Already have an account?
Get back to the

How to Choose The Right Indoor Plant For Your Home

And how to keep it alive. 


It’s time to bring the garden inside and give new life to your interior. These days there is plenty of talk about environmentally friendly ‘green’ homes. But let’s talk about a truly green home — one full of living plants, where the inhabitants can relax and nurture their souls surrounded by natural beauty. 

It’s time to bring back indoor plants. Not the African violets that grow in small pots on your kitchen windowsill, but large indoor plants that create impact.

What is an Indoor Plant?

Technically, there is no such thing as an indoor plant — only a plant that can handle the added stress of growing indoors. After all, indoor living robs plants of most of the elements they need to flourish — rain, fresh air, and sunshine. 

Plants that can survive under a roof usually come from subtropical climates and are accustomed to growing in dappled light conditions. 

The plants we have selected are more likely to withstand fluctuating temperatures between night and day and season to season, low light and frequent drying-out. 

Also bear in mind that indoor plants bought directly from the nursery have usually been reared in a temperature-controlled glasshouse with frequent water and fertilizing. 

For best results, gradually acclimatise plants to your home’s individual conditions. Keep up the water and the feed for the first few months then wean them off all the attention slowly to harden them up, taking care not to neglect them too much.

Top Indoor Plant Tips

  • Plants that can survive under a roof usually come from subtropical climates.
  • Gradually acclimatize plants to your home’s individual conditions.
  • Don’t plant directly into ceramic and terracotta pots as the plant will get cold in winter.
  • Choose shade-tolerant plants for rooms with low light levels. In bright light, go for plants with colored or patterned leaves.
Getty Images

Indoor Plants to Suit Your Style

When you create a garden indoors, think about the plants that will suit your interior style. 

A ‘tropical’ look with teak furniture, strong red highlights and Balinese fabrics can be boosted with unusual foliage shapes and [easy-care plants[(Modern interiors with their clean and simple lines can be jazzed up with textural foliage and sculptural plants such as the Madagascar dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) and lady’s palm. 

On the other hand, the antique cottage look is complemented best with heart-shaped flowers and soft, romantic ferns.

On the other hand, the antique cottage look is complemented best with heart-shaped flowers and soft, romantic ferns.

Indoor Plants to Purify The Air

Just as an outdoor garden creates a sense of peace and belonging, growing plants indoors helps us to relax. Recent studies by Professor Margaret Burchett of the University of Technology Sydney suggest adding a few indoor plants to your home or office filters out toxins from the air that are given off from carpet, furniture, paint, and even cosmetics.

They discovered indoor air is more polluted than outdoor air and just one plant per room can help purify the air. 

This is why we feel more relaxed when surrounded by plants — they help us breathe better air.

Indoor Pots

It is a good idea to choose your pots first, keeping in mind the size, colors, materials, and styles to complement your home. 

They are not cheap, so pots in neutral colours are a good option. Pots in strong colours will date quickly, while neutral pots will work with your interior no matter how many times you change it. 

Next, buy a plant in an appropriately sized plastic pot with drainage holes to slip inside your permanent decorative pots. This way you can move plants around or take them outside for rain and air without lugging those heavy pots. 

Avoid planting directly into ceramic and terracotta pots as the plant will get cold in winter — planting them in plastic pots keeps them insulated.

Plants for Different Light Conditions

A common mistake is choosing a plant for indoors that isn’t suited to the light available in the room. For rooms with low levels of light, choose shade-tolerant plants – those with large dark green leaves photosynthesize better than others, which means they need less light to live.

The Best Low Light Plants

  • Chinese lucky plant (Aglaonema
  • Kentia palm 
  • Cast iron plant (Aspidistra
  • Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
  • Happy plant (Dracaena sanderia
  • Peace lily (Spathyphyllum ‘Sensation’).

In areas with bright light choose plants with colored or patterned leaves, including tropical plants, which usually grow in dappled sun conditions.

The Best Indoor Plants for Partial Light

  • Colorful bromeliads 
  • Prayer plant 
  • Dumb cane 
  • Zebra plant
Getty Images

How to Care for Indoor Plants

You need to nurture your indoor plants just right — not too much and not too little. Watering once or twice a week during spring and summer is essential, and the best way to do this is to buy a small indoor watering can with a small spout. 

During autumn and winter you can reduce the frequency of watering to once every two to three weeks. 

A controlled-release fertilizer in granule form is the easiest way to feed them. Apply a six-monthly granule feed twice a year, in spring and autumn. 

Pick off older leaves to allow new ones to grow and every month add some seaweed solution to the water for optimum health.

Indoor Plant Pests

Stressed plants (that is, plants not watered or fed correctly) will suffer insect attacks.

Common insects for indoor plants include mealybug, a hairy white insect about 3mm long that lives in the lower stems, and in the crook of stems. When few in number, simply pick them off – but control large infestations with a spray of harmless Natrasoap or preferred natural pest control. 

Scale are small insects, white, brown or black, that look like bumps with hard hats on. Affected leaves should be sprayed with PestOil. Sooty mould, which appears as black soot covering the stems or leaves, generally occurs after scale and can be controlled with the same treatment.

How to Keep Your Indoor Plants Alive

  • When re-potting indoor plants, use the best quality potting mix available.
  • Clean leaves by wiping with a solution of milk and water (50:50) to keep the leaves glossy, free of dust, and healthy.
  • Keep an eye on plants placed next to windows during summer, as the strong sun will often burn the leaves of fragile indoor plants.
  • Fiberglass pots are a great choice as they make it easier to move them around when redecorating your home.
  • Brown tips on leaves may mean too much water or too little. Only you will be able to answer that.
  • Don’t leave plants near heaters during winter, as they get too hot and the leaves will burn. Move them to the furthest spot from the heater during this time.
  • Don’t leave pots in saucers full of water for long periods, or the plant will rot away.
  • During holidays, put all indoor plants into the bath in the newspaper and add a few inches of water.
  • Only some plants can tolerate air conditioning. Try large-leafed plants such as the peace lily, Chinese lucky plant, parlor palms, and Philodendron ‘Xanadu’.
  • Add water crystals to the potting mix to help the plant survive long periods without water, such as when you’re on holiday.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.