Plants are having a moment and surging in popularity as we look to beautify our spaces both at home and in the office.
“Plants are gaining their deserved recognition because they bring continual cheer, add something living and fresh despite the season, and give the plant lover a daily act to care and admire their plant,” says Alfred Palomares, vice president of merchandising at 1-800-Flowers.com.
Our selection of common houseplants was put together with the guidance of Palomares and Renato Cruz Sogueco, an instructor at Floriology, a subsidiary of 1-800-Flowers.com that offers courses focusing on the latest floral design trends.
These 11 popular picks instantly inject a diversity of texture, color, and shape into any home or office. “Ever venture into a jungle? If not, you can certainly create your own with the incredible menagerie of plants we’ve recommended,” Sogueco says.
Baby rubber plant (Peperomia obtusifolia)
The baby rubber plant, a native of Mexico to northern South America and the Caribbean, is a consistent choice in a plant lover’s collection. It earned 1-800-Flowers.com’s selection for the plant of the year because it is a beautiful, resilient plant that represents optimism for today’s times. This little plant is semi-succulent, with thick, fleshy leaves and stems that retain water. It has bright green leaves or a combination of ivory and green in its variegated form. Its tiny white flowers are borne on 3-to-5-inch-tall spikes in the summer. This is an attractive little plant that will fit nicely in any décor.
Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata)
Snake plant, also known as the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue from its long sharply pointed leaves, comes in a number of eye-catching varieties, both short and tall. It comes from Africa and is widely known as Sansevieria but is now officially called Dracaena. The most common snake plant varieties are tall, sword-like plants with horizontal whitish markings or yellow stripes along the sides of the 1-to-2-inch-wide flat leaves that end in a sharp point. Snake plants are excellent air purifiers, and they make a strong statement as vertical accents on the floor or a table.
ZZ plant, Zanzibar gem (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
ZZ plants are 2-to-3-inch tall, exotic-looking plants with deep green, glossy, elliptical leaflets, and dark green stems. They come from the forests and dry grasslands of eastern and southern Africa, and are so bright and shiny that they are sometimes mistaken as artificial. “Zanzibar gem or ZZ plants are an option to add a vertical element to the home jungle,” Sogueco says. “Their luscious dark green leaves contribute both stunning color and shape to the space.”
Monstera, Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa)
Monstera, or Swiss cheese plant, is a large climbing plant with deeply split leaves that can reach 3 inches long. “If you’re into odd shapes, nothing compares with including a Monstera to your plant mix,” Sogueco says. “When you purchase a young plant, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the leaves develop their distinctive holes as they mature.” Monstera is outstanding as a large floor plant, with a stunning, tropical look that will enhance any space.
Echeveria succulent (Echeveria spp.)
Echeveria is a small, flat succulent with thick, tongue-shaped leaves that come to a sharp point. The plants are only 2 to 3 inches in diameter and come in a variety of colors: light green, gray with pink or purple edges, pink, bluish-green, or white. Echeverias are often planted in little dish gardens with other succulents or cacti and are a lively addition to a bright windowsill or table.
Juniper bonsai (Juniperus sp.)
Trees that are clipped and wired according to the ancient Japanese art of bonsai create miniature replicas of full-sized plants. Junipers are the most popular trees used for bonsai because of their ease of training, adaptability to various conditions, and exotic, windswept shape. With their blue-green foliage and gnarled trunks, juniper bonsais are beautiful little trees that appear like works of art and create a calming atmosphere wherever they’re placed.
Fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata)
The fiddle leaf fig is a stylish floor plant that will be a focal point in your mini jungle. Its shiny, violin-shaped leaves, measuring 12 inches by 8 inches, hang on graceful, slender trunks that can reach up to 10 feet tall indoors. It is native to the rainforests of western Africa, and as a houseplant will make a strong, large-textured statement in a home or office.
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema sp.)
Chinese evergreens are one of the current darlings of the houseplant world because of their adaptability and beautiful colors. Their ovate leaves come in charming patterns of green, pink, cream, silver, and white. Chinese evergreens are native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and have been bred extensively for their colors. They grow 1 foot tall and wide, and make excellent foliage plants for any décor.
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)
Aloe vera is famous for the soothing healing gel inside its succulent leaves. The plants can grow 1 to 2 inches high, and their fleshy, pointed, green leaves are covered with white markings and have soft spines along the edges. They are native to northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. This multi-tasking plant is attractive and has the added benefit of being an emergency salve for bites, stings, and burns.
Calla lily, Arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
Graceful and elegant, calla lilies steal the show with their slanted, cup-like flowers and long, arching leaves. The flowers come in various colors: pink, deep burgundy, white, yellow, or orange. They are a favorite cut flower for weddings and handsome floral arrangements but are equally beautiful as live, growing houseplants. Calla lilies are native to the subtropical regions of South Africa and Swaziland.
Lucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
Lucky bamboo is a popular plant gift because it is said to bring wealth and good luck. According to feng shui wisdom, the plant will increase the flow of positive energy in an office or home when placed in the proper direction. Its canes and sharply pointed leaves make it look very much like bamboo, but it is not related. In Chinese culture, the number of stalks and how they are arranged is significant and carries special meaning. It is often sold with stems that are twisted, curled, braided, or grouped into appealing designs.