Farmer Jer's Pick For The Top Ten Indoor House Plants

10 Great House Plants

Updated May 26, 2020

When you want to liven up a room, nothing works quite like adding some great house plants.  But it’s no good if the plant wilts and dies after only a few days or weeks, right?  I’ve compiled a list of 10 great plants for the indoors. Each can survive in the sort of conditions that indoor life offers, that is, low to medium light, 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit and typically low to medium humidity.

I do have one disclaimer:  low to medium light does not mean basement with no windows.  I think of low to medium light as being indoors, perhaps near a window or with some form of artificial lighting.  Not all plants on the list need full sun, in fact, some won’t tolerate full sun for long. I’ve tried to provide plants that I either have or have grown indoors, in the past.  That’s the trick, first-hand experience. Anyway, let’s dive into the plants. I’ll first show the whole list, then we’ll get into each plant individually afterward.

African Violet
African Violet
Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera
Asparagus Fern
Asparagus Fern
Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus


Dracaena
Dracaena
Pothos
Pothos
Rubber Tree
Rubber Tree
Snake Plant
Snake Plant
Spider Plant
Spider Plant
ZZ Plant
ZZ Plant

Farmer Jer’s Top Ten Great House Plants List

  1. African Violet  
  2. Aloe
  3. Asparagus Fern
  4. Christmas Cactus
  5. Dracaena
  6. Pothos
  7. Rubber Tree
  8. Snake Plant
  9. Spider Plant
  10. Z.Z. Plant

African Violet

African Violet
African Violet

The African Violet is one of the most popular, and great house plants in the world.  And for good reason, it not only has soft, velvety leaves but it also has cute little flowers that bloom several times a year.  The plant prefers indirect light and moist soil. In these conditions, the plant thrives. Put one of these in your window sill and it will do just fine as long as you keep the soil moist, but not wet.

African violet flowers are blue, purple, red, pink or white.  As mentioned, the plant will bloom several times a year which makes it ideal for your viewing pleasure.  And who doesn’t like looking at some nice flowers they grew themselves? Just remember to keep them in a well-lit area.  But, if it’s cold outside make sure they aren’t in a drafty window.  

As the name of the plant describes its origins, these plants do best in warmer conditions.  The leaves will rot though if the humidity is too high. Again, a good idea to water from the base, rather than get the leaves wet.

Aloe

Aloe
Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a wonderful creation of nature.  The many uses of aloe make this succulent a fantastic and easy-to-grow addition to any home or workspace.  From gentle and soothing heartburn relief to an alternative to mouthwash, aloe is making its name across many industries.  Did you know there was a study done that had results showing that when applied to tomato plants, aloe gel prevented some bad types of bacteria from growing on the plant?  This could lead to aloe being used instead of harmful pesticides to keep tomatoes and possibly other fruits or vegetables fresh.

To grow this fascinating succulent, use a succulent soil mix or make a mix of about 50/50 sand to soil ratio.  Only water once every two weeks or so and try to give this plant sun or it will go dormant and stop growing. A good window sill is a great place for an aloe plant.  

Another good quality of aloe is that it doesn’t grow a huge and extensive root network as some other plants do.  Aloe is quite content to make do with whatever size pot you put it in, save for one that will let the plant tip over. This makes it one of our favorite of the great house plants of all time.

Asparagus Fern

Asparagus Fern
Asparagus Fern

This plant is neither a fern, nor is it asparagus, but the asparagus fern is a superhero amongst hardy indoor plants.  Make no mistake, there is a trade-off for its cute hardiness. This plant is poisonous to dogs and cats so it’ll have to stay up on the shelf way out of reach.  Oh yeah, and there’s the sharp thorns.

At this point, you’re asking why I would put this plant on the list.  Well, it’s a tough little so and so. This plant is hardy. It will survive forgotten waterings, drafts, lack of sun.  

Another plant from Africa, this plant also likes it on the warmer side similar to the African Violet in that respect.  But, unlike the African Violet, the Asparagus Fern prefers a higher humidity. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to turn your house into a greenhouse or anything (that would be cool though) but you don’t have to worry about giving this plant a misting now and again.  That being said, let the soil dry out between waterings for the best results.

Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus

This is one of my favorite indoor plants.  They are hardy, easy to care for and flower these cute tubular pink flowers.  The plant prefers temperatures in the 60s to mid-70s making indoor room temperature ideal for the cactus.  

This cactus prefers indirect light, but lots of it.  It can adapt to low light conditions, but you’ll notice the frequency of the blooms will decrease with less light.  Likewise, if you increase the light, the plant will bloom more. It does tend to get damaged in direct sunlight though, so best keep it indoors but that’s the whole point of this list so it fits right in here. It’s just another of the great house plants, isn’t it?

Dracaena

Dracaena
Dracaena

This elegant tropical is, in my opinion, the essence of a tropical plant.  The dracaena prefers indirect sunlight, like that through a window and thin blinds or something along those lines.  The direct sun has a tendency to scorch the leaves, so again we’re looking at a plant that’s ideal for indoor conditions.

I’ve kept dracaena for over 30 years.  Back when I had chameleons, I kept them in large walk-in cages with dracaena being one of the staple plant species kept in the enclosures with the chameleons.  You see, dracaena comes from Madagascar and other islands of the Indian ocean. So my chameleons felt right at home also being from Madagascar.  

The dracaena likes moist tropical style soil but is also semi-tolerant of letting the soil dry out a bit between waterings.  I found my dracaena did really well under artificial lighting and being watered weekly. In fact, I had to cut my dracaena back because it was growing too much in the cage with the chameleon I kept it in.  

Put a dracaena in your home in a well-lit area, water weekly and enjoy the tropical vibe that the dracaena gives to the feeling of the room.

Pothos  

Devil's Ivy aka Pothos
Pothos aka Devil’s Ivy

Pothos, also known as Devil’s Ivy is one of my favorite tropicals of all time. It is one of the top great house plants.  Despite the fact that this plant is poisonous to dogs, I’ve always kept some pothos.  I think I have 3 of them right now at the time of writing this for you.

Pothos is a ridiculous, even ludicrously hardy tropical.  I’ve left pothos for literally months, forgotten all about them, and returned to find them still alive.  And they spring back rather quick too from neglect. But keep pothos in the appropriate conditions and watch it grow like crazy.

I found that my pothos did extremely well in warmer conditions.  And the lighter the better. I had Pothos thriving under fluorescent lighting in a room kept at 78 degrees Fahrenheit.  I mean again, I had to cut the plant back because it was growing like crazy.  

Pothos is also not picky when it comes to watering.  I’ve had pothos do well in wet soil that was almost like mud.  I’ve also had pothos do just fine in soil that was dried out most of the time.  Again, this plant will basically just shut itself down and take a nap when you forget to water it or give it adequate lighting.  I’ve got one of these in my basement, nowhere near any light except when I go down there and turn on a light. And the plant is still doing just fine, not really growing but not dying either.  And I’ve had that plant down there for nearly a year now. With very infrequent watering I might add.  

Pothos is just a really hardy plant.  Keep it away from your dog though. I do believe this one is also poisonous to dogs.

Rubber Plant

Rubber Plant
Rubber Tree, O Rubber Tree!

Ah, the classic rubber plant, what a member of the great house plants it is…  Also known as Ficus elastica, this tropical can grow to impressive sizes.  I’ve always liked the rubber plant. They can grow for years and years making them kind of a long term investment if you will. 

The leaves are large and smooth with a waxy appearance.  The leaves are green with hints of reddish on the underside of the leaves.  

Keep it in a well-aerated soil and a pot with good drainage.  This plant likes both sun and watering, but the soil should be allowed to dry out some between waterings.  Bring this plant outside on warm to hot days and plop it in the sun if you want to see it grow to height. Did I mention it can easily grow to ten feet plus?  But, if you keep it inside, and only allow it indirect light, it won’t grow that fast so you don’t have to worry. You can always trim it back too if it goes crazy and loves your place.

The only real downside to this cool tropical plant is that it’s poisonous to cats and dogs.  Not like they are going to have any interest in the thick, waxy leaves but it’s a fair warning.  I have kept rubber plants in the same house for 40 years. I did so with both multiple cats and dogs and can tell you from my experience that the pets had zero interest in this plant.  And that’s good due to the plant being poisonous to them. 

Snake Plant

The Snake Plant
The Snake Plant

The snake plant is a wonderful evergreen perennial.  It’s hardy, tolerant and does quite well indoors. Like the rubber plant, I’ve kept this plant for decades as well.

This plant is interesting because it used to be a source for bowstring hemp.  A fibrous material that used to be acquired for the purpose of making bows. As this is really a thing of the past, the plant is now used primarily as a decorative house or yard plant.

The snake plant can be kept outside in warmer climates.  The plant comes from Africa originally, so warm climate is preferred.  However, if you live in a cooler climate, you can easily just keep the plant potted and indoors.  

Light isn’t a huge issue with the snake plant.  It is quite tolerant of low light levels, making it an ideal candidate for indoor planting.  If you decide to keep it near a window, even better as long as there isn’t a cold draft.

As far as watering goes, this plant is one of the hardiest plants I’ve kept.  It doesn’t care for over-watering but you can leave it for weeks in the winter with seemingly no ill effects.  In fact, I think it does better if you give it a ‘rest’ in the winter and then help it with a bit of a push in the spring.  I found this plant grows slowly so a little extra light and fertilizer in the spring can really help it get to a decent size.

Spider Plant

Spider Plant
By Hierbabuena_0611.JPG: Dtarazonaderivative work: Peter coxhead (talk) – Hierbabuena_0611.JPG, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16710171

The spider plant, also known as Chlorophytum comosum, is a legend of air purification.  I’ve read so many articles that boast of the spider plant being one of the best indoor plants to keep for helping filter the air.  The plant does a fantastic job of removing formaldehyde, benzene and other nasty chemicals from the air.

Spider plants look fantastic in hanging baskets and were actually a favorite of Victorian households. They are a great house plant choice in my opinion.  The plant gets cute little white flowers that come out on the tops of long stems. These flowers tend to come out in the summer.

Watering spider plants is easy if you have good soil.  The soil should drain relatively well but also retain moisture for a nice even amount.  Spider plants don’t like being soaked nor do they like their dirt to dry out. Keep the watering on an even keel, so to speak.

Every so often, if all is well, your spider plant will have a ‘pup’ as they are called.  This is actually where the plant gets its name because when you see the pup, it looks like a little spider.  You can transplant this mini version of the adult plant as it is a baby and will start a whole new plant.

ZZ Plant

ZZ Plant
By User:WeFt – Photo personnelle de User:WeFt, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75624

The first time I heard of the ZZ plant, I honestly thought the name was a joke.  But, it’s actually short for Zamioculcas zamiifolia.  And it’s a great little plant being tolerant of neglect, low light, and moderate temperatures.  These traits make the plant a wonderful candidate for indoor plant growth.

There’s just one catch with the hardy little ZZ, it’s poisonous.  So, you can’t let your cat, dog or children eat it. And if you touch it, it’s recommended you wash your hands to avoid skin irritation.  But, if you are okay with not cuddling with it, it makes a fantastic indoor plant for the home or office. And it’s trendy, so it will make you look cool.  Are we caring about that though?

The ZZ plant does best when you put it in a pot with soil that drains well.  This plant doesn’t like getting swamped with too much water and can tolerate a forgetful gardener who may not remember to always water the plant regularly.  This plant prefers you let it dry out between waterings and it will even do quite well if you forget a watering or two.

The plant typically will flower in the summer.  But, the flowers are small and not overly exciting so don’t consider this to be a flowering plant for all intents and purposes.  But as a foliage plant, the ZZ is a fabulous and trendy addition to any space.

Final Thought On Great House Plants

There are all kinds of amazing plants you can keep in your home or place of business.  I’m a huge fan of growing plants that are multi-beneficial and in this case, I believe all plants kept inside are, for the most part, beneficial.  

Air quality indoors has been shown time and again to be of poor quality and what better way than to add some green to your environment to help fix that.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, you’d need a lot of plants in your home to truly filter all the air. But having a few plants is better than having none. Pretty much always.  So, go get yourself a plant or two and enjoy your gardening.

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