Best indoor plants: 10 house plants, real and fake, for every room

The best indoor plants can transform a home, bringing colour and texture to a space. We’ve rounded up the best low-maintenance but gorgeous plants for every position in every room – and there are even some convincing artificial plants, too

Best indoor plants
(Image credit: Cuckcooland )

Looking for the best indoor plants to fill your rooms? Why not? A house with plants is a happy house. They don't just look good, they can purify the air, help us focus and reduce stress – that’s a lot of good for such a small addition! 

But if you’re new to indoor gardening, it can be difficult to know where to start, so we’ve rounded up the best house plants to give you a good starting point. We've chosen low maintenance indoor plants that are easy to care for, and picked something for every room, whether a light-filled space or a dark, cosy corner. Plus, for anyone with no time to care for house plants, there are even a few convincing artificial plants included in our list, too.

When you've chosen the plants you want, check out our ultimate practical guide to looking after house plants, and don't miss our gallery of house plant display ideas to find out the best ways to show yours off.

What is the best indoor plant?

For beauty, ease of care, and the sheer will to grow as tall as it can, it's hard to beat the Ficus Elastica, or rubber plant 'Abidjan', as it's commonly known. Those who prefer their house plants delicate and compact will enjoy the succulent trio. Read on to see all our top picks.

How to buy the best indoor plants

A note on house plants and pet safety

While we have labelled many of our chosen house plants when they're not pet safe, this is mainly as a precaution. Young puppies and kittens will try to chew anything, and it's best to keep any plants our of their reach; you may want to choose from our best artificial plants instead.

Buy from the right place

Always buy your house plants from a reputable seller, preferably from a specialist plant retailer, not a supermarket. The important exception is Waitrose Garden: they do sell in Waitrose supermarkets, but the plants are grown by the plant specialists Crocus. 

Check before you put in your shopping basket

If you see plants that look unnaturally green, or are blooming out of season and are crammed into a dark corner or warehouse, it's best to avoid them: they will have been artificially overstimulated by too much fertilising, and are likely to succumb to disease once you've brought them home.

Consider the conditions at home

In terms of which plants to choose, consider how much light there is in your home. Most tropical plants prefer bright, indirect light, though some varieties may tolerate a bit of shade. A steady temperature is also important: house plants hate draughts, or the hot dry air from radiators, so think if you've got a spot by a window that doesn't get opened too much. 

The best indoor plants

the best indoor plant: Ficus Elastica 'Abidjan'

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

1. Rubber plant 'Abidjan'

The best indoor plant

Specifications
Best for: Easy to look after
Type: Real
Height: 110cm
Care level: Easy
Position: Bright but indirect light
Pet safe?: No
Reasons to buy
+Empty List
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

Rubber plants are actually a type of ficus, and as such they are among the most popular house plants. Known for their attractive, glossy leaves, they come in a variety of types, but our favourite is the dark and dramatic 'Abidjan'. 

What do we like about it?

Rubber plants are super easy to care for: apart from watering and bright light, they're not fussy about where they are and can grow very, very tall, if that's what you'd like.

Care tips

Water well and regularly; although rubber plants will tolerate some neglect, they will only truly thrive with regular watering. They also need a lot of bright light, so position them next to a window.

What to watch for

The sap of this plant is very runny and glue-like – and it's a skin irritant. Be aware of this when pruning (wear gloves) and keep an eye out for curious pets who might want to have a nibble. 

best hanging house plant: string of hearts plant from Waitrose Garden

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

2. String of hearts plant

The best hanging indoor plant

Specifications
Best for: Easy to look after
Type: Real
Height: 20cm
Care level: Easy
Position: Bright but indirect light
Pet safe?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Striking trailing shape+Long-lasting if cared for well

The String of Hearts (Ceropegia linearis) plant has become very popular in recent years due to its attractive trailing habit and small, heart-shaped leaves in a beautiful sage colour. It looks particularly stunning suspended from the ceiling. 

What do we like about it?

This is the ultimate home styling plant that will add a touch of boho chic to any home. If properly cared for, this plant will give you joy for many years. 

Care tips

Water well during growing season and very sparingly in winter.

best succulent Indoor plant

3. Succulent Trio

The best small indoor plants

Specifications
Best for: Easy to look after
Type: Desert native
Height: 20cm
Care level: Easy
Position: Bright but indirect light
Pet safe?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Very low-maintenance+Attractive containers+Perfect for windowsills
Reasons to avoid
-Full shape makes them a bit tricky to water

It’s hard to say whether the internet is more obsessed with the monstera deliciosa, below, or super-trendy succulents. Whatever the case, while it’s impossible not to root for both, we think this trio of succulents has the edge for small living rooms and student bedrooms. The mix of leaf shapes and shades of green adds visual interest, as do the elegant copper pots, with their rustic duck egg blue patina. 

What do we like about it?

Succulents are the nearest you'll come to care-free plants; they also come in a dizzying variety of shapes and shades, and their firm, structured stems make them an excellent choice for interior styling. 

Care tips

The best thing you can do for your succulents is forget about them; they dislike frequent watering or being disturbed too much; every once in a while, you can water them by standing them in a dish full of water for about half an hour. 

best air purifying Indoor plant

4. Peace Lily

The best air purifying plant

Specifications
Best for: Air purifying
Type: Tropical
Height: 85cm
Care level: Easy
Position: Medium to low light
Pet safe?: No
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful-looking plant+Adapts well to low-light conditions
Reasons to avoid
- Need dusting occasionally 

With their shapely pleated leaves and striking white 'flowers' (actually a specialised leaf bract – who knew?) peace lilies have long been a favourite go-to houseplant. 

What do we like about it?

Peace lilies are the minimalist luxury of house plants; just when you think it's just foliage, they produce gorgeous, sculptural white blooms. Perfect for a bright window sill or desk. 

Care tips

They’re surprisingly low maintenance, far more tolerant of under-watering than overwatering (and they let you know by drooping, perking up again after watering), and happy with ample light or the bare minimum, although those kept in low light will be more foliage- than flower-heavy. 

What to watch for:

Keep in mind that lilies are toxic to cats, so make sure they’re kept in a closed room out of reach of curious kitties.

Best unusual indoor plant: Goeppertia ornata

(Image credit: Waitrose Garden)

5. Calathea

The best unusual indoor plant

Specifications
Best for: Tropical vibes
Type: Tropical
Height: 15cm
Care level: Easy
Position: Bright but indirect light
Pet safe?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic foliage+Contemporary concrete pot
Reasons to avoid
-Needs a bit more TLC than our other picks

This zebra-like calathea ornata is most easily distinguished by its colouring – white to pale pink stripes on the dark green leaf surface with a blush of deep pink underneath – making for a striking addition to any home. 

What do we like about it?

Calatheas have large leaves that make a big impact in a room; they also photograph very well, given their exciting veined leaves that look as though they've been painted. Calatheas usually grow quite close to the ground in tropical rainforests, which means they're happy in any reasonably bright spot in the house.  

Care tips

Simply place in a reasonably cool area away from fluctuations in temperature, in not-too-bright light, and mist occasionally to keep it happy.

Indoor plant

6. Barbados Aloe

The best indoor plant for home remedies

Specifications
Best for: Home remedies
Type: Slow-growing succulent
Height: 30cm
Care level: Easy
Position: Bright but indirect light
Pet safe?: No
Reasons to buy
+Low-maintenance, handsome plant+Gel can be used to treat burns and scrapes
Reasons to avoid
-May regret chopping bits off

Every house inhabited by children – or accident-prone adults – needs an aloe in it, and this Barbados aloe is as good a cultivar as any for its soothing properties on burns, cuts, bruises and scrapes. Unfortunately it’s so lovely that you’ll be loathe to snap bits off to get to the healing gel inside, with its plush green serrated fronds, delicate variegation and serrated shape. If you’re lucky, you may get a tubular yellow-green flower in the summer, but that foliage is lovely enough by itself.

Wondering what other plants you can used as home remedies? We have the best garden plants for health in our guide. 

What do we like about it?

An aloe plant can easily last you a lifetime, with many people boasting passing on their aloes to their children. It's fun watching it slowly grow and finding it new pots every once in a while.

Care tips

Aloes are succulents, and as such, don't like being interfered with too much. They store water in their juicy stems, so water sparingly, and always from below.

What to watch for:

Aloe may be beneficial to humans, but it isn't to pets, so watch young puppies and kittens around these plants.

best low maintenance indoor plant

7. Variegated Snake Plant

The best low maintenance indoor plant

Specifications
Best for: Virtually indestructible
Type: Tropical
Height: 40cm
Care level: Easy
Position: Bright, some full sun
Pet safe?: No
Reasons to buy
+Near-indestructible+Doesn’t spread much
Reasons to avoid
- Doesn’t respond well to over-watering 

Cheekily nicknamed ‘mother-in-law’s tongue’, this sharp-ended snake plant has gorgeous variegated leaves that would add loads of interest to any shelf or windowsill. As the name suggests, it’s pretty feisty, and almost impossible to kill, so if you’re looking for the best house plants for beginners, this is a good place to start. 

What to we like about it?

It’s ideal for small spaces, as it doesn’t spread out and is rigid enough not to flop under its own weight as it grows. Ideal if you tend to neglect your house plants.

Care tips 

Just be sure not to over-water it, and you’ll be rewarded with a hardy, handsome plant.

best Indoor plant for shade: Dragon plant

8. Dragon Tree

The best indoor plant for shade

Specifications
Best for: Height
Type: Tropical/subtropical
Height: 100cm
Care level: Intermediate
Position: Light shade, close to a window
Pet safe?: No
Reasons to buy
+Softer effect than normal dragon tree+Tall and slim; sits happily in corners
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t look like a traditional dragon tree

You might be tempted to inject a little drama into a living room or bedroom with a fierce-looking dragon tree, but not fancy the thought of sticking yourself every time you go to water it. That’s where this slightly softer cultivar comes in: its elongated leaves are a little like an elongated peace lily’s, still striking, but with less spiking. 

What do we like about it?

This is your best plant for shade: it responds well to low light areas such as hallways, and its upright habit (plant person speak for 'growing tendency') means it won’t interrupt your flow as you bustle past.

See more of the best shade loving plants in our buyer's guide.

Care tips 

The issue some people have with this plant is that if overwatered, combined with being placed in the shade, it will succumb to root rot and die. Allow the soil to dry out between watering and you should be fine. 

What to watch for:

This plant can be a magnet to naughty pets (especially cats) that love chewing on its blade-like leaves, which can make them sick. Avoid in a household with young pets. 

The best artificial indoor plants

Indoor plant

9. Rubber Tree

The best artificial indoor plant

Specifications
Best for: Glossy foliage
Type: Artificial
Height: 98cm
Care level: Very easy
Position: Anywhere
Pet safe?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Trendy tropical+No need for special conditions
Reasons to avoid
-Won’t get any bushier

These days, you’re never more than six swipes away from an Insta snap of deep green, glossy foliage, artfully filtered and thoughtfully hashtagged. Simply put, there’s a huge trend right now for tropical-look foliage bursting out of every corner of the house, but unless you have a private gardener it can be hard to keep track.

 Enter this fabulously Insta-ready artificial rubber tree, with its realistically textured stem, large, lush leaves and on-trend concrete-look pot. Its considerable size makes it a real statement and its evergreen foliage will be abundant year round and – only you and we need know why that is!

What do we like about it?

It's the most realistic-looking artificial indoor plant on our list; besides, for those who've experienced the unstoppable growing habit of real rubber plants, its permanently compact look will be a bonus. 

Indoor plant

10. Hanging Artificial Plant

The best hanging artificial plant

Specifications
Best for: Those who’ve run out of surfaces
Type: Artificial
Height: 78.7cm
Care level: Very easy
Position: Anywhere
Pet safe?: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Something a bit different+Won’t make a mess watering
Reasons to avoid
- Doesn’t look too realistic close up 

Run out of available surfaces to accommodate your maximalist decorating tendencies? We hear you. This hanging planter can be hung from the wall or ceiling for an unexpected touch of greenery, and best of all, it’s artificial, so no over-zealous watering – inevitably resulting in drips on the carpet – needed. 

What do we like about it? 

Its delicate strings of variegated faux foliage are unbelievably pretty, and the DIY look of the rope and concrete-look planter is absolutely on-trend. Hanging plants typically require lots of bright light, but this artificial lookalike will be perfect for a dark corner or windowless bathroom. 

What to watch for:

It may not be the most convincing up close, so best positioned at some distance.  

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