21 Small Indoor Plants for Apartment Dwellers

21 Small Indoor Plants For Apartment Dwellers Ft Via Merchant RD.COM, VIA MERCHANT (3)

Indoor plants that don’t need much space

Just because you don’t have a five-bedroom mansion doesn’t mean you can’t start working on growing an indoor jungle. There are plenty of indoor plants that thrive in smaller spaces, the teensiest of which can look adorable clustered together on a windowsill. Plants add a decorative element that knickknacks cannot: “Plants soften up the interior of a room,” says horticulturist Anil Chandrakumar, a garden coordinator with the New York City Parks Department. Plus, compact houseplants don’t just spruce up the joint; they actually improve the environment inside your home. “Houseplants have health benefits,” says Chandrakumar. “They reduce pollution, improve air quality and give you company throughout the four seasons.” Here are the top picks for getting started with apartment-friendly low-maintenance indoor plants. If you can’t find them in your local plant store or nursery, you can buy plants online.

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Croton petra

Codieaum variegatum

Known for their brightly patterned oval-shaped leaves, these compact tropical shrubs bring a Jamaican resort vibe to any room. Croton petra love light, water and humidity, which makes them great plants for your bathroom. “It’s best to put them near a window because the more light they get, the better their color gets,” says Chandrakumar. And if your apartment has a terrace or balcony, they can happily live outside in the summer too.

Pros:

  • Colorful leaves
  • Loves warm rooms

Cons:

  • Dislikes low-humidity environments
  • Requires frequent watering

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Pothos

Epipremnum aureum

This tiny plant is nearly bulletproof: Water it a lot or a little, let it live in full sun or a dark bedroom—it’s really just not that picky. The trailing nature of the pothos makes it great for sitting atop bookshelves and a perfect candidate for propagation. “It’s the ideal apartment plant,” says Chandrakumar. “You can’t kill it, it looks great and you’ve started creating your own urban jungle.”

Pros:

  • Hard to kill
  • Easy to propagate

Con:

  • Can be toxic for kids and pets

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Christmas cactus

Schlumbergera bridgesii

When winter starts to settle in, this small cactus plant puts on a surprising, colorful show, bursting into abundant exotic blooms seemingly overnight. Unlike some other cacti, this one doesn’t require abundant direct sunlight, and it needs a little bit more water. Keep it in a showcase spot with bright, indirect light and water it every two or three weeks. The flattened stems of this stunner don’t have needles to prick you when you’re tending to it, and the flowers last for weeks.

Pros:

  • Visual interest
  • Low-maintenance plant

Con:

  • Can get root rot if overwatered

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Flamingo flower

Anthurium andraeanum

Once more of a rarity, this waxy plant with heart-shaped leaves is now easily found at many big-box stores. Flamingo flowers love bright light—although not direct sunlight—and consistent moisture so they don’t dry out. They also burst with red and yellow colors. (The red part looks like a flower, but it technically isn’t.) “This plant is shiny and has a nice glow to it,” says Chandrakumar.

Pros:

  • Loves bright light
  • Adds color interest

Con:

  • Can get brown tips on leaves

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Fiddle leaf fig

Ficus Lyrata

Technically, this one isn’t terribly small for a houseplant, but the fiddle leaf fig is petite for a tree! And you can find smaller versions that are even more compact, reaching just over a foot in height. This evergreen prefers light shade and a moderate amount of watering. And by all accounts, it’s a very low-maintenance roomie. “If you rub the leaves with baby oil, it gives it a nice shine,” Chandrakumar says.

Pros:

  • Low maintenance
  • Violin-shaped foliage

Cons:

  • Watch for spider mites

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Aloe vera

Aloe barbadensis miller

This spiky succulent can start small enough for a windowsill pot but grow up to two feet high. Aloe vera loves bright light, and it should be watered very moderately in spring, summer and fall—even less often in the winter. “It has health benefits as well,” says Chandrakumar. “If you ever get a burn, you can break off a leaf, and you can rub the sap on it.”

Pros:

  • Doesn’t require much water
  • Medicinal benefits

Con:

  • Watch for mealy bugs and scale.

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Lavender

Lavandula spp

If you’re dreaming of a French Provincial look, get a jump on it with a small pot of blooming lavender, one of the best plants to decorate with. Or better yet, place a row of them on a sunny windowsill. They’re happy with low to moderate levels of water. “It’s a nice plant for a bedroom because of its sweet, relaxing smell,” says Chandrakumar. It does need light, though, so if it does sleep with you, make sure you open your blinds in the morning.

Pros:

  • Beautiful color
  • Fragrant

Con:

  • Susceptible to leaf spot and root rot

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Polka dot plant

Hypoestes phyllostachya

This adorable pink-speckled stunner may never outgrow its first pot. It comes in red and white colors, too, should that better suit your decor. Polka dot plants prefer indirect sunlight, but they’re fine with a windowsill so long as you don’t leave them in beams of sun all the time. Water them just enough to keep the soil consistently moist. As if they weren’t cute enough, tiny lilac flowers may bloom in the summer.

Pros:

  • Visual interest
  • Compact size

Con:

  • Toxic to pets

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Ponytail palm

Beaucarnea recurvata

If you don’t have an atrium for a palm tree, this compact stunner is your girl. Despite its name, this quirky plant isn’t even really a palm tree. (It’s a succulent.) “They’re sold as palms because they look like one,” says Chandrakumar. It likes full sun, and it’s smart to pot it in gravel or well-drained soil mix to help with drainage.

Pros:

  • Low maintenance
  • Pet safe

Con:

  • Overwatering will kill it.

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Peace lily

Spathiphyllum spp.

These flowering favorites are extremely low maintenance and don’t require a lot of light, so they can help perk up a darker space in your apartment. They also tend to let you know when they are thirsty, flopping over when they’re parched and bouncing back once they’re watered. “As far as letting you know when it’s time to water, they are the leader among [houseplants],” says Chandrakumar.

Pros:

  • Low maintenance
  • Flowering

Con:

  • Toxic to pets

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ZZ plant

Zamioculcas zamiifolia

This handsome plant is a great choice for apartment dwellers who think they’re cursed with a brown thumb. ZZ plants will thrive in just about any room—although they do like a little bit of light—and can go weeks without watering. “The foliage jumps out at you,” says Chandrakumar. If you’re looking for tall indoor plants as well, know that the ZZ plant is sold in small, medium and extra-large sizes. And the good news keeps on coming: They’re air-purifying plants too.

Pros:

  • Low maintenance
  • Air purifying

Con:

  • Toxic to pets

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Snake plant

Dracaena trifasciata

This vertical grower can work on a tabletop or a floor, depending on the size, and it’s one of the houseplants that are tough to kill. They aren’t fickle about light or water. But make sure you don’t leave your snake plant by an open window in the wintertime: Cold is their kryptonite. “They are very tropical, and the cold will kill them,” says Chandrakumar.

Pros:

  • Low-light indoor plants
  • Air purifying

Con:

  • Toxic to pets

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Hens and chicks plant

Sempervivum tectorum

This low-growing, fleshy compact succulent doesn’t require much water, and it likes either full or partial sun, making it a great windowsill candidate. And like spider plants, these ones propagate themselves, making their own babies! (The botanical name Sempervivum is Latin for “live forever.”) “Sometimes they give out small flowers, which is a lovely surprise,” says Chandrakumar.

Pros:

  • Self propagating
  • Low maintenance

Con:

  • Overwatering can lead to crown rot.

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Air plant

Tillandsia

These tropical plants are epiphytes, which means they don’t root in soil. Instead, they cling to glass globes, driftwood crevices and wire baskets, absorbing water and nutrients directly from the air. And while you don’t need to directly water these girls, they do appreciate a mist or spritz several times a week and a 15-minute soak in water once a week. They love hanging out with orchid and cactus plants, and they’re great for bathroom shelves.

Pros:

  • Pet friendly
  • Visually interesting

Con:

  • Dislikes direct sun

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Red prayer plant

Maranta leuconeura

This clever plant has an internal clock that makes it lift its leaves in the evening and lower them again after sunrise. But for all its tricks, the red prayer plant isn’t a sun-worshipper, and it doesn’t need a lot of watering either. It mostly grows to be beautiful—just about anywhere you want to put it. “With a little bit of red on the underside, the foliage on this one is a showpiece,” says Chandrakumar.

Pros:

  • Doesn’t require much light
  • Not fussy about water

Con:

  • Leaf spot and tip browning may occur.

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Chinese money plant

Pilea peperomioides

This cutie with leaves that look like lily pads is known by many names: Chinese money plant, missionary plant, pancake plant and the UFO plant. Plant it in well-drained soil and let it live in a warm, bright spot that doesn’t get direct sunlight. Only water when the soil is beginning to dry out. It’s also easy to propagate in water, so you can share new plants with your friends.

Pros:

  • Propagates well
  • Easy to care for

Con:

  • Requires rotation so it doesn’t grow lopsided

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Jade plant

Crassula ovata

This shiny succulent stays small, and it can live for a long, long time. It also divides very easily and is super easy to propagate. Jade plants like shade and can survive for months without water. Place yours away from a window in a cool spot, and it will stay happy. “I’ve put one near the sun before, and it burned out a little bit,” says Chandrakumar.

Pros:

  • Only needs low light
  • Minimum watering effort

Con:

  • Watch for aphids, scale, spider mites and mealybugs.

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Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

Kalanchoes are succulent plants prized for their brightly colored clustered flowers in shades like red, magenta, orange, yellow and white. They grow best in full sunlight or bright indirect light and need very well-drained soil. Water thoroughly, but let the soil dry between waterings. Their blooms last a long time, so they’re a perfect money-saving swap for cut flowers.

Pros:

  • Visual interest
  • Blooms for a long time

Con:

  • Susceptible to stem rot if overwatered

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Lucky bamboo

Dracaena sanderiana

Although not actual bamboo, these vertically growing stalks can be trained to grow curvaceously, making them particularly fun to look at. “It’s the nursery that does all the work training it to curve, so you don’t have to do anything to maintain it,” says Chandrakumar. Compact enough for just about any spot you’d like to place it in, it doesn’t need much water or light.

Pros:

  • Low maintenance
  • Visually interesting

Con:

  • Toxic to pets

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Oxalis

Oxalis triangularis

These stunning purple shamrocks are super cool with low levels of light, and they even have a fun trick: The leaves close up after it gets dark. The plant will bloom small white or lavender flowers in the spring and summer, adding to its beauty. Moderate levels of water are fine. They thrive outside in shady balcony container gardens and make perfect houseplants all winter if you want to bring them inside before the first frost.

Pros:

  • Unusual leaf color
  • Low maintenance

Con:

  • Toxic to pets

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String of pearls

Senecio rowleyanus

This is one for the smallest of studio apartment dwellers. Notable for its tiny, pea-shaped leaves, it likes indirect light and dry climates, and it doesn’t require constant watering. It’s great for a small hanging basket—if you have space for one—which best allows this popular ornamental trailing plant to show off its stuff. If you don’t, it’s also happy growing in a flat dish.

Pros:

  • Compact
  • Great for small hanging baskets

Con:

  • Will shrivel with too much light or water

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Originally Published: November 18, 2022