11 Houseplants That Work Well in Small Spaces


Greenery can add a breath of fresh air to any home, but it can be difficult to allocate much-needed inches to houseplants if you live in a small space. Additionally, living beings are not exactly a “set-it-and-forget-it” accessory. If you take care of your plants properly, they will grow taller and wider – another reason to be strategic when choosing the plants you will bring into a small home.

Before you buy a plant, think about where you will place it, the conditions of that space and the level of care you are willing and able to provide. Next, choose a plant that can physically fit and thrive in that space,” says Lily Cox, co-owner of a plant store based in the capital, Rywield.

Here are some options that factory experts suggest using in small spaces.

Snake plants. If you’re short on land real estate, think vertical. Lindsay Pangborn, gardener at Bloomscape plant delivery service, loves snake plant for its straight leaves and ease of care. The vigorous plant has adapted to survive without direct sunlight, so it can live in poorly lit apartments or basements. Snake plants also grow relatively slowly – especially without bright light – which is perfect for anyone concerned about growing their plants outside their space.

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ZZ plants. Another plant that grows vertically is Zamioculcas zamiifolia, also known as ZZ. The plant does well in a corner to the ground, Cox says, because its stems and leaves grow rather than outward. Like the snake plant, the ZZ plant tolerates low sunlight. It usually grows slowly, so you don’t have to worry about it going beyond its allotted space.

fern; If you want an ocean plant, try fern. You can hang it from the ceiling, place it on a shelf, or display it in a wall plant pot, so you don’t have to sacrifice valuable floor space. Lemon button, alligator or bird’s nest fern work well on bookshelves or hung from a hook on the ceiling, while ferns can live in wall displays. Pangborn says fern requires constant watering, but it thrives in wet conditions and can easily move indoors to outdoors in warmer weather.

Hoyas. Drought-tolerant plants, such as vine and semi-succulent hoya, Cox says, can be placed on tall shelves that may be difficult to reach for watering. Hoyas come in many varieties—some tiered, some flowering—but all prefer medium to bright indirect light, so keep them away from dark rooms.

Bamboo palm. Small spaces don’t have to be limited to small plants. You just need to choose wisely. Tree-like plants can get in the way quickly, so houseplant consultant Jocelyn Perez Blanco, founder of the New York-based Herban Garden Company, suggests bamboo palms for those with limited floor space. “They grow more upright and don’t spread like majesty or saloon palms, so they are great corner plants,” Perez-Blanco says. The salon palm, which prefers bright, indirect light, is flexible enough to withstand a bit of wasted watering.

Philodendrons. Late philodendron can hang from the ceiling or sit on a shelf opposite the window. If you prefer to use your wall, Cox suggests placing a plant on a side table or shelf and creating an ivy look by installing backgrowths to clear hooks. Pothos, also part of the aroid family, is another popular, low-maintenance option. Both philodendron and pothos thrive in bright, indirect light with watering once a week or every two weeks, depending on light exposure.

Aloe vera. Vertical cactus plants, which lend a sculptural look to a room without compromising horizontal space, grow in bright windows (south, east or west). “Aloe plants have very little growth, so they are a much simpler option both physically and aesthetically than lush, curvy or bushy plants,” Cox says. Just beware of the pricks if you have children or pets.

Stromanth Tristar. Like others in the prayer plant family, the striking pink-green leaves fold upward at night and spread slightly when it’s sunny. But in general, says Perez Blanco, the plant remains compact even as it grows taller. Stromanthe plants do best with weekly watering and bright, indirect light, especially if you want to maintain their color.

peperomia; Nick Kotsumpas, a Los Angeles plant consultant, recommends the slow-growing peperomia plant for new plant parents and those who live in small spaces. The peperomia plant has succulent-like properties, so it tends to retain water and requires less maintenance. Try placing one in a small vase on a bookshelf or nightstand opposite a window; You probably won’t have to repot them as frequently as other houseplants.

air stations. If you’d rather not care about pots at all (and want a less traditional look), Cutsumpas recommends air plants that don’t require soil to grow. You can display air plants in a terrarium, on a mantel, or on a table as a centerpiece. It also does not require much maintenance. “Some people like to spray air plants, but if you prefer not to wet your furniture, you can submerge them in a tub full of water for 10 minutes once every few weeks,” says Kotsumpas.

Aloe vera. Combine form and function with this growing aloe vera plant. Like the snake plant, the cactus plant does not require much water to survive. Also, says Kutsumbas, it takes a long time for it to get bigger. Keep an aloe vera plant within easy reach of the kitchen or bathroom, so you can use the gel for burns and cuts.

Ashley Abramson is a freelance writer in Wisconsin.

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