7 easy-care indoor plants for living rooms — minimal time, maximum impact

Gardening experts reveal their favorite low maintenance indoor plants for living rooms, and why they work

A small living room with a couch, coffee table and a shelf full of plants
(Image credit: eclipse_images/Getty Images)

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.

Now's the time to put those small living room ideas into action and allow the pros' favorite low-maintenance indoor plants breathe life into your space. 

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. If you're looking to add height, look for the best tall houseplants or flowering indoor plants.

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
Stacy Ling

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
Lorin Nielsen

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

Two snake plants in colorful planters in front of a living room couch

(Image credit: Getty Images/Inna Luzan)

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. 

If you're doing some shopping, snake plants at The Home Depot vary in size and also have cute planters, which is a necessity, of course. 

Megan Cain
Megan Cain

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

A zz plant in a white planter and on a light blue cloth

(Image credit: Getty Images/Gizela Glavas)

"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

A peace lily in a white planter on a windowsill with white curtains

(Image credit: Getty Images/Helin Loik-Tomson)

One of the biggest outdated home decor trends is sticking to single-purpose furniture and accessories. The same can be said about apartment gardening ideas. Look for plants that give you more. 

"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
Gene Caballero

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

A spider plant on a shelf with fairy lights. Everything but the plant is in soft focus

(Image credit: Getty Images/Carol Yepes)

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

A giant bird of paradise next to a wicker chair

(Image credit: Getty Images/Kseniya Ovchinnikova)

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
Dominic Hooghuis

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.

6. Monstera

Monstera plant in a white planter on the floor in a white living room

(Image credit: Getty Images/Bernine)

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

A rubber plant in front of a windowsill with smaller plants

(Image credit: Elvira Kashapova/Getty Images)

If you're in need of ways to style a small living room end table, why not consider a rubber plant from The Home Depot? We promise they're not as fake as they sound.

"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
Marvin Magsura

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.

What to shop

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. 

Danielle Valente
Content Editor

Pleasure to meet you! I'm Danielle, a content editor at Real Homes who loves scoping out interior trends. I've specialized in lifestyle writing and editing for 10 years with a focus on events, food, and books, among other areas. When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking, reading, or searching for a new project for my apartment.