Horticulturist Gives (Green) Thumbs Up on Best Indoor Plants for Your Apartment
With spring having just sprung, what better way to ring in the season than by getting your green thumbs dirty. If you live in an apartment, chances are you don’t have access to a plot of land to hone your gardening skills. Fortunately, you don’t need one.
Whether you’re a beginner, pet owner or lazy gardener, there are numerous plants you can grow right in the comfort of your apartment home. With guidance from Certified Professional Horticulturist Leslie F. Halleck, here are some of the best houseplants to help kick-start your spring and breathe new life into your apartment.
For the Beginner Botanist
Golden Pothos and Air Plants (Tillandsia)
So, you decided to dig deeper into the world of indoor plants. Great! Not sure what to grow first inside your humble abode? The golden pothos is a popular choice among indoor gardening novices. Sporting big, beautiful yellow and green leaves, the golden pothos grows rapidly from pots and hanging baskets with low light and moist soil.
Halleck, who has just written the book Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers, also suggests trying small air plants, or tillandsia. “They can be very easy for beginners to experiment with. They don't require soil. Just submerge them in some water once a week for a minute or so, and you're good to go.”
For Apartments with Minimum Light
Cast-Iron Plant and Rubber Plant
If you live in a city such as Seattle where you experience an average of 152 rainy days a year, that’s okay. There are plants that can withstand these sunless conditions. The cast-iron plant lives up to the toughness of its name. This slow-growing plant prospers with north-facing low light and extreme temperature changes.
The rubber plant is another great option. This ficus requires light — but not too much. Also, it’s best to feed it with a weak liquid fertilizer to prevent fast growth. Halleck cautions: “Do not mistake the rubber plant for the most popular ficus, fiddle leaf fig. Fiddle leaf fig needs brighter light conditions to thrive.”
Before settling on one or both of these plants, take Halleck’s advice into consideration. “Indoor light levels can vary dramatically depending on how many windows you have and their exposure. The amount of light your plants receive right next to a window will be much greater than if you move the plant to the middle of the room.”
For Boosting Air Quality in Your Apartment
Boston Fern and Peace Lily
All plants can add more oxygen back into your apartment, but these ones are exceptionally efficient at purifying the air as well. Boasting arching branches with soft, emerald fronds, the Boston fern helps eliminate air pollutants including toluene and xylene. Plus, it makes a gorgeous centerpiece in your living room.
The peace lily’s broad, dark green leaves are known for absorbing common household toxins such as benzene and trichloroethylene. They also complement most apartment styles, especially rustic décor.
Halleck says: “Be aware that ferns and peace lilies will require more regular watering than other air-purifying plants.”
For the Busy or Lazy Green Thumb
ZZ Plant and Snake Plant
We get it. You lead a busy life. The little things, like watering your plants, might slip your mind from time to time. Or maybe you’re the type of person who loves how foliage looks in your living room but is unwilling to put in the work. Luckily, the ZZ plant and snake plant thrive in these situations. “These two plants can survive a lot of abuse,” says Halleck. “If you are a forgetful or lazy waterer, these are your top two choices.”
The ZZ plant and snake plant need little light and water to survive. Since both plants have thick, wavy leaves, they’re perfect complements to each other when placed side by side.
For the Pet Owner
Spider Plant and Haworthia
You’re a proud parent of a cat or dog, so you want nothing more than to keep your four-legged friends safe and healthy. That’s why it’s important to beautify your apartment with non-toxic, out-of-reach plants.
Spider plants have been household staples for generations because of their graceful arching leaves and easy maintenance. They are typically grown from hanging baskets, so be sure to place your basket high enough if your feline pal likes to swipe at dangling objects.
Although it looks like an aloe, a Haworthia is a much safer plant for cats and dogs. It’s a slow-growing succulent that thrives well in humid conditions. Halleck notes, “Succulents are very popular houseplants right now, but most succulents are high-light plants. While you can maintain them for short periods in your apartment, they may decline over time in low light. Try Haworthia succulents, which can live happily on a bright windowsill. They are also a great choice for forgetful waterers.”
Looking to go green in your apartment? Check out and download Greystar’s Green Living Guide for Apartment Residents.