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The best indoor plants to bring green into your home

    Hang out for long with me and you’ll find I have a deep affection for fresh greenery.

    Ferns, trees, herbs, little plants whose names I don’t know – I’m in to all of them.

    I would even venture to say a room is not complete without something living and green.

    One of the most asked questions about the mini kitchen makeover centered around the vast amount greenery seen.

    I’m so glad you all noticed the plants because they really do add so much life to the kitchen.

    In answer to the most frequently asked plant-related questions, I’m here today with all of my greenery-loving wisdom.

    Are the plants real?

    Yes, all of the plants in the kitchen and around the house are living.

    There are times when faux plants are just the better (or only) choice – like in a room without natural light, up high on a bookshelf, in unkind climates or in vacation or rental homes where regular care is not available. Otherwise, I always err on the side of real.

    Real plants have gorgeous color, texture and movement that faux plants just can’t quite capture. Plus, they grow! And watching the growing process is fascinating and rewarding (I sound like a completely crazy plant lady but I’m okay with it).

    How are they cared for and kept alive?

    I know one of the biggest issues with bringing in real plants is the challenge with keeping them alive. Are some people better at it than others? Is there really such a thing as a green or black thumb? I’m not sure. But I will say that with regular attention, anyone can keep a plant alive.

    At least for a while.

    Sometimes, plants die. Sometimes ferns loose their leaves and start to look a little yellow and sparse. Sometimes you don’t catch dry soil fast enough and a little mossy plant dries out. It happens and it’s okay.

    I like to think about it like this: if I were to buy a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store, they would only last 5-7 days. So any plant that costs less than $20 and lasts longer than a week in the house feels like win in my book. (I will say, though, that I’ve never killed a plant in 1 week. After a month? Sure. But then some of my $20 ferns are still going after a few years!).

    Each plant has its own temperament and needs. Some like direct light, some like indirect. Some like the soil to remain moist, some need it to dry out between waterings. You’ll usually see these caring instructions on the little stick that comes in the plant or you could ask the nursery worker.

    Yes, pay attention to those plant idiosyncrasies, but also don’t stress.

    I pretty much treat all of my plants the same with one main objective: keep them well-watered.

    How often you water depends on the climate and temperature of where you live (I notice the plants dry out much faster in the winter when the heat is on all day). I typically put all of the plants in our sink to fully water once per week. If I notice throughout the week that the leaves look droopy or the soil is dry to the touch, I’ll water again. If I don’t feel like bringing the plant to the sink, I’ll just pop an ice cube or two on top to melt. If it helps you remember, schedule a watering day once per week to build into your routine and keep your plants alive.

    Other than watering, I just try to keep dead leaves trimmed.

    If you notice that a plant doesn’t look healthy, is losing its color or doesn’t seem to be growing, try moving it to a new spot in the house. In general, anywhere with indirect natural light is a good place for an indoor plant.

    What types of plants are best for indoors?

    The quick answer is anything that catches your eye in the indoor section of the nursery. If it is housed in the indoor greenhouse, it is likely a good choice for indoors.

    I am usually drawn to non-flowering plants in shades of bright green with lots of little leaves.

    Here are a few of my favorites:

    Boston Ferns (and other similar varieties) are inexpensive, commonly available and low-maintenance. They are usually hanging at the garden center and I just remove the plastic hangers. Expect to pay about $20 for a good-size fern.

    Maidenhair Ferns are my very favorite, but they are a bit more temperamental. They dry out very quickly and can’t be revived once the leaves wilt. The little plants are around $5, the larger ones (like the one in the terra cotta pot on the kitchen counter) go for $15.

    Baby Tears is a sweet little creeping plant that will fall over the edges of the planter. I pay around $5 for a small one.

    Jade is a variety of succulent that requires very little care and has a cool sculptural feel (like the one on our kitchen table). I bought mine six months ago for around $15 and it’s doing great.

    Herbs like Rosemary, Basil and Thyme are always good choices especially in the kitchen. Bonus: you can clip right from the plant to use in your cooking.

    Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees are very popular and known for their diva-ish needs. Indirect sun, no breeze, 1 cup of water per foot about once per week, no moving to a new spot, more expensive price tag. Even taking these things into consideration, I still love them.

    The one in our kitchen was a bush I found at IKEA 3 years ago. It lost all of its leaves and I was about to throw it out, but instead moved it to a bright spot that didn’t get much air flow and it started growing again. You can sometimes find 5′ trees at Home Depot for around $80 or check your local nursery (expect better quality and a higher price – like $150 and up). Check out this post for more on fiddle leaf fig trees.

    And, of course, don’t forget clippings and branches from outside. They are free, they bring in that green and add so much life and texture to any space.

    I very much encourage you to bring a live plant into your home. Just that little touch of organic green will really make an impact!

    Do you have any favorite indoor plants? Or any other questions for this crazy #plantlady? Ask away …

    75 thoughts on “The best indoor plants to bring green into your home”

    1. I just want to say you pushed my slight plant kick into over drive! Then I walked into Lowes and found some cute little ferns on clearance for $1! I figure if they don’t make it no big loss.
      Today I popped in some antique stores to find some cute containers to hold my new treasures.
      Thanks for the inspiration!

    2. Where can I find that “Terra Delyss?” olive oil? We use olive oil, and I LOVE that bottle!! And also, a crock like your white and “2 – USA” blue one in the corner of the counter?! I love it!!


    3. Emily, how do you like those metal chairs? Are they comfortable? I was once considering them fir our kitchen, but was afraid they would be noisy to move around and cold to touch.

    4. After fiddle leaf hype was over, I bought split leaf philodendron. To my opinion, it’s gorgeous, not difficult to care for and makes a real statement

    5. I actually just bought my first Fiddle Leaf fig at the Home Depot for $17! It is small, maybe 1.5′ tall, and bushy for now, but I’m excited to have found one for so little! My 4 and 2 year olds each picked out a teeny tiny succulent too, so I’m going to try to cultivate a love of plants in them as well :-)

    6. Where do you buy your house plants? And is there a time of the year that is better than others? I’ve gone to both Lowes and Home Depot, and their selection wasn’t great. I wasn’t sure if it was because this was a bad time of year to find plants or what.

      1. Brooke,

        I worked at a local florist for several years, and they always carried a variety of indoor plants. If you live in a colder climate, make sure the plant is wrapped (your florist will do that for you at no extra charge) before transporting outside. January is a *great* time of year to bring a living plant home – especially a blooming plant! It just perks you up to look at plants during these shorter days when we’re likely spending more time indoors.

    7. I say “yes, yes, yes” to plants! My mom had a green thumb and never discarded a plant that had any life in it. Instead she would bring it back to life. I tend to have the same feeling of guilt about throwing away a plant that may not be doing well but is still alive … but I’ve had to get past that feeling and part with plants over the years that just have reached their peak and need to be replaced. Sorry, mom.

    8. I got my filddle leaf plant from Lowe’s for $10 (it was originally $20, but it looked a little sad, so I asked for a discount). After reading these comments I realize it was a steal!! Hope I can keep it happy and healthy for years to come. xoxo

    9. I have a thing for hen and chick succulents. My MIL gave me one plant that turned into-not joking-15 plants over the course of about 18 months. I have these little guys everywhere inside and outside my home, plus I’ve given a ton away.

      I love foxtail ferns and asparagus ferns, in addition to Boston ferns. My front landscaping is nearly entirely made of herbs. Oh, and I have a thing for purslane. They normally are outside plants that I have to bring indoors over the winter, but I’m thinking I may send them outside and buy more to keep inside this year!

      I do not have room in my life for diva plants, so I went with a hope philodendron over a fiddle leaf fig. They don’t look same, but the philodendron has beautiful, huge leaves that give a somewhat similar vibe.

    10. I was never a big fan of plants growing up. The only thing my mom could keep alive was a spider plant (ironically, the only one I can’t) and every other person I knew who had plants had so many that their house looked like a jungle. I thought they were for “weird people”. Once I married my husband re-introduced me to them. He always liked them and kept them himself as a child – always pouring over the plants in catalogues. I finally realized that I don’t have to live in a jungle to enjoy them. A love for live greenery has developed through the years and they bring me great joy. I think every room looks better with at least one living plant.

      Thanks for this post and to all the commenters. There is some really great info there.

    11. As a horticulturist, I love seeing the plants in your home! One good tip to keep in mind is that the soil in the pot only has enough fertiliser to last for about a month so after that you need to start giving fertiliser I usually buy these handy little sticks that I put in the soil that lasts for a month. This way you don’t get yellow leaves etc ??

    12. I loved this post and am also a huge fan of real plants in our home. I typically have about 4/room. I wanted to introduce you to the “ZZ” plant. It is my favorite for all of the reasons in the description below. I bought mine at Ikea about a year ago for $8. They grow from a bulb, and when they get too big for the pot I take them outside, separate the plants, and replant- usually giving one to a friend. You really can’t kill these so there perfect for someone who is just starting with indoor plants or is forgetful when it comes to watering. They have a healthy, green color and are more on the tropical side in appearance. I give them five stars!
      ZZ House Plant. The ZZ plant is an easy to grow and care for indoor plant that displays small glossy leaves on stems which can grow up to 3 ft long indoors. The zamioculcas zamiifolia (botanical name) grows well in low or bright lighting conditions and with frequent or much less frequent amounts of water.

      1. Yes. I completely agree with everything you said. I love the look of my ZZ plant and it can withstand forgetful watering. I got mine at Walmart for under 10 bucks and it’s been going strong for 18 months.

    13. Gina Diamond @ginadiamondsflowerco

      I am like you and LOVE green around my home. They bring light to every room! My favorites are ivy, ferns and kalonchoe. I can keep them looking great for a few months and then they bite the dust. I have shared the same sentiments you have in terms of thinking of them as lasting so much longer than fresh flowers.

      All of your plants look lovely in your new kitchen!

    14. Thank you for your post! I have a horrible time keeping plants alive, but you have inspired me to try again!
      P.S. Could you tell me where the metal & glass shelf in the 2nd picture is from? I have been on the hunt for something similar:) Thank you!

    15. Any tips for keeping plants alive indoors with a couple of indoor-only cats? My indoor-only cats chew anything remotely resembling a plant, even the silk ones get destroyed.

    16. I use a product called “tincture of green soap” that is used to clean surgical instruments. It is a concentrate that is mixed with water that I sray on my plants to control white fly, aphids or any insect that likes to chew leaves. They dont like the soapy taste. It also leaves a healtly looking sheen to the foliage. I also use it outside in the garden especially on rose bushes. People are always asking me why my plants look so healthy. It is available on Amazon or can be ordered through your pharmacy. I cant live without it.

      1. Betty, what ratio of soap to water do you use? I have white flies on one of my plants that I can’t get rid of. They don’t hurt the plant. But, would love to get rid of them. Thank you

    17. I always (try to remember to!) leave a pitcher of water out overnight before watering my plants. I think the chlorine in the tap water will evaporate and the plants generally seem to like that water better!

      I love these informative, easy-to-be-inspired-by posts :)

    18. Maidenhair ferns can be revived with a simple trick my mother always did. If they are looking sad, cut back the leaves and burn the ends of each bit with a match and they will grow back thicker and more lush than ever before! It really is amazing and therapeutic to do as well. :)

    19. I would LOVE to have live plants in my house, but my indoor-only cats *destroy* them. So far, I’ve only been able to keep a Christmas Cactus alive, but that’s because I keep the door to the bathroom it’s in closed all the time. Darn cats.

    20. Oh, how I would LOVE to bring real plants indoors! Alas, we live in a duplex that shares an entire side with another duplex, meaning we only have windows on one side of the house. Aka HORRIBLE natural light. One day…

    21. I too have gnat problems with the few plants I have indoors. This makes me NOT want others, even though I love the look of them in your house.

    22. Thank you for the recommendations! I have a few succulents around, but I don’t think you can ever have too many plants :)

    23. Philodendron are amazing! The viney, heart-shaped leaf ones. Very hardy, you can put them anywhere, and they are super easy to take care of. Also, you can clip off a vine and re-start it in water to have more plants! English ivy is great, too. A little more touchy, but you can restart those, too.

    24. Growing up I hated plants. Both of my parents had green thumbs yet I never had any interest in them. I mean, my mother would tell the plants “good morning!” before she even spoke to me! ;) So when I moved out, my mom gave me potted clippings of most of her plants – ones that I grew up with. I’ll be 35 in a couple months and I now treasure these plants as if they are heirlooms. I even love to give clippings as hostess gifts and make sure to let them know how long this plant has been in my family.

      Some of my favorites (which I don’t know their true latin names) are the philodendron and the mother-in-law’s tongue. Both of which I think are great for beginners. They’ve survived multiple cross-state moves (and neglect!) yet keep on growing. My other favorite is the rubber tree which can be a little finicky at times. My mother’s is huge and I look forward to reaching her “crazy plant lady” status!

      As many plants as I have now I still want more! I love the look of the ferns and have been on the lookout for the maidenhair. And since everyone I follow on IG has a fiddle leaf fig I want one too, but can’t justify the price since every corner of my home houses some sort of live greenery. Thank you so much for posting this!

    25. I feel like everyone is putting their plants in cute baskets and pots without the hole in the bottom and dish underneath. How?!! I’ve tried to go without and do a layer of rock on the bottom but the soil always ends up moldy!!!! I need an even more basic tutorial…how to plant them properly and what exactly constitutes indirect sunlight? Any window? A window that gets direct sun for 6 hours? Thanks!!!

    26. I, too, love plants around my house. I got a $15 Ikea Fiddle Leaf Fig about 4 years ago that I have moved all over my house, over watered and under watered and it’s been thriving. I’m always surprised when I hear that they are finicky.

      My mom has had a Boston Fern and a Maiden Hair Fern that have to be 30 or 40 years old. I remember her cutting them way back when they got yellowish, and they always came back strong and healthy.

      Love your plants, and the encouragement to try a couple new varieties. :)

    27. Love the real thing (and confess to a set faux greenery that I just had to have) I had to share with you the local name for your plant that you call “Jade” in South Africa it is affectionately called “Spekboom” which if directly translated from Afrikaans to English would translate to “bacon tree” I have no idea why it’s called spekboom – it is much loved by Giraffes and other types African wildlifE. And the best part is you can break a small piece off push it into soil and I guarantee it will grow. Long message over xxxx

    28. I am on a constant search for a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree. I can’t believe how much they cost, and the faux ones are even crazier. I love the simplicity of adding a little green plant to a room. They always pop in your pictures. Thanks for sharing your favs!

    29. Do you have any problems with gnats from the soil? I have found that when I have a plant indoors, gnats seem to accompany it. What should I do about that?

        1. yes, depending on the season. not so much in winter, but definitely in summer. I think if you keep the soil more on the dry side that helps. otherwise i use the apple cider vinegar cup trick. once they are gone, they usually don’t come back (unless they come in with fruit).

          1. Krystal Wight Armstrong

            Brooke, what’s the ACV cup trick? I’ve seen those little things some here too, in TX. I didn’t know they came from the soil!

        2. I read somewhere to add a layer of sand on the top of the soil. It stops the gnats from being able to lay their eggs there. I had a problem for a while with my Japanese Peace Plants in the UK, but this fixed it for me.

      1. OMG! Ever since we got fiddle leaf, these small nasty flies infested every single pot we had. I found on Amazon yellow super sticky tapes (they are attracted to yellow ). They are pretty expensive but do catch tons of these.

    30. I spy a buffalo in the kitchen! cute, was that a treasure Ryan grabbed while on your road trip? what is it, a door knocker? and from where? did they have other animals?

    31. I love plants too! My nursery recommended placing pebbles at the bottoms of the ferns and keeping that moist because they like humidity. Do you do that too? also along those lines I second the drainage question. What’s your setup for that?

    32. I’ve lived in Germany for the last 25 years and moved back to the US a few years ago.
      In Germany, I had up to 50 plants in my apartment, and many of them were 20-25 years old when I left. I could just not kill them.
      BUT, since being in the States, I’ve noticed the indoor plants do not have a life span. If I can keep one for a year, that is already an accomplishment. It seems there are a few factors…first, I notice that often the “soil” used in plants bought in grocery stores is not real potting soil or fern soil, but is some strange light concoction of what seems like dryer lint and a bit of moss and a sprinkling of dirt. This is not proper substrate for plants in the long run. It dries out too quickly and plants do not thrive in it. It is probably used because soil has a certain amount of bacteria and possible spillage (mess) when sold in grocery stores, so this weird stuff is used instead.
      My recommendation if you have a plant you really love is to replant it soon after purchase. Use the proper potting soil for the type of plant, and use a larger pot than it came in, ideally a terra cotta pot with a large drain hole. Most plants benefit if you let the top inch or two dry out before re-watering as most plants probably die from well intentioned over-watering.
      Next, almost all plants need indirect bright light ver near to a window or directly in front of a window (not an all-day sunny window though), a few will do ok in darker indirect light in the middle of a room, like the Peace Lilly and the super indestructible ZZ Plant – Zamioculcas Zamiifolia.
      Another thing that may play a roll is the US water is mostly fluoridated and chlorinated to death. In Europe, the water is not fluoridated at all, and rarely chlorinated (but depends on the area-country). Both fluoride and chlorination are poison to plants and people. I don’t really have a recommendation on what to do about this this…perhaps filter the water, but that is a science in itself and not all filters get these chemicals. Do not use bottled water. If you can catch rainwater, that may be a good substitute as long as it is relatively fresh.
      This comment has become longer than I wanted, LOL. The good news is the plants here in the US are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace.
      Greetings from Bainbridge Island Emily!

      1. I really am going to have to try that “super indestructible ZZ Plant – Zamioculcas Zamiifolia”!
        Thanks for all the tips too.

      2. Just a caution if you use clay or terra cotta pots – be sure to soak them thoroughly in water just before planting. Otherwise, the clay absorbs all the liquid from the soil, causing the plant to quickly dry out.

      3. Krystal Wight Armstrong

        Thank you for sharing with everybody here, Chris! I hear you on the ‘science’ of figuring out how to get healthy water. It’s such a mess. I’m a novice ‘gardener’ with a handful of plants in our apartment, and have been wondering if the tap water with the fluorine and chlorine would be harmful. I’m maybe kindof ‘weird’ in that I only water our basil plant with our own drinking water, Mountain Valley Spring water that I buy in large glass jugs at my Natural Grocers (it’s supposed to be mineral water straight from a spring in the Ozarks). I figure if I’m going to use my basil plant to eat off of, then I don’t want the plant to be sucking up things I wouldn’t want to consume (like the chemicals in our treated water).
        Anyway, thanks again for your long comment, I appreciated it!

    33. Krystal Wight Armstrong

      Oh yay, you did it! Thank you. I’ve been wishing for a post from you, on the decorative greenery around your home. I have a good handful in our apartment too, but I’ve always wanted to know about the pretty ferns you keep!
      My only other question would be to ask if you could somehow specifically identify which are the ones you use, that are a little more difficult to tell. Thank you for clarifying what was on the kitchen table, I really liked that one especially!
      From your little graphic, I can tell by the shape which ones are obvious, like the boston fern, fiddle leaf, and maidenhair. But I’m also really curious about the tiny, pretty one next to your measuring spoons & olive oil- is that the baby tears, or an herb? The same for the dainty one on the shelf by the window above the crock full of mixed greenery.
      Is that crock full of cuttings, or are they growing in soil? It’s a very pretty array.

      Thank you so much for sharing your pretty greens with us! : )

      1. The one with the measuring spoons is the baby tears. Isn’t it cute?!

        The crock is filled with clippings from the yard and a few from the grocery store. They are just cut and in water and have lasted over two weeks.

    34. Thanks for sharing all this plant info today. Seriously, I LOVE plants and I totally noticed them in your fun new kitchen. I do set aside one day a week to water and that routine has made a huge difference in the life span of our plants. My mom would poke fun at me and say I take better care of my plants than our kids! LOL I love sneaking new little bits of green in to our home and finding fun containers to put them in. Nice how such simple things can bring such joy.

      1. A few of mine are in the pots they came in from the store and then placed into another pot. Others I just put in a pot. I haven’t paid a lot of attention to drainage – most of the pots have holes in the bottom which is why I water in the sink to let them drain.

    35. Thank you for this post. I would love to hear where you get all of your adorable pots from. I am having trouble finding pots I like for my indoor plants. :)

    36. This is probably a basic question, but I am new to the house plant world. :). Do you typically buy pots with a hole at the bottom or use rocks at the bottom of your pots for drainage?

    37. I have to say that any plant I bring home from IKEA thrives! I have many that I hardly pay attention to (water every 3-4 weeks and that’s it!) and they are all green and happy. They are cheap and have a pretty great variety. I have not tried any of their bigger plants, but I plan to!

    38. “They dry out very quickly and can’t be revived once the leaves wilt”. Oh but no! I have to tell you, this is not true. I have a large one in our sunroom and occasionally I have not watered it in time and it wilts, even starts drying up. CUT the plant back – I mean you can cut back to the soil, continue to water, and it will magically reappear! Really! I mean you will be shocked at how fast the plant will come back.

    39. I have just now developed a green-ish thumb. I have some ivy in the kitchen that is doing great and slowly creeping down my grandmother’s china cabinet. I have a peace lily that is almost impossible to kill. I have a large snake plant in my bedroom and a ponytail palm in my son’s room that he picked out.

      I completely agree that a little greenery can perk up a room.

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