Growing houseplants is a wonderful way to add attractive foliage and flowers to indoor spaces. There's a houseplant for every living space, from small-scale terrariums to miniature trees. Every type of houseplant has particular growing requirements as well as preferences for sun and moisture. The Houseplants section of the Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia can help sort out any questions you might have, as well as inspire you to add different varieties of indoor houseplants to your growing routine. Our dictionary of houseplants allows you to search by common or scientific name, as well as learn about care tips and ideal growing conditions for each plant. View a list of houseplants by common name or scientific name below.
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Blooming off and on from January through December, African violets unfurl pretty flowers in shades of white, pink, and blue. The individual flowers last for a week or more. Count on the plants to be in bloom for about a month before taking a short break and erupting in a profusion of flowers again.
One of the few indoor plants that blooms in low light, African violets grow well in bright east- or north-facing windows. Avoid locations where they will receive direct sunlight in the afternoon—too much sun can burn leaves and prevent the plants from blooming. Turn plants weekly to encourage even growth on all sides.
The spiky green foliage of aloe vera is splotched in white and contains a gel-like sap often used to soothe burns and moisturize skin. This succulent perennial herb is at home in frost-free, sunny, well-drained sites. Native to hot, dry regions of Africa, it has been traced to early Egypt, where it was used for its healing properties. Aloe makes a great houseplant, especially in colder Zones where it cannot be grown outdoors all year. Aloe vera is also sometimes called Barbados aloe and true aloe.
Amaryllis is an easy bulb to grow. Its enormous cluster of trumpet-shape blooms may require staking to keep them upright, but blooms may last for up to 6 weeks. Keep the plant cool (60-65 degrees F) while in bloom but slightly warmer at other times when it is actively growing. It needs bright light and evenly moist soil, except when it is dormant. Force the bulb to go dormant in late summer or early fall by withholding water and placing it in a cool, dry location for a couple of months. Resume watering and move it to a warm spot to force new growth.
Bring a room to life with the foliage of arrowhead vine, which is also called nephthytis. Every few weeks, arrowhead vine unfurls medium green variegated leaves splashed with white, cream, silver, pink, or purple. The splashy good looks last even in low light. Grow several different types of arrowhead vine and celebrate the unique coloration of this group of easy-to-grow plants.
Versatile asparagus fern is an attractive herbaceous perennial that is easy to grow, though not actually a fern. Plant asparagus fern in garden beds where it is used as a creeper in warmer climates. It can be invasive, so keep an eye on it. You will more often find asparagus fern growing indoors as a dense, bushy houseplant with lace-like foliage that forms an incredible mound.
The deep green foliage of bamboo palm adds wonderful depth to a shade garden. It also makes a fantastic houseplant. With its exceptional shade tolerance, this rugged palm is perfect in a bright window—and can even do well in north-facing light.
Nothing says tropical quite like the bird of paradise. With its large, coarse-textured leaves and long-lasting blooms, bird of paradise plants find themselves at home in any tropical garden. The complex blooms not only look like tropical birds, but also rely on birds for pollination! They last for quite a long time and make fantastic cut flowers.
With stunning 8-foot-long silvery blue-to-green leaves, Bismarck palm stands out in any landscape. In its native Madagascar, it reaches 80 feet tall, but in most landscapes it usually grows 40-50 feet tall and 20-25 feet wide. Bismarck palm makes a stately focal point in a large, open yard.
Once it's established, this palm is quite drought-tolerant -- but be sure to keep it well-watered the first year or so after you plant it. Bismarck palm is a slow grower, making it an unusual houseplant choice if you have a large bright window, sunroom, or greenhouse.
Grow your own peppercorns with this lovely houseplant. A vine that produces chains of small round fruit, black pepper thrives in full or part sun and indoor temperatures above 65 degrees F. By selecting the time of harvest, all four types of peppercorns -- black, white, green, and red -- can be harvested from the same plant. Black pepper is a slow-growing vine, and plants take three to four years to start flowering and fruiting.
Wait to water black pepper until the soil is visibly dry. When watering, thoroughly saturate the soil until a little water runs out the bottom of the pot.
For decades the Boston fern has been grown as a tropical accent plant inside the house and on patios. Indoors or outside, Boston fern maintains its lush good looks with minimum care. Give this plant high humidity and consistent moisture and it will reward you with long arching stems of spring-green foliage.
China doll is a common houseplant with abundant glossy-green leaves. Adapted from its origin as a large tree, this fast-growing plant now happily tolerates indoor-growing conditions. Although China doll doesn’t bloom indoors, a mature specimen will produce large trumpet-shape white flowers when grown outdoors.
Tough-as-nails Chinese evergreen, also known as Philippine evergreen, is an easy-to-grow houseplant that tolerates virtually all indoor growing conditions. (Beginners: This one’s for you!) It’s also a showstopper, with verdant green leaves splashed with white, silver, pink, or red—depending on the variety. It rarely flowers when grown inside, though. A slow-growing houseplant, it will happily reside on a desktop for many months before outgrowing the space. Large Chinese evergreen plants are perfect accent pieces for empty corners or for pairing with big furniture pieces.
Native to the rainforests in Brazil, the Christmas cactus is a popular, low maintenance houseplant and a favorite pass-along plant that can live for years. Although the Christmas cactus is a true cactus, it is of the tropical variety and is used to growing as an epiphyte off tree branches in areas of heavy moisture and high humidity. With a few tricks, you can easily get this tropical plant to blossom year after year indoors.
Trailing shade-loving coleus is an easy-to-grow annual foliage plant that adapts well to hanging baskets and container gardens where its sprawling stems can drape over the edge of the planter. You also can plant it in landscape beds where it will intertwine with flowering annuals and perennials to brighten shady nooks.
Shade-loving coleus with blended leaf color provides vivid color and wild markings even in the darkest corners of your yard. The mottled colors often change in intensity depending on the amount of sunlight and heat. These varieties are easy to grow -- just plant them in a shady but warm spot; give them enough water to keep the soil moist, but not wet; and add a little fertilizer.
When frost threatens, pot them up and enjoy them as houseplants in a sunny window until spring. Then plant them outdoors once again!
Solid color shade-loving coleus grows well even in the darkest corners of your yard if you give it water, a little fertilizer, and wait to plant it outdoors until after the weather is consistently warm. Leaf color is often more intense in light shade than in deep shade, but avoid planting in full sun because leaves are susceptible to scorch in bright light conditions.
Veined shade-loving coleus is a colorful foliage plant that grows well in warm weather. Wait until nighttime temperatures remain well above freezing to plant it outdoors. Grow it in landscape beds or add it to container gardens to brighten shady corners.
When frost threatens, pot it up and enjoy it as a houseplant in a sunny window until spring. Then plant it outdoors once again!
Trailing sun-loving coleus is an easy-to-grow annual foliage plant that adapts well to hanging baskets and container gardens where it sprawling stems can drape over the edge of the planter. You also can plant it at the front of garden beds where it will intertwine with flowering annuals and perennials to bring color to the landscape.
Most trailing coleus have smaller leaves than upright growers, reaching only about an inch long.
Blended-color, sun-tolerant coleus makes a bright splash in sunny or shady sites. Their stippled or mottled leaves often take on different hues depending on the amount of sunlight that the plant receives. These easy-care plants thrive in moist, well-drained soil and warm growing conditions.
Sun-loving coleus with contrasting-edge leaf margins are easy-to-grow annual foliage plants. The distinctive patterns formed by the leaf margins make these plants stand out in the garden. You can plant them in container gardens or landscape beds where plants will combine with flowering annuals and perennials to brighten the display.