What makes a good house plant? Of course, the first thing to consider is how the plant will fit and look in the space you have in mind. But for many people, especially those starting out on their plant parenting journey, the main priority is how easy or difficult the plant is to care for.
After all, nobody wants to spend time and money on a gorgeous new indoor plant only to watch it wilt and die a few months later. This is one of the reasons why the most popular house plants tend to be those that don't demand too much attention to thrive.
The most popular indoor plants purify the air from the home while complementing the room, and if they are easy to look after too, they could be just what you're looking for.
Popular House Plants for Your Home
Fake plants may look the part and don't require more maintenance than the occasional dusting. However, they are not a patch on real plants. Live house plants release oxygen into the air, remove toxins from the room, and improve physical and mental health. On top of all that, each one is unique - something you don't get with mass-manufactured fake plants.
Whether you have just decided to grow indoor plants but don't know where to start, or you simply need inspiration for something new to add to your live house plant collection, why not opt for something that's already been tried and tested by plant parents from all walks of life? Find more popular house plants here.
Popular Large House Plants
Large indoor plants are ideal for creating a focal point or filling an awkward corner. They usually stand on the floor, nice and upright in decorative pots, and add interesting texture and greenery to the room.
Swiss Cheese Plant
Elegant and simple to care for, Swiss cheese plants are easily recognizable by their large, glossy heart-shaped leaves. The leaves become more perforated as the plant matures, giving it its distinctive look. These holes in the foliage evolved in the jungles of Central and South America to let light reach the lower leaves.
Swiss cheese plants prefer the soil to dry out between waterings and tolerate most lighting conditions, though keep them out of direct sunlight to prevent scorched leaves. Wipe the foliage now and again to remove dust and promote photosynthesis for healthy growth.
In its native habitat, a Swiss cheese plant can grow up to a whopping 20 m tall, but indoor plants grown in the UK are more likely to reach a (still impressive) maximum height of 4-8m.
The ponytail palm is an easy-care houseplant that tolerates moderate neglect. Although its name would suggest otherwise, these aren't true palms. Rather, they are large succulents that are a close relative of the Yucca plant.
If you're looking for a low-maintenance feature plant that is a little bit different, the ponytail palm is perfect for you. It features a sturdy trunk with a bulbous base that can store moisture, meaning the plant requires minimal watering.
Ponytail palms are native to desert conditions, so they like plenty of bright light and cope well with the dry air caused by central heating. When grown indoors, these beautiful plants can reach up to 1.5m tall at full maturity.
The ZZ plant is medium to slow-growing but can eventually reach 2-3 feet tall. Its shiny green leaves grow from slender tall stems and reflect the light to create an eye-catching focal point.
This is a great plant for new owners due to its tolerance of mild neglect and its forgiving nature. ZZ plants also love to be pot-bound, meaning they don't need to be re-potted very often. They are renowned for their air purifying qualities and remove harmful toxins from the environment.
This house plant will thrive even in low light conditions however, it prefers a bright area with plenty of indirect sunlight. ZZ plants are somewhat drought tolerant and don't need to be watered until the potting soil has dried out. It's always better to under-water a ZZ plant than to over-water it.
Cast Iron Plant
If you want to make a statement in a room then a cast iron plant is the one for you. Its elegant appearance perfectly complements modern homes. While other plants often have a more whimsical look, cast iron plants have a sleek aspect with tall slender stalks and large glossy leaves.
These indoor plants are tolerant of low light and drought, making them really simple to care for. They are perfect for a shady corner of the living room and, although they grow best in indirect light, they will thrive in most light conditions.
Cast iron plants are excellent air purifiers, removing toxins and harmful pollutants from the surrounding area. They prefer to be under-watered than overwatered and will cope with a little neglect.
Popular Small House Plants
Not everyone has space for a big freestanding houseplant. Even if you do, it's always nice to have some smaller bits of greenery dotted around the home. Whether you're looking to brighten up your home office, add some color to the bathroom or make your living space a little more inviting, petite indoor plants are a quick and easy way to add texture and bring a bit of nature inside.
There is a huge range of smaller house plants available to buy, but inevitably, some are more popular than others.
Judging by the number of Google searches, bamboo plants are easily one of the most popular house plants in the UK at the moment. Lucky Bamboo is actually part of the Dracaena family of plants, can grow as high as 2.5 m tall, and is pretty hard to kill. The thick stems resemble those of real bamboo plants and give way to long, narrow, bright green leaves.
As the name would suggest, lucky bamboo is said to bring prosperity in all areas of life, depending on how many stalks you have. For example, 1 stalk represents simplicity, 2 stalks love and marriage, 3 stalks happiness, and 5 stalks the 5 elements of nature.
An arrangement of 4 lucky bamboo stalks is very rare as the Chinese word for 'four' closely resembles the word for 'death'. It is considered very bad form to give someone 4 lucky bamboo stalks - you'd basically be presenting them with a death wish!
However, if you're confident you have the right number of stalks for the sentiment you want to convey, lucky bamboo makes an incredibly classy gift. Not only is it one of the best air-purifying plants, but it is also exceptionally easy to look after.
Lucky bamboo prefers warm temperatures and bright but indirect light conditions. Allow the top 2-3 cm of soil to dry out between waterings and mist occasionally to increase humidity.
Spider plants have been a common sight in UK households for decades and are arguably the most familiar houseplant in the country. Their long, sword-shaped leaves are often variegated and make spider plants ideal for shelves, desks and cabinets.
However, they also look great spilling over hanging baskets and window sills. These versatile plants are easy to care for and make excellent beginner houseplants. Simply place in bright indirect light and water when the top 2-3 cm of soil feels dry.
Unless you're visiting the home of a newbie, it's quite unusual to find a house with just one spider plant in it. This is because they are so easy to propagate that most spider plant parents end up with a house full of them.
Mature plants produce little plantlets or 'babies' on long stems. These can be easily rooted to create more plants, making this the perfect plant for anyone wanting to expand their collection of indoor plants.
The trailing habit of devil's ivy makes it ideal for draping from high shelves or hanging planters. However, it can also be trained to climb - add a moss pole to the plant's pot and watch it grow up instead of down.
This is one of the best indoor plants for low light conditions as it climbs along the forest floor and up tree trunks in its natural environment, perfectly content to live in the shade of tree canopies.
As house plants, devil's ivy is renowned for being almost impossible to kill. It copes well when neglected a little and will bounce back after watering. Keep it out of strong sunlight and water whenever the soil feels dry.
Prayer plants get their name because they close their leaves together in the evenings, like two hands in prayer, before opening them back out in the morning. This quirky habit, along with their stunning patterned foliage, makes them striking house plants for shelves, side tables or hanging planters.
They flourish in bright indirect light and prefer the soil to be kept moist but well drained. It's best to use tepid distilled water or rainwater since prayer plants are sensitive to some of the chemicals found in tap water.
Alternatively, leave tap water out for a couple days so the chemicals can evaporate before using it to water your plant. A weekly misting will be appreciated in rooms with low humidity.
The feathery foliage of asparagus ferns give them a light appearance that is enhanced by the bright green, fern-like arching leaves. Interestingly, these plants are part of the lily family and aren't true ferns at all.
They are native to the forests of southern Africa and, since they are used to growing underneath trees, cope well with most light conditions. A spot in partial shade or indirect sunlight, like a north facing window, is perfect.
Asparagus ferns thrive in humidity and prefer the soil to be kept evenly moist. However, ensure the roots don't rot by ensuring your chosen pot has excellent drainage to let excess water escape. Keep in a humid room, such as the bathroom or kitchen, or mist frequently to maintain high humidity levels.
Succulents have experienced a massive surge in popularity over the past few years. Not only are they low-maintenance plants, but they also have a distinctive look that suits the aesthetic of recent interior design trends, making them quirky accent pieces.
The most popular succulent in UK homes is the snake plant. Also known as 'mother-in-law's tongue' due to its sharp sword-like foliage, these plants largely take care of themselves. In fact, it takes more effort to kill a snake plant than to look after it!
During the growing season, snake plants appreciate a drink every couple of weeks or whenever the soil feels completely dry. Watering can be reduced to monthly in winter. Always water from the top of the pot and let excess water completely drain away before returning the plant to its decorative pot.
Snake plants will happily get on with things in many natural light conditions, but, like most succulents, they prefer bright indirect light. They are slow growers, so they don't need to be re-potted very often. Wait until the roots show through the bottom of the pot and re-pot using a good quality free-draining potting soil.
Known for its healing properties, Aloe vera is a common succulent that makes a striking house plant. It is particularly well suited to bedrooms because it releases oxygen during the night, helping you breathe more easily as you sleep.
The tall fleshy leaves hold water, which means you can go off on holiday or otherwise neglect watering duties without coming back to a wilting plant. Aloe loves natural light but prefers to stay away from direct sunlight, which can easily scorch the leaves. A bright spot in indirect light is perfect.
Mature leaves can be cut off to harvest the healing gel inside. Aloe vera is generally safe for topical use straight from the plant but ensures it doesn't get eaten or swallowed, as it can be mildly toxic. The most common medicinal use for these plants is to soothe mild sunburn on the skin.
These small evergreen sub-shrubs grow like trees and slightly resemble bonsais. Like aloe, jade plants can store moisture in their fleshy foliage and cope well with only occasional watering. Jade plants forgive under-watering more readily than over-watering, so be careful not to leave the plant in overly wet soil.
They are slow growing, so won't outgrow their allocated space too quickly, and are said to bring good fortune to owners. A jade plant is ideal for small spaces. Their cute size and long lifespan make them incredibly popular house plants.
The thick, green, oval or circular leaves are often edged with red in high light levels and can be used to propagate new house plants. Keep in bright indirect sunlight and water sparingly whenever the top layer of soil dries out.
Cacti are the kings of low maintenance house plants and are one of the most popular indoor plants, needing watered much less often than other plants. Cacti come in an array of shapes and sizes and are perfect for filling large or small gaps in your collection.
As succulents, they store moisture in their fleshy foliage, so they can tolerate drought and a forgetful watering schedule. They are perfect for rooms with low humidity, such as the living room or bedroom.
These distinctive indoor plants love to soak up sunlight but this can be topped up with artificial light if required. Rotate your cactus regularly to maintain its shape and prevent it leaning towards the sun.
While some of the aforementioned plants might occasionally bloom the odd flower here and there, some indoor plants will bloom larger and more reliably. These are great for injecting a pop of color to the room and can really brighten up a space.
Dark green foliage and striking waxy flower spathes characterize the flamingo flower. Ornamental leaves grow on slender stems with the heart-shaped flower spathes blooming on tall stalks at the top of the plant. These spathes protect the small clusters of flowers at the center.
Despite their flamboyant appearance, these tropical plants don't demand much maintenance. They prefer the soil to dry out a little between waterings and appreciate being misted once or twice a week. Bright but indirect light helps flamingo flowers flourish but they'll also do well in partial shade.
Another low-maintenance plant making the list is the peace lily. It boasts shiny leaves in rich green and pure white flowers called spathes. Peace lilies grow well in different light levels, making them ideal for relatively dark corners - though the plant will flower more reliably in natural light.
If the leaves turn brown or yellow, you'll know your plant is receiving too much bright light. Weekly watering will keep the soil moist but well-drained. Your plant will tell you if it needs more water by drooping its leaves.
Peace lilies are native to the rainforests of South America, so they thrive in humid areas. The bathroom or kitchen is ideal. If you'd prefer to place your peace lily in a room with low humidity, ensure you mist it regularly to help keep it happy.
With its fragrant flowers and gorgeous dark green foliage, cape jasmine is the ideal plant to give as a gift. The creamy white blooms appear from June to September and will return year after year. As it has a dormant period between flowerings, this plant is one of the trickier ones on this list to look after.
Keep the soil evenly moist, never completely drying out between waterings. These plants can suffer from dehydration, so keep them away from heat sources and mist often to maintain humidity levels.
Keep your cape jasmine plant in a bright spot out of strong sunlight and move it to a cooler room during the autumn and winter months to promote a healthy dormant period.
Moth orchids are the most popular type of orchid grown indoors in the UK. They are beautiful to look at with a luxurious air, yet make remarkably low maintenance house plants. With the right care, a moth orchid will flower up to 3 times per year. The exotic blooms are long lasting and appear on arching spikes.
Place in a spot with plenty of natural bright light, such as a north or east facing window. Don't place these indoor plants in direct sunshine as the leaves and flowers can get scorched and damaged. Water and mist regularly, using rainwater whenever possible.
Wrapping Up Our List of Popular House Plants
Certain house plants become popular for several reasons, and many, like the spider plant, never go out of style. Like with most things, plant trends come and go, and what may be popular now might look dated in years to come.
However, the cyclical nature of trends means you can rest assured they'll come back into vogue at some point - and you'll be ahead of the curve! What are you waiting for? Start growing these popular house plants today!