If you ask us, indoor plants for living rooms are as necessary as the sofa and throw pillows.
No room is complete without a pop of green, so we asked gardeners which easy-going plants lend themselves best for our socializing sanctuaries. Our experts spill on seven varieties that will look good, require minimal effort, and even bring a hint of drama to your space — we're looking at you, bird of paradise.
Low-maintenance indoor plants for living rooms
You don't need a huge overhaul to make a big change. Some of the easiest upgrades for a small living room can be found in a planter. But there are important things to note before bringing natural elements into your space.
"For plant parenting success in your living room, remember to match your light, lifestyle, and care level to your plant picks, and you’ll enjoy lush, beautiful houseplants for years to come," says Stacy Ling, gardening expert and creator of Bricks 'n Blooms.
Depending on what type of plant you're working with, you'll want to place it in the proper locale: a south-facing direction offers high light, east and west-facing offers medium light, and north-facing offers low or indirect light.
"Many plants can grow really well indoors, but the amount of light your living room has will play a key role in which you should choose," says Lorin Nielsen, the head horticulturist at Epic Gardening. "Some plants tolerate low-light conditions. Others are better in brighter spaces."
While each plant baby will require its own specific needs, these selections complement small living room feng shui and will soften your aesthetic with a peace-inducing natural touch.
Plant experts agree that greenery for your living room should cater to your needs and the lighting in the space. If you have ample space and don't want a rigorous care process, opt for something like the giant white bird of paradise. If it's a little shady in your living room, a ZZ plant would do well, as it works well with indirect light.
Before making a decision, start with your lighting availability in the living room and consider your lifestyle before selecting a plant.
Prices correct at the time of publishing this article.
Stacy Ling is a gardener with over 25 years of experience. She created the blog Bricks ’n Blooms from her 1850 farmhouse located in gardening zone 6a northern New Jersey. She is the author of the forthcoming The Bricks 'n Blooms Guide to a Beautiful and Easy-Care Flower Garden.
Lorin Nielsen is the head horticulturist of Epic Gardening and its seed company, Botanical Interests. A California Naturalist, lifelong gardener, and plant-lover, she is a self-described composting geek, an avid food gardener, and "plant mama". She and the rest of the Epic Gardening team share a mission of teaching the world to grow, and she loves to help people discover their green thumb.
1. Snake plant
Caring for a snake plant is quite simple, making it a no-brainer for the living room. Even better? It looks great.
"Forget the fuss; let the soil dry out between waterings, and your living room sanctuary will flourish," says Meg Cain, founder of The ZEN Succulent. "Dust their leaves occasionally to keep them breathing easy, and voila — you've got a thriving green retreat that practically takes care of itself."
But are snake plants toxic to pets? If you have furry friends in tow, you might want to give snake plants, and all plants for that matter, a home that Fido cannot reach.
Megan Cain is the green-thumbed plant lover behind The ZEN Succulent, a modern plant and terrarium business she launched in 2012. Her unique plant designs and curated collection of artisan gifts have caught the eye of major publications and partnerships, including Madewell and Anthropologie. As an author, Megan shared her plant wisdom in Modern Terrarium Studio and she's a regular on the East Coast workshop circuit, teaching the art of indoor greenery.
2. ZZ plant
"Picture glossy, deep green leaves that practically shine — that’s the ZZ plant," Stacy says. "It thrives in both bright and indirect light, needs minimal watering, and can even handle periods of neglect. Talk about a forgiving friend!"
When you're arranging furniture in a small living room, top everything off with a ZZ plant on your coffee table or shelving unit. Costa Farms' ZZ Plant on Amazon is budget-friendly and comes highly rated by over 6000 shoppers.
3. Peace lily
"Peace Lilies, known for their beautiful white blooms, also purify the air, says Gene Caballero, co-founder of Green Pal. "They prefer medium to low light and require consistent moisture without overwatering."
Indoor Peace Lilies at The Home Depot are a great starting point, and won't cost the Earth.
Gene Caballero is co-founder of Green Pal, a platform connecting customers to lawn care experts in their area throughout the United States.
4. Spider plant
If you really want to take your green thumb skills to new levels, working with a spider plant is the way to go, according to Stacy. A variety of spider plants are available on Amazon, and we particularly like this pre-potted spider plant with macrame hanger.
"Not only is the spider plant easy to care for, but it also gifts you with baby spiderettes that you can propagate for yourself, or share with your plant-loving friends," she says. "Bright indirect light is its happy place, but it can handle lower light too. Just let the soil dry between waterings."
5. Giant bird of paradise
One of the most common small living room mistakes is forgetting to include natural elements. If you have a little extra room in your gathering zone, let a bigger plant flourish there.
"When it comes to living rooms, generally we have a little more space to play with. This gives us the opportunity to have some amazing feature plants that can grow larger," says Dominic Hooghuis, co-founder of The Plant Runner.
"If you’re going for more of a coastal look try something like a giant bird of paradise; they can grow tall and make a great statement with their large glossy leaves."
Dust the leaves, fertilize regularly, and enjoy the statement maker that is the giant bird of paradise, on sale at Amazon for $42.89.
Dominic Hooghuis and Duncan Hilder co-founded The Plant Runner, which started out as a truck that sold florals and blossomed (pun intended) into a wholesale and retail e-commerce business.
Speaking of statement makers, we have another selection if you want something more dramatic.
"A monstera, or small ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) can be perfect as a feature or focal point statement plant," Lorin notes. "Kalanchoes are fantastic as a low-maintenance flowering plant that’s also great for beginners."
7. Rubber plant
"Rubbеr plants contain vast, glossy lеavеs that may make an еyе-catching impact in your living space," says Marvin Magusara, co-founder of Retaining Wall Supplies. "Maintеnancе is simplе: usе modеratе, indirеct light and watеr whеn thе top inch of soil is dry."
Marvin Magsura is a lawn and landscaping expert and co-founder of Retaining Wall Supplies. With a deep-rooted passion for transforming outdoor spaces, his unique approach combines aesthetic beauty with functional design, turning ordinary spaces into serene and sustainable landscapes.
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Want more ways to spruce up your living room space — not just greenery-focused? Don't fear: there's plenty to do. We spoke to interior designers about the top five small living room trends for 2024, and have a feeling you'll love them all.