7 best indoor house plants to spruce up your living space

Sarah Young
·12-min read
<p>They can absorb pollutants in the air, and even reduce both physiological and psychological stress</p> (iStock/The Independent )

They can absorb pollutants in the air, and even reduce both physiological and psychological stress

(iStock/The Independent )

Over the last year, our homes have played a pivotal part in our lives, transforming into spaces where we not only rest our weary heads but also work, play, exercise and even educate our children.

From investing in WFH essentials to giving our walls a fresh lick of paint, spending more time indoors has forced many of us to reevaluate our living spaces. While there are a few things that can take your home to the next level – be it a bookshelf or bar cart – there’s one simple home addition that makes a significant difference to both your aesthetics and physical and mental health: plants.

Besides looking really cool and giving gardenless dwellers a chance to flex their green thumbs, there are many reasons to adopt house plants. Some simply provide interest, others have the ability to purify the air and absorb pollutants, and can even help boost your mood and improve anxiety.

In fact, one 2015 study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that interacting with indoor plants can reduce both physiological and psychological stress.

But let’s be honest – most of us aren’t plant experts, and have no idea where to start when it comes to choosing the right one or knowing how to properly care for them.

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If you fall into this category, fear not, because it’s easier than you think to own your own collection of handsome green leaves.

The thing to remember when it comes to plants is that they were not all born equal – they come in a huge variety of forms, from large-leaved jungle plants to tiny succulents, which all have slightly different needs.

So, the first thing you need to do is consider the type of environment a plant needs to flourish, and whether you can provide it with those conditions in your home. After all, there’s no point in buying a sun-loving snake plant if you have only dark rooms to offer.

Next, you need to perfect your watering routine and, while it’s important to actually remember to do it, you should also note that doing so every day could be just as detrimental as not watering it at all. As a rule of thumb, the best way to know when your plant is thirsty is to put your fingers in the soil – if the soil is dry, then your plant needs watering.

Whether you want to become a fully-fledged indoor jungle-cultivator or are simply looking for something to brighten up your desk, we’ve rounded up a selection of the best houseplants to buy online, taking careful consideration of each plants benefits, toxicity levels to children and pets and diva credentials.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Patch big ken

Best for: High impact, low maintenance

Air purifying: Yes

Pet/baby safe: Yes

Care: Medium light and weekly watering

Otherwise known as a kentia palm or howea forsteriana, this striking plant is a brilliant all-rounder that promises to make a huge impact on any room in your home. Easy to care for, with impressive fresh green leaves that fan out, it can tolerate most conditions but will be happiest in a position that gets lots of indirect sunlight.

When it comes to watering, kentia palms only need a drink when the soil is dry to the touch, which tends to be around once a week. However, it also appreciates humid environments, so if you want to keep its leaves looking healthy it’s worth giving them a mist a couple of times a week.

While it has simple needs, this plant should be at the top of anyone’s wishlist who is looking to create their own indoor jungle, but beware, while it is a slow grower that can take decades to peak, it can reach a maximum height of 10 metres. But this plant has more than just good looks to offer, as it’s great for improving air quality by removing toxins such as formaldehyde, ammonia and carbon monoxide from the air.

Kentia palms also have quite the claim to fame as they are known to be a royal favorite. The Victorians embraced the plant as an exotic status symbol, with Queen Victoria herself known to be a big fan, insisting the plant was placed around her coffin when she died. Need further convincing? They were also used for decoration on the Titanic.

Buy now £50.00, Patchplants.com

Bloombox Club snake plant laurentii

Best for: Air quality

Air purifying: Yes

Pet/baby safe: No

Care: Most light conditions and light watering

This plant has an impressive list of nicknames, including “viper’s bowstring”, “tiger’s tail” and “mother-in-law’s tongue”, owing to its spiky green and yellow stems. But whatever you call it we’re certain that you’ll love it.

Notoriously hard to kill, the snake plant is super-tough and doesn’t need much watering, making it a great option for new plant parents. It will thrive in most light conditions, though you should avoid placing it in windowless rooms or in direct sunlight for more than four hours, as you’ll run the risk of its leaves drying up. The snake plant also doesn’t need much water – simply give it a drink when the soil feels dry, which is usually two to three weeks, and even less in winter.

Aside from its hardiness, what makes this plant so great is that it has a NASA-approved magic power. One of the best purifiers, it absorbs harmful toxins from the air and releases lots of oxygen at night, which is said to help you drift off to sleep and lessen the impact of airborne allergens like dust. To make the most of its toxin-fighting abilities, keep your plant free of dust by giving its textured waxy leaves a wipe every now and then.

Buy now £21.80, Bloomboxclub.com

Crocus Chinese money plant

Best for: Beginners

Air purifying: Yes

Pet/baby safe: No

Care: Most light conditions and light watering

If you’re worried about the responsibilities of becoming a plant parent, we recommend picking up a succulent as a starter. While they are available in a variety of colours, shapes and textures, our succulent of choice is the Chinese money plant (pilea peperomioides).

It has perfectly rounded, coin-shaped leaves on long, thin stems, making it a great decorative addition to any home. It’s also said that this plant can bring good luck and good fortune to its owner – though we’ve yet to reap said fringe benefits.

Incredibly low maintenance, the Chinese money plant is designed to make your life easier. Its thick, fleshy leaves retain water better than others, meaning even the most forgetful among us will be able to keep it alive – just make sure not to neglect it completely by giving it a drink whenever the soil feels dry.

The house plant also loves being in a bright spot, and while it can tolerate partial shade, it will grow towards light, so if you want it to develop evenly it’s worth rotating the pot every few days. It will also thank you for a monthly feed with half-diluted liquid fertiliser in the warmer months.

Buy now £14.99, Crocus.co.uk

Beards and Daisies bromelia guzmania

Best for: Long-lasting flowers

Air purifying: Yes

Pet/baby safe: Yes

Care: Indirect, bright light and regular misting

If you’re considering adding a plant to your home, you don’t have to stick solely to green vines. For an instant dose of zest and colour to an otherwise dull interiorscape, we recommend investing in a bromelia guzmania, which is known for its distinctive and bright pink rosette shaped flower head and striking blade like foliage.

The blooms can last for up to six months at a time, and once fully grown it should reach around 75cm tall, making it a real statement plant that’s guaranteed to bring some joy into your home. Our spot of choice? A sunny entranceway that suits its love of indirect, bright light.

While bromeliads are low-maintenance, one of the biggest mistakes made with this plant is over-watering, which leads to rotting roots. During warmer weather, you should ensure the soil is kept moist but not soggy, and in the cooler months allow the soil to dry out slightly between waters. It should also be watered by pouring into the central rosette and enjoys humidity, so will benefit from regular misting.

Noticing some curled or brown leaves? Fear not, Beards and Daisies founder Jo Lambell says that while this is likely to be the result of too little water and too much full sunlight, if you adjust accordingly then your plant should recover.

Buy now £19.99, Beardsanddaisies.co.uk

Patch Plants Venus

Best for: Bathrooms

Air purifying: Yes

Pet/baby safe: Yes

Care: Soft light and moist air

It might seem like a strange place to keep your plants, but some varieties actually thrive in these spaces due to the higher humidity levels, which help them live their best lives. Not to mention it also helps create your own personal oasis.

A maidenhair fern is a great choice if you’re looking for a bathroom plant, as they love moist conditions. Featuring black stalks with triangular fronds that are made up of lots of segments to create a soft, lacy effect, the plant is an elegant choice that looks great in a hanging pots, but it can be quite demanding. This species is very particular about its growing conditions: it thrives on moisture and needs a lot to survive, so you need to check it frequently and give it a good water as soon as the top inch of soil is dry.

If you can’t keep it in your bathroom, the plant will also require misting every other day but, whatever you do, don’t handle it too much, as this can cause the leaves to turn brown in protest. While it’s not the most difficult plant to care for, it needs daily attention, so because of its higher demands, we think maidenhair fearns are better suited to more experienced plant parents.

Buy now £10.00, Patchplants.com

Canopy Plants ceropeegia woodii

Best for: Bookshelves

Air purifying: Yes

Pet/baby safe: Yes

Care: Medium light and moderate watering

While bookshelves serve as practical storage, they’re also the perfect platform for showcasing plants that cascade out of their pots. One of our favourites is the ceropeegia woodii – also known as the “string of hearts” – which grows pretty heart-shaped leaves on long vines, hence the name.

Ready to take pride of place in your home office, this plant already comes with long vines, measuring approximately 25cm but, if it’s given conditions it loves, they can grow as long as two metres in length. If you notice leafless stems getting too long though, don’t be afraid to prune them with a pair of clean secateurs.

Speaking of its favourite conditions, the string of hearts is low maintenance. It doesn’t like to be soggy, so water sparingly and allow the soil to dry out between drinks. It’s also pretty easy going when it comes to lighting and, while it prefers bright, indirect light, it will still do well in moderate shade. If you want to give your plant a boost though, you can help it grow by giving it a feed with liquid fertiliser once per month in spring and summer. The “string of hearts” will be back in stock 14 June.

Buy now £16.00, Canopyplants.co.uk

Beards and Daisies musa dwarf cavendish banana

Best for: Stylish homes

Air purifying: Yes

Pet/baby safe: Yes

Care: Bright light and regular misting

The Musa dwarf cavendish banana is the poster boy of millennial-beloved plants, and it’s not hard to see why. Named after William Cavendish, the sixth Duke of Devonshire, this particular species doesn’t grow very tall, maxing out at around three metres, but its leaves are pretty large, making it a good one for homes with lots of space.

Ideal if you’re looking to make a real statement, its leaves feature unique blotches that gradually disappear as it matures, and it will reward you with lots of new shoots during its growing phase. A word of warning though, this plant is kind of high maintenance.

It prefers to be in a warm spot with bright, indirect light and likes its soil to stay slightly moist, so requires regular watering. Plus, its leaves are extremely fragile, so it is rare to find them without any imperfections. Don’t let that put you off though, you just need to remind the plant of its jungle home by misting it regularly to stop the leaves from tearing. It’s also worth noting that, despite its name, this banana plant won’t fruit.

Buy now £19.99, Beardsanddaisies.co.uk

The verdict: Indoor plants

For a plant that’s truly got it all, we highly recommend investing in a kentia palm from Patch Plants. Not only does it look seriously cool, but it’s air-purifying, pet-safe and can tolerate some neglect, making it a low maintenance and trouble-free choice for experts and novices alike. Ours sits pride of place in the corner of the dining room, making it instantly feel more sophisticated and welcoming.

If you’re after something a little more understated though, Canopy Plants’ ceropeegia woodii or “string of hearts” is a must-have trailing plant. Care-free and fast-growing, it cascades beautifully over the edge of our bookshelf and has certainly spruced up our working from home space.

To be the best plant parent you can be, read our guide to bringing the outdoors in, according to experts