24 Best Foliage Houseplants to Brighten Up Any Room in Your Home

nerve foliage houseplant
Photo:

BHG / Phoebe Cheong

From frilly fronds to big, bold leaves with eye-catching patterns or hues, these indoor plants will add tons of color and texture to your home. A few even sweeten the deal with occasional blooms.

01 of 24

Iron-Cross Begonia

Iron-cross begonia
Dean Schoeppner

Known for its striking, two-tone foliage, iron-cross begonia gets its name from the brown markings on its leaves which resemble the Iron Cross displayed on shields during the Crusades. This plant doesn't mind being a little pot-bound, but try to make sure it doesn't completely dry out between waterings. If you see brown, crispy leaf edges, give the plant more humidity. However, if you see yellowing or browning leaves, cut back on the amount of water you give it. Keep this plant away from children and pets because if chewed, the roots and stems can cause painful irritation of the mouth, lips, or throat.

Name: Begonia masoniana

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 65-75°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 12 inches tall and wide

02 of 24

Peacock Plant

foliage houseplant peacock plant

BHG / Phoebe Cheong

One of the boldest, most dramatic foliage plants around, peacock plant has patterned leaves that resemble the tail feathers of its namesake bird. The silver and green markings on the upper leaf surfaces and the reddish purple markings on the back of its leaves make this plant a beauty to behold from any angle. For best results, give this tropical houseplant a warm environment with high humidity.

Name: Calathea makoyana

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 70-85°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 2 feet tall and wide

03 of 24

Prayer Plant

Prayer plant
Jay Wilde

In addition to its pretty leaves, prayer plant will also fold its leaves together in the dark, creating the impression of praying hands. Green prayer plant (pictured here) is sometimes called rabbit tracks for its purplish brown leaf markings. Closely related red prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura erythroneura) has bright red leaf veins along with the markings. Prayer plant appreciates high humidity and even soil moisture except in winter when it goes semi-dormant and needs slightly drier conditions.

Name: Maranta leuconeura

Growing Conditions: Medium light; 60-75°F; keep soil evenly moist, drier in winter

Size: Up to 1 foot tall and wide

04 of 24

Nerve Plant

Nerve Plant Fittonia Plant Fittonia albivenis
Marty Baldwin

The fine network of pink, red, white or silver veins on each leaf gives nerve plant its common name. It's a sure bet to add color to a brightly lit kitchen or bathroom because it appreciates high humidity and moist soil. It also combines well with other plants in dish gardens and terrariums.

Name: Fittonia albivenis (Verschaffeltii Group)

Growing Conditions: Medium light; 65-75°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 8 inches tall

05 of 24

Rex Begonia

Rex begonia
Dean Schoeppner

As flamboyant foliage houseplants go, you can always count on a rex begonia to deliver. Hundreds of cultivars are available in a broad array of color combinations of silver, white, pink, red, purple, and green. Many have unique leaf shapes and forms as well. Although rex begonia is grown primarily for its dazzling foliage, it may produce pink or white blossoms in bright light.

Name: Begonia rex selections

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 65-75°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: To 2 feet tall and wide

06 of 24

Ti Plant

Ti plant
Marty Baldwin

The vibrant reddish-pink foliage of ti plant make it a truly eye-catching option for creating a focal point in a room. Also called good luck plant and sometimes classified as C. terminalis, its colorful, strap-like leaves emerge from a central stalk. As the plant ages, it loses its lower leaves to show off a woody trunk. It's easy to propagate; just place sections of the trunk horizontally on moist potting soil. Then be patient: It may take several months for new shoots to sprout.

Name: Cordyline fruticosa

Growing Conditions: Bright to intense light; 60-85°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 6 feet tall

07 of 24

China Doll

China Doll Radermachera sinica houseplant in white pot
Denny Schrock

The finely textured, fern-like leaves of the China doll add grace and elegance to any room. It is often sold with several plants in one container to give it a fuller appearance. Pinch or prune shoots regularly to keep plants lush and full.

Name: Radermachera sinica

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-75°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 6 feet tall

08 of 24

Aluminum Plant

pilea cadierei aluminum plant
aluminum plant pilea cadierei. Denny Schrock

Named for the metallic-silver splotches on its leaves, aluminum plant makes an attractive addition to a tabletop plant or hanging basket. Its compact size also makes it a good candidate for mixed dish gardens or terrariums. If the plant gets leggy, move it to brighter light and pinch it back to encourage fuller growth.

Name: Pilea cadierei

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-75°F; allow the soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: Up to 1 foot tall and wide

09 of 24

Inch Plant

Wandering Jew Plant
Marty Baldwin

Extra easy to grow, inch plant (also known as wandering Jew) has trailing stems that can quickly reach impressive lengths. The most widely available variety of this plant has leaves with olive and silver striping on top and purplish maroon underneath. Other varieties have purplish color on both surfaces of leaves. In bright light, plants may bear pink flowers with three petals. Inch plant roots easily from stem cuttings stuck in moist potting soil or water. While you can leave the cuttings growing for months in water, they'll do best if you plant them in potting mix.

Name: Tradescantia zebrina

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 55-75°F; allow soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: Up to 1 foot tall and 2 feet wide

10 of 24

Fatsia

Fatsia Plant
Marty Baldwin

The big leaves of the fatsia plant create a dramatic, tropical look in an instant. Unlike many tropical plants, fatsia (also known as Japanese aralia), likes to be kept on the cool side, but adapts well to normal room temperatures. Try it near a sliding glass door or in a cool entryway as a dramatic specimen plant. Wash the leaves periodically to maintain a glossy shine and to remove any spider mites, which can sometimes trouble this plant.

Name: Fatsia japonica

Growing Conditions: Low to medium light; 50-65°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 6 feet tall and wide

11 of 24

Pleomele

'Song of India' Pleomele
Marty Baldwin

A shrubby plant that mixes well in a variety of decorating styles, pleomele used to be classified as Pleomele reflexa and is still sometimes sold under that name. The wild form has solid green leaves, but the cream-and-green variegated cultivar 'Song of India' is more widely available. If the plant grows too tall or loses its lower leaves, prune it back to encourage more compact growth.

Name: Dracaena reflexa

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 65-75°F; allow soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: Up to 3 feet tall and wide

12 of 24

Parlor Palm

parlor palm chamaedorea elegans
Dean Schoeppner

One of the best palms to grow indoors, parlor palm won't get overly tall, plus it tolerates low light and low humidity fairly well. Keep it out of cold drafts and avoid exposing it to direct sun to prevent brown leaf tips. Give your parlor palm a shower once in a while to wash off accumulated dust and keep spider mites at bay.

Name: Chamaedorea elegans

Growing Conditions: Low to medium light; 65-80°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 8 feet tall and 3 feet wide

13 of 24

Moon Valley Friendship Plant

Moon Valley friendship plant Pilea involucrata
Dean Schoeppner

With its puckered leaf surface that resembles the surface of the moon, moon valley friendship plant is in a league of its own. In bright light, this plant offers small creamy-white flowers along with its waffle-like foliage. Its bronze-green leaves with sunken purple veins and texture also make it an excellent companion plant for iron-cross begonia. If the plant becomes leggy, simply pinch back the stems to keep the plant compact.

Name: Pilea involucrata 'Moon Valley'

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-75°F; allow soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: Up to 1 foot tall and wide

14 of 24

Blushing Bromeliad

blushing bromeliad in pot
Dean Schoeppner

Although small purple flowers form in the center of blushing bromeliad's vase, the red blushing color near the base of its inner leaves is the star attraction and source of this plant's common name. Its green-and-white striped leaves have saw-tooth edges, so take care when handling the plant. Be sure to add water to the central vase rather than the soil.

Name: Neoregelia carolinae 'Tricolor'

Growing Conditions: Bright light; 65-80°F; keep water in central vase of leaf cluster

Size: Up to 1 foot tall

15 of 24

Watermelon Begonia

Watermelon begonia
Doug Hetherington

The trailing stems and leaves of watermelon begonia create a charming accent no matter where you grow it. Each oval-shape leaf sports patches of silver and dark green, resembling the pattern on its namesake fruit. The trailing stems have a tinge of pink. The plant used to be classified as Pellionia pulchra, so you may find it still sold under that name.

Name: Elatostema repens

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 70-80°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Trailing to 2 feet or more

16 of 24

Strawberry Begonia

Strawberry begonia
Dean Schoeppner

An easy-to-grow plant with beautiful foliage, strawberry begonia is simple to propagate and share with friends. Although it is commonly used as a landscape groundcover in Zone 7 and warmer, this foliage plant makes a terrific houseplant most anywhere that receives a moderate amount of light. It is not closely related to either strawberry or begonia, but has some characteristics that resemble those plants. Like many begonias, it has multicolored leaves, and similar to strawberries, it produces plantlets on runners sent out by the mother plant.

Name: Saxifraga stolonifera

Growing Conditions: Medium light; 50-75°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 6 inches tall

17 of 24

Purple Passion

Purple passion
Jason Donnelly

The fuzzy foliage of purple passion is interesting and distinctive. You may also know this classic houseplant as purple velvet plant because of the color and texture of its foliage. Its fast-growing stems trail as they lengthen, making the plant well adapted to hanging baskets. Plus, it's easy to grow more from cuttings.

Name: Gynura aurantiaca 'Purple Passion'

Growing Conditions: Bright light; 60-75°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 2 feet tall

18 of 24

Aralia

Balfour aralia
Dean Schoeppner

The glossy green, scalloped leaves of aralia create a beautiful texture indoors. Balfour aralia (pictured here) is one of several aralias commonly available as houseplants. Ming aralia (Polyscias fruticosa) has deeply lobed, lacy leaves. Parsley aralia (Polyscias fruticosa 'Elegans') is smaller, with dense, curled leaves. All develop corky, gnarled trunks as they age. Aralias need warm temperatures and high humidity. Keep them away from cold drafts.

Name: Polyscias scutellaria 'Balfourii'

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 65-85°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide

19 of 24

Asparagus Fern

plumose fern Asparagus setaceus
Marty Baldwin

The feathery foliage of asparagus fern looks good in a variety of settings and decorating styles. Several plants go by the common name of asparagus fern. Foxtail fern has bottlebrush plumes of medium green needles. 'Sprengeri' has arching stems covered with flat needles, giving the plant a frothy appearance. Plumose fern (Asparagus setaceus, shown here) looks more like a true fern, but like the others is an ornamental asparagus relative. Be sure to keep this plant in a safe location because children and pets who eat the plant's red fruits can become ill.

Name: Asparagus selections

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-75°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 2 feet tall and wide

20 of 24

Baby's Tears

Baby's tears plants
Marty Baldwin

Perfect for terrariums, baby's tears stays small and forms a mat of delicate rounded leaves. This fine-textured foliage also grows well in a hanging basket or it can be allowed to spread around larger, upright houseplants.

Name: Soleirolia soleirolii

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 55-75°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 3 inches tall

21 of 24

Fiber-Optic Grass

Fiber optic grass
Dean Schoeppner

If you tend to overwater plants, fiber-optic grass might be for you. This fun foliage plant gets its common name from its arching, threadlike, grassy leaves, which resemble fiber optic wire. It can even grow in standing water, adding fine texture to a shallow water garden.

Name: Isolepis cernua

Growing Conditions: Medium light; 55-75°F; keep soil evenly moist or wet

Size: Up to 12 inches tall

22 of 24

Piggyback Plant

Piggyback plant
Marty Baldwin

Soft, fuzzy green leaves are only part of the appeal of piggyback plant. It earned its common name because baby plantlets develop on the main leaf vein of older leaves, appearing to ride piggyback. To easily propagate this plant, simply pin a leaf bearing a plantlet to the soil to encourage rooting. The weight of developing plantlets causes outer leaves to drape over the container's edge, which makes piggyback plant a good choice for a hanging basket or display on a pedestal. Handle this plant with care, because it can cause skin irritation to individuals with sensitive skin.

Name: Tolmiea menziesii

Growing Conditions: Medium to bright light; 60-75°F, 50-65°F. in winter; allow the soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: Up to 12 inches tall and 18 inches wide

23 of 24

Swedish Ivy

Swedish ivy Plectranthus
Dean Schoeppner

An easy-to-grow, cascading plant, Swedish ivy looks especially beautiful in hanging baskets where its glossy green, scalloped-edge leaves can drape over the side. Native to South Africa and Australia rather than Sweden, where it was first popularized, Swedish ivy is more closely related to mint than ivy. It often blooms in spring and summer with short spikes of white or lavender flowers, but the foliage is the main attraction.

Name: Plectranthus verticillatus

Growing Conditions: Medium light; 60-75°F, 50-65°F. in winter; allow the soil surface to dry between waterings

Size: Up to 36 inches tall

24 of 24

Waffle Plant

Waffle plant
Dean Schoeppner

Low-growing waffle plant is perfect for adding texture to tabletops, mantels, or other horizontal surfaces where its creeping stems can create a richly colored carpet. This mounding plant has trailing wine-red stems and glossy, oval, purplish leaves with scalloped edges. In summer, waffle plant bears small white flowers at the stem tips. It also works as an annual groundcover outdoors in shade gardens.

Name: Hemigraphis alternata 'Exotica'

Growing Conditions: Medium light; 60-80°F; keep soil evenly moist

Size: Up to 9 inches tall and 18 inches wide

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