NASA recommends adding houseplants to your home environment to help clean the air and overall improve indoor air quality.
Common sense will tell you that having living plants in the home adds color and beauty along reducing stress and with brightening your mood. In this article, we’ll share 35+ hardy, low-maintenance houseplants and office plants that are easy to grow, even if you have a brown thumb.
The choices are loosely grouped. Flowering plants such as Orchids and Bromeliads were not included.
Top 5 Best Houseplants
For starters let’s give you our Top 5 Best Indoor Plants for any “non-green thumbers” reading this.
- Snake Plant – Mother-in-Law’s Tongue: Caring For The Sansevieria Plant
- Cast-Iron Plant
- Spider Plant
- Jade – Crassula ovata plant
If you have trouble remembering to water your plants, you can still do very well with a collection of succulents. These plants store their water in their leaves, trunks, roots and/or rhizomes.
Most like a sunny setting and an occasional deep watering. When shopping for succulent type plant, look for Jade Plant, Ponytail Palm, Candelabra Tree, Flapjacks and more.
Snake Plant (aka Good Luck Plant or Mother-In-Law Tongue)
This rugged succulent comes in several forms and is the perfect plant for proven plant killers. It does very well, even in low light and when subjected to extreme neglect.
If you tend to forget about your plants, the Snake Plant is the plant for you. If you are a chronic over-waterer, that’s a different story. This plant is subject to root rot if over-watered.
Best Plant Qualities: Snake Plant has beautiful, sword-shaped leaves, and is very hard to kill.
Scientific Name: Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’
Preferred Conditions: This plant tolerates low light, but appreciates bright light. It likes a comfortable room temperature of 60-85 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be allowed to dry before watering.
Dimensions: Mother-in-Law’s Tongue can attain a height and width of four feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? This plant is toxic to cats and dogs and may cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting if ingested.
ZZ-Plant or ZeeZee Plant
ZZ plant is also known as the Eternity Plant because it is very long-lived. This succulent plant has fleshy, thick leaves and stalks and may even be mistaken for a plastic plant.
The stems are robust and will stay alive for several weeks when cut. This slow-growing plant does well in low light and needs very little care.hoya plant in flower
Best Plant Qualities: It is almost impossible to kill a ZeeZee plant. These plants do not grow rapidly, so you don’t need to worry about pruning or frequent repotting.
Scientific Name: Zamioculcas zamiifolia
Preferred Conditions: This plant does well in most indoor light setting. It tolerates temperatures ranging from 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. You should allow the soil to dry completely before watering, then water deeply.
Dimensions: ZeeZee Plants attain a height and width of two or three feet, but they do it very slowly. If you want a big plant, buy a big plant. You will not be able to count on yours to grow to the desired size in a reasonable period of time.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep kids and pets away as this is a poisonous plant.
Cast Iron Plant
True to its name the “cast-iron plant” is incredibly tough and rugged. Other names include Barroom Plant or (in Japanese) Haran or Baran. It does well with severe neglect in all manner of settings.
It can tolerate wide-ranging temperatures, low humidity, low light and more. There are several varieties of this plant, so you can choose from solid green leaves or leaves variegated with white or yellow. The plant is slow-growing, so if you want a large plant, you should purchase a large plant.
Best Plant Qualities: It is nearly impossible to kill the Cast Iron Plant. It takes very little in the way of care in terms of both watering and pruning.
Scientific Name: Aspidistra elatior
Preferred Conditions: Cast Iron Plant does well in a low light setting. The plant withstands a wildly divergent range of temperatures from 45-85 degrees Fahrenheit. During the spring and summer months, it is good to keep the soil evenly moist. In the autumn and winter, reduce watering and keep the soil just barely moist.
Dimensions: Cast Iron Plant attains a height and width of two feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Cast Iron plant is non-toxic.
Spider Plant (aka Airplane Plant)
The spider plant is an easy care classic, grown as a houseplant for decades. In temperate climates, these plants can grow outdoors as a ground cover.
There are several varieties offering solid green leaves or variegated varieties in green and white or green and cream-colored shades. These pretty plants are an excellent choice for hanging baskets, and they propagate on their own by sending out cute little plantlets on the ends of long, arching stems.
The baby plants grow easily by simply pushing the budding roots into fresh potting soil or allowing them to grow more roots in a glass of water before potting.
Best Plant Qualities: Everyone recognizes and loves Spider Plants. They are easy to care for and easy to share. Makes a nice desk plant.
Scientific Name: Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’
Preferred Conditions: Spider Plants like medium light to bright light settings. They prefer a temperature of 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be kept evenly moist.
Dimensions: These low growing plants attain a height of about one foot and spread to about two feet across.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Spider plants are grown as a food crop in Africa, so you needn’t worry about poisoning your pets and kids. In fact, you may need to protect Spider plants from hungry, curious indoor cats in search of grass.
A low-water, slow-growing houseplant classic. This hardy succulent stores water in its leaves and can live for many decades when kept in dry conditions and bright light.
It is a good choice as an addition to a cactus and/or succulent collection. During the spring and summer, the plant likes comfortable room temperatures. It prefers a cooler setting and very slight watering through the fall and winter.
Best Plant Qualities: The Jade Plant is an interesting plant. It grows as a small tree with thick, glossy leaves and gnarled branches. It takes very little water and needs very little care to keep it happy. Like the spider plant a nice desk plant.
Scientific Name:Crassula ovata
Preferred Conditions: Jade Plants likes a bright light setting and temperatures of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit during the growing season and around 55 degrees while semi-dormant. The soil should be kept relatively dry.
Dimensions: Jade plant can grow to be six feet high and three feet wide; however, it is easy to control size with pruning, and cuttings root readily to form new plants.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Jade Plant is considered toxic to people and pets. If ingested it can cause depression, slow heart rate, and vomiting.
Other Top Performers
Hoya Plant (aka Wax Plant, Hindu Rope)
Hoya is also known as Wax Plant because of its waxy leaves and flowers. The leaves may be solid green or variegated with shades of cream. The flowers are pink and are very fragrant.
Best Plant Qualities: The blossoms of the Wax Plant are charming and pleasantly scented. Hoya is very versatile in that it can be grown as a climbing plant, in a hanging basket or trained as a topiary plant. It is easy-care and does not need much water.
Scientific Name: Hoya carnosa
Preferred Conditions: Hoya likes both medium and bright light settings. The plant is comfortable with a relatively wide range of temperatures (55-75 degrees Fahrenheit). Allow the surface of the soil to dry before watering.
Dimensions: The vines can attain a length or height or four feet or more.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? The Hoya plant is non-toxic.
Candelabra Tree (aka African Milk Tree, Cactus Euphorbia, Common Tree Euphorbia)
A cactus-like succulent that can grow up to forty feet high in the wild. Its segmented branches are dark green with sharp spines along the edges. In the fall and winter, it produces small greenish-yellow flowers at the tips of its branches. These flowers ripen into reddish-purple, three-lobed fruits.
Best Plant Qualities: Although it can be challenging to establish, once established Euphorbia Cactus are remarkably easy to care for.
Scientific name: Euphorbia trigonias
Preferred Conditions: These African desert dwellers like full sun and warm temperatures (60-75 degrees Fahrenheit). Keep plants in a light, well-drained soil and water thoroughly when the soil becomes dry.
Watering once every week to ten days is usually a good schedule in the spring and summer. A monthly watering schedule will suffice in the autumn and winter.
Dimensions: When kept as a houseplant, growth can be controlled at about one to four feet high.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Euphorbias have sharp spines and blister-producing, sticky white sap. Keep kids and pets away, and exercise caution when handling and trimming.
Ponytail Palm (aka: Nolina recurvata, Elephant Foot Tree, Bottle Palm)
The ponytail is not a palm. It is a succulent with a thick, swollen trunk and pretty, arched leaves. Unlike the jade plant, the ponytail palm stores its water in its trunk, rather than in its leaves. The plant should be kept in a small pot (only about two inches wider than the trunk) to keep growth under control.
Best Plant Qualities: The ponytail Elephant Foot Tree does well with infrequent watering because it can store quite a bit of water in its trunk.
Scientific Name: Beaucarnea recurvata – More at: Ponytail Palm: How To Care For The Ponytail Plant
Preferred Conditions: Ponytail Palm plant likes a bright light setting. During the spring and summer, it prefers temperatures of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. In the fall and winter, keep the plant at temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. During the wintertime, allow the soil to dry out completely and water very seldom.
Dimensions: Nolina recurvata can slowly grow to fifteen feet high and four feet wide.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Bottle Palm is non-toxic.
Flapjack Plant (aka Paddle Plant, Desert Cabbage)
The “flapjack plant” has large, round, flat grayish-green leaves that grow as a rosette. The leaves are about six inches long and develop a reddish hue along the edges when kept in full sunlight.
Best Plant Qualities: Several varieties offer a bit of diversity and visual interest. The plants are easy to care for and make excellent, compact houseplants.
Scientific name: Kalanchoe thyrsiflora
Preferred Conditions: Kalanchoe plants like bright light and even some time outside in the sunshine during the spring and summer. They prefer temperatures of 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Water weekly during the spring and summer months and monthly throughout the fall and winter.
Dimensions: These succulents grow to heights of one to four feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? All of the approximately 200 varieties of Kalanchoe contain cardiac glycosides and can be fatal if ingested.
Grape Ivy (aka Venezuela treebine)
Grape ivy comes in several varieties, but no matter which type you choose, you can count on having a plant with a vigorous climbing habit. All varieties send out strong tendrils that eagerly cling to trellises, fences, and stakes. Foliage varies in shape and shade from one variety to another, but all have shiny, attractive, prettily textured leaves.
Best Plant Qualities: Although this vine does have a vigorous climbing habit, it can also mound nicely, so it’s a good choice as a hanging basket plant.
Scientific Name: Cissus rhombifolia
Preferred Conditions: Grape Ivy likes a medium light setting and a comfortable indoor temperature (60-80 degrees Fahrenheit). The soil should be kept evenly moist.
Dimensions: When allowed to climb, the vines reach a height or length of about six feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Grape Ivy is non-toxic to cats and dogs.
Cereus Peruvianus (aka Night Blooming Cereus, Peruvian Apple)
The Peruvian apple is a very upright grower and produced mainly as a floor plant. Normally growning pots as multiple “cuttings” of various heights, such as a 2 and 3 foot trunk planted in a 10-inch container.
Best Plant Qualities: The “night blooming cereus” doesn’t mind low humidity, living on the dry side and occupies little space.
Scientific Name: Cereus peruvianus
Preferred Conditions: The plant wants a well-drained soil, low humidity, warmth, sun and bright light. The plant can handle low light levels but thrives in bright light. It is a perfect candidate for a sunny, bright south, east or west window.
Dimensions: Rarely do you find plants indoors over 5-feet tall, as they can become top heavy.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Cereus peruvianus is considered non-toxic.
Calathea (aka Peacock, Zebra or Rattlesnake Plant)
Pretty, striped or mottled leaves available in several shades ranging from white to yellow to rose-colored. Each variety has its own distinctive pattern of stripes, blotches, and spots of color on a background of deep green. These plants make lovely additions to the landscape in frost-free zones and can grow as striking houseplants.
Best Plant Qualities: Even if you have a very low light setting, you can count on Peacock Plant to provide lots of uplifting color.
Scientific Name: Calathea – More in our article Calathea Plant Care For The Home and Landscape
Preferred Conditions: These plants prefer a low light setting. In fact, it is best to avoid exposure to direct sunlight. Keep temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Water once or twice a week.
Dimensions: The Calathea stays small at a size ranging from six inches to two feet high.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Calathea is a non-toxic plant.
Best Indoor Palms
Kentia Palm (aka Parlor Palm)
A very popular houseplant adding an elegant, tropical touch to any setting. This hardy palm comes from the eastern coast of Australia. The slender, upright stems and feathery green leaves or fronds are an attractive addition to any home or office.
Best Plant Qualities: The plant is incredibly durable and grows slowly. It can do well with both low light and low humidity and tolerates neglect very well. Even though it can reach heights of sixty feet in the wild, it is not likely to outgrow your home too quickly.
Scientific name: Howea Forsteriana
Preferred Conditions: The plant prefers bright, indirect sunlight and typical, comfortable indoor temperatures. This Australian native is happy in normal household temperatures and is actually hardy in temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to use a well-drained potting mix when planting your palm. Take care not to over-water as this can cause root rot. Water when the top one-inch of the soil dries out.
Dimensions: When kept indoors, the Kentia Palm attains a height of about five to twelve feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Kentia Palm is entirely non-toxic.
Lady Palm (aka Finger Palm)
Tthe Lady Palm, is grown in the garden and used indoors in homes, condos and offices around the world. Rhapis is fairly cold hardy and can tolerate tropical and subtropical temperatures from 20 to 100 degrees F and handles both humid and dry climates.
Best Plant Qualities: Rhapis adapts to a wide range of climates, soils, environments and temperature ranges. Slow growing, does well in pots. Upright grower, like bright light but will tolerate low light. Relatively pest free.
Scientific name: Rhapis Excelsa
Preferred Conditions: Temperature range of 50-75 degrees. Partial sunlight to shade. Water soil thoroughly, keep soil moist – not wet.
Dimensions: Plants usually range in size from eighteen inches to 10-feet tall indoors.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Rhapis is listed as Non-Toxic to dogs and cats by the ASPCA.
Bamboo Palm (aka: Reed Palm)
An excellent choice for a low-light, indoor plant. The pretty green stems grow in multiple, reed-like clumps of about ten to fifteen fronds. The base of each stem is covered with a tan fiber that looks like bamboo.
Best Plant Qualities:: Bamboo Palm is a very hardy plant that is also a high scorer on NASA’s clean air plant list.
Scientific name: Chamaedorea seifrizii
Preferred Conditions: This plant can do well in low light if you do not over-water. It also likes medium and bright light settings. Be sure to protect it from direct light. Keep the temperature between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the top one-third of the soil to dry out before you water, and don’t use softened water as it contains too much salt. Fertilize lightly, once a month in the spring and summer.
Dimensions: Bamboo palm can grow to be five to seven feet high and three to five feet wide.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? This is a poisonous plant, so do keep it away from kids and pets.
Metallic Palm (aka Good Luck Palm, Fish Tail Dwarf Palm)
“Metallica” has a slender and erect growth habit. Its upright blades are an unusual shade of variegated metallic blue-green. The plant produces erect, pale green bracts which mature to reveal pretty flowers in shades of orange, red and purple.
Best Plant Qualities: These pretty plants are very easy to take care of and do well in the typical office and home settings. They make a wonderful table top palm.
Scientific name: Chamaedorea Metallica
Preferred Conditions: This forest under-story plant likes filtered light to full shade. It likes consistently moist soil but can withstand periods of drought up to six months long. As a native of Mexico, it prefers warmer temperatures ranging from 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Soil should be kept evenly moist. Take care not to over-water.
Dimensions: These slow growing plants usually stand between two and three feet high.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? The Metallic Palm is non-toxic.
Neathea Bella Palm (aka Table Palm)
An excellent tabletop plant, sports thick, bushy, deep green leaves with a compact growing habit.
Best Plant Qualities: A small low-light interior houseplant which adapts to almost any typical home or office interior where it develops dark green leaves. Perfect for small table-tops or a small desk. Proven and grown for decades.
Scientific name: Chamaedorea elegans
Preferred Conditions: This Guatemalan plant prefers medium light settings, but will do alright in low light. It is a good office or houseplant and does well at typical household temperature settings; however, it is actually cold hardy to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Soil should be kept very lightly moist. Watering every week to ten days is recommended.
Size: Parlor Palm grows to a height of about three feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? This small palm tree is non-toxic.
Best Dracaena Varieties indoors
Dragon Tree (aka Dragon Blood Tree, Red-Edged Dracaena )
This variety of Dracaena that presents a very dramatic appearance. The plant’s leaves are long and narrow and grow in tufts. The leaves are a very dark green with red edges and gray, woody stems.
A variation known as “Tricolor” (aka Rainbow Plant) has leaf margins in shades of pink and cream. When young, these plants grow as a shrub, but they take on a more tree-like appearance as they mature.
Best Plant Qualities: This variety of Dracaena is very festive looking. Its pretty colors make a statement in any setting.
Scientific Name: Dracaena marginata
Preferred Conditions: Dracaena likes medium light to bright light. These plants prefer temperatures ranging from 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be allowed to dry before watering.
Dimensions: Dragon Tree attains a height of ten feet and a width of two feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? This tree can be considered poisonous, especially for dogs.
Corn Plant (aka Fragrant Dracaena)
This Dracaena plant looks rather like a fancy corn stalk with no ears. The variegated leaves surround a solitary, upright stem. You can create a stunning grouping by planting several together in a larger container.
Although the plant likes to grow tall, you can control the height by cutting it back occasionally. This stimulates it to send out multiple fresh shoots for a fuller, more attractive appearance.
Best Plant Qualities: The yellow and green striped leaves or blades are very attractive.
Scientific Name: Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’
Preferred Conditions: This plant enjoys medium light or bright light settings and a comfortable indoor temperature (60-75 degrees Fahrenheit). Allow the surface of the soil dry out before watering.
Dimensions: This plant can attain a height of ten feet and a width of three feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep pets and toddlers (and especially dogs) away from this plant as it is poisonous when chewed.
Dracaena Janet Craig and Warneckii
These Dracaena varieties come in a variety of colors and “striping”. Some varieties (e.g., Dracaena Janet Craig and Lisa) are solid green. Still others (e.g., Warnecki) sport pretty striped leaves in shades of green and white, gold, cream or even chartreuse. The plants start out as small rosettes; however, as they mature they become develop into attractive upright plants. They’ve long been interior workhorses!
Best Plant Qualities: In addition to the attractive variations in leaf coloration, they also offer versatility in that they can do well in a wide variety of light settings; however, coloration is more brilliant in bright light settings.
Scientific Name: Dracaena deremensis
Preferred Conditions: Dracaena like medium light to bright light settings. They prefer an even temperature of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil surface should be allowed to dry before watering.
Dimensions: Dracaena can attain a height of ten feet and a width of three feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep kids and pets away as this plant can be poisonous, especially to dogs.
The yucca plant (Yucca elephantipes) is a drought tolerant spineless evergreen native to the hot, dry areas of Guatemala and southern Mexico.
Best Plant Qualities: Easy to care for and easy to maintain. Handles temperature changes well, Perfect for a lobby of home entry. Excellent for a “southwest” designed home and landscape.
Scientific Name: Yucca elephantipes
Preferred Conditions: Yucca prefers high light, but with adjusting the watering needs will tolerate “low” light. medium light to bright light settings. Does best in a east, west or south-facing window. Does not like “wet feet.”
Dimensions: Yucca can reach a height of 8 – 10 feet indoors.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep kids and pets away as this plant can be poisonous, especially to dogs and cats.
Best Ficus Trees Indoors
The Fiddle-Leaf Fig
“Pandurata” (another name) earned it so-called “fiddle-leaf” status because it’s lovely, dark green leaves shaped like a violin. This small tree does well in low light; however, if kept in very low light bottom leaves tend to fall off.
If the tree grows too tall, you can prune it back to the height you desire. Alternately, you can start new plants by using the air-layering technique on longer shoots.
Best Plant Qualities: This is a very strikinlg indoor shrub that features big, leathery leaves and attractive shape. The big leaves make it easy to clean!
Scientific Name: Ficus lyrata
Preferred Conditions: The Fiddle-Leaf Fig likes a medium light or bright light setting and a comfortable indoor temperature (65-75 degrees Fahrenheit). The surface of the soil should become dry before watering.
Dimensions: This indoor shrub can grow to be fifteen feet tall and five feet wide.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep kids and pets away from this plant as it is considered poisonous. Wear gloves when pruning as the sticky, white sap is irritating to skin.
Another classic house plant. These old-fashioned plants can grow to great heights in their natural, outdoor environment; however, when kept indoors, it is easy to keep their size under control with regular pruning.
Best Plant Qualities: Rubber Tree is a dramatic plant featuring large, shiny, deep green leaves. These long-lived plants add a definite presence to any setting.
Scientific Name: Ficus elastica
Preferred Conditions: Rubber Tree likes medium light to bright light settings. It prefers a warmer temperature, ranging from 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil surface should be allowed to dry between watering.
Dimensions: The plant may attain an indoor height of eight feet and a width of four feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Wear gloves when pruning your Rubber Tree because the sticky white sap can be very irritating to your skin
Weeping Fig (aka Benjamin Fig, Ficus Tree)
A pretty plant/tree with lots of shiny, dainty green leaves suspended from delicate, pendulous branches. These small trees respond well to manipulation, and braided displays (in which several young trees are intertwined and trained to grow together) are attractive and popular. They are good houseplants but do not like to be disturbed or they drop their leaves!
Best Plant Qualities: When trained as a braided display they make a great addition to an indoor topiary or bonsai collection.
Scientific Name: Ficus benjamina
Preferred Conditions: Benjamin Fig likes to be kept in a setting with bright, indirect light. Temperatures should be between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The plant is subject to shock and should be protected from drafts. It may drop leaves if chilled or moved about, but be patient, the leaves will grow back. Water when the first few inches of soil are dry to the touch.
Dimensions: Ficus can reach an indoor height of four to fifteen feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Weeping Fig has sticky white sap which is poisonous and can cause severe skin irritation.
More Great Houseplant Options
Peace Lilies are very common houseplants and are frequently used in offices and public settings because they are hardy, pretty and easy to care for. These attractive plants display long, smooth green fronds and lovely white flowers.
Best Plant Qualities: In a series of studies, NASA found that the Peace Lily has superior air cleaning qualities. This plant significantly improves air quality by removing carbon monoxide, benzene, and formaldehyde from the air.
Scientific Name: Spathiphyllum – various species and hybrids
Preferred Conditions: These indoor house plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight. They do well in good quality, all-purpose potting soil. They like a warm environment (at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit). Keep soil evenly moist. Fertilize lightly with liquid fertilizer every six weeks.
Dimensions: Smaller Spathiphyllum varieties grow to 12 inches high, but some varieties can grow to be six feet tall.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Peace lilies contain a toxin and irritant known as calcium oxalate. Keep these plants out of the reach of kids and pets.
Chinese Evergreen have gorgeous and interesting foliage. The leaves display mottled markings of gray, silver and green. This compact, low-light shrub makes an excellent ground cover outdoors in protected locations and a nice, miniature potted plant indoors.
Best Plant Qualities: This is a very tough plant and it has exceptionally gorgeous leaves. Because it likes low light settings, it is a perfect choice to brighten up a shady area in your home.
Scientific Name: Aglaonema – various species and hybrids
Preferred Conditions: The Chinese Evergreen likes both low light and medium light settings. It appreciates comfortable room temperatures (60-70 degrees Fahrenheit). You should keep the soil evenly moist.
Dimensions: This plant reaches a height and width of about three feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep pets and toddlers away as this is a poisonous plant that will cause severe mouth and throat irritation if chewed.
Dieffenbachia (aka Dumb Cane)
There are several varieties of this plant grown as houseplants all produces lush, variegated green and white foliage growing from cane-like stems. These plants are attractive individually or grouped together creating a shrub-like effect.
You may also hear this plant referred to as “dumb cane.” This is because the sap of the plant is toxic and causes numbness and swelling of the mouth and throat if chewed and/or swallowed.
Best Plant Qualities: This plant has a very tropical appearance and can really warm up the mood of any room. It is also excellent for patio and deck decoration in the summertime.
Scientific Name: Dieffenbachia spp.
Preferred Conditions: Dieffenbachia like low light settings and medium light settings. They do well at a household temperature of 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be kept evenly moist.
Dimensions: These plants can grow to a height of six feet and a width of three feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep pets and kids away from this plant as all parts are poisonous.
Schefflera (aka Umbrella Tree)
Schefflera (aka Umbrella Tree) sports very glossy foliage that has leaflets radiating from a central spoke, similar to the structure of an umbrella. There is also a dwarf variety (Schefflera arboricola) which has thicker, smaller leaves. Its stems are also shorter. Both varieties are commonly listed under the Brassaia genus.
Best Plant Qualities: The glossy, pretty leaves add a touch of the tropics to any setting.
Scientific Name: Schefflera spp.
Preferred Conditions: Schefflera likes medium light to bright light settings. Preferred temperature range is 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be kept evenly moist.
Dimensions: Full-size Umbrella plants attain a height of 20 feet and a width of 10 feet. The dwarf umbrella plants attain a height of eight feet and a width of six feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep kids and pets away from this poisonous plant. Chewing on or ingesting this plant can cause severe mouth and throat irritation and vomiting.
Peperomia (aka Pepper Elder, Shining Bush Plant or Man-to-Man)
This group of houseplants features very colorful, textured, waxy leaves. For example, the leaves of the Red Edged Peperomia sports a narrow red band surrounded by a cream-colored leaf margin. Some other choices within this group include:
- Watermelon Peperomia
- Silver Leaf Peperomia
- Baby Rubber Plant
- Ripple Peperomia
Best Plant Qualities: This is a compact plant that adds a pop of color to any setting, yet it does not take much space to keep it happy.
Scientific Name: Peperomia spp.
Preferred Conditions: This plant does well in both low light settings and medium light settings. It enjoys a comfortable room temperature (60-75 degrees Fahrenheit). Water when the surface of the soil becomes dry.
Dimensions: Pepper Elder grows to a height and width of one foot.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep pets and toddlers away as this plant is poisonous if chewed or ingested.
A classic houseplant with attractive heart-shaped leaves and does well in a low light setting. This is the plant everyone’s grandma had trailing around the parlor and clambering over bookshelves and curtain rods.
Best Plant Qualities: Its rambunctious climbing habits make it easy to train it to climb a moss pole or a slab of bark to create interesting, upright plant sculpture. There are many other philodendrons for house plant use.
Scientific Name: Philodendron hederaceum oxycardium
Preferred Conditions: Philodendron handles low light settings and bright light settings. They prefer a comfortable indoor temperature of 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface of the soil should be dry before watering.
Dimensions: Climbing or trailing vines can reach a height or length of over eight feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep pets and kids away as this plant is poisonous and can cause severe mouth and throat irritation if chewed.
Golden Pothos (aka Devils Ivy)
The Pothos is sometimes mistaken for heart-leaf philodendron because it does look very similar and has similar growth habits. Pothos differs from philodendron in that it is marked by spots of gold in the leaves. These become more marked in higher light settings.
Best Plant Qualities: This versatile plant can grow in almost any light setting. It is a good choice when kept in a hanging basket, trained up a trellis or allowed to ramble about over bookshelves, mantels and curtain rods.
Scientific Name: Epipremnum aureum – Easy Care Pothos Plant
Preferred Conditions: Pothos is happy in light conditions ranging from low light to bright light. The plant likes a temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be kept slightly dry.
Dimensions: Vines may reach a height or length of eight feet or more.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep kids and pets away as this poisonous plant causes severe mouth and throat irritation if chewed and/or ingested.
Arrowhead Vine (aka Nephthytis)
A common houseplant which – true to its name – has attractive leaves in the shape of an arrowhead. You can build an interesting and eclectic collection of these plants because there are many varieties. Some varieties have solid green foliage, while others have variegated leaves in shades of white, bronze or pink and green.
Best Plant Qualities: Arrowhead vine is extremely versatile because of the many varieties available and the fact that it grows well as a mounding plant, in a hanging basket or as a climber.
Scientific Name: Syngonium podophyllum
Preferred Conditions: This versatile plant is happy in low light to medium light. It prefers temperatures ranging from 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be kept evenly moist.
Dimensions: Nephthytis grows to be about three feet high and wide.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep kids and pets away as this plant is an irritant to the mouth and throat if chewed and/or ingested.
The Croton is a pretty shrub that can do well in a low light setting; however, its beautiful colors only show up in brighter light (grow lights can help). Bright light encourages the leaves to produce more orange, pink and gold tones, and a brightly lit setting naturally shows off those colors to best advantage.
Best Plant Qualities: Croton brings a shot of color to any setting with its handsome, leathery leaves.
Scientific Name: Codiaeum variegatum
Preferred Conditions: Croton appreciates a bright setting and comfortable indoor temperatures ranging from 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil surface should be allowed to dry before watering.
Dimensions: Croton attains a height of four feet and a width of three feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep pets and kids away from this poisonous plant as it can cause illness if ingested.
Crown of Thorns (aka Christ Thorn)
A pretty plant in any season, but when in bloom, it has lovely flowers in shades of red, pink, yellow, cream or white. When it is not blooming, its good-looking gray-green stems add visual interest. The flowers (bracts) appear in the winter, so Christ Thorn makes a lovely alternative to poinsettia for holiday decoration.
Best Plant Qualities: This is an excellent choice for a neglectful gardener. It can withstand quite a bit of abuse. The pretty flowers and many choices in color give you a lot of decorating bang for your buck.
Scientific Name: Euphorbia milii
Preferred Conditions: This plant likes a bright light setting and temperatures ranging from 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit during the spring and summer. Drop the temperature to a steady 55 degrees in winter to encourage abundant flowering.
Dimensions: Crown of Thorns grows to be eighteen inches to two feet high.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? This plant is a member of the spurge family. All parts are toxic when chewed on or ingested. The white, milky sap can be very irritating to sensitive skin.
Originating in Africa the “Saintpaulia” actually isn’t a violet at all, but belongs to the Gesneriaceae family like the Episcia. Overall African violets adapt very well to growing indoors. More on How To Grow African Violets.
Best Plant Qualities: Easy to grow, takes up little space making them perfect for the windowsill. They adapt almost perfectly to indoor life as houseplants and they bloom almost continually. Many flower colors and shapes. Does well in sub-irrigation pots and planters.
Scientific Name: Saintpaulia
Preferred Conditions: African violets will thrive in day temperatures of 70° to 75° temperatures and night temperatures not below 60°. Low humidity can be an issue.
Dimensions: Growing in 4” pots plants can grow to 10-12” diameter.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? African violets are considered non-toxic.
English Ivy (aka European Ivy or Common Ivy)
A hardy, sprawling vine that makes a good ground cover, but it also makes an excellent, carefree houseplant. It is a good choice for a pot or planter set on a shelf or the mantelpiece.
Additionally, it does well in a hanging basket. If you want to be creative, you can train it to grow around wire sculptures to create an endless variety of forms, shapes, and images.
Best Plant Qualities: The leaves are attractive in variegated or dark shades of green. It’s fun to create indoor mini-topiaries by training the ivy into shapes.
Scientific Name: Hedera helix – commonly known as “English Ivy”
Preferred Conditions: Ivy likes medium light to bright light. It is comfortable in a relatively broad range of temperatures (55-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil evenly moist, and occasionally give your plant a thorough shower whenever the top of the soil feels dry. Washing the leaves will help prevent spider mite infestation.
Dimensions: The vines can attain a height or length of over six feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Keep kids and pets away as this houseplant is poisonous if chewed and/or ingested.
Norfolk Island Pine (aka Australian Pine, Norfolk Pine)
This hardy tree needs lots of light and lots of humidity. If kept it in a low light setting, the lower branches are likely to become brown and will eventually fall off. In dry air, the plant is very likely to attract spider mites, which often present a threat to plants grown indoors. When kept in an outdoor setting, a Norfolk Island pine may attain a height of two hundred feet. When kept in a container indoors, it will top out at about ten feet.
Best Plant Qualities: If you want to give a live Christmas gift, look no further. This tree is the natural choice at Christmas time and used as a living Christmas tree for many years to come. During the rest of the year, the lush, soft green boughs enhance the ambiance of any home.
Scientific Name: Araucaria heterophylla
Preferred Conditions: The Norfolk Island pine likes a comfortable indoor temperature (60-75 degrees Fahrenheit) but is hardy at temperatures as low as 25 degrees. Water whenever the soil surface becomes dry.
Dimensions: The plant may grow to be five feet wide and ten feet high.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? This plant is toxic to cats and dogs. Ingestion will cause depression and vomiting.
Columnea (aka Goldfish Plant)
The goldfish plant produces pretty, tubular red and orange blossoms that resemble goldfish. The flowers appear against a backdrop of lovely, deep green foliage in the spring and summer time.
The plant is an excellent choice for a hanging basket with its graceful, trailing branches.
Best Plant Qualities: These pretty, easy-care plants have very few disease or pest problems.
Scientific Name: Columnea gloriosa
Preferred Conditions: Goldfish plant enjoys bright, indirect sunlight. Protect the plant from full sun. They prefer temperatures of 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be allowed to become almost completely dry before watering. Feed lightly during the growing season and not at all during the autumn and winter.
Dimensions: This plant grows in 18-24 inch mounds. It should be kept pinched back to promote blooming and control growth.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? This plant is considered slightly toxic to people and pets. Another plant also called Goldfish Plant (Hypocyrta nummularia ) is not toxic. Be careful not to confuse the two.
Scented Geraniums are happy, hardy plants that are easy to grow on your kitchen counter or in a sunny windowsill. They emit subtle fragrances such as:
…and many more!
To strengthen the fragrance, just give the leaves a pinch. These plants are equally nice for bathroom, kitchen or bedroom.
Best Plant Qualities: Scented geraniums are charming and fragrant. They produce pretty, lightly scented flowers. The leaves and flowers can be used in cooking and in preparing homemade potpourri, personal care and health products.
Scientific Name: Pelargonium
Preferred Conditions: Pelargonium like a bright, sunny setting and warmer temperatures (50 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit); however, they can withstand cooler temperatures and can grow outdoors year-round in frost-free areas. These plants like a light, well-drained soil. Water when the top inch of soil becomes dry.
Dimensions: Dwarf varieties grow to be about five or six inches high. Standard varieties can grow a couple of feet high and wide.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Although these plants can be used in cooking and to make flavorings for human consumption, they are somewhat toxic to cats and dogs.
Boston Fern is a classic choice as a hanging plant or when placed on a pedestal. Although these plants look quite delicate, they are actually long-lived and tough when kept in a medium light setting with ample humidity.
In a setting where a smaller plant is preferred, “Dallas” is an excellent variety to choose. This variety also does well with slightly less humidity.
Best Plant Qualities: Boston Fern is inarguably elegant and lovely in any setting. It is an excellent decorating choice and is especially at home in a country cottage setting.
Scientific Name: Nephrolepis exaltata
Preferred Conditions: Boston fern likes medium light to bright light settings and a temperature ranging from 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be kept evenly moist. Set plants in a pebble tray with water (not touching the bottom of the container) to provide ample humidity.
Dimensions: These plants can attain a height and width of four feet.
Toxic or Non-Toxic? Boston fern and related ferns (i.e., Staghorn and Deer foot) are non-toxic.
How Dangerous Are Potentially Toxic Plants?
For the most part, plants are non-aggressive, so if your children and pets would not tend to molest your plants, you have little to fear. If you have a pet or child who is destructive or a chronic chewer, you should stay away from potentially toxic plants or be certain to keep them in an inaccessible area.
If you have sensitive skin, you might suffer some irritation from contact with the sap of some plants. If you use proper precautions and wash up after handling your plants, the potential for skin irritation is greatly reduced.
We’ve shared lots of plants to use indoors, however, we know a few we would not recommend.
For starters – the Majesty Palm is sold as an indoor palm tree looks great when first placed indoors. From our experience and countless feedback from interior professionals, the palm plant quickly goes downhill. The palm needs, high light to do well and spider mites find them attractive.