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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Grow this stunning orchid for its beautiful foliage, not its flowers. Each leaf is deep maroon-black and bears contrasting red or white stripes. In winter or early spring, it also shows off spikes of small white flowers. It's one of the easier orchids you can grow in your home.
Jewel orchid prefers a spot where it gets medium to bright light and medium to high humidity. Keep its potting mix evenly moist. Jewel orchid doesn't like to dry out, which makes it a good choice for growing in large terrariums. You can also try it as a summer annual outdoors in a warm, shady spot with moist, well-drained soil.
In tropical environments, kalanchoe thrives in outdoor garden beds, but gardeners in less temperate zones appreciate it as a low-maintenance houseplant that grows to about 6 to 12 inches tall with fleshy, succulent leaves. Flowers blanket some varieties; others sport fuzzy leaves in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Lady palms are shrubby, clumping palms that spread by underground rhizomes. Their leaves are fan-shape and dense, which makes them a good screening plant. Grow them in moderate to dense shade.
One of the showiest houseplants, moth orchid, or Phalaenopsis orchid, is remarkably easy to grow -- despite its reputation. Phalaenopsis orchid also offers some of the best variety; look for miniatures that grow only a few inches tall to big hybrids that produce 3-foot-tall spikes of flowers. The blooms appear in a rainbow of colors -- from pinks to reds, yellows and oranges, lavender, green, and white. Most bloom only once a year, but the flowers can last six months or more.
Grow moth orchid in a spot where it gets medium to bright light (such as on the windowsill of a north- or east-facing window). Water and fertilize Phalaenopsis orchid weekly in spring and summer when they're growing; hold off the plant food and water less in fall and winter when the plants usually rest. Like many houseplants, moth orchid does best in high humidity.
Pot Phalaenopsis orchid in orchid bark or sphagnum moss; if you grow it in potting mix, the roots will likely rot and die.
Norfolk Island pine is a fast-growing tree that can grow to 200 feet tall in its native habitat but seldom reaches more than 10 feet tall in containers indoors. If it doesn't receive bright light indoors, its branches droop and begin to turn brown. Keep the soil moderately dry, but give it high humidity.
This easy-to-grow charmer works both indoors and out. Oxalis bears colorful, cloverlike leaves that close up at night. They appear in a range of colors from silver to purple -- and several are variegated with other colors. The cup-shape blooms are also attractive and appear in shades of yellow, pink, and white.
Indoors, some oxalis varieties will bloom all year if given enough light. Outdoors, treat them as delightful summer annuals or choose perennial selections that are hardy for your area. Most oxalis selections do best in part to full shade and well-drained soil. Be sure not to overwater.
Parlor palm has been a popular indoor plant since Victorian times because it tolerates lower light levels and drier air than most palms. However, if the air is too dry, it often is attacked by spider mites. Parlor palm grows best with medium light and evenly moist soil, and prefers temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees F.
Passionflower imbues a tropical feel to any garden, thanks to its gorgeous and intricate flowers that appear in a rainbow of colors. Most varieties of this fast-growing vine are perennial in the tropics, and they're wonderful annuals or houseplants in cold-winter climates. Because of its quick growth rate, passionflower is a top pick for growing on lattice to create a beautiful privacy screen all summer long.
Grow passionflower in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Most grow better if they're too dry than too wet.
Peace lily is an easy-care plant that tolerates low light, low humidity, and still blooms consistently. Its glossy lance-shape leaves arch gracefully from a central clump of stems. The white flowers are most common in summer, but may occur any time of year. As they age they turn green.
Sometimes referred to as baby rubber plant, peperomia is a commonly grown, low-maintenance house plant. This interesting plant is native to many tropical climates, often found in cloud forests and rainforests growing as an epiphyte (on wood). The genus of peperomia includes over 1,000 species presently recorded. There is bound to be at least one that would grow well in your home.
Philodendrons are one of the toughest houseplants you can possibly grow. Whether you choose upright or trailing/climbing types, they are perfectly happy in a home setting. Even people with so-called "black thumbs" are usually successful at growing these plants. Philodendrons are very low maintenance and can sit idle for long periods. You can train them up a trellis or simply leave them to their own devices—philodendrons will survive no matter what.
Pileas are small mounded or creeping foliage plants, often with puckered or quilted leaves with silver or maroon markings. They form small clusters of white flowers, but the foliage is the most attractive feature. Pilea needs medium to bright light for best coloration. Keep the soil barely moist and grow it at normal room temperature.
This vigorous foliage plant drapes neatly over container rims, making it ideal for window boxes, hanging baskets, and containers. Plectranthus is available with green-and-white, green-and-gold, and silver foliage; there's something to compliment any container planting. The foliage is extremely fragrant.
Many types of plectranthus are actually perennials in warm-weather areas of Zones 9 and 10. You can also grow many as beautiful houseplants.
Despite its palm-like appearance and common name, ponytail palm is not a true palm. It is a succulent with a bulbous lower trunk that stores water. Provide it with bright light and keep it relatively dry. Normal room temperature is good for it most of the year, but in winter keep it cooler (50-55 degrees F). It is sometimes sold as Nolina recurvata.
One of the best indoor plants for low-light situations, pothos is an easy-care vining plant equally at home in a hanging basket, climbing a plant pole, or spilling over the edge of a table or shelf. Give it normal room temperature and keep the soil slightly on the dry side. It also goes by the names of devil's ivy, Scindapsus aureus, and Pothos aureus. It is closely related to heartleaf philodendron, which it resembles.
Sago palm is not a true palm, but rather belongs to an ancient group of plants called cycads. Its stiff leaves resemble those of palm or the fronds of a fern. It's easy to grow, thriving indoors or out. It grows well in the landscape or indoors in a container. Because the leaves are so stiff and can be sharp, it's best to keep this plant away from walkways or other areas where you may run into it.
With fragrances of fruits, flowers, spices, and even chocolate, scented geraniums delight the senses. The plant's tactile leaves -- some fuzzy, some smooth -- come in a wide range of shapes and hues. They have been favorites of herb and indoor gardeners since Victorian times. They are hardy in Zones 10-11 and warmer parts of Zone 9 but can be grown as annuals or houseplants in colder regions. Most scented geranium flowers are smaller and less showy than annual bedding geraniums, but they can create an attractive bonus to the fragrant foliage. Plants grow up to 3 feet tall and wide.
Schefflera is a bushy treelike plant with glossy green leaflets attached at a central point on each leaf like the sections of an umbrella, giving it an alternate common name of umbrella tree. The plant prefers medium to bright light, evenly moist soil, and average room temperature.
Snake plant is a carefree, tough succulent that grows almost anywhere. Its leathery sword-shape leaves are usually marbled with gray green and may be edged with yellow or white. Although snake plant tolerates low light, it grows better in medium or bright light. Allow the soil to dry between waterings, especially in winter. It grows well in temperatures from 60 to 85 degrees F. It is sometimes called mother-in-law's tongue.
Spider plant is an excellent choice for beginners. The plant looks great in a hanging basket or on a pedestal. It likes average room temperature and humidity. Brown leaf tips, a common problem on spider plants, are due to overfertilization, low humidity, or dry soil conditions. Keep the soil slightly moist and avoid using fluoridated water on the plant.