feng Shui. The Just Add Ice Money Tree pot has five plant trunks braided together, emerging with a wide canopy of star-shaped leaves. “It thrives in bright, indirect light and is one of our favorite pet-friendly selections,” says Pangborn.
To water the dwarf tree, as the name suggests, add six pieces of ice (3 tablespoons of water) once a week, enough to keep it well hydrated. These plants should be fertilized on a monthly basis and kept pruned to encourage new growth. We love that it comes in a simple 5-inch diameter ceramic white pot, making it the perfect gift.
Price at time of publish: $34
Bloomscape Philodendron Heartleaf
Works as trailing or climbing plant
Leaves can get sparse on stems
This charming Sweetheart Plant with whimsical, heart-shaped dark green leaves is our pick of hanging plants. Anna Johnston, Owner and Creative Director of Washington DC-based plant store Jungle & Loom, describes it as a solid plant that’s easy to maintain and grow. This houseplant enjoys bright, indirect light, as direct sunlight can cause browning and scorching of its leaves. Water once the soil is almost dry to the touch, being careful not to overwater.
It is perfect as a trailing plant or as a climber. Just place it on a mantle piece or a bookshelf and watch the vines tumble down. An extremely forgiving plant to neglect, it can be easily propagated with just a few snips. Place the cutting in water or damp soil, and voila! Soon enough, it will sprout roots, and you will have a brand-new plant baby. If nurtured properly, it can live for decades.
Price at time of publish: $39
Costa Farms Snake Plant in Plastic Pot with Wood Stand
Includes pot and stand planter
Approved by NASA
Plastic pot feels cheap
The non-fussy snake plant with stiff, pointy leaves was picked along with other houseplants by NASA’s Clean Air Study as air-purifying plants that clear out toxins from the air. Also known as the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, it’s now botanically classified as Dracaena trifasciata owing to its similarities to the evergreen shrub species. “These are very easy plants as long as you don’t overwater them,” says Johnston. Tolerant to low light, they thrive in medium to bright indirect light.
Easy to propagate, the new shoots or snake plant pups that cluster around the base of the main plant can be carefully separated and replanted. The snake plant is shipped in a plastic pot and comes with a wooden stand planter.
Price at time of publish: $58 in plastic pot with wood stand planter
Best Low Light
American Plant Exchange Cast Iron Plant
Dark green, sword-shaped leaves
Leaves can get dusty
It’s not easy to kill the hardy herbaceous perennial ‘cast iron’ plant or the aspidistra elatior, even with low and fluorescent lighting, which would generally sap the strength of other plants. A member of the lily family, it has a glossy foliage of sword-shaped deep green leaves. Easy to maintain, it needs just a moderate amount of water to look like a million bucks.
The plant is ferried to you in a 6-inch container and is around 32 to 36 inches tall from the bottom of the pot. The cast-iron plant grows slowly. It thrives in summers and coasts through the winters, not succumbing to diseases or pests easily, making it an all-time brown-thumb favorite.
Price at time of publish: $25
Leaf & Clay Spathiphyllum ‘Peace Lily’
Symbolizes peace and purity
Comes in various sizes
Plastic pot feels cheap
The beautiful white flowers of the Peace Lily symbolize peace, purity, and sympathy. Usually blossoming during spring, a robust plant can bloom even twice a year, so you have months to admire the flowers.
They thrive in bright indirect light, however, avoid direct sunshine as it will roast the leaves. The Peace Lily enjoys oodles of humidity. When the leaves start wilting, it needs watering. After a soak, it will perk up. This houseplant can easily be propagated by dividing it into separate plants and repotting. Leaf & Clay offers Peace Lily in a 4- or 6-inch plastic pot, a nifty addition to your home or office.
Price at time of publish: $21 for 4 in pot
Succulent Market Aloe Aristata
Plastic pot feels cheap
Also known as Lace Aloe, this charming succulent with fleshy leaves has a high tolerance for cool climes. It enjoys the sun, though it needs to spend significant time in the shade, too. The leaves, speckled with tubercles and lined with spiny teeth, turn a darker shade of green in the sun. This plant loves to be in drier soil and should only be watered when the soil is completely dry. It springs up “pups” around the base of the mature plant that can be cut off and planted as new plants.
Succulent Market, a third-generation owned cactus and succulent farm, delivers it in a 4-inch plastic grower’s pot from their greenhouse. While succulents have a reputation for being difficult to care for, remember that the Lace Aloe is a versatile plant that enjoys a shady, arid environment to look its best.
Price at time of publish: $7
What to Look for in an Indoor Plant
“It is important to choose a plant that will thrive in your home and the environment your home provides,” says Pangborn. There are a couple of questions that you can ask before you buy a plant. For example, does your home receive a lot of natural light? Are you someone who will remember to water your plants regularly? Do you have pets that might be curious enough to eat plants? Depending on the answers, says Pangborn, you can make a choice. If you are likely to forget watering plants on schedule, then look for low-water houseplants such as the snake plant, the ZZ plant, and the Lace Aloe for your house.
A common mistake when caring for indoor plants is watering them too frequently, making the soil soggy and waterlogged. Pangborn says, “As a rule of thumb, indoor plants positioned in indirect or low light will need to be watered much less frequently than those in direct sunlight.” Also, during fall and winter, you need to adjust the schedule, watering less frequently, thanks to the shorter day length. “It’s important to know your specific plant’s watering preferences. For example, a snake plant prefers its soil volume to dry out completely between waterings,” she says.
Each plant has its own set of light requirements says Pangborn, with three main categories.
- Direct sunlight: Direct sunlight is typically found close to the south- or west-facing windows without obstruction from trees, buildings, or window coverings. This means that sunlight is cast directly on the leaves of the plant for at least four hours per day. “A few plants that prefer this exposure include most cacti and succulents, along with bird of paradise, palms, and carnivorous plants,” says Pangborn.
- Indirect sunlight: Indirect sunlight is typically found close to east-facing windows or a few feet back from the south- or west-facing windows. Pangborn explains, “The plant may receive one to two hours of direct sunlight in the morning or late afternoon and spends most of the day in bright but indirect light.” Tropical plants such as philodendrons, monstera, prayer plants, and money trees prefer this exposure.
- Low light: “It’s a common misconception that there are plants that prefer low light—all plants require light in order to photosynthesize and thrive. However, there are some plants that can tolerate low light, like snake plants, ZZ plants, and dracaenas,” says Pangborn. Low-lit corners are generally towards a north-facing window or the center of a room. Plants placed here grow very slowly and need infrequent watering.
There are some plants that can be dangerous to kids and pets, especially if ingested. Other plants can cause rash or skin irritation simply from touching the leaves or sap. And, surprisingly, these plants don’t always come with a warning, so it’s best to do your own research before buying an indoor plant. Some varieties that parents and pet owners should avoid include Peace Lily, Oleander, Caladium, Poinsettia, and Mistletoe.
Flowering vs. Non-Flowering
Adding plants to your home looks and feels good. A flowering plant brings a dash of color to the sea of green. While some flowering plants require skillful managing, basic gardening skills will see African violets and peace lilies blooming. However, Johnston says it is not unusual for indoor plants to go dormant in the winter.
There are several steps you can take to ensure you are buying plants sustainably, such as buying from a local nursery. You can use cuttings to propagate plants and swap them with the community. Recycle plastic pots and opt for eco-friendly pots that contain recycled materials. Water plants as per their requirement, and you can also choose self-watering pots.
Do indoor plants need drainage holes on their pots?
A drainage hole in a pot performs precisely the task it is described to do, namely draining excess water from a pot. Johnston says that pots with drainage holes are better vis-à-vis pots with none. Overwatering can kill a plant by saturating the soil, with water collecting at the bottom of the pot, leading to rot and the growth of bacteria and fungus.
How do you hang indoor plants?
There’s nothing lovelier than a cascading ivy or fern in your home. You hang plants from the ceiling or the wall, both practical choices to free up floor and shelf space while adding a chic green aesthetic to your home. Of course, you need to consider the weight of the basket, plant, and wet soil. There are plentiful options available to hang plants, such as ornamental swag hooks or plant hooks, or even curtain rods and a towel bar. You can hoist the plant in macramé holders or baskets to create an eclectic look. You have options to hang plants from the ceiling joists and the drywall, while lightweight plants can be hung without resorting to drilling by using magnetic hooks, adhesive cooks, clamps, etc. If it seems too complicated, engage a professional to create your own home nursery.
What do you put under the pots for indoor plants?
Johnston recommends buying pots that come with drainage trays or saucers, though this option will be costlier, it is worth it in the long run. Other options are to use cork mats or pads, which work well under plants that don’t need too much watering, such as succulents. For hanging plants, you can opt for a double-pot or an attached tray. The rule of thumb for selecting the right-sized saucer is to choose one whose diameter is as big as the diameter of the top of the planter.
Should you repot indoor plants after buying?
A new plant brought home has to adjust to its new surroundings. Give it time to adapt to its new environment before repotting if possible. Johnston says, “If you are buying your plant from a high-quality supplier, it should not need to be repotted immediately,” as it would have been potted fairly recently. But there are instances when you should repot a new houseplant. For instance, if it is squeezed tight in a grow pot, the drainage system is faulty, if the soil mix isn’t enough, or if the leaves are brown and falling, etc.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Neeti Mehra is a researcher and consultant and is committed to living mindfully. She has edited three magazines during her career, covering a broad range of topics. She is a recent plant mama, having acquired new gardening skills during the pandemic. Apart from having grown tomatoes and melons in her tiny apartment balcony, she is the proud owner of a respectably sized monstera, a Fiddle Leaf Fig, and nearly three dozen assorted plants.
For this article, Neeti researched the most popular houseplants and explored The Spruce’s extensive gardening library. To gain insight on what houseplants to pick and how to look after them, she consulted Lindsay Pangborn, a gardening expert with a greenhouse-to-home online plant store, Bloomscape, and Anna Johnston, Owner and Creative Director of Washington DC-based plant store, Jungle & Loom.