Can plants thrive in bathrooms? Well, it depends. In short, it's most accurate to say that some plants thrive in most bathrooms.
Houseplants have different growth requirements, including sunlight, water, humidity, temperature, and physical space. While most bathrooms have water, there are variables in the amount of heat, humidity, and available sunlight. Here are our favorite selections that should work in average bathroom conditions.
1. Asparagus Fern
Airy, lacy asparagus ferns (Asparagus densiflorus) provide a fabulous contrast to the hard, shiny tiles that "pave" a typical bathroom. This soft-looking (but actually thorny) and very attractive houseplant loves the humidity of a bathroom. In fact, the plant will decline in a room without humidity unless misted daily. Not to worry if your bathroom — like most — isn't full of bright sunlight. The asparagus fern does just fine in low-light conditions. It can grow to 24 inches tall in well draining soil, but prefers to stay in the same pot for a couple of years.
2. Peace Lily
For elegance combined with easy-care ways, you can't beat the peace lily (Spathiphyllum spp.). The forest green leaves are large and graceful, and the pure white flowers rise like little flags above the foliage on long stocks. Peace lilies are great options for the bathroom vanity since they like consistently moist soil and appreciate a bathroom's humidity levels. They also do very well in limited light, but if your bathroom gets some sun, you are more likely to see flowers.
3. Cast-Iron Plant
The "cast-iron" (Aspidistra elatior) in the common name tips you off that this is a tough plant, and that it is. This leafy foliage plant is virtually indestructible, and tolerates any amount of shade. A low-maintenance tropical houseplant, its bright green foliage can grow to four feet tall over time. Cast-iron plants thrive in regular bathrooms because they do well in warmth and humidity. But they are also great for occasionally used guest bathrooms that get chilly since the houseplants survive temperatures down to 23 degrees Farhenheit.
4. Moth Orchids
Orchids have primadona reputations, but easier-care orchids (like moth orchids) are perfect for a warm, humid bathroom. Remember that orchids grow in bark, not soil, and they prefer it damp but not wet. This is a tip-off that they will thrive on a bathroom vanity. Their flowers are bright and intricately gorgeous and they bloom for weeks on end. Since moth orchids (Phalaenopsis spp.) are smaller plants, try grouping three together for a stunning display. You'll find pink, red, purple, and white orchids, each more beautiful than the last.
Buy now: The Sill Petite White Orchid, $75
5. Chinese Evergreen
For a pleasant tropical ambiance, consider posing a Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema spp.) on the bathroom vanity. These large-leaved perennial houseplants can grow to 48 inches tall but often stay half that size. They have all the qualities you'd want in a best friend, being forgiving, flexible, and adaptable. For example, Chinese evergreen don't mind if you forget to water. They adore humidity but tolerate dry air and prefer low-light conditions. Look for the 'Silver Queen' cultivar for silver and pink variegation.
6. Tropical Pitcher Plant
Call them Nepenthes or use the cute nickname "monkey cups," you are sure to be enthralled with a tropical pitcher plant (Nepenthes spp.) in the bathroom. All Nepenthes are carnivorous vines. To find their "meat," they grow the signature pitchers that are filled with a fluid that both attracts insects and helps the plants digest them. Since tropical pitcher plants prefer moist soil and humid air, they'll be happy on your bathroom vanity.
Buy now: Verdant Lyfe, $16
7. Watermelon Peperomia
Here's a little plant that makes an oversized statement on a bathroom vanity. This low-light-loving houseplant is simply adorable with rounded leaves striped like a watermelon. If you've got a small bathroom, look no further since the peperomia's compact size makes it ideal for narrow vanities or shelves. Despite its darling looks, peperomia (Peperomia argyreia) is a tough cookie and incredibly easy to care for. It thrives on humidity, and only needs occasional watering.
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.