Plants For Living Rooms: Common Houseplants For The Living Room


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Growing plants in the home interior helps bring a little nature into your living space and cleans the air, as they add their effortless beauty to the décor. The living room is the heart of the home and often one of the first rooms viewed by visitors. Plants in the living room let everyone know that you value life and have a way of making the home a harbor for everything in it. Read on for some tips on houseplant options.

Why Use Plants in the Living Room?

Small space gardeners, those that live in capricious weather regions, and those of us who simply love plants everywhere we go often choose to decorate a living room with plants. The very words “living room” seem to conjure up things that are alive and natural influences.

Living room houseplants may be in small pots, grow to the size of small trees, provide food or add a regional touch to the home. Decide what theme or goal you require and then set about picking those plants that will thrive in your room’s conditions.

Plants are inexpensive décor items that liven up a room, but they have additional health building purposes. The modern home is host to many items of manmade material which emit gas and build up in the home. Even running your heater brings in and stirs up dust and particles which are inhaled and can be harmful.

The release of potentially toxic pollutants from engines and equipment used are stuck in the house. All these situations create a chemical brew that is taken into you and your family’s bodies. Plants for living rooms or anywhere else in the home can help reduce toxins and purify air. There are also reports that any living room with plants helps to de-stress and calm the denizens.

Now that you need no further reason to add plants to your home, some excellent selections that beautify and healthfully enhance the interior will get you on your way to a less toxic and more serene interior environment.

Choosing Living Room Houseplants

One of the biggest growing needs interior plants often lack is bright light. Luckily, there are many indoor plants that thrive in medium to low light. In a room that has eastern or northern exposure, the brightest light of the day will be of short duration and probably won’t penetrate very far into the home.

  • An asparagus fern craves low light and will do poorly in bright light. They are elegant in hanging pots or can arch gracefully over the edge of a stationary standing container.
  • A foolproof, low maintenance mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant will give architectural sharpness to the living room in moderate light situations.
  • The funny but aptly named staghorn fern is a unique living specimen that can be grown on the wall. They often come mounted, but it is easy to make your own staghorn wall display.

More low to moderate light plants include:

  • Pothos
  • Peace lily
  • Spider plant
  • English ivy
  • String of pearls
  • Rubber tree
  • Philodendron

Southern or western exposed living room houseplants need to tolerate the bright light and often hotter conditions that occur midday.

  • One of the best plants for living rooms that are sunny is a dracaena. There are several species from which to choose. Dragon tree and Rainbow tree are two unique plants with colorful tones and slender pointed leaves.
  • Succulents and cacti afford innumerable tones, textures, sizes and levels of ferocity. These usually prefer bright light but some protection from the noon sun.
  • Chinese money plant is an easy-to-care for small option, as is lucky bamboo. Both are supposed to bring good fortune!

Some other options might be:

  • Bamboo palm
  • Air plant
  • Anthurium
  • Wandering jew
  • Umbrella plant
  • Abutilon
  • Bromeliad
  • Croton

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Read more about General Houseplant Care


Tips for Healthier, Happier Houseplants

Houseplants require a little maintenance now and then, including a bath and an occasional re-potting, in order to stay healthy and look their best. But if you learn what to look for and what their signs mean, you’ll know what they need when they need it. You may also derive some unexpected benefits from keeping real living plants, not plastic imitations, in your home.

The right amount of light and heat

Generally speaking, if your plants’ leaves start to look pale, if they seem to be longer than usual, or if new leaves appear smaller than normal, they may not be getting sufficient light. On the other hand, if the leaves develop brownish or yellow spots or begin to curl downward, they are probably getting too much light. Just reposition them accordingly and find a location they prefer.

If your flowering plants stop making flowers, that indicates they may need more light. Put them somewhere near a window and make sure they get at least nine hours of light daily. Flowering plants can be bothered by drafts, too, so avoid placing them near a heating or air conditioning vent. They won’t like the frequent changes in air temperature they will experience if they are too near a vent that has an output controlled by a thermostat.

The word “leggy” is a gardener’s term used to describe a plant that looks like it’s having a bad hair day. The plant appears scraggly and has uneven growth. A leggy houseplant is usually getting overheated in its current location. Another indication that your plant is getting too hot is yellowing, curly, or wilted leaves. The fact that a plant may be getting overheated doesn’t mean it’s getting too much sun. Just move it away from the heart source without depriving it of light. Make sure it isn’t near an internal heat source, like a heating vent or appliance. If the only heat source is a window and the plant is on the windowsill, try moving it to a nearby table. Rotating it now and then during the healing process should help to even out any uneven growth.

The right amount of water (and a trick or two)

Over-watering kills more houseplants than anything else. The lower leaves of a plant that’s being over-watered will start to curl and wilt. The plant’s stems may get so saturated that they turn squishy. Generally, you should make sure the soil isn’t wet or damp before you water and also check to make sure your pots are draining. The drain holes can become clogged.

If a plant isn’t getting enough water, the leaves tend to wilt and turn brown, starting at the tips. When you have a houseplant that reaches this stage of dryness, soak the pot in water for 20 minutes or so, then remove it from the water and let it drain. Wait until the soil in the pot is dry to the touch before watering again and you should be back on schedule.

There are also some tips regarding watering. If the water is too cold, it can damage the plant. Room temperature is ideal, but a temperature range that’s not too cold or warm is okay, too. You can also save the water you use to boil veggies or pasta, let it cool, and water your plants with that. They like it and let you know by producing fuller, lusher foliage. The pasta water will also promote growth of beneficial bacteria in the soil, making your plants more disease resistant.

Sometimes your houseplants need to be misted, other times they need a full-on shower. In the winter, humidity in your home can get low. Plants may begin to develop brown, wrinkled areas around the edges of their leaves when this occurs. Gather them up and mist them now and then until warmer weather and higher humidity returns. When you have the time, periodically put all your plants in the shower or take them outside. Use the shower head or a hose-end sprayer to give them a bath and wash off any accumulated dust or other material. Make sure the water isn’t hot or cold and that the spray is fine enough not to damage the plants. Let them drip dry and return them to their places.

To feed or not to feed

Unless your winters are not much different than your springs or summers, don’t fertilize your houseplants in the wintertime. If they need fertilizer, you will typically see their lower leaves looking pale and dropping off.

A basic rule to follow when fertilizing is to feed flowering plants with a fertilizer high in phosphorous and non-flowering plants with a fertilizer high in nitrogen. Read the labels, pick the right mix for your houseplants, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions during application.

Repotting

Spring is the season to repot. A plant in need of repotting will frequently wilt between each watering. You may also see roots growing out of the drain holes in the bottom of the pot. Get a larger container, some eggshells broken into small pieces to add nutrients, and some potting soil. Mix in the shells, loosen up the root ball of your formerly pot-bound plant, and relocate it to its new home.

Tips to promote growth

Removing dead leaves and spent flowers will encourage your plant to make more. If the plant is getting a bit spindly and you would prefer that it be bushier, prune it by removing not more than an inch of new growth from the ends of the branches. The plant will begin to bush out, getting fuller rather than spindlier.

Summary

House plants have their own way of communicating. If you know how to decipher the signs they give you, you’ll know what they need and when they need it. But is it worth the effort to maintain plants inside your home? Well, yes it is, according to NASA! If you would like to read NASA’s report regarding phytoremediation, the term used to describe houseplants’ ability to remove contaminants from the air in your home, you can check it out here: ntrs.nasa.gov/citations/19930073077.

There are also studies indicating that houseplants may reduce stress, improve your outlook about your job, boost your productivity, and even help you recover faster when you’re sick. So, if you don’t already have some, head to your local nursery and find some houseplants you like.


Indoor plants: 10 of the best house plants

From cleaner air to creative decor – there are so many benefits of having indoor plants around your house. However, it can be hard to know which varieties of plants are suitable for indoor conditions plus how to properly care for them.

WATCH: 5 indoor plants that thrive on neglect

We’ve rounded up the 10 of the best indoor plants that will thrive within four walls, and asked the experts how you can keep them around (and thriving) for as long as possible.

1. Monstera deliciosa or “Swiss cheese plant”

There’s no doubt you’ve seen the “swiss cheese plant” all over Pinterest as they're one of the most popular indoor plants going around right now. Their lush green leaves with distinctive holes make a stunning statement in any room and they can grow to fit any space. Monstera plants prefer a warm climate away from direct sunlight and they benefit from regular cleaning with a soft, damp cloth.

"Let the top 4cm of soil dry out between watering as over watering may lead to root rot, signs of this are yellowing or wilting leaves,” Gisele Zanier, founder of Beyond Sunflowers , a plant emporium based in Melbourne told Better Homes and Gardens . “For best results Monsteras should enjoy conditions that are fairly moist so avoid artificial heating and cooling, they will require monthly feeding in spring and summer when planted in containers."

In its natural habitat, Monsteras like climbing so provide it with some kind of stake or trellis for support.

2. Epipremnum aureum or Devil's Ivy

Devil’s ivy, also known as golden pothos or pothos, is a fast-growing and forgiving vine, suited to any position in the house. Whether they're potted in hanging baskets or cuttings placed in glass vases, these plants are super low-maintenance and absolutely stunning.

The leaves are waxy and heart shaped with colouring dependant on cultivar – Wilcoxii are a mottled white and green, Marble Queen have more of a cream and grayish-green colouring, Neon is a shade of bright, light greeny-yellow and Tricolor have green leaves with yellow, light green and cream dappling.

They're highly drought tolerant and don't require regular fertilisation. Water Devil's Ivy deeply once a week and cut back to every other week in winter. S pring and summer is the best time to prune and propagate your plant, placing the cuttings in glass jars of water to encourage rooting.

3. Dracaena Massangeana or Mass Cane

This plant is popular amongst beginner green thumbs and it’s often an office staple thanks to its hardy nature. Mass Cane often grows between 1.2 to 1.8 metres tall with stalky stems and long, green leaves featuring light yellow and green stripes running through them. It’s a great option if you’re looking for a large plant. This plant is best placed in indirect bright light but it can tolerate low light. You’ll only need to water it once a week. However it’s important to note that Dracaena 'Massangeana' is toxic to dogs and cats so it’s not the best option if you have furry friends around the house.

4. Spathiphyllum or Peace lily

Spathiphyllum, commonly known as the Peace Lily, has long been a popular house plant, especially since NASA featured it in its list of best air-purifying options. It has glossy, dark green foliage and stunning white flowers, usually growing between 45 to 65 centimetres tall.

These tropical plants thrive in bright, indirect light, it can handle low light but that may cause it to bloom poorly. A peace lily will usually only need to be watered and misted once a week in warmer months, less often in winter. They hate soggy or wet soil and they’re prone to root rot so let the plants dry out a bit between waterings. Be sure to wipe down the foliage to prevent dust from building up. Make sure it is kept away from pets or children who may be tempted to chew it, as the plant is poisonous and may cause severe discomfort if ingested.

5. Bromeliad

Don’t be intimidated by the Bromeliad. Although once regarded as a plant for the advanced gardener, these beautifully coloured rosette-forming perennials make for easy, low-maintenance houseplants. When indoors, they need medium to bright light (but not direct sunlight) and do well in shallow pots with fast drainage. You can water the plant by filling the central cup (otherwise known as the tank) of the plant once a week during the warmer months and less during winter. Make sure you flush it on a regular basis to prevent water stagnation. As they are not heavy feeders, you can drop a slow-release fertiliser into the cup of the plant or mix it into the soil, once a season.

6. Sansevieria or Mother-in-law’s Tongue

Originating from Southern Africa and Asia, another low-maintenance houseplant is the Snake Plant, otherwise known as Mother-in-law’s tongue. The name refers to the pointed tips of the leaves, symbolising the sharp tongue of the Mother-in-law. This upright, succulent plant can grow up to two metres and is extremely hardy. It takes a lot to kill it, so this is another great option for those who tend to neglect their plants. It should be placed in bright light with some direct sun for several hours a day. It will tolerate shade, however the plant will take longer to grow. Moderate water is required, with the root ball remaining slightly damp in summer, but dryer in winter to avoid rotting. Don’t overwater, as the plant would prefer to be too dry than too damp.

7. Zanzibar Gem

This stunning plant not only looks great, it has been hailed as being ‘almost indestructible’ and is perfect for those who tend to neglect their plants, as it's drought resistant. Native to Africa, it has deep, green glossy leaves and is able to survive a long period without water. The reason the Zanzibar Gem is so hardy is due to its ability to store water in its potato-like tuber. To care for your Zanzibar Gem, don’t over-water it or sit it in water. In fact it thrives on neglect and prefers you don’t water it too often. Once a month is enough. It’s best placed in a bright to light shaded area, however it will tolerate a shady spot, but will just take longer to grow. Keep it out of direct sunlight as the plant can burn. You can add a slow-release fertiliser in spring and re-pot if you notice the root starting to bulge.

8. Anthurium Andraeanum

These popular indoor plants are originally from Columbia and feature long, dark-green leathery leaves and produce beautiful, red, pink and white heart-shaped ‘flowers’ that can last for weeks. The ‘flowers’ are actually spathes, which are a leaf-like bract that surrounds a cylindrical spike. In order for the plant to bloom, it requires bright light (but not direct sun). It can grow up to 45cm high and soil needs to be kept evenly moist from spring to autumn and slightly drier in winter. The Anthurium benefits from being fertilised every two weeks in spring and summer with a high-phosphorus liquid fertiliser.

9. Maidenhair Fern

If you’re prepared to give a Maidenhair Fern the TLC it needs then it can make a beautiful addition to your home. They have feathery, light green leaves with soft shiny stems and they make a great hanging plant. Not only do they look fragile, Maidenhair Ferns truly are the goldilocks of the plant world when it comes to care instructions. They require not too much light, but not too little, growing well in a warm spot with a bit of humidity. DIY a rainforest environment by placing a saucer filled with pebbles beneath the potted plant. Fill the saucer with water to just below the top of the pebbles and as the water evaporates, it creates a humid microclimate around the plant.

10. Ficus Elastica or Rubber Plant

With shiny leaves in shades of dark green and burgundy, the Rubber Plant or Rubber Fig is très on trend when it comes to house plants. It can either stay small in a little pot or be encouraged to grow into a large indoor tree. It's a hardy, temperature-resilient option that likes bright, indirect light with weekly watering in warmer seasons and in colder seasons it can survive on monthly or fortnightly watering.


25+ Best Indoor Plants to Spruce Up Your Living Space

From easy-to-care-for to absolutely stunning, these plants are guaranteed to delight.

If you're looking to add a little color and life to your living space—and who isn't these days—then you've come to the right part of the internet. Plants are (typically) easy to care for, add beauty and color, and have even been shown to help reduce stress!

And while outdoor gardening can be great, it's not for everyone. Not everyone has space for an outdoor garden, of course. Plus, planting outside (and particularly planting from seed) comes with its fair share of difficulties. But most of us have at least a room or two—even if we're sharing an apartment—and a window with some light to call our own. Which is why everyone should have at least one or two easy-to-care-for indoor plants!

And to help you out, we've put together a selection of more than two dozen of our favorite indoor plants that anyone can purchase and begin caring for today. From the simple and popular to the uncommonly striking, these indoor plants will allow you to give your green thumb some exercise while instantly adding interest to any room in your home.

From indoor trees to bathroom plants and kitchen plants to bedroom plants, there's an easy-care houseplant here for just about everyone. Novice gardeners and pro gardeners alike will appreciate some of the more out-of-the-way picks on our list (yes, Frizzle Sizzle is the real name of a real plant, and yes, you can really own one yourself).

Succulents such as the popular Crassula ovata, known as jade plant, lucky plant, or the money tree, are perfect for indoor-plant newbies. They're extremely durable, need very little water, and remain green all year long. They'll also live for years and years, making them a great "first friend."

Aloe vera plants are not only pretty—and sturdy—but keeping one around has an added benefit: Snap off one of their leaves, and the thick gel-like sap makes an excellent balm for sunburns!

Most gardeners think of vines as outdoor athletes, ready to be trained up exterior fences and walls. But climbers can also soften windows inside, so long as you provide them with something to scale (a few nails and fishing wire will do the trick). Plant your Passiflora caerula in a shallow terra-cotta pot, then top it with an upside-down vintage egg basket that acts as a tendril jungle gym.

A botanical oddity akin to taxidermy, Platycerium bifurcatum's scraggy center leaves give way to antler-like fronds—the "staghorns" of its name. An epiphyte (a plant that grows non-parasitically on another plant or object), this fern wants little more than something solid to grip and a natural medium, such as moss or bark. Plant in sheet moss placed in a wicker basket with an iron pedestal base, carry outside weekly for a watering, and place in indirect light indoors.

This evergreen ground cover is a landscape staple but Juniperus procumbens 'Nana' can also thrive in the living room (the juniper sends down serious roots, so the trick is to find a container that allows them to stretch). Repurpose a two-foot-tall industrial cylinder with a drainage hole at the base.

"This little known succulent deserves to take American living rooms by storm," says Tovah Martin, author of The Unexpected Houseplant. Why? Kalanchoe thyrsiflora's wavy, red-tipped leaves read as one massive bloom—one whose striking looks last year-round. "It's also practically unkillable," Martin adds. To ensure proper drainage, place a layer of pebbles and activated charcoal in the bottom of your container before filling it with potting soil then let the soil dry out a bit between waterings.

Marketed as mini Christmas trees in December, Cupressus macrocarpa 'Goldcrest' often wind up in the garbage come January. Martin gave three of them a new purpose in her foyer. Grouped together in a galvanized metal window box (set atop a tray that catches runoff), the trio functions as a natural privacy screen in her foyer—an idea she lifted from none other than Harriet Beecher Stowe. "I read the she used plants as curtains back in the 1870s," Martin says.

The funny-sounding name of this curvaceous bulb is the key reason to grow it: Ornithogalum longibracteatum makes babies. Tons of babies. The main bulb continually produces bulblets—perfect for gifting. And its needs are minimal: In fact, not overwatering is the chief requirement. Devise a clever perch by mounting a bathtub claw-foot, which supports a ledge, to a door.

Stunning veined leaves define the prayer plant (they curl up, as though they're in prayer, when darkness arrives). It's a fun plant to add to kitchen counters and windowsills. Make sure it has access to moderate light, and keep the soil moist.

Expand your kitchen-herb vocabulary beyond the usual parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme with this green's crisp, cool cucumber flavor. Says Martin, " Sanguisorba minor is idea for cramped spaces, because it exists in a kind of suspended animation, never growing too big or tall." She gave the plant a dreamy yet practical home by lining a bird's nest with plastic and setting it on a cake platter to watch rogue water droplets.

Okay, Instagrammers: We know what you came here for! The classic fiddle-leaf fig is the darling of social media, and for good reason. It's beyond beautiful and incredibly sophisticated too. The issue with this plant is that it need tons of bright indirect light and regular watering to boot. If you water it too much though, you'll risk dropped leaves. Still, we'd say it's handsome enough to deserve that extra care and attention.

Yes, the ZZ plant is aesthetically striking, and yes, it tolerates incredibly low light levels (in fact, you could leave it in a dark corner if that's the only space you have available). But it's the conversation-starting name that's got us most smitten! Water sparingly, and only when the top few inches of soil are dry.

If you're itching to get a gorgeous palm like this one in your home, we recommend starting with a Lady Palm: It's a lot less finicky than most other varieties, and requires only indirect light. Water only when the top inch of soil is dry.


Money probably won’t grow on this tree, but money trees are easy to take care of and might just bring you some good luck.

Each expert I spoke with began with the same basic mantra: Light is food for plants. “Fertilizer offers extra nutrients and water helps, but your plant needs light to survive,” says Marino. She suggests standing near the window in your house or apartment around noon and noticing how hot and bright it feels. “You should be able to estimate if your apartment is relatively low light, medium light or high light at midday,” she explains. Assessing your home’s light situations serves as a guide for which plants you should choose to populate your sill (or mantle, shelf or desk).

“We think of plant buying a bit like matchmaking,” says Blank. We want your plants to fit your home, your style and your lifestyle.” Set yourself up for success by starting with low maintenance plant varieties, like a Marble Queen Pothos or ZZ plant, that can withstand a little accidental neglect while you travel up the learning curve.

Plants need good care in order to thrive, but new plant parents have the tendency to over-care for their plants. “Over-watering is the easiest way to kill your plant,” says Blank. “It’s easier to bounce back from under-watering than from over-watering.” Marino adds, “some people go into diagnosis mode the second they see a browning tip or yellowing leaf.” Her advice: don’t panic. “Just prune it right off and know that shedding is a natural part of the growth process.”

Summers, meanwhile, advises against repotting plants too frequently. Some plant owners see a plant growing well and think that’s the time to switch it into a roomier pot. But that well-meaning impulse can backfire. “Repotting disrupts the plant’s root system, which means it has to focus on reestablishing its system instead of on new growth. You’re making it work harder than it needs to,” she says. Instead let your plants thrive in their current pots. “When you’re getting absolutely no growth — especially in spring and summer — then it is time,” Summers says.

Just because some plants don’t need frequent watering doesn’t mean you should forget about them for too long. Take some time each day to touch base with your plant babies. “Developing a routine and ritual is important,” says Oakes. “If you get up to check on your plants when your coffee is brewing or tea is steeping, then you’re on the right path.”

From YouTube and gardening books, to walking into a shop and chatting up the staff, there are endless sources to continue educating yourself about the house plants in your life. For those who can’t make it to a store, Tula offers robust educational resources like a plant care library. The Sill offers online workshops that answer burning plant care questions. And Oakes recently launched a 12-part mini course called Houseplant Basics that teaches the fundamentals of plant care.


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