The Best Houseplants, According To An Interior Designer


Houseplants do wonders for the home. They breathe life into a room, add architectural dimension, filter the air, and even make us happier! Today, we’re sharing our favorite unique houseplants, according to an interior designer. 

If you want to go the extra mile, have fun with the pots and vases used to house your new plant babies. We love weathered vintage pots to add texture to the room, and we often seek out printed and patterned options as well. Play with contrast—a leafy green plant can really pop when it’s placed in a brightly hued planter—have fun with it, and let your personality shine through!

Keep reading to discover the best house plants according to an interior designer!


Fiddle Leaf Fig

Image via Emily Henderson

Ideal for a modern or bohemian style home, the fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) brings the tropics indoors. We love to use them in the corner of a room, or next to a console or chair to draw the eye upwards. And we adore the tree-like form they take on as they grow. This gives a wonderful dimension to the room, and really feels like you’ve brought the outside in!

Pro Tip: Fiddle leaf figs are notoriously tricky to keep happy and healthy, so if you’re new to houseplants, get into the groove with some easier varieties before leveling up to this finicky beauty.

Light: Needs lots of bright indirect sunlight. This plant will not survive if it does not get enough sunlight, so make sure to take this into consideration when deciding if this plant is right for your room. Typically, placing it right next to a window works best.

If you want to place your fiddle leaf fig in a room that does not get a ton of sunlight, or you need to place it away from a window, we recommend getting a grow light to help it to survive. 

Water: Water once every 5-10 days so that the soil can dry out a bit between waterings. A great way to know when it’s time to water is to stick your finger in the soil. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water. If it feels moist, wait a few more days. Or if you prefer, you can use a moisture meter to help determine when you need to water. 

Make sure to water thoroughly (you should see water running out of the bottom of the pot). However, be cautious not to let your Fiddle Leaf Fig sit in standing water for long as it could develop root rot. 

Soil: Any common potting soil will work. However, having a soil that drains well is very important for these plants to survive. 

Pro Tip: Mix some cactus soil in with your common potting soil to help with drainage. 

Humidity: This plant LOVES humidity. The regular humidity level in your home will not be enough for a Fiddle Leaf Fig. We recommend misting daily, placing a humidity tray (tray filled with pebbles and water) underneath your plant, or placing a humidifier nearby. You can also place other plants around your Fiddle Leaf Fig to help create some extra humidity.

Toxicity: This plant should not be ingested as it can cause stomach irritation. Be conscious of this if you have pets or children who may think snacking on this plant is a fun idea. 

Birds of Paradise

Image via The Planty Life

For a more classic look that still brings height to a room, opt for a birds of paradise. We love these in victorian-style homes, but they’re versatile enough to fit into any decor! They love sunlight and are fairly easy to care for. These come in many different and wonderful varieties, so you’re sure to find one that fits your style and home! 

The two varieties that can be grown indoors are the Strelitzia reginae, the orange Bird of Paradise, and the Strelitzia nicolai, the white Bird of Paradise.

Light: Birds of Paradise thrive in sunlight. They can handle anything from direct sunlight to bright indirect sunlight. These can also survive potted outside in temperatures of 30 degrees Fahrenheit and above. If you live in a colder climate, make sure to bring them inside in the winter—but in the spring, summer and fall months, they can make an excellent addition to your porch or patio. 

Water: Keep the soil moist but not soggy. When the top 1-2 inches of the soil are dry, that’s when it’s time to water.

Soil: Almost any potting soil will work with these plants as long as it is a quality, well draining soil. 

Humidity: Being a tropical plant, Birds of Paradise love and need humidity. However, they can adapt to normal household humidity levels. If you really want your plant to thrive and grow then, place it in a room with a humidifier or consider misting it every couple of days. 

Toxicity: Mildly toxics—so if you have any curious pets or children, steer clear of this plant or make sure it is placed somewhere out of reach. 


Image via Martha Stewart

To break up clean lines in the home, choose a plant with geometric, billowing shapes. Monsteras (Monstera deliciosa), also known as the swiss cheese plant, have been all the rage for years now, and we don’t foresee this trend changing! Why wouldn’t they be, when these plants are so extremely beautiful and eye-catching! They’re also very easy to care for, which is great news for plant newbies.

Pro Tip: If you love to propagate your plants to give to loved ones, these are an excellent choice. Simply clip them right below a node, place in a clear vessel of water in a sunny area, and wait a few weeks for a thick root system to form before passing along or replanting.

Light: Can survive in low light or bright indirect light. However, if you want those big beautiful leaves with all the perforations, place this plant in a space with bright indirect light. In low light, the leaves will not grow large or develop perforated holes. 

Water: Water when the top 2 inches of the soil become dry. This will typically be every 1-2 weeks, depending on the humidity conditions in your home. Monsteras are another plant where the moisture meter can help you determine when you need to water. 

Soil: This plant will thrive in a quality indoor potting soil. Keep in mind that these plants grow very quickly, so you will likely need to re-pot often, increasing the size of the pot each time in order to ensure your plant does not become root-bound, which can kill the plant.

Humidity: Monsteras are another tropical plant that loves humidity and will thrive under humid conditions. However, they can easily adapt to most typical home humidity levels. 

Toxicity: This is a toxic plant! If ingested this plant will cause stomach irritation and possibly vomiting. So be cautious with this plant around curious pets and children.


Pothos & Philodendron

Image via East & Gray Interiors

In our opinion, pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and philodendrons are some of the most classic house plants that look spectacular with any décor. Let them grow long and cascade down the side of a bookcase, or keep them trim and tall. Plus, neither plant requires a ton of light (indirect is best and full sun is too much). These are excellent plants for beginners, but you’ll find that even the most plant-savvy people still love them!

Light: Indirect sunlight is best. Bright direct light is too much for these plants.

Water: Let them completely dry out in between waterings—if they look a bit droopy, give them a drink and the leaves will bounce back in a day or so. Water when the top 2-3 inches of the soil feel dry to the touch.

Soil: We recommend potting in a quality indoor potting soil, however these plants are very laid back and should do well in almost any potting soil. 

Humidity: Can tolerate almost any humidity level but will really thrive at a level of 50% – 70% humidity. 

Toxicity: These plants are toxic to pets. It’s best to keep them off the ground and away from where curious pets may be tempted to snack on these leaves. 

Maidenhair Fern 

Image via Swoon Worthy

Maidenhair ferns (Adiantum spp.) are one of our all time favorite plants ever! We consider ferns a delicate, soft plant—their understated, petite leaves feel feathery to the touch and will bounce and sway with any airflow that enters the room. They’ll bring a wild, lush feel to your home and tons of textural interest. This is why they are a favorite of ours to add that extra oomph to a room!

Pro Tip: Ferns are fussy! Be careful not to over OR under-water them. Make sure the pot has proper drainage to avoid root-rot. They also love humidity, so they’ll be happier in a bathroom or kitchen. 

Light: Survive best in low light or indirect light situations. In nature these ferns are found in shaded areas, so you want to mimic this kind of light when deciding where to place your fern. Avoid direct light.

Water: It’s a good idea to give your fern multiple water sources to ensure it never dries out. The soil should stay moist, not soggy. You will likely need to water every day or every other day to ensure the soil remains moist. Never let the soil dry out.

Soil: You want the soil to be moist but well drained potting soil. To help your fern retain water, mix in moss or other organic matter into the soil.

Humidity: Requires a warm, humid living environment. Misting with our favorite mister a couple times a day with warm water can help your plant to really thrive. You may also want to consider placing a humidifier nearby. 

Keep away from any cold, drafty places that get below 60 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature. Survives best in rooms that are kept at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Toxicity: Non-toxic to pets.

Chinese Money Plant

Image via LA Times

If unique is what you seek, you’ll love the look of a Chinese money plant, or Pilea peperomioides. These one-of-a-kind plants have coin-like leaves that look as though they’re floating in the air. They look best in short or wider planters, and look fabulous when placed in pots that have beautiful patterns, bright colors, or textural depth.  

Light: Thrive in bright indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight will burn the leaves. 

Water: Water approximately once a week or when the soil is almost completely dry.

Soil: Plant in a quality indoor potting soil. Requires well drained soil. Best to plant in a pot with drainage holes to ensure that the soil can drain well. 

Humidity: Can survive in almost any humidity level, however they will really thrive if kept in a room with a humidity level between 50% – 75%. Really dry environments are not recommended as they could cause the leaves to dry out and die.

Toxicity: Is non-toxic to pets. However, the ASPCA still discourages cats from chewing on the leaves of this plant. As with any plant that is non-toxic, ingesting enough of the leaves could cause stomach irritation. 


Red Oxalis

Image via Domino

While we absolutely love green, it’s fun to experiment with different shades when bringing plants into the home. The red oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) brings a deeply saturated violet that we adore. Play with contrast to make the leaves the focal point by placing them in a light colored, neutral pot. Keep them in a sunny spot for best results.

We also adore pairing plants that have color like this with lush green plants to create depth and visual interest in a space. Playing with varying colors creates living art in your room! 

Light: Prefer partial direct sunlight or bright indirect sunlight.

Water: Water approximately every 1-2 weeks. Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out in-between waterings.

Soil: Best to use a well-drained quality indoor potting soil. This plant cannot tolerate soggy soil. Best to feed once a month in the spring and summer months with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer.

Humidity: Prefers a humid environment. Mist often or place next to a humidifier if the plant is in a room with a dry environment. 

Toxicity: Toxic to cats and dogs.

Prayer Plant

Image via Keelly 91 Blog

This is our runner up for most-loved house plant! With varying shades of light and dark green, plus even sometimes red and violet depending on the particular plant, the prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) is one of our favorite plants for adding a burst of color and pattern to a room. Plus, prayer plants literally open and close their leaves! At night, you’ll see that the leaves close together into “prayer hands”—hence the name. During the day, they’ll open back up to reveal their faces. 

Around here I playfully refer to this plant as a “zebra plant” because the gorgeous contrasting shades mimic a zebra’s stripes in my mind’s eye!

Light: Thrives in bright indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight—too much sun will fade the color from the leaves and could burn the leaves. 

Water: Water when the top 25% of the soil is dry to the touch. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Use your moisture meter with this plant! Thoroughly water until water flows through the drainage holes of your pot. Then pour out the water that has accumulated in the saucer. You do not want your prayer plant to sit in water. 

Soil: Prefers well drained soil. This is another plant that we recommend planting in a pot with drainage holes. A pro-tip is to place the plastic pot the plant comes with in a decorative and attractive planter so that you can easily check the drainage and ensure the plant is never sitting in standing water which can lead to root-rot. 

Humidity: Adores humidity. Best to lightly mist every few days. Placing them in the bathroom or kitchen is always a good idea. If you want them in a lower-humidity room, simply place them in close proximity to other plants to increase their exposure to moisture, or add a humidifier to any room where this plant lives.

Toxicity: Non-toxic to cats, dogs and humans.



Image via East & Gray Interiors

Ideal for the plant novice and suitable for almost any environment, succulents make for excellent houseplants. Pot different varieties together for a diverse and colorful potting arrangement, or let a lone plant be the center of attention. 

Pro Tip: We love succulents for bedside tables because they don’t take up much space or shed leaves, but they also make excellent centerpieces of a kitchen table or island. 

Light: Succulents love sunlight. They need about 6 hours of light per day. 

Be cautious with new succulents you bring into your home. They may need to be gradually exposed to lots of direct sunlight. Their leaves can get sourched by too much direct sunlight if they are not used to the direct light yet.

Water: Water only once the soil is fully dry. Thoroughly water until water flows through the drainage holes of your pot. Then pour out the water that has accumulated in the saucer. You do not want your succulent to sit in water. 

If the leaves feel soft or are wrinkled and flat, it’s time to water. Full plump leaves mean your succulent’s leaves are filled with water and it does not need watering at that time.

Soil: Use a well-draining indoor potting mix made for cacti and succulents. Do not use gardening soil.

Humidity: Can thrive in all humidity levels. Does not require any specific humidity level and can survive in dry air. 

Toxicity: Most succulents are non-toxic to pets and humans. However, you should always check with the employees at the store where you purchase your plant on the toxicity of the specific succulent you are purchasing, as there definitely are some succulents that are toxic to pets and humans. 

Aloe Vera

Image via Melissa Mathe Interior Design

Known widely for its healing and soothing properties, the aloe (Asphodelaceae vera) plant is well known and loved. Luckily, aloe also makes for an excellent house plant. They’re extremely hearty, don’t require much water or light, and look stunning no matter what size.

Pro Tip: Snip off a tip of one of the branches any time you have a burn, cut or other sore. Slice open the leaf to reveal the soft, jelly-like pulp which can be scraped out and placed directly on the affected area. 

Light: Prefers bright indirect sunlight to full sun. 

Water: Water only once the soil is fully dry. Thoroughly water until water flows through the drainage holes of your pot. Then pour out the water that has accumulated in the saucer. You do not want your aloe plant to sit in water. 

Soil: Use a well-draining indoor potting mix made for cacti and succulents. Do not use gardening soil.

Humidity: Can thrive in all humidity levels. Does not require any specific humidity level and can survive in dry air. 

Toxicity: Mildly toxic to pets and humans. Can cause mouth irritation and stomach indigestion if ingested. 

Snake Plants & Zee Zee Plants

Image via East & Gray Interiors

Snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata) and zee zee (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) plants bring a fun, desert-like ambiance to any room. Well known for their air-filtering abilities, these plants purify the air in your home by taking in carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen into the air. 

We particularly love these plants because they don’t need a ton of sunlight and do best when not watered too often. They are an excellent choice when just starting your venture into plant parenthood—and are fantastic options for areas in your home that do not get a lot of sunlight (think: basements, powder rooms or foyers). 

Pro Tip: Snake plants and zee zee plants are an excellent choice for those hard-to-style corners of your home. Place the pot directly on the floor, or look for a plant stand with legs for extra height!

Light: Prefer low indirect sunlight. However, they will still do well in bright indirect light environments. You will see them grow, and the zee zee plant’s leaves will become much bigger in bright indirect light situations. 

Water: Water every 2-3 weeks. Allow soil to dry out between waterings. These plants are naturally drought tolerant.

Soil: Best to use a well-drained quality indoor potting soil. Snake plants like sandy soil. 

Humidity: Can thrive in all humidity levels. Will do best in environments that have a 40% – 50% humidity level. 

Toxicity: Snake plants are toxic to pets and humans. Zee zee plants are mildly toxic to pets and humans.

What are your favorite house plants? We’d love to hear!

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Interior Designer Andrea Durcik Columbus Ohio

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Traveling, animals, and all things design encompass Andrea’s life, fueling her creative energy every step of the way.

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