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18 Living Room Plants to Spruce Up Your Space

The right living room plants can make all the difference in your home. Here’s what you need to know before buying.

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Monstera And Snake Plant on a living room shelfbeeldlab/Getty Images

The perfect plants for your living room

Nature lovers believe living room plants are just as important as furniture and accessories … but they just might be even better! After all, plants are not only decorative—they can also offer some serious health benefits. Research suggests indoor plants could help improve your mood, concentration and even ability to heal, as well as clean the air. But before you start buying plants online, there are a few things you need to consider.

To go beyond a simple potted plant, think about your home’s style, says Erin Harding, co-author of How to Plant a Room and Grow a Happy Home. Do you lean toward a boho-chic look or more of a farmhouse style? Or maybe you’re a linear-loving modernist. When it comes to how to arrange plants, Harding recommends layering plants from floor to ceiling. And along with the plants themselves, your hanging pots, tabletop containers, baskets and stands should reflect your home and your personality.

And that’s not all: You also need to be realistic about your level of expertise, as well as your living room conditions—especially light and humidity levels. Even low-light indoor plants and low-maintenance indoor plants need some sun exposure. If windows are in short supply, a grow light can help as backup. And in homes with four-legged friends and children, look into a plant’s toxicity.

We know—it’s a lot to think about. But we’ve made it easy for you with this comprehensive list of the best living room plants, complete with the pros and cons of each. Find the ones that are right for you, and your home will truly become your oasis.

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Bromeliad

Bromeliaceae

Bromeliads just might be the perfect living room plant: They’re easy to find, nurture and display. A rosette of spiky leaves produces a brightly colored flower stalk that can last for months. But there is a catch: This indoor flowering plant will bloom only once over the course of its life and then expire. However, a happy bromeliad produces babies. Separate that “pup” from the mom, and place in new growing medium for the cycle to continue.

Pros:

  • Easily blooms in fabulous colors
  • Good for beginners
  • Generates new plants called pups

Con:

  • After the bloom fades, the plant will die

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ZZ plant

Zamioculas zamiifolia

The ZZ plant is a tried-and-true favorite for good reason, says Harding: It’s tough to kill. In terms of ZZ plant care, the glossy leaves do well in lower light and with less attention. In fact, you should only water them when the soil is completely dry, though you need to provide good drainage. Just be aware that the ZZ plant is toxic to cats and dogs, so it’s not a good option for pet owners.

Pros:

Cons:

  • Toxic to cats and dogs
  • The roots rot with too much water

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Chinese money plant

Pilea peperomioides

The pilea (aka money plant) is a tabletop favorite with its rounded leaves and easy care requirements. Place it near bright light, but avoid direct sun or it can burn. Also make sure to rotate it every couple of weeks for even growth. Another perk? This plant is super simple to propagate and share; look for the babies sprouting around the primary stem. When it gets a little overgrown, some people place a cutting in damp potting mix to start from scratch. Bonus: Since it’s nontoxic, it’s a perfect gift for households with dogs and cats.

Pros:

  • Good for beginners
  • Symbolizes prosperity
  • Nontoxic

Con:

  • Sometimes gets leggy (tall but with few leaves)

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Snake plant

Dracaena trifasciata

Snake plants (also sometimes called sanseviera) are for newbies and busy folks since you don’t have to water them all that frequently. Think every two to three weeks, and even less frequently in winter. What else do you need to know about snake plant care? Place your plant in low or medium light but skip direct sun. It’s also a great option because there’s a size for every living room: A petite plant looks great on a tabletop, while a taller plant makes a spiky statement from the floor or a plant stand.

Pros:

  • Don’t have to water it frequently
  • Tolerates low light

Cons:

  • The leaves fall over
  • Toxic to people and pets

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Philodendron heartleaf

Philodendron hederaceum

The medium-light-loving philodendron earns its “sweetheart plant” nickname because of its shiny, heart-shaped leaves. Trailing vines can spill from hanging pots, which has the added benefit of keeping toxic leaves away from dogs. Other options include trailing them along a bookshelf or giving them a moss pole to climb. To keep a bushy shape, simply snip tendrils above a leaf node. Philodendron prefer slightly damp soil but can go a little drier in winter.

Pros:

  • Incredibly easy to grow
  • Can climb a moss pole or hang from a basket
  • Roots easily in water for propagating

Con:

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Monstera

Monstera deliciosa

The monstera adds tropical flair to any interior. Sometimes called the Swiss cheese plant, it has large leaves that grow with uneven gaps and holes. Give this tropical grower from southern Mexico some space to spread, and bright, indirect light to thrive. New growth and lace-patterned leaves (think Swiss cheese!) indicate a well-placed plant. Monstera care includes watering when at least the top two inches of potting mix are dry. If you have dogs or cats, consider getting faux monstera fronds, since this houseplant is not pet-friendly.

Pros:

  • Hardy for indoors
  • Fast growing
  • Dramatic space filler

Cons:

  • Toxic to pets
  • Sensitive to overwatering and too much direct sun

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Orchid

Phalaenopsis

When a long flowering plant is needed, the elegant phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, offers the solution. In the tropics, they can nest in trees. On a desk or table near bright, indirect light, they flower for weeks and sometimes months. They love a tighter root environment, but drain them thoroughly after watering to prevent pooling in the container. Also cut the flower stem back to one inch after all the buds on it have faded, to encourage reblooming.

Pro tip: Orchid fertilizing and care can be somewhat specialized, so knowing the requirements of your specific plant is super important.

Pros:

  • One of the easiest orchids to care for
  • Prefers to dry out between waterings (every one to two weeks should work)
  • The ice cube method of watering can work

Con:

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Air plant

Tilladansia

Nothing can live on air alone, but the dusty-looking tilladansia rosette does a pretty good job of looking like it does. As an epiphyte, it receives its nutrients from the air—no soil necessary! You can attach tilladansia to other structures and hang them on walls to add to your living room plants collection for an amazing design element.

Like other low-maintenance plants, the tilladansia needs water. A weekly soaking should work as long as it doesn’t sit in the water afterward. Some prefer misting, so research the type you have. With luck and bright indirect light, watch for blooms.

Pros:

  • Can be displayed on walls and in bookshelves
  • Low-maintenance
  • Small scale

Con:

  • Needs to be removed for weekly bath

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Pothos

Epiprenmum aureum

Pothos are the living room plant solution for corners and walls that lack sunny windows. They have a lovely habit of cascading and can survive in medium to low light. Some offer solid-colored leaves, others have splashes of light. (They may need a little extra light to maintain their striations.)

Try not to leave them too dry for any length of time to avoid brown tips on their leaves. And keep them in hanging pots or on shelves far away from man’s best friend, since pothos are among the plants that are poisonous to dogs.

Pros:

  • Low light
  • Good for beginners
  • Vines climb or drape

Cons:

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Zebra plant

Haworthia

Anyone can keep the adorable striped haworthia in their living room. This engaging succulent is like the Goldilocks solution for new plant lovers. Slow growing, it will survive in a variety of indoor temperatures and in most light. And most environments are just right.

Commonly called the zebra plant, it will signal what it needs. If it’s too sunny, the edges start to grow red. Without enough light, it will start to stretch. Water it every two to three weeks, and enjoy the rosette and cool structure.

Pros:

  • Low-maintenance
  • Fits most decor and container styles

Con:

  • Too much water leads to root rot

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Spider plant

Chlorophytum comosum

In a basket or container, on a shelf or in a living wall, the spider plant can give as much as it receives. With arched variegated leaves and a draping style, it works as decor just about anywhere. Spider plant care includes bright to moderate light, but if you see browned edges, back off from the window. Let plants dry before watering.

Happy plants produce spiderette babies to cherish or share. To propagate, try cutting the baby and “planting” it in a small pot of damp soil. Or leave it attached to the mother while it is trying to root.

Pros:

  • Great hanging plant
  • Easy to propagate
  • Nontoxic for pets

Con:

  • Edges can brown if exposed to too much light

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Wax plant

Hoya carnosa

Say hello to the hoya, one of Harding’s absolute favorite living room plants. Because they can climb or trail, consider giving them a structure like a wire frame or shelf and securing them loosely with florist tape. Harding especially loves them for the intricate, sweet-smelling blooms that burst along the vines and the shiny leaves that pucker when they’re thirsty.

Hoyas offer a great way to use living room plants in a unique way. Just make sure to avoid overly wet soil, and find a bright spot with filtered light to encourage flowering.

Pros:

  • Fragrant flower clusters
  • Tendrils can climb or hang
  • Huge growth potential

Cons:

  • Needs space to tendril and travel
  • Not a fan of artificial light

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Majesty palm

Ravenna rivularis

Sometimes size does matter. The majesty palm can reach 15 feet or more, so it might need some tall ceilings to match! This bright-light lover needs a good six to eight hours but fills an empty corner with greenery with very little effort. Water when the soil is halfway dry, usually no more than weekly and maybe less. You don’t have to worry about it around pets, though chewing should always be discouraged.

Pros:

  • Pet-friendly
  • A gentle giant
  • Easy to care for

Con:

  • Sometimes outgrows your space

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Bird’s nest fern

Asplenium nidus

Need a humidity-loving living room plant? Consider a bird’s nest fern. The leaves have a chunky structure from a central rosette, and emerging growth looks like bird eggs, giving the fern its name. The bird’s nest prefers some moisture in the air but not too much in the soil. Let it dry a bit between waterings, and make it happy with filtered light from a north- or east-facing window.

Pros:

  • Safe for pets
  • Likes humid spaces
  • Slow growing

Cons:

  • Susceptible to common plant pests like scale and fungus gnats
  • The leaves will yellow from excess or trapped water

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Prayer plant

Calathea

To go beyond the green, consider a calathea. Commonly known as the prayer plant for its folding leaves, it comes in a variety of leaf patterns and colors. And because it actually prefers bright, indirect light, this plant can thrive indoors. Once-a-week watering should work, but test to see if the soil is partly dry. Perhaps best of all, calatheas make good canine companions!

Pros:

  • Pet-friendly
  • Lots of leaf patterns and colors
  • Requires less-frequent watering

Cons:

  • Needs higher humidity
  • Prefers to avoid temperature changes from vents and doorways

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Christmas cactus

Schlumbergera truncata

The Christmas cactus is a holiday staple, with gorgeous flowers spilling from its stems. Amazingly, its life can span generations, making it a legacy plant similar to jade. However, getting it to rebloom takes some planning and discipline. The Michigan State University Extension recommends keeping the soil evenly moist and the roots somewhat tight in the pot. To spark the buds, leave the plant for eight days in a cool room where it will get 16 hours of uninterrupted dark followed by eight hours of light. Literally do not turn on the light during its dark cycle. For annual holiday decorating, plan early!

Pros:

  • Amazing flowers
  • Lives a long time
  • Likes a cozy container

Cons:

  • Particular about reblooming
  • Fussy reputation

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Dragon tree

Dracena marginata

Despite its ferocious-sounding common name, the dragon tree plant is pretty drought-tolerant and easygoing. Originally from Madagascar, it boasts sword-like leaves that spill from upright stems with several branches per container. In terms of care, avoid direct sun in favor of medium, indirect light. Place larger versions on a plant stand or in a floor container. Like other common houseplants, be aware that the dragon tree is toxic to dogs and cats.

Pros:

  • Great for beginners with limited time
  • Needs only weekly watering

Cons:

  • Leaves can fry in direct sun
  • Sensitive to fluoride in some tap water
  • Not pet-friendly

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Begonia

Begonia rex

What’s old is new again with the begonia rex. These foliage-centric keepsakes are completely different from the bedding plants that line driveways in summer. The frilled and multicolored leaves (some are curled like snail shells!) have newfound appeal to maximalists and grandmillennials. The quintessential throwback houseplant, it will thrive with fast-draining soil, warmer air and indirect light. Begonias also appreciate a more humid environment, but avoid misting the leaves.

Pros:

  • Moderate to indirect bright light
  • Works well with grow lights
  • Produces fabulous foliage

Cons:

  • Susceptible to powdery mildew
  • Doesn’t live as long as other houseplants (two to three years)

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