In this post, we share our 17 favorite potted friends. (And stay tuned for a succulent edition!) Even though we spend most of our time working outside in Austin, Texas on modern landscape design/builds featuring native and adaptive plants, we care about our indoor greenery just as much.
Calathea Ornata var 'ornata
This Calathea Ornata is a tropical plant with bands of color giving way to its common name: Pinstripe plant. Within the family of the prayer plant, it also goes by the nickname "striped" and will fold its leaves at night. This plant originates from South America (Columbia, Venezuela). It loves to be moist, water before the soil starts to dry out. Bright indirect sunlight throughout the day, best when close to a south facing window that has a thin curtain or some shade.
📸Photo credit: smartgardenguide.com
Triostar / Tristar Stromanthe
Also hailing from the prayer plant family, this glossy green and vivid pastel variegated Triostar thrives in indirect light with high humidity and enjoys being misted regularly. Like the above Calathea Ornata, its leaves will naturally fold up at sunset. Stromanthe sanguinea is non-toxic to cats and dogs and is native to the jungles of Brazil.
📸Photo credit: waitrosegarden.com
Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana'
Commonly known as The Corn Plant, this is an easy-to-find, hearty and adaptable, slow growing shrub that is native to Africa. This corn plant can tolerate a wide range of lighting conditions and can withstand bouts of neglect. Beware: this is toxic if ingested by your pets.
📸Photo credit: waitrosegarden.com
Our friend to the right is aptly nicknamed The Elephant Ear plant for its large heart-shaped leaves. This potted plant offers a lush and dramatic effect and can be grown in full sun but generally prefer partial shade. This flowering plant is native to southeastern Asia and India and can get to be evasive in outdoor wetlands with their strong tuber stems. This plant *is* poisonous to your furry housemates.
📸Photo credit: leonandgeorge.com
Rubber Tree Plant
The rubber plant/tree, can grow indoors from 1ft to over 8ft tall. This species is an easy to care for ornamental plant that can grow well in low light conditions but do best in a brightly lit spot, without direct sunlight. Overwatering or cold temperatures adversely impact this shiny fig. If your pets are attracted to plants. keep this one out of reach.
📸Photo credit: piep.co
Fiddle Leaf Fig
Named from the fiddle shape of their broad leaves, these trees can grow 60' to 100' tall in its native western Africa, but 2' to 10' tall as a houseplant. Water deeply, but allow the soil to dry out completely between soaks because the roots will rot if soil stays too wet for too long. They also like part shade, so keep them out of direct sunlight. These cuties are very on trend right now on architectural and interior design shoots (and of course with social media influencers) and can be found as easily as the final section of IKEA. Thankfully, they are very easy to propagate; not from an edible fig (same genus / different plant, Ficus carica), but from a cutting of 6-10" in water.
📸Photo credit: rogersgardens.com
Swiss Cheese Plant
These tropical plant is named for the distinctive holes in the leaves (called fenestration). Note that this common name is often used for other plants with fenestrated leaves like it's relative, Monstera deliciosa. in Central and South America, the vines climb upwards; n a house setting, the vines trail if not supported. Keep out of direct sunlight as they are used to being in the protection of a warm understory. Water when the soil is almost dry; they thrive in humidity.
📸Photo credit: lazada.com
Aerial roots allow these plants to climb trees in jungles of Central America. Keep out of direct sunlight as they thrive in medium indirect light. They can dry out a little more than M. adansonii, so water once soil has dried out, or about every one to two weeks, or more frequently if in sunnier conditions. They prefer humidity but will do fine with typical house conditions. Both monsteras will show freeze damage below 60°F.
📸Photo credit: aliceswonderlandnursery.com
Keeping with the tropical theme, these guys also like part sun and soil that doesn't dry out completely between waterings - but they don't want wet feet. If truly shady, the stalks will grow longer reaching for sunlight; if given indirect light, the stalks will grow shorter; if in direct su, the leaves will burn or discolor. Like the previous plants, they are typically found in humid environments, but they are pretty good at living in dryer conditions.
📸Photo credit: foliacollective.com
Polka Dot Begonia
Begonia maculata var. wightii
Needs bright, indirect light; direct light can burn leaves. It also needs soil that drains well, and for the soil to be mostly dry before watering again. It likes a humid environment. Cut below the node on the stem for propagation. Be cautious with your small humans and pets as this is toxic.
📸Photo credit: smartgardenguide.com
This ivy is next to impossible to kill, hence one of the common names, Devil's Ivy. Their leaves turn yellow and drop off if the soil stays dry for too long, but the great thing is you can shape it by cutting the leaf-less segments and placing them in water. The cuttings roots very easily, and can live in the water alone if not transplanted to soil. Trailing vines can keep growing and growing, so they are great for a high shelf - just remember to water it up there! In its native habitat, it's been known to grow over 60'.
📸Photo credit: Angelica Norton oes.design
Red prayer Plant
Prayer plants have such interesting coloring to their leaves even though they don't bloom, and fold their leaves up like praying hands at night. They are evergreen perennials that crave bright, indirect sunlight. They are finicky because they like a warm, humid environment. They also don't like too much sunlight because brown blotches may appear. A full grown plant grows to around 12" tall with 6" long leaves.
📸Photo credit: oaklandgreeninteriors.com
Fernwood Snake Plant
This architectural little guy is slow growing and a perfect desk plant because it grows up instead of out and stays relatively small. It grows best in moderate to bright, indirect light. Don't give it a lot of water; to avoid root rot, wait for the soil to dry out before watering again.
📸Photo credit: shoppigment.com
Mother-in-Law's Tongue / Snake Plant
Also a good desk plant option since it grows vertically like it's brother, the Fernwood Snake Plant. It's low-maintenance, so overwatering can lead to root rot, so try a well-draining potting mix. Look out for mealybugs and spider mites and keep it away from hot afternoon sun. Hot tip - don't water directly into the center of the rosette. They propagate from leaf cuttings or dividing offsets, so make one for a friend.
📸Photo credit: ikea.com
Tree Schefflera arboricola
The umbrella-shaped leaflets growing from a center stalk probably gives away the common name. Keep it in bright, indirect light in rich, moderately most soil, in a humid space. While it can be grown indoor for most of the year, you should move it outside during the warmer months (or in Texas, reverse that ratio because the warmer months are most of the year) so that it will bloom. The blooms are long red, white, or pink tentacle-like flowers.
📸Photo credit: flowerworksmqt.com
Airplane Plant / Spider Plant
This is fun one because they send out trailing stalks with spiderettes that can be easily propagated once they develop aerial roots. The tuber root system can grow pretty large, but can be divided and split into new pots. They are easy to care for - they will tell you if they're getting too little or too much water with brown leaf tips. Keep in part to full shade and give a medium amount of water.
📸Photo credit: thespruce.com
Tricolor Purple Heart
Tradescantia fluminensis variegata
Purple Heart provides a nice pop of color with the purple accents in the variegated leaves. It wants part to full shade; direct sunlight can burn leaves. Water regularly; keep soil moist but not soggy, and soil can be a well-draining mix. Leaves vary in size, but are generally 3/4" wide and 1 1/2" long. It flowers when grown outdoors but you probably won't see the delicate white flowers if grown as an indoor plant. It can tolerate cold up to 20 °F.
📸Photo credit: shopterrain.com