On the lookout for unusual plants? It seems everyone and their dog has jumped onto the plant parent scene with over seven million uses (and counting) of the #plantlover on Insta. So if you're looking at ways to differentiate your interiors and knock the stalks off everyone else's stories, consider us as your go-to 'grassroots' guide to unique greenery.
The best indoor plants are ones that suit your interior scheme (and likethe habitat you are imposing on them). But if you're looking for out-of-the-box ideas that no one else has thought of, these unusual houseplants are anything but ordinary. Sure – cacti look sharp, but haven't we seen them a million times? And we love a fiddle leaf fig as much as the next person, but that finicky princess isn't short of the limelight.
Some less common plants even come with cool features so you can really enjoy and experience the benefits of plants. From edible plants to extraordinary conversation starters, these potted plants will add an aesthetic impact to any space and will grow your knowledge of lesser-known varieties.
Say 'Aloe' to our little friends...
1. Edible mushrooms
'People are a little freaked out by mushrooms, they don’t really know what they are, can they grow them at home, the [mushrooms I’ve used are] all edible, so all of these oyster mushrooms you can cook with,' says James Whiting aka @plantsbythere (opens in new tab), RHS gold medal winner, plant stylist and horticulturalist.
'With the whole movement into being plant-based and cooking with non-meat ingredients, it’s massively popular. People can grow these very quickly at home, and they’re quite expensive to buy in the shops. So if you love growing things at home, and you love houseplants, and beautiful things, they’re stunning and they’re yellow, they’re pink, they’re real – it’s just fascinating.'
'I think growing things like the oyster mushrooms, it’s that connection to nature, you get to watch something develop and change, and go on a journey with your plant, and be proud of what you’ve created in the end. People want things to do – it’s that post-lockdown symptom of picking up new hobbies, and we all had a go at something.
'In my first week of lockdown, I learned how to macrame plant hangers by following a Youtube video (opens in new tab), so a mushroom kit, is a very simple setup, for me, just mist it, and stand it on a plate or on a kitchen windowsill, or wherever you want to put it, and you get to watch it. You could even put it next to an armchair.'
'Cut flowers people love, but once they’re gone, they’re gone. It's in landfill and that’s it. With mushrooms, it’s nice to have something that you can also eat at the end, it’s multi-functional, you get the beauty and the enjoyment, but also, an end result, you can take to your friend's when you go for dinner, and add it to the dish they’re cooking.'
And sibling duo Lorraine Caley and Jodie Bryan aka @caleybrothers (opens in new tab) want you to know that the world is literally your oyster (mushroom) when it comes to the colors available. They say: 'Pink oyster mushrooms are deliciously unique and one of natures edible wonders,'
'Mushroom kits take three easy steps to set up, can be grown in your kitchen and don’t take up much room or time – just add water – literally!'
So what are you waiting for? Be the fun guy or girl in your friendship group by being the first to buy a mushroom kit and get on this growing trend. This Back to the roots organic pink oyster mushroom starter kit on Amazon (opens in new tab) promises results in just ten days.
2. String of dolphin succulents
We're not sure about you, but in the nineties and noughties, we were obsessed with dolphin motifs on our notebooks, tops, jewelry – and likely the fixture of many a teenage girl bedroom. So if you want a new houseplant that'll give you a nostalgic throwback, these string of dolphin succulents (opens in new tab) are shaped like these sweet creatures.
They are pretty low-maintenance, enjoying plenty of light but not much water. Place a pot in the living room, or buy one to adorn your teen's room, and live vicariously through them. Oh to be young again!
3. Tillandsia (and other air plants)
We love this under-the-sea idea of buying sea urchin shells and using them as containers to hold your air plants. You can buy these on Amazon (opens in new tab), and pick up some cheap clear wire to suspend your plants to look like floating jellyfish. Perfect for a kids' bedroom idea (with Rust-Oleum glow in the dark paint (opens in new tab)) or a futuristic take on a nautical living room decor.
'Air plants are very inexpensive, they give you those little details, so if you’ve got bottles or glasses on your shelves behind your home bar, just pop a couple of air plants in an empty glass or next to them and it’s the little things that really draw people in and you can make moments.' says Whiting.
4. Lithops (aka living stones)
Now, you might mistake these unusual houseplants for pebbles but Lithops actually a type of succulent that look like stones. And, because they look like little brains, they're great for adding color and texture to a kids' bedroom if they are into creepy stuff.
According to Professor Stephen Harris, associate professor in plant sciences, Oxford University (opens in new tab): 'Only when they produce their vivid yellow or white, insect-pollinated, daisy-like flowers, from between their leaves, are they revealed to the casual observer.'
So if you want plants that play peek-a-boo, purchase these from MICRO LANDSCAPE DESIGN STORE on Amazon (opens in new tab).
5. Go 'Frizzle Sizzle' chic with Albuca Spiralis
Albuca Spiralis, Frizzle Sizzle, corkscrew plant – whatever you want to call it, this ususual houseplant is a treat to look at. Their beautiful boucle leaves look like luscious cascading curls that look like they've been created using a curler in a hair salon. Houseplants but make it haute couture? Yes please.
These ringlet-looking houseplants are available at Walmart (opens in new tab).
6. Adopt a fluffy plant pet with Marimo moss balls
If your landlord has banned all pets (yep, even fish) in your rental, say hello to your new fluffy friend. The Marimo moss ball is an aesthetically-pleasing algae that lives in water. While they sometimes come pre-packed in bottles, you can also place them with other aquatic plants in a decorative bowl (like the moss bowl trend) or even in your kitchen sink.
Whilting says: 'This is a ‘bath’ for the plants in your sink, so every inch of it is catering to them. I love aquatic plants, again when I was a kid it was fish tanks and all the fun colors and gravels I would play with, so I thought you’re gonna have a sink in a bar, a lovely gold sink so why not put plants in there too? It’s the bathing pond to jump in, or the spa, or pool party for them!'
For a soil-based version of the space, why not learn how to make your own terrarium too?
7. Unleash your inner Marvel fan or goth with Bat plants
If colorful florals aren't quite your thing, create moody drama with this dark interior design idea. The Tacca chantrieri (as it's more formally known) is great for Gothic design and would look great against a stained glass window treatment for added impact.
But if you don't have a nursery nearby, try ordering online from an independent seller on Etsy. LetsGrowFlorida (opens in new tab) has a plethora of good reviews if you're concerned about the quality of plants that are available to buy over the internet.
8. Nepenthes alata (aka pitcher plant)
'The Nepenthes Pitcher Plant is definitely a conversation piece and fun for anyone, particularly children to experience and learn about carnivorous plants,' says Emma Hondzinski, product specialist, Bloomscape (opens in new tab).
'Insects are naturally drawn to these plants and are lured into their pitchers, where they become trapped and eventually digested by the plant.'
Despite their specific diet, 'there’s no need to fertilize because rather than absorbing nutrients from the soil, it digests insects caught in its pitchers.' says Hondzinki.
However, they do like to be kept constantly moist so it's worth investing in a plant mister. We love the look of this green-brown gradient vintage glass spray bottle from Ebristar on Amazon (opens in new tab).
For a modern take on plant care this diamond design glass water pitcher from DUJUST Store (opens in new tab) is a chic way to hydrate and nurture your Nepenthes.
9. Go fresh and fruity with a watermelon plant
Watermelon decor is a fresh and fun way to inject personality into your interiors. But if you feel a little too mature for melon motifs, up your game with an unusual plant instead. A Peperomia plant (available via Bloomscape) (opens in new tab) is the perfect plant for a housewarming gift as its attractive green and white patterning looks similar to the juicy fruit's rind.
Let this fruity plant take center stage in your lounge as a coffee table decor idea, because no one puts baby in a (living room) corner. Other than looking pretty, this pet-friendly plant is an air cleaner too, so you can take advantage of the benefits of plants drawing out any pollutants – great for if you live in the city.
Why not create a DIY plant stand with pink paint and black dots to create a quirky container for your new and unusual plant baby?
10. Create a celestial scheme with a 'Milky Way' plant
Into all things astrological? Put down the horoscopes and get your hands on a Aspidistra Elatior 'Milky Way' (opens in new tab) plant. These low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants have a gorgeous pattern akin to a star-filled galaxy.
On the flip side, this plant also works well in a modern living room to soften a brutalist or industrial scheme, as the leaves look like they have white paint splattered all over them.
You grow girl.