Best House Plants to Perk Up Your Living Space

6 minute read

By Jordana Weiss

Even if you’ve got the blackest thumb in the world, most people admit that there is something uniquely wonderful about having plants in your home. Start a search to explore the many benefits of houseplants.

The more time we spend in nature, the more at ease we feel with the world around us. By bringing the outside in, we give ourselves permission to relax, and unwind at home. Here are a few suggestions that will perk up any living space.

1. Aloe

Aloe vera is a type of succulent, meaning they have large fleshy leaves which retain water. Succulents are native to arid desert regions, which means they’ll actually benefit from less watering. Aloe vera plants are special because their leaves are full of a thick sap that can help heal irritations and burns.

You’ll want to put your aloe vera in a sunny location, and make sure that you only water it once every three weeks in the summer, and even less in the winter. It may even produce “babies.” These are little offshoots that you can remove and repot separately, so you can build up a plethora of aloe vera plants.

2. English Ivy

When NASA first started taking humans into space, they tested several different species of plants to try and find the ones that were the most effective at purifying the air in an enclosed space. English ivy was one of the top contenders since it’s excellent at removing toxicity from the air. Plus, it can survive in the shade, and only needs to be watered about once a week.

English ivy is a great hanging plant. If you want a unique look for your living room, place some English ivy in a cool wicker or macramé hanging basket, and wait until its leaves gracefully stretch towards the floor.

3. Rubber Tree

It may seem intimidating to try and bring a tree into your living room, but a rubber tree is actually quite low maintenance, and will eventually grow into a spectacularly large tree with beautiful large, waxy leaves if given the proper care. Rubber trees prefer bright, indirect light — think a large window shaded by sheer curtains. If the light is too bright, it may burn the leaves. These trees also require just the right amount of watering, more than once or twice a month, and the leaves may begin to droop and fall off.

4. Peace Lily

One plant that’s a popular gift around Easter time is a peace lily since its large, spade-shaped leaves and tall white flowers make a stately addition to any home. Plus, these plants are quite easy to take care of, and gained a lot of recognition when they made the list of NASA’s top ten household air cleaning plants.

Peace lilies prefer partial sunlight and have the distinct trait of drooping slightly when they need to be watered. This makes caring for them extremely intuitive. Just make sure to keep your peace lily away from cats and dogs. There are chemicals within the leaves that irritate the mouth and airway of your beloved pets, so make sure this plant is in a pet-free home.

5. Lucky Bamboo

Officially called Sander’s dracaena or Chinese water bamboo, these tall, thick shoots which are usually founded planted in a vase full of water and polished pebbles are actually completely unrelated to the large bamboo plants that are found in forests in Asia. This plant comes from Africa but has been a staple of American-Chinese restaurant décor for decades. Lucky bamboo shoots are a popular gift and can grow to fantastic heights as long as their water is refreshed every two weeks.

6. Red-edged Dracaena

Another interesting-looking house plant is red-edged dracaena, which is actually related to lucky bamboo.

Red-edged dracaena has long, thin leaves that are deep green, but edged with red- hence their name. They thrive well in sun or shade, but they need to be kept in a warm environment. This is definitely one to keep inside rather than on a balcony or porch. This plant needs to be watered once or twice a week at most, but make sure to only water the roots, not the leaves, or else the plant could develop leaf spot disease.

If your dracaena receives the proper care, it can grow up to 15 feet high.

7. Jade

One of the most popular house plants, and definitely the most popular variety of succulent, jade plants are a great addition to any home. They can grow up to three feet tall, and have the appearance of a little tree, with fleshy, round leaves and a thick, gnarled trunk.

Like most other succulents, jade requires sandy, well-drained soil and don’t need to be watered that often. It need about four hours of sunlight a day, but don’t put it too close to the window, as jade plants start to wither if they’re exposed to cold drafts.

8. Ficus

Another gorgeous house plant that has the appearance of a tree in miniature is the ficus. Ficus trees have a halo of waxy green leaves supported by thin trunks, which are pliable and can tolerate being braided together with other ficus trees to make an intricate arrangement.

Ficus trees like indirect, filtered light, but they don’t like to be cold, so keep them away from drafts. They also enjoy humidity around their roots, which means that you can either spritz them with water regularly or set their pot above a pan of pebbles filled with water, so they can absorb the humidity through their roots.

9. Spider Plant

One of the easiest house plants to grow — so easy that it’s almost considered unkillable — is the spider plant. Like English ivy, it’s a cascading plant that enjoys having room to spread out.

Spider plants are one of NASA’s top 10 pollutant-fighting plants. They’re excellent at removing toxins like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide from their surrounding environment. If you bring home a spider plant, make sure it has lots of room to cascade since the little tendrils known as spiderettes can take up quite a lot of room.

10. Kalanchoe

Growing kalanchoe means that you’ll be able to fill your home with bright, colorful flowers without having to shell out money every week for fresh-cut blooms. Kalanchoe plants have fleshy, scalloped leaves, but unlike most other succulents, they have bright, long-lasting flowers that come in a variety of different colors, ranging from orange to pink to vibrant red.

Unlike most flowering plants, they don’t require a lot of sun — one to two hours a day is fine. Water them sparingly, and make sure they’re never sitting in standing water.

11. Fiddle-Leaf Fig

The slender and imposing fiddle-leaf fig is a great addition to any indoor environment. Their name comes from the shape of their leaves since the sculptural shape is said to resemble a fiddle.

While they may start small, they can easily reach up to your ceiling if they receive the proper care. These tropical plants require tons of filtered, bright light — three to four hours a day should be sufficient. Once you find a spot that works, rotate them every few months so that different leaves are exposed to the sun. Over or under watering will lead to the gorgeous leaves turning brown and drooping, so make sure you only water it when it’s soil is dry to the touch.

12. Mint

There are hundreds of different varieties of mint that you can plant in your home and in an outdoor garden — all you need to do is choose your favorite! Make sure you plant your mint in a wide pot as their root systems like to stretch out, and repot them every three years, as they continue to grow.

Mint loves to be moist, and needs bright sunlight, so they’re a bit more work than some other plants but having tons of mint that you can harvest any time is worth it.

13. Air Plant

If you really can’t be trusted with a house plant, buy yourself an air plant. These plants, which hail from the genus Tillandsia, don’t require any water, and can be perched on a bookshelf for a hint of greenery with zero effort required.

Jordana Weiss