Many people have gardens and grow all kinds of plants outside, whether or not there is a garden in their yard, and many have indoor plants, which are good for the air quality in the house. But some people find that it is more difficult to keep a plant alive inside the house, since the plants have less access to the sunshine and they must be watered regularly.
However, there are some plants that are naturally hardier and therefore easier to keep alive, even for people who tend to have a “black thumb” when it comes to plant life. Some of them need less light, or less water, or both. The key is knowing what plant it is that you have and treating it accordingly.
Plants for Looks
These plants are to look at, or to aid in air quality, but are not edible. Some of them may be harmful if pets or children decide to taste, so be sure to verify safety if you have either or both in your home.
Abutilon (Flowering Maple)
Similar to a hibiscus, this plant blooms bell-shaped flowers that come in a variety of colors. It does well inside, but it can be set outside in the summer for fresh air and sunshine, as well.
Air plants need only light and air. They might need to be spritzed occasionally if your house interior tends to be very dry, but mostly they will just thrive wherever they are.
While aloe vera is not generally considered an edible plant, it can be ingested, and it is also very good for use on burns and such. At the same time, it is a hardy plant that needs very little attention to continue to grow and thrive.
These are resilient little plants that prefer shade and humidity, making them a great choice to add beauty and air quality to a bathroom.
The foliage of the begonia is beautiful and it does best in indirect light. These plants do not like extreme temperatures, so are excellent for indoors where the climate is controlled.
Grown in pots, this deciduous plant can thrive in any type of lighting or soil quality with minimal attention. While many may use it as a hedge or divider in a yard, it is equally delightful inside the house.
These beautiful plants just need a bit of water occasionally – but not too much. They tolerate drought better than overwatering. They also are happy in indoor light and should not be in direct sunlight. The vibrant colors look beautiful in any room.
The ultimate low maintenance plant, cactus varieties of all types look nice as decorations inside the house. Just keep them far enough from walkways that you will not brush by it and get stickers!
The mix of red, white, and green on the leaves of these plants combine to make a very pretty design. They may be reminiscent of Christmastime for some people and they grow from bulbs.
Striped house plants that have large leaves and add bright pops of green and silver to any part of the house, these tropical plants tend to stay under two feet tall at the most.
Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra)
This tough plant loves shade and enjoys all levels of humidity including very dry. Heat does not bother this plant. Always green, this plant does very well in pots and needs infrequent watering once root system is firmly established.
Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
This low maintenance plant does well in dim light and only needs a bit of water when the soil feels dry. It is a smaller plant so is good for apartments or dorms or wherever you need something to fill small spaces.
These beautiful plants come in a variety of bright colors and make a statement in any location. It may be a little fiddly to get them started, but once they are established, they are low maintenance plants.
This plant is a great air filter and requires little care. In a large pot, it will grow tall. It prefers cooler temperatures and indirect light.
This spiky-leaved plant is very easy to grow and does well in low light. The soil needs to be just moist, but it is hardy enough to survive a bit of dryness occasionally.
Elephant’s Foot (Ponytail Palm)
Both names given to this plant are descriptive. Elephant’s Foot describes the base of the plant, which stores water, while Ponytail Palm refers to the thin leaves which are reminiscent of hair. This one does well in bright light, including sunlight, so it might do best by a window. It is very good at improving air quality.
This ivy is hardy and looks beautiful in a kitchen. Remember that ivy will spread and climb, so you will want to have it where it can easily catch on to things, or you may want to get a frame for it to cover. It is also possible to keep it trimmed, if you desire.
Fiddle Leaf Fig
A type of ficus (Ficus lyrate), the fiddle-leaf fig comes from western Africa. It prefers warm air, bright light, and moist soil. It grows well indoors and tends to stay smaller when potted than when it is outside. However, frost is bad for it, so be sure it is indoors if the temperature outside will be near or below freezing.
Fuchsia is a pretty flower with bell flowers, usually red, pink, or purple. In a pot, these will grow into a pretty houseplant. These can also be planted in a garden and will get somewhat larger there. When outside, these plants attract butterflies, but they are still quite delightful indoors.
Geraniums bloom bright red which contrasts with the deep green leaves, making them a happy choice for bringing cheer indoors. Their beautiful display is easy to maintain by setting the plant in a window and watering occasionally.
Another plant that does a great job clearing the air, the golden pothos is a vine that is very low maintenance. It is difficult to kill, even for those who normally are not good at keeping plants alive. It is excellent for a kitchen or bathroom, as it will remove odors.
These durable tropical plants can grow to be large trees or can be kept smaller in a container. They take well to pruning and do not require much maintenance. The flowers are delightful and some varieties can be made into a beneficial tea.
This tropical succulent has waxy leaves and only needs water if the soil gets dry. The tricolor version is green, white, and pink. It prefers a humid environment, so it is a good choice for a bathroom.
Inch Plant (Tradescantia zebrina, Wandering Jew, Purple Heart)
The inch plant has long vines naturally but can be trimmed to fit in a pot. It does best in a hanging pot so the vines can drip over the sides. Its purple striped leaves are striking and add a touch of exoticness to the home.
The jade plant does best in a window where it can get sunshine but needs watering infrequently. The edges of the leaves are tinged magenta, which adds interest to this easy to maintain plant.
Kalanchoe (Mother of Thousands)
This succulent is a form of cactus that has an edging reminiscent of a sombrero, and is sometimes called “Mexican hat” because of that.
Lucky Bamboo is also known as Chinese bamboo and is easy to care for. Add clean water (preferably distilled or water that has set out for 24 hours) to keep it healthy. It is happy in lower light and artificial light.
Money Plant (Pancake Plant, UFO Plant)
The money plant has wide leaves. It likes average temperatures, and not extreme temperatures, but otherwise is very easy to maintain, as long as you do not let it get soggy and keep it in bright, indirect light.
Also used as an evergreen ground cover, myrtle loves shade and has blue flowers. It will add a pretty pop of color inside the house.
This ivy that has leaves very similar to an oak tree will look pretty in a hanging basket or in a pot on a shelf. It does well in bright, indirect light but can do well in dim light, as well. Water occasionally and trim if desired.
Another excellent plant for improving air quality, the peace lily has elegant white flowers and blossoms even in medium light. Many air contaminants are filtered out through this plant, including formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, carbon monoxide, ammonia, and xylene.
There are many varieties of philodendron to use inside your home. These plants do not want full sun, but any other light level works fine. Moist soil keeps them happy. These are great on a shelf or in a hanging pot.
Shamrocks enjoy a sunny window but will also do well in shade. They are very low maintenance. They come in purple with pink flowers or green with white flowers.
Snake Plant (Mother-in-law’s Tongue)
This hardy house plant is easy to grow and hard to kill. It does fine in any light level and needs infrequent watering. These are good for air quality.
The spider plant does well in any level of light and likes damp soil that is well drained. It is good in a hanging basket or in pretty much any other type of container. It likes average house temperatures.
Staghorn ferns need no soil and can even be mounted vertically. If your house is particularly dry, it may need to be spritzed occasionally. It likes bright light, but prefers it to be indirect.
Umbrella Tree (Schefflera)
This houseplant has glossy green leaves. A small, house-sized tree, the top tends to shape itself like an umbrella, which is why it has that name. It works well as a bonsai type tree.
The striped leaves on the zebra plant are striking. It is easy to grow and grows slowly, making it an excellent house plant.
ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
The ZZ plant is such an easy plant to grow indoors. It tolerates drought and needs very little maintenance. Any light conditions suit it and it needs to be watered only occasionally. Its shiny leaves go with any type of décor.
Plants for Food
Plants we eat that also can be grown indoors are a great idea! They add to the ambience of your home and can also be used in the kitchen. Even if you have no yard or limited time for gardening, fresh vegetables and herbs can still be available for your family.
A spicy leaf lettuce, arugula has edible flowers that go well in salads and stir fries. It is excellent in a salad and easy to grow.
A versatile herb, basil is very easy to grow in a pot and goes well with all types of dishes. It is also a beautiful green plant that looks great on a shelf in the kitchen.
Bay Laurel (Bay Leaf)
Why buy dried bay leaf when you can grow a bay laurel in your kitchen? This pretty tree can sit pleasantly in the corner of the kitchen and provide bay leaves for your soups and stews whenever you need them.
Carrots grown indoors will not grow as large as those grown in a garden outside, but they will grow. Small carrots are fun to put into dishes and taste just as good as their larger counterparts. The leafy tops will look great on the windowsill.
Spicy onion flavor and edible purple flowers make chives a great kitchen plant. Use scissors to clip off bits to add to dishes and keep the main part of the plant. It will continue growing all year round indoors!
An herb known most for its use in Mexican cuisine, this will grow well indoors in a kitchen herb garden. Fresh herbs add much better flavor to your dishes than dried. Cilantro is also known as coriander.
Some garlic grows slowly, but the end result is worth it.
Alternately, there is Society Garlic which, ironically, is also a good air purifier. Its leaves and flowers have a milder garlic taste that can be used in dishes as well.
Ginger is good for flavor and for health. The leaves can be used in dishes when chopped very small, but of course the root is the main part of the plant that is usually used.
Though they will need a larger pot and a frame or stick of some kind to help hold the plant upright, heirloom tomatoes are a good option to grow in the kitchen. Fresh tomatoes can then be enjoyed all year round!
The variety of hot peppers available are all possibilities for potted plants. Growing these peppers in the kitchen make them convenient to pluck and add to food.
This dwarf tree grows edible leaves and fruits, which can be used in cooking and baking. It grows well in a pot and adds a nice decorating element to the home at the same time.
Grow kale fully or use the microgreens in recipes and salads. The microgreens will grow great in trays on the counter or windowsill.
Lemon balm grows quickly and is a citrusy tasting herb. It makes a good tea and adds flavor to salads and dinner recipes.
Lemongrass naturally repels mosquitoes, deer, and snakes and is also an herb that goes deliciously in many dishes. It also has a variety of medicinal uses.
A pretty little citrus tree that provides fruit, the Meyer lemon tree grows nicely indoors and is easy to maintain.
Lettuce grows annually, but when you grow it indoors, you can start several pots a week or so apart to have a rotating crop available. They look pretty in the kitchen and it is convenient to have them growing where you can easily add them to the plate.
Mint is a pretty green plant that is great for tea, garnish, salad, jelly, and desserts. Easy to grow, the pleasant scent is great to have in the kitchen.
Savory and flavorful, oregano grown in the kitchen is convenient and aromatic. It has the best flavor when it is allowed to just grow itself, so it needs very little maintenance.
An easy plant to grow, parsley is a great garnish and seasoning that looks great in the kitchen. It will continue to grow as you snip off a few leaves here and there to use in cooking.
An evergreen savory herb, rosemary grows like a small shrub. Its flavor is great in cooking and its flowers are a pop of blue color.
An easy to grow, velvety-leaved herb, sage has blue flowers that look beautiful. A sage plant in the kitchen will add a delightful scent to the air and will be convenient for cooking, especially poultry dishes.
Tall hardy green onions are great for snipping and adding to dishes for flavor. They grow to about 18” tall and, like lettuce, they can be planted in a rotating schedule to allow for the longest harvest time, and may grow well all year round indoors.
Spinach is a delicious and nutritious green leafy vegetable and growing it in the kitchen is an excellent plan. This, too, can be grown in a series, allowing for spinach to be available for many meals throughout the year.
Strong aromatic herb, this evergreen will add a pleasant scent to the kitchen and a pleasant taste to the dishes to which it is added.
Bringing the garden into the kitchen may take up a bit of kitchen space, but if you do have the space – especially by a window – to set up an entire herb and vegetable garden, it is a delightful way to always have fresh food right at your fingertips. If you do not have space for a whole garden, it is still a good plan to enjoy houseplants which will result in cleaner air and, possibly, a better scented home.