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12 Indoor Plants Perfect for Small Spaces

Don't let a cramped apartment or tiny home keeping you from enjoying some indoor greenery.

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Plants for any size spacevia wayfair.com (2), via bloomscape.com

Plants for any size space

The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced lots of people to the joys of gardening. But with winter and colder weather approaching in many regions, now’s the time to start using your newly-discovered green thumb in caring for indoor flora. Don’t worry if you think your living conditions are too dark—they aren’t—or too tiny. Even if you occupy a minuscule apartment, there are plants and creative planting strategies that let you surround yourself with all sorts of growing things. They not only cheer up a space, but they also help you unwind until you can get back out in the dirt in spring (and no, they don’t filter the air unless you’re really packing the plants in). Here we list some of the most beautiful and interesting plant choices to make the most of what space you do have available. If lack of sunlight is your problem, start with these best low-light houseplants.

Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.

Kitchen herbsvia bloomscape.com

Kitchen herbs

$65.00

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No matter what sort of dwelling you call home, chances are pretty high that even if it’s lacking in floor space, it’s at least got windowsills. Almost any windowsill makes for a great planting site; a windowsill in a kitchen grants you the perfect opportunity to get a little herb garden going. What you can grow there depends on how much light you have. But from parsley to basil, thyme to sage, there’s an herb or two that’s guaranteed to thrive in little pots or even a rectangular planter, helping you to liven up the room—and your meals. We love this Bloomscape Savory Herbs Collection. These are the 10 best herbs for a home garden.

Snake plant (Sansevierias)via bloomscape.com

Snake plant (Sansevierias)

$65.00

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With its upright, two-tone, and sword-shaped leaves, the snake plant is not only great for small spaces; it’s also a terrific starter plant for those unsure of their indoor gardening skills. That’s because this long-lived, perennial succulent can tolerate a range of light conditions, and actually prefers to be scantly watered. That makes it hard to kill and perfect for those who travel a lot or tend to forget about their plants. And, since it grows at a moderate clip, a small starter plant is not likely to bust out of your allotted space anytime soon. This Bloomscape Sansevieria Moonshine comes in a recycled plastic pot. These are the 13 houseplants anyone can grow.

Baby tears (Soleirolia soleirolii )via houzz.com

Baby tears (Soleirolia soleirolii )

$20.00

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One of the most adorable plants on the market, baby tears live up to their name, with tiny, bright leaves that embody the very essence of springtime. A tropical perennial that’s actually part of the hardy nettle family, baby tears also give you flexible planting options, allowing you to conform their needs to your space. You can plant them in a wide-mouthed container for a flat, mossy sort of look like the ones shown here from Houzz; use them in a glass terrarium, or tuck their roots into a hanging planter—using vertical space instead of horizontal. If you’re a pet owner, you’ll want to make sure the plant you’ve picked isn’t toxic.

String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)via wayfair.com

String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

$43.99

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Yet another great plant for sticking into a hanging basket, string of pearls has a lot of features to recommend it to small spaces. Its slender tendrils dotted with adorable pea-shaped “pearls” grow down the side of a planter, dripping greenery into any room. It can be easily propagated; that means if you do well taking care of one plant and want to make more of it, you can snip off a piece, and root it in water before planting this new clipping. As a succulent, it prefers low water but high light, so make sure you’ve got the right spot to hang it in before committing.

microplants, or succulentsvia wayfair.com

Microplants

$24.99

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Yes, it sounds obvious, but you might not be aware that there are a lot of plants that are grown purposefully on a super-small scale and can be cared for in order to stay that way. A lot of these are, like string of pearls, succulents, and/or cacti. Think: jade plants (Crassula ovata); hens and chicks (Sempervivum); Haworthia; Echeveria; and the list goes on and on. No two look exactly alike—some have soft features, others spiky. So if you’ve got a sunny windowsill, you can try your hand at a few at a time, like this mixed succulent collection from Wayfair. Some shops even offer starter assortment packs, which you can replant in whimsical ways.

Air plants (Tillandsia)via wayfair.com

Air plants (Tillandsia)

$28.99

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In a similar vein are air plants—bromeliads that are quite small, vary in their looks, and can be purchased individually or in groupings. The difference between these and succulents? They don’t require planting in soil; these amazing organisms get all the nutrients they need directly from the air through their leaves, rather than their roots, hence their name. This means you can place them literally anywhere they can get enough light: in a shallow dish on a tabletop or in a glass terrarium affixed to the wall, for example. Watering means weekly soaking and allowing plants to dry thoroughly before placing them back in whatever vessel you house them in. Our pick is this 4-piece set of succulents.

ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)via wayfair.com

ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

$47.99

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This dark-leafed beauty with a rhizomatous root system, also known as the Zanzibar gem, is another species that thrives on neglect and is therefore highly suited to beginner plant enthusiasts. It likes conditions dry, it will tolerate a range of light conditions (although very low light will stunt its growth and impact its health), and, since it can be propagated from a single clipping, one or more of these can occupy even the smallest surface in your home. With its upright leaves, it’s also suited to narrow spots, especially when planted in a small planter like this one from Wayfair.

Silver Queen (Aglaonema 'Silver Queen')via wayfair.com

Silver Queen (Aglaonema ‘Silver Queen’)

$58.99

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With its silver-white variegated leaves, Silver Queen can be grown small—really small; think a little 4-inch pot—and will thank you if you place it in a dark-ish corner somewhere, where other houseplants just won’t thrive. This just adds to its versatility as a low-water, cold-tolerant plant. It is susceptible to mealybug infestations, though, so make sure to do a thorough inspection of any plant you bring home before placing it next to others. This one from Wayfair comes in a chic black ceramic planter.

Ferns (Tracheophyta)via bloomscape.com

Ferns (Tracheophyta)

$35.00

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Got a window—even a teeny-tiny window—in your bathroom? This high-humidity room could be just right for a small fern (or several). These thin-leafed plants actually require humidity in order to thrive and do especially well in a peat moss-based mix. And, with 20,000 types of fern out there in the world at large, you’ll have plenty of varieties to choose from to enliven your showery oasis. This bird’s nest fern comes in a pot of your choice of four colors.

Mosses (Bryophyta)via plants4home.com

Mosses (Bryophyta)

$29.99

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These denizens of cool, damp forests can do very well in the right conditions inside your home, too. The advantage: they take up only as much space as you decide to give them, creating a low-lying velvety plateau. Although there are thousands of species of moss to choose from, you can’t go wrong with pretty white-flowering variety Scotch moss (Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’), whose care requires a not-too-hot, not-too-sunny spot and occasional misting to keep it healthy and happy.

African violet (Saintpaulia)via walmart.com

African violet (Saintpaulia)

$5.99

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If you can manage to get African violet care just right—it prefers indirect light and has very finicky feelings about how much water is the right amount—one of these fuzzy leaved plants will reward you with almost perpetual sprays of purple or white flowers. That means even the smallest of these tropical plants can give you a bright, festive eyeful all the dreary winter long.

Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)via wayfair.com

Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula)

$23.99

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Not content with ordinary flora fare and want to have a plant that’s more of a science experiment or talking point on family Zoom meetings? Then the Venus flytrap and other carnivorous plants—pitcher plants, butterworts, sundews—might be just what the plant doctor ordered. Many of these natives of bogs and other very wet spots grow extremely small. Their care, though, is highly specific so make sure you do your homework and are up to the task. Carnivorous plants like their habitat wet, free of minerals, and high on humidity and light. Well taken care of, they’ll reward you by trapping any insects that land on them. This kit from Wayfair includes the terrarium. Find out how to revive a dead houseplant.

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Lela Nargi
Lela Nargi is a veteran journalist covering science, sustainability, climate, and agriculture for Readers Digest, Washington Post, Sierra, NPR, The Counter, JSTOR Daily, and many other outlets. She also writes about science for kids. You can follow her on Twitter @LelaNargi.