Houseplants filter the air, add color and life, and dress up bedroom decor. Scientific studies also have shown that houseplants can have a calming, relaxing effect on people, making them perfect picks for bedrooms. There's a wide selection of plants that offer big rewards, even if they're neglected a little.
Test Garden Tip: Avoid overwatering. More plants die from too much moisture than the other way around. Keep a plastic or ceramic plant saucer below the plant, taking care that no moisture will damage carpet or wood surfaces, but never let your houseplant sit in standing water for more than an hour.
Parlor palm is an ideal bedroom companion because it prefers bright but indirect light and can grow with average home humidity (although it grows best with high humidity). Keep the soil evenly moist but never soggy and soaked. Let the soil go barely dry to the touch, then water thoroughly.
Plant name: Chamaedorea selections
Size: 1 to 8 feet tall, 1 to 3 feet wide
Growing conditions: Medium light; 65-80 degrees F; evenly moist soil
Snake plant may have a less-than-attractive common name, but it's a winner in low-maintenance situations. Silvery striations mottle the green swordlike leaves that stand at attention, making it a perfect plant for a vertical corner focal point in the bedroom. Snake plant is a succulent and can take low-moisture situations.
Plant Name: Sansevieria trifasciata
Size: 6 inches to 4 feet tall; 6 inches to 3 feet wide
Growing Conditions: Low to bright light; 60-85 degrees F; let the soil dry between waterings
A blooming orchid adds serenity to a space. Moth orchid is the easiest orchid to grow and named because its petals resemble the rounded wings of a moth. Because moth orchids originate in tropical regions, they prefer high humidity. The best location is an east- or west-facing window or an open northern exposure with no obstructions. Most grow in medium-grain bark mix. They bloom once a year, but you can expect them to stay in bloom for many weeks or even months before the blooms fall off the flower spike. Place the orchid in a saucer or cache pot to keep any excess moisture from damaging furniture or flooring.
Plant name: Phalaenopsis selections
Size: 6 inches to 2 feet tall; 2 feet wide
Growing conditions: Medium-low light; intermediate to warm temperatures, 65 to 90 degrees F; orchids with bark mixes in plastic pots need watering less frequently than those in moss. Place clay pots in a bowl of water for 10 to 15 minutes, then let the water drain out.
Pothos is one of the easiest, most foolproof plants for homes or offices. The thick leaves store water, and its vining nature makes it easy to clip to keep at the size you like. Grow it in almost any light condition, and keep the soil on the dry side. Pothos grows with light yellow or white variegation, but if you prefer leaves of a solid color, select its cousin, heartleaf philodendron, an equally easy-care houseguest.
Botanical name: Epipremnum selections
Size: 1 to 8 feet long; 1 to 4 feet wide
Growing conditions: Low to bright light; 60-75 degrees F.; keep soil moderately dry
Easy-care and easy on the eyes, dracaenas grow long, slender, strappy leaves that curve attractively from a central stem. Leaves are variegated in an assortment of colors, including pink, red, yellow, and cream, holding the color even in low-light situations. One type is called a corn plant because of its resemblance to maize. Dracaenas grow best in bright, indirect light. Keep dracaenas away from pets and children; they are toxic if chewed.
Plant name: Dracaena selections
Size: 1 to 10 feet tall; 1 to 3 feet wide
Growing conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-75 degrees F.; allow the soil surface to dry between watering
If you want a plant that performs like -- and even resembles -- an artificial one, check out the zeezee plant. Dark-green, shiny leaves grow across each stalk from each other. It gets its common name from the initials of its botanical name, Zamioculcas zamiifolia. Because it grows with an underground storage unit, the zeezee plant can store water and go long periods of time without watering. It grows best in medium to bright light but can tolerate low light situations. In the bedroom, plant a zeezee inside a container that complements your decor.
Plant name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Size: 2 to 3 feet tall and wide
Growing Conditions: Low to bright light; 60-75 degrees F.; let the soil dry out between waterings
Who needs dresser drawer sachets when you have a houseplant with a wonderful aroma? Relatives of the ordinary household geranium, scented geranium flowers less frequently but make up for it with its leaf fragrance, which comes in an astounding array of scents: apricot, rose, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon, mint, pineapple, ginger, lime, coconut, chocolate, and more. It prefers warm, sunny, dry conditions, so grow it in fairly high light. Remove any faded flowers or leaves. Pinching stems creates a bushier plant.
Plant name: Pelargonium selections
Size: Up to 2 feet tall and wide, easily controlled by pruning
Growing conditions: Bright, direct light; 60-85 degrees F.; let the soil dry out between waterings
The only thing you need to do to keep this old-fashioned plant's leaves shiny is to carefully dust them every now and then. Rubber tree makes an attractive statement in a bright- to medium-light alcove or corner of the bedroom, growing larger and fuller with the years. Keep it in check by pruning, but avoid contact with the milky sap that gives this plant its common name as it can irritate skin.
Plant name: Ficus elastica
Size: To 8 feet tall and 4 feet wide
Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-80 degrees F.; allow the soil to dry out between waterings
For a peaceful coexistence with a bedroom houseplant, choose peace lily. This easy-to-grow gem lends a tropical feel to the room and is a good choice for gardeners inclined to overwater plants as it can take wetter soil than most. Glossy green pointed leaves grow with little care. Groom by removing any browned leaves or leaf tips. Depending on the size of your plant, you can grow it as a floor plant or on a tabletop.
Botanical name: Spathiphyllum wallisii
Size: 1 to 4 feet tall and wide; the cultivar 'Sensation' can reach 6 feet
Growing Conditions: Low to bright light; 60-85 degrees F; evenly moist soil
Almost as easy to grow as a pothos and twice as exciting in its leaf variegation, arrowhead vine flourishes in a variety of light conditions. The dark green leaves are marked with white along the veins; some varieties may show more white coloration. You can use it in a hanging basket, train it up a moss pole, or keep it clipped to the shape you like it. In a bedroom, let the soft-looking leaves trail down the side of a dresser or armoire.
Botanical name: Syngonium podophyllum
Size: 6 inches to 3 feet tall and wide
Growing conditions: Low to medium light; 60-75 degrees F; evenly moist soil
Cast-iron plant almost thrives on neglect. If you want greenery without having to think about it much, this is the plant for you. Its long, elegant green leaves are pretty enough for a bedroom but suitable wherever you put it. Cast-iron lives up to its name by being tough, drought-tolerant, and tells you, when the leaves droop, that it's finally had enough neglect. The manageable size means you can set it on top of a dresser or place on a pedestal for more prominence.
Name: Aspidistra elatior
Size: To 2 feet tall and wide
Growing conditions: Low light; 45-85 degrees F.; keep evenly moist during active growth, barely moist in fall and winter
The shiny leaves of the fiddleleaf fig are shaped like small violins. This tropical tree provides stately height and a substantial presence in a large room. Keep it pruned to the size you want or it might take over! Luckily, this is an easy job, and dusting the glossy leaves is about the only other maintenance it needs other than watering.
Botanical name: Ficus lyrata
Size: To 10 or 12 feet tall in containers
Growing conditions: Low to bright light; a shift in light conditions may cause leaf drop; 60-75 degrees F; allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings