Indoor Trees that Spruce Up Any Space
Prized for its long, slender green leaves that gracefully dangle from the branches, ‘Alli’ ficus, Ficus binnendijkii, makes an outstanding indoor tree. Tougher than other ficus, ‘Alli’ tolerates a variety of light conditions and doesn’t shed leaves at the drop of a hat. It’s a great choice for your living room, bedroom, or office. Indoors, this almost flawless tree can grow 6-8 feet tall. Because it’s a tropical native, ‘Alli’ is happier when watered with lukewarm water.
Photo credit: Costa Farms
Called money tree because it is reputed to bring good luck, Pachira aquatica, has a slender trunk that often comes braided. Over time, the trunk thickens and becomes more interesting and textural. The shiny, hand-shape leaves add a tropical feel to any decor. This easy-care tree does well in bright to medium light. A native of Mexico and South America, the leafy tree can grow up to 60 feet tall outdoors but stays within a compact 3-5 feet indoors. Money trees prefer slightly moist soil.
Photo credit: Costa Farms
The graceful, slightly arching boughs of weeping fig, Ficus benjamina, are what make this gorgeous indoor tree so popular. These beautiful plants also sport bright green, teardrop-shape leaves and smooth, charcoal gray bark. Weeping fig prefers bright, indirect light and barely moist soil. You can purchase weeping fig at almost any height and keep it pruned to fit any room in your house. It’s also available with a braided trunk. When it’s not happy, weeping fig can throw a tantrum and start to drop its leaves. So, be sure to keep it away from cold drafts and hot, dry air. The plants might also drop a few leaves in the fall due to lowering light levels. Left unpruned, weeping fig can grow 10-12 feet tall in your home.
Need an indoor tree that doesn’t make you feel guilty when you go on vacation? Ponytail palm, Beaucarnea recurvata, might be just the ticket. That’s because this easy-care plant stores moisture in its bulbous base so it can go weeks without being watered. The plant is also prized for its cascading, straplike leaves that never seem to wilt even under tough conditions. Ponytail palm is a slow-growing plant, so if you want a tree size, buy the largest plant you can find. Indoors, these beauties will eventually grow 6 feet tall. For best results, place ponytail palm in a bright spot, but where it won’t get fried by the direct sun. An east- or west-facing window is ideal.
There’s no mystery about how corn plant came by its common name. The plant’s broad, dark-green leaves highlighted with a lime-green band down the center look a lot like sweet corn. It’s a super easy houseplant that thrives in a wide range of light conditions (except full sun) and only needs to be watered when the soil surface feels dry to the touch. Corn plant, Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’, can grow 4-6 feet tall indoors on thick, handsome canelike stems. Fertilize corn plant with a little liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks during the spring and summer.
Madagascar Dragon Tree
Here’s an indoor tree that matches any decor. Madagascar dragon tree, Dracaena marginata, produces dramatic grassy green leaves with red or pink margins. The plants come in a wide variety of forms including single stem, double braid, triple braid, and clump. Madagascar dragon tree does best in bright light but can survive in dark corners—it just might lose some of its red coloring. The plants are relatively carefree and only need a drink when the surface of the soil dries out. Madagascar dragon tree can grow 4-6 feet tall.
Photo credit: Costa Farms
Add drama and interest to your home with the big, bold leaves of fiddleleaf fig, Ficus lyrata. This impressive tree can grow 10 feet tall indoors and produces masses of gigantic, violin-shape, dark-green, waxy leaves. Fiddleleaf fig is a snap to grow, too. It's not fussy about light and only needs to be watered when the soil feels dry to the touch. Because the leaves are so broad, they do require an occasional dusting or shower to keep them in top form. It's the perfect indoor tree for large living rooms or entries.
The gold standard for indoor palms, kentia, Howea forsteriana, is a snap to grow and very tolerant of a wide range of indoor conditions. You’ll love its broad, dark-green fronds that will add elegance to any room in your home. Plus, kentia grows slowly so it won’t need pruning or repotting and it will live longer than other species. In general, kentia palms cost a bit more than other palms, but they are worth the extra expense. Give kentia a bright spot and water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.
Hot, dry conditions are just right for yucca cane. A desert native, yucca cane is the perfect houseplant for forgetful owners. This handsome plant sports bright green, sword-shaped leaves on thick woody trunks that form a 4- to 8-foot-tall tree: It’s slow growing so buy the tallest plant you can find. Yucca cane prefers bright light and a quick drink whenever the surface of the soil dries out. Fertilize once or twice a year to keep your plant in top form.
Commonly called umbrella plant, schefflera is a tropical shrub that’s easily trimmed into a tree shape. A no-work plant, schefflera prefers bright light and even tolerates a tiny bit of direct sun. It develops handsome, bright green or variegated hand-shape foliage on graceful, upright branches. Available in standard and dwarf forms, schefflera can fit in any size of room. Standards grow 4-6 feet tall and dwarfs generally stay shorter than 3 feet. In darker conditions, schefflera might get leggy and need some pruning to keep it compact. Inspect your plants every few weeks for pests such as spider mites, mealy bugs, or scale.
With large, gorgeous green, bronze, or variegated leaves, rubber trees will make a bold statement in any room of your house. These beauties are super easy to grow and seem to thrive on neglect. Rubber trees, Ficus elastica, can eventually grow 6-8 feet tall if given bright indirect light and regular watering. Over time they might become a bit leggy and require some minor pruning to encourage bushier growth.
Norfolk Island Pine
Celebrate the holidays all year long with a Norfolk Island pine. Frequently sold as living Christmas trees in November and December, these pyramidal beauties make excellent indoor trees any time of year. Norfolk Island pine, Araucaria heterophylla, does best in bright light and slightly moist soil, developing soft, dark green needles along its horizontal branches. Indoors, this slow-growing tree can eventually grow 6-8 feet tall and will require a bit of space to stretch out. Over time the lower branches might die back.
Tall arching branches covered in triangular, corrugated blue-green leaves are what make fishtail palm a must-have indoor tree. Fishtail palm, Caryota mitis, is a great choice for a bright location, such as a sunny kitchen, atrium, or family room. Like other palms it likes to be watered whenever the surface of the soil feels dry, but because it’s a truly tough plant, it won’t complain if you occasionally forget to give it a drink. Fishtail palm can grow 8-10 feet tall so make sure you have a high ceiling.
Instant impact! That’s what you get when you add a majesty palm to any room of your home. These popular plants offer both style and grace in one package, producing elegant, arching fronds of bright green foliage. Majesty palms, Ravenea rivularis, prefer bright indirect light and slightly moist soil. They especially like a humid atmosphere so they are perfect for a bathroom or shower. Majesty palm also grows faster than other palms, but it’s not likely they’ll get over 6 feet tall in your house or front porch.
Requiring less light than other palms, lady palm, Rhapsis excelsa, is a multistem species that develops thick branches of dark green, fingerlike fronds. Because lady palm is so adaptable, it works well in any room of the house; it's often used in offices and shopping malls where it thrives happily under interior lighting. Lady palm does best in indirect light so an east- or north-facing window is ideal. Indoors, lady palms grow only 4-5 feet tall, but over time they do become wider so you might need to repot every few years. Water whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.