Whatever your style, however big or small your living room, and no matter what kind of light it gets, there is an indoor plant that can help you make a statement about your personal style and sensibilities. Here are six perfect houseplants for six different living rooms.
1. For a boho-chic living room:
If you are a free-spirited individual with bohemian style, it's going to show up in your living room. You are likely to create a whimsical, one-of-a-kind space to relax and socialize by blending the rustic and the minimal, the vintage and the artsy. The right houseplant can pull the entire look together.
String of pearls succulents (Senecio rowleyanus) are just the ticket. These plants are just as idiosyncratic as you are, plants that don't play by the rules. If they look slightly vintage, it's because they remind you of those plastic pop-apart beads you played dress-up with as a kid. The quirky succulent's foliage is made up of green pea-size "beads" strung on remarkable hanging stems that can grow to a yard long.
Plant Care: Position your plant in indirect light, use soil designed for cacti and wait to water until the soil dries out.
Get the look: String of pearls
2. For a midcentury-modern living room:
The midcentury look is still going strong — that 1950s aesthetic that swept the country when WWII was over, the economy was booming, and new homes had to be built fast. This period ushered in a new universe of mass-produced home furnishings starring plywood, glass, metal, vinyl, and Lucite.
The look has somehow transmogrified into a new, cool modern classic where functionality is valued above ornament. If this describes your living room, your space is filled with simple forms and natural shapes, never overstuffed and always inviting. Each piece of furniture and decor stands on its own — just like you do. So you'll need a houseplant that stands on its own as well.
The fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lycata) has what it takes to fit and fulfill a midcentury living room. These ficus plants are tall, stand-alone specimens with large, violin-shaped leaves positioned architecturally on an upright trunk. Each plant is an individual masterpiece, growing to 6 feet tall and making its own statement.
Plant care: Give this unique ficus indirect light and keep the well-draining soil moist.
Get the look: Fiddle leaf fig
3. For a small yet cozy living room:
When your living room is small, you have to choose your plants with special care so that they don't overwhelm the room. Delicate grace is what we're going for here. Something green and growing makes a living area feel like home, but you don't want to be tripping over stems or find yourself without a spot to set a coffee cup.
A perfect choice for small living spaces is the lovely Delta maidenhair nest fern (Adiantum Raddianum). It works well as a hanging plant (to free up table space) with a lush but delicate look. The fronds are tiny and fan-shaped, a fresh shade of green, and grouped in a pattern that looks like lace. (Seriously, it's time to stock up on ferns.)
Plant care: Maidenhair fern are understory plants in the wild, so provide low, indirect light, a mild indoor temperature and regular irrigation. Spray the fronds with water daily or set the pot on a pebble tray to provide the humidity the fern requires.
Get the look: Maidenhair fern
4. For a bright and light living room:
While furniture styles come and go, sunshine in a living space is a sought-after attribute that never goes out of favor. But those same rays that light up a room make it more difficult to find a houseplant that will enjoy them as much as you do. While most houseplants accept a little direct sun, only a few fall into the "more sun the better" category.
If your room is spacious as well as sunny, live your bliss by bringing in an Abyssinian banana (Ensete ventricosum 'Maurellii'). This banana relative is utterly breathtaking, with enormous paddle-shaped leaves in an intense red-purple. They grow in a spiral from a short central stem. The plant grows to 10 feet tall, and the more sun it gets, the deeper the color of the foliage.
Plant care: Lots of sun and warmth all year. Regular generous water all year and daily water spray to up the humidity. Well-draining soil is essential. Provide nutrients with slow-release pellets fertilizer in spring.
Get the look: Abyssinian red banana
5. For a low-light living room:
If you are tired of the standards offered for low-light areas, we can't blame you. Just because your living area isn't bright doesn't mean you shouldn't get a houseplant that is gorgeous and extravagant. In fact, one could argue that its more important to get a dramatic plant in a low-light situation.
We've got you covered with Limelight Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis 'Limelight'), a corn plant with long, glossy, electric lime green leaves. The less sunlight it gets, the better it maintains the acid green that makes it so eye-catching. A happy plant will grow to 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
Plant care: Give Limelight a shady spot and well-draining potting soil. It needs regular water to keep that soil moist and a pebble tray beneath it helps with humidity.
Get the look: Limelight Dracaena
6. For a simple, minimalist living room:
A minimalist aesthetic celebrates simplicity, focus, and restraint. It's an artistic vision that limits objects to those that are truly important, leaving ample space for your own priorities.
Integrating houseplants into a minimalist living area involves both the planter and the plant. Together they should convey a sense of clarity and harmony with lots of breathing room. In that vein, we suggest a plant that will both enrich your environment with its uncluttered lines and purify the air by removing toxins: Sansevieria trifasciata.
You may know this plant as the snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue, or St. George's sword. But despite the complex common names, this Sansevieria is refreshingly simple with clean lines and minimal care requirements. Each stiff stalk shoots upright like a blade or tongue or fire in banded shades of green. NASA named them among the best air-cleaning plants.
Plant care: This is a very flexible plant, growing well in bright sun or low light. It tolerates neglect as long as it is planted in well-draining soil and gets an occasional drink.
Get the look: Sansevieria (snake plant)
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. A professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler has written about home and garden for Gardening Know How, San Francisco Chronicle, Gardening Guide and Go Banking Rates. She earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.