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.
plant quick find clear
garden plans for houseplants
Solid-color, sun-tolerant coleus is an easy-to-grow annual foliage plant that provides bold color to container gardens or landscape beds where it will intertwine with flowering annuals and perennials to brighten shady nooks. It is available in a broad range of colors, which are usually most intense in bright light. It needs warm temperatures and moist soil to perform at its best.
Splotched sun-tolerant coleus is easy to grow if it has plenty of warmth and moisture. Grow it in partial shade to full sun. Colors contrasts in the mottled foliage often are more intense in bright light. Combine this foliage plant with other annual flowers for a spectacular display all summer long.
When frost threatens, take cuttings or dig up plants, then pot them and enjoy them as houseplants in a sunny window until spring. Then plant them outdoors once again.
Sun-tolerant coleus with patterned veins is easy to grow. It is an annual foliage plant that thrives in warm weather with moist soil conditions. You also can plant it in container gardens or landscape beds for season-long color. Most varieties can be grown in sun or shade, but often develop more intense coloration in bright light.
When frost threatens, move plants indoors to enjoy them as houseplants in a sunny window until spring. Then plant them outdoors once again!
Add excitement to dim areas of your yard with shade-loving coleus varieties that have a contrasting color on leaf edges. An amazing array of color combinations are available, as well as leaf textures -- choose from plants with scalloped, toothed, or fringed leaf edges. Coleus is exceptionally easy to grow: Plant it in a shaded spot, keep the soil moist, feed it regularly, and be sure it has warm temperatures.
When frost threatens, pot coleus up and enjoy it as houseplants in a sunny window until spring. Then plant outdoors once again!
Croton is a colorful shrub with leathery leaves that are most colorful in bright light. In low light conditions new leaves will be smaller and less intensely pigmented. Grow croton at 60 to 85 degrees F with high humidity. Allow the soil surface to dry between waterings.
Dieffenbachia may be grown as a small tree with a canelike stem or as a shrubby plant with multiple stems. It thrives in low to medium light. Grow it at room temperature and keep the soil evenly moist. It is sometimes called dumb cane, a reference to the effects of its toxic sap, which can cause tongue numbness and swelling if chewed by children or pets.
Dracaenas compose of a large group of popular foliage plants. Most grow strongly upright with long, straplike leaves variegated with white, cream, or red. Dracaenas grow well at average room temperatures but don't like cold drafts. Give plants medium to bright light to maintain best leaf color. Allow the soil to dry to the touch between waterings.
This versatile foliage plant grows well as a hanging basket, a groundcover beneath larger houseplants, or trained into topiary shapes. It needs medium light and grows best at temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees F. Keep the soil evenly moist and humidity high to discourage spider mites. This plant also grows as a groundcover outdoors in Zones 5-9.
Ficus plants range from large trees to woody shrubs to trailing vines. All grow best in medium to bright light, although they will tolerate low light for short periods. They grow well at normal room temperature. Allow the soil of tree and shrub forms to dry out between waterings. Ficus plants produce a sticky white latex sap when injured, giving them one of their common names, rubber plant. Edible figs are in the same genus, and these houseplants are sometimes called figs.
Fishtail palm is known for its large, doubly compound leaves, which can measure more than 8 feet long. It has a beautiful texture with its fan-shape individual leaflets, resembling a giant fishtail. Fishtail palms grow best in moist soil, but they tolerate dry conditions quite well. This palm bears light green leaves that turn deeper green in partial shade.
Fishtail palm grows well indoors if you have a large, bright spot.
The intricate leaf vein patterns in red, pink, silver, or white provide Fittonia with its common names -- nerve plant or mosaic plant. Ones with white or silver veins are classified as Argyroneura group, while those with red or pink veins are listed as Verschaffeltii group. Fittonia's small size and requirements for medium light, high humidity, and evenly moist soil make it an excellent terrarium plant.
It's easy to fall in love with gardenia, the queen of fragrant flowers. This beautiful evergreen shrub produces a plethora of heavily scented white rose-shape flowers throughout the warm months. Even when it's not blooming, gardenia's glossy green foliage is attractive. The dense leaves make gardenia bushes a great choice for privacy hedges in warm-winter climates.
Gardenia grows best in moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter and with an acidic pH. The plant will often develop yellow leaves if the soil isn't acidic enough.
Gardenia is sometimes grown as a houseplant in cold-winter climates. Give it a bright spot with lots of indirect light to promote plenty of blooms.
A truly classic garden plant, geraniums have been a gardener's favorite for well over a century. The old-fashioned standard for beds, borders, and containers, geranium is still one of the most popular plants today. Traditional bedding types love hot weather and hold up well to dry conditions; many offer colorful foliage. Regal, also called Martha Washington, geraniums are more delicate-looking and do better in the cool conditions of spring and fall.
Though most geraniums are grown as annuals, they are perennials in Zones 10–11. Bring them indoors to overwinter, if you like, then replant outdoors in spring. (Or they can bloom indoors all year long if they get enough light.)
Grape ivy, also known as oakleaf ivy, is the most widely grown species of Cissus. It has shiny, deep green leaves. The plant develops curling tendrils that cling to a stake or trellis. Give the plant medium light, keep the soil evenly moist, and grow it at room temperature for best results. Avoid overwatering, which can cause leaves to drop.
Hoya is often called wax plant because its fragrant flower clusters are very waxy. It is a vining plant with thick leaves. Grow it on a trellis or topiary form, or allow it to cascade from a hanging basket. Hoya needs bright light to bloom well but will grow in medium light. It likes temperatures 55-75 degrees F. Allow the soil to dry between waterings. Plants rebloom on flower stalks, so avoid pruning them off.
The epitome of the shade garden plant, impatiens have been used for years for their bloom power and wide variety of colors. These tropical plants are blooming powerhouses and will fill a space with blossoms as long as there is no frost. They can bloom for a whole growing season, and they don’t even need maintenance, like deadheading, to keep up! More recently, many impatiens have become susceptible to downy mildew, a devastating fungal disease, so make sure to look for resistant varieties.
Jade plant is a tough, popular succulent with plump, fleshy leaves. Provide bright or intense light, and keep the soil moderately dry. Jade grows well at room temperature during the growing season, but prefers 55 degrees F during winter. (Cool winter temperatures help promote bloom.)
Bold palmate, or handlike, leaves give Japanese aralia a striking tropical appearance. Its big, glossy, green leaves have a bold texture. When thoughtfully combined with fine-texture shrubs and flowering plants, the form of Japanese aralia shines. The shrub is evergreen and thrives in part sun or shade. Plant it near a foundation or at the back of the border for a reliable stand of glossy green color. Be sure to give it plenty of space to spread out; it grows 8 feet tall and wide with ease. Japanese aralia blooms in fall. The white blossoms are insignificant and followed by black fruit.
Aptly named, Japanese holly fern produces fronds that do indeed resemble holly leaves with their glossy, deep green leathery appearance.
It needs moist but well-drained soil in a protected location to thrive. The plant is evergreen in warm climates, but drops its leaves or dies back to the ground in colder areas.
It also makes for a good houseplant in climates where it isn't hardy.
Few plants are as well-known for their intoxicating fragrance as jasmine. The small, numerous blossoms are often intense enough to fill a room and enjoyed from yards away. There are many species and styles of jasmine available. Whether a vine or a shrub, jasmine makes a great plant to gift and a great fragrant addition to any garden setting.