Entryway plants are your botanical pets, the ones that greet you at the door, happy and welcoming. Nothing brittle, barbed, stark, or sterile here please! You'll want what poet E.E. Cummings describes as "leaping greenly spirits," plants that remind you that the world is full of wonder, that life is good, that everything will be OK.
Picking entryway plants is a very personal matter and not everyone will be looking for the same thing. That's why we're giving you 10 candidates that we "read" as enchanting. Some are trailing, some are upright, some stand as tall as you are. See which one calls to you.
1. Maidenhair Fern
If soft and delicate is your idea of happiness, maidenhair fern (Adiantum spp.) is one to consider. With its small, lacy leaves in a fresh green hue, it creates a romantic atmosphere and is likely to bring a smile to every face. This fern will be happy in any entryway environment that doesn't get direct light, but it does need moist soil at all times. Spray its fine foliage with water daily and keep the pot on a pebble tray with water to increase humidity.
2. String of Pearls
A string of pearls plant (Senecio rowleyanus) is just made to cascade from a handing basket in a well-lit entryway. This stand-out succulent from southwest Africa has trailing leaves like strings of pea-size beads that sway in the breeze. An elegant and unusual plant, string of pearls is drought tolerant and grows quickly with indirect light and occasional watering. You must allow the plant to dry out entirely between drinks.
3. Croton Plant
Big, bright leaves in bold patterns of yellow, orange, pink, red, and green: that's the trademark of the croton plant (Codiaeum variegatum pictum), although there are many varieties and innumerable cultivars, each with its own distinctive look. Few plants will give you such a bang for the buck of a welcome than the croton, with vibrant colors in joyful mixes. Try Petra for a plant with warm tropical hues and and exotic leaf patterns. Set a croton on a pebble tray on a table or shelf in the entryway, where it can get plenty of humidity and indirect light. Enjoy a fireworks welcome every time you walk in the door.
4. Million Hearts Plant
Here's a plant that wears its heart on its sleeve. Or, rather, hearts. As the name suggests, million hearts plant (Dischidia ruscifolia) is an ornamental trailing plant with leaves in a chain of small, puffy hearts, each about 1/2 of an inch wide. The stems are slender and, after arching from the base, cascade down under the weight of the leaves. The stems grow to 3 feet long with the heart-leaves twistingly arranged to expose themselves to maximum light. Look for long-lasting tiny white flowers in leaf axils throughout the year. Give this plant some sun and moist, well-draining soil.
5. Heartleaf Philodendron
Here's another plant with leaves in the shape of hearts, but this one has big, vibrant foliage. You'll never see a plant that looks more lively than a healthy heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum). Place this trailing foliage plant on a shelf or hang it from an entryway peg so that its richly verdant leaves cascade down the wall to greet you. If you are looking for an easy-care plant, this is it. Give it low light or indirect sun and it will thrive. Water thoroughly but infrequently, letting the soil dry completely between drinks.
6. Fiddle-Leaf Fig
If your entryway is shady and spacious, consider the fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lycata) as the first plant friend you see as you return home. It's a perfect indoor specimen plant, a tall upright beauty with enormous, heavily veined, violin-shaped leaves. Native to the tropics, fiddle-leaf figs like warm conditions and bright, filtered light and moist soil. The plants grow to 6 feet tall, so put yours on the entryway floor.
7. Persian Shield
Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyeranus) will inspire and thrill you. This gorgeous foliage plant is from Myanmar, not Persia, but the 8-inch leaves are shaped like little armor shields ready for battle and the iridescent purple gives them a silvery metallic appearance. It makes a terrific entryway houseplant for a sunny area since it tends to bloom during winter. It grows to 3 feet tall and, when it blooms, shows off with tiny violet flower spikes.
8. Peace Lily
The peace lily (Spathiphyllum spp.) is not related to the true lily clan, but you can't hold that against it. It's called "lily" because the flowers resemble calla lilies, with shining, hoodlike bracts like white flags of surrender. These serene tropical ornamentals are understory rainforest plants, and their big, bold leaves prefer dappled light. They can grow to 4 feet tall and, according to NASA, are among the top 10 household plants for cleaning the air. Easy to care for and forgiving, peace lilies are good company.
9. Corn Plant
The corn plant (Dracaena fragrans Massangeana) looks like a regular corn plant with an exceptionally beautiful growth habit. The erect trunk — which grows to 6 feet indoors or 20 feet outdoors — offers arching green lance-like leaves a couple of feet long, each carrying a broad yellow band in its center. This graceful and cheerful plant will astound you with its ability to resist almost any combination of growing conditions in your entryway, from full sun to shade. It is said to be unkillable and can greet you at the door for decades to come.
10. Angel Wings
With large papery leaves shaped like hearts or arrowheads, angel wings (Caladium spp.) are striking foliage plants. The bright, splotchy combinations of green, pink, red, and white light up a partial shade entryway, adding an element of soft pizzazz. Some get to 24 inches tall. Try Red Flash for vibrant olive leaves with hot pink veining and freckling, Carolyn Whorton for pink leaves bordered in forest green and veined in crimson, or White Wing, with ivory leaves bordered in dark green. Grow these happy plants in partial shade.