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Go Big or Go Home: Guide for selecting large indoor plants

Go Big or Go Home: Guide for selecting large indoor plants

Green tropical leaves

Gone are the days where small flowering plants in the window sill were enough. Today it seems as though the indoor plants can’t get big enough. Looking to scale up your indoor jungle, but not sure where to start? Then start your journey here

 

You’ve decided you’re ready for a green commitment and want to start decorating with big house plants, congrats! The next step is figuring out which large indoor plants are right for your home. Instead of rushing to the nearest garden center and buying what immediately attracts you, take a deep breath and do a bit of research prior to shopping bonanza. Do both online and offline research, offline being within your home. This step is to avoid setting yourself up for failure in the sense of future plant death.

Whenever buying a new plant it’s important to consider what conditions it requires and what your home can offer. So ask yourself this: where do you want to place a big indoor plant, and in this spot, what kind of light conditions will it get?

Let’s say you have a bedroom with a north-facing window. This means a plant won’t get direct sunlight but could get lots of lovely low indirect light, perfect for a Monstera but not ideal for a cactus. You can actually decrease your plant death ratio drastically, simply by doing a bit of investigation.

In this guide, you will find inspiration for a broad variety of indoor plants that can grow surprisingly big under the right circumstances. Some can grow into trees, tall and lean, while others will impress with their wide and bushy foliage. The plants have been divided into different light preferences, making it easier for you to navigate and find the best plant match for your home: low light, direct sunlight or lots of shade – there’s a plant for (almost) every condition.

If you are new to plant care you might be looking for some more hardy species that are easy to keep and hard to kill, while more experienced plant lovers will enjoy some of the more tricky ones. No worries, we’ve got you covered. Plants have the amazing ability to adapt over time, and several of the plants in the list below will be able to live in more than one type of like – one example being Sanseviera which can thrive in low light as well as direct sunlight.

Ready to gather plant ideas? Then keep scrolling and you’ll find beautiful images along with requirements and recommendations for each indoor plant.

 

Large indoor plants that prefer low light

You might think a shaded room with indirect or low light is hopeless in terms of getting any of the cool plants, but you couldn’t be more wrong! Many of the most popular indoor plants you currently see on Instagram, Pinterest and interior magazines actually dislike direct sunlight – a few examples being Calathea, Ferns, and Monsteras. You’d probably be surprised by how few houseplants love direct sunlight.

Got yourself a north-facing window or lots of shade? no need to worry. Check out some of the lovely green house plants below and find yourself a new favorite.

 

Chamaedorea Elegans, Dwarf Palm

Palm trees are underestimated house plants if you ask us. The shorter palm trees are a gift to plant lovers with low-light rooms. Why? In nature, the shorter species often grow underneath taller palm trees, and can, therefore, thrive in places with limited light sources.

It can be hard to tell the difference between the many palm species, but one of the varieties that are quite common and easy to buy is Chamaedorea Elegans, a dwarf palm tree. It has stunning green leaves and can survive with very little light – perfect for the shaded spot in the living room you can’t find a good plant for. Another amazing quality about this plant is that it doesn’t mind the dry indoor climate many homes around the world will have, often in colder climates where central heating is on half the year. We do however still recommend misting the foliage once a week or so.

Worth noting with this palm tree is that it’s called dwarf for a reason. For a normal indoor plant it’s in the large end, but for a palm tree, it’s not. So don’t go out and buy one of these with the hopes of it becoming tree size – if you’re dreaming about that, then scroll down and check out the Fiddle-leaf fig.

Sun: Low light or shade. Leaves will turn yellow if it gets too much sun
Water: Frequently during summer and minimal during winter. Mist leaves a couple of times a month.

 

Calathea Orbifolia

Calathea Orbifolia

The Calathea family has to be one of the most striking ones, thanks to the lush and fascinating foliage. They come in many different varieties, but one of my personal favorites is Calathea Orbifolia. The color and intensity of the leaves on this one are nothing but amazing and will light up any indoor space, and under the right conditions and with enough space to grow, this plant can get big.

Coming from tropical climates means Calatheas aren’t the easiest houseplants to care for, as they prefer warmer and more humid conditions. They are often to be seen as ground cover plants in greenhouses around the different Botanical Gardens, loving the humidity and warmth close to the ground, meanwhile impressing visitors with their striking looks.

You can try to recreate their natural habitat by misting them often, either with a spray or with a humidifier. You also want to be sure to clean the leaves with a damp cloth ever so often, to remove any dust. Dusty leaves will not only look dull but also limit the plant’s ability to photosynthesize.

A Calathea that’s not fully thriving will start to get curly leaves that might fall off or get brown edges. The lovely thing about Calathea Orbifolia is the fact that it enjoys semi-shaded placement, and if you are lucky enough to have a bathroom with lots of indirect light, then my friend, you are able to recreate a Calathea-friendly tropical environment.

Monstera deliciosa, Swiss Cheese Plant

Monstera Deliciosa is called Swiss Cheese Plant because of the shape of the leaves

The Monstera Deliciosa, also called Swiss Cheese Plant because of the pierced leaf shape, is very likely one of the houseplants you’ve seen the most online. It almost seems like everyone has one these days, doesn’t it? Nevertheless, the Monstera is popular due to its beautiful foliage and the fact that it’s actually a fairly easy plant to maintain in terms of water and light. However, for many, it turns out to be a bit of an impractical plant to keep in the long run, as it needs a good amount of space and prefers something to grow on.

The plant is native to subtropical forests and yet manages to thrive as an indoor plant with often dry air. In nature, you’ll see it growing in shaded areas, often directly on trees or blocks of stone and rocks. It can actually produce flowers in the right conditions, but most of us will never be able to achieve this indoors. When growing the Monstera at home you’ll at one point notice its prominent air roots. In nature, it will use the aerial roots to cling to other surfaces.

Worth noting is that this plant is said to be toxic for both cats and dogs.

Sun: The Monstera Deliciosa can adjust to the light from both north, east, and west-facing windows, but the south will leave it with scorched leaves.
Water: Give it plenty of water, especially during the warmer months, as water evaporates fast from the big leaves.

 

Ficus Elastica, Rubber Tree Plant

Rubber plant
The Rubber Plant is one of the most sturdy indoor plants you’ll find

It’s hard to find a more forgiving plant than the Rubber Tree. If you’re a plant owner who tends to forget to water, then this is the perfect indoor plant for you. It’s low maintenance and not the sensitive plant drama queen that’ll shed all the leaves when not getting water – what a blessing! If you’re on the opposite end of the watering scale, typically being a bit more than generous, then do however be careful, as pretty much no indoor plants enjoy having their feet soaked in water for a longer period of time.

The Rubber Tree comes in several different and exciting varieties. The most common one is grassy green, while some of the more extraordinary ones are dark green, bordering on black with new growth having red tones and another variety with white leaves and both light green and pink nuances. From our own experience, the Variegata is much more demanding and difficult to keep looking healthy, so if you’re new to Rubber Trees, consider starting with some of the other types.

In the wild it can get massive, more than 30 meters tall. Indoors it obviously won’t get as extreme, but if you’re lucky enough to have space, you could be able to grow it up to 3 meters tall.

Besides the easy maintenance, there are also health benefits to keeping a rubber plant, as it removes formaldehyde from the air. Cool, huh? The plant doesn’t like to be moved around too much, and changes in temperature and light can stress it and result in leaf loss. So consider its location before going out to buy and randomly placing it somewhere.

As with many other indoor plants with bigger leaves, the Rubber Tree also needs to get its leaves cleaned ever so often. Use a damp cloth and simply wipe the leaves for dust. If you have a high amount of calcium in the water, you can reduce hard water stains by drying the leaves with a dry cloth afterward.

Sansevieria, Snake Plant

An oldie but goldie. The Snake Plant has gone through a revitalization in recent years, after having been more or less banned as an indoor plant for a long time. As with fashion, plants go through periods of being trendy, and the Snake Plant was perhaps the Pilea or Monstera of the 1970s and 1980s. Today, however, it’s popular again and is for many who prefer a minimalistic look a go-to plant, for its spiky and bold growth.

The snake plant is also known for improving air quality by filtering out formaldehyde and nitrogen oxide – this is also the reason why many people choose to place it in their bedroom. Besides this, it is, along with the Rubber Tree, one of the more forgiving plants when it comes to maintenance. It can thrive in a dry indoor climate, with low light or a lot of light and if you forget to water it for a while – don’t sweat it. Thanks to its thick leaves it can store water and therefore survive for longer periods of time, should you forget to water it. Simply put, it’s an extremely sturdy and versatile plant, perfect for beginners and busy plant owners.

 

Large indoor plants that prefer direct sunlight

We always imagined a south-facing window would be the ultimate dream for a plant lover, but the day we moved into a place with one, it turned out we had to start moving the indoor plants away from the window during the summer months because the plants were being scorched (and also drying out fast). A south-facing window can, however, be an absolute gift in terms of spreading indirect light throughout the rest of a house or apartment.

If you’ve found yourself a place with a lot of direct sunlight, here are some of the large indoor plants that enjoy a lot of light.
Psst … If you’re bold and feel like branching out a bit, consider growing chili, tomato, and peppers indoors as they love the sun, are gorgeous, and actually provide food on the table

 

Musa, Banana Tree

A happy banana tree is a crying banana tree. In our opinion, the banana tree has the perfect green color, and will no doubt be a gorgeous addition to any room. But as stated, a happy banana tree will also drop water from the tip of its leaves when it’s thriving – something to consider in terms of placement if you’ve got a nice wooden floor that just looks better without stains.

Big leaves also mean more space where water evaporates from. This makes the Banana Tree one of the more demanding big indoor plants in terms of water. Want to keep those leaves looking fresh? Then don’t let the soil dry out, but try to avoid letting it soak in water. With nutritious soil, enough sun, and water during the growing season you’ll see it increasing in size rather fast. During winter growth slows down, and you won’t have to be as consistent with water.

Over time you’ll most like experience that side shoots start to appear from your Banana Tree. These can be used to grow new plants, and if the mother plant doesn’t look as good as it used to, well then here’s a free new, genetically identical plant!
Got a four-legged family member? Then the banana tree is no threat as it’s non-toxic for both cats and dogs.

Euphorbia trigona, African Milk Tree

On the hunt for an easy-care indoor plant that can grow big? Consider the African Milk Thistle, a succulent resembling the appearance of a cactus. The African Milk Tree loves direct sunlight from a south-facing window, but you can get away with an east- or west-facing window as well. Under the right conditions, these plants can grow tall, and unlike other houseplants they don’t have that extensive root system, meaning you can get away with a fairly small pot, compared to the size of the plant.
When decorating with plants, it’s a brilliant idea to not only think in window sills and what can stand on tables but utilizing the vertical space as well. A tall green plant, such as the African Milk Tree, dominating a room can really give the place some character.

The African Milk tree comes in a lovely green color, and there’s a variety called Euphorbia Trigona Rubra or Royal Red, which has lovely shades of red. How to care for them are the same, and they are truly low maintenance plants that actually do a bit better being dry than moist – so don’t go overboard with watering.

Also known as Euphorbia trigona, African milk bush, African milk tree, candelabra cactus, cathedral cactus, friendship cactus, good luck plant, or good luck cactus

Crassula Ovata, Jade plant

Jade plant
With time the Jade Plant can grow big and bushy

If not a household name, then definitely a household plant you’ve seen more than a few times, and there’s also a few different varieties of the plant.

The Jade Plant is one of the houseplants that might actually grow old with you, as they tend to live for a long time. They are known for being very low maintenance and easy to care for, as they are able to store water for longer periods of time.

See Also
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They require a lot of sunlight, so a south-facing window is absolutely perfect for achieving the thick leaves and strong woody-looking stems. Placing it in shade or with indirect light will result in the plant starting to grow a big leggy. This could be avoided if you get a grow-light but in our opinion, it would be more ideal to choose a plan that fits the light sources you have, as an LED grow light hanging above your beautiful curated plant collection might not be the look you were going for.

With time and under the right conditions, the Jade Plant can get surprisingly big and bush-like, becoming a piece of living art within your home.

 

Large indoor plants that prefer a lot of light

Rooms with lots of indirect light are an absolute treasure, as you’ll find yourself having endless options between both flowering and evergreen plants.

 

Chrysalidocarpus Lutescens, Butterfly Palm

There’s nothing like a lush and bushy palm tree to take up a bit of space in the room, and the Butterfly Palm is another perfect example of a plant with the ability to do exactly this. Known for its feather-like leaf structure and, once matured, cane-like stems, this plant will truly be a beautiful green addition to any room.

The Butterfly Palm prefers a lot of indirect light, and if you’re able to provide this you’ll probably find it to be quite low maintenance. Too much sun will burn the leaves, and not enough will result in slower growth. Be sure not to water it too much, and do mist the leaves every now and then to remove dust and freshen up the look.

Also known as: Golden Cane palm, reca lutescens, Chrysalidocarpus lutescens, Dypsis lutescens, Butterfly Palm (because the fronds resemble butterflies), Yellow Palm, Golden Cane (because the lower canes have a gold / yellow colour) and of course Areca Palm.

Schefflera, Umbrella Tree

The Schefflera is another classic indoor plant that’s been around for ages. Along with the Sanseviera this one also seems to have gone through a bit of a revitalization recently, with the different varieties increasing in popularity. It’s easy to grow and to care for: Schefflera is the perfect fit for anyone who prefers low maintenance plant care, and for those who want a green plant that continues to look great.

With Schefflera you have the opportunity to both grow it big, but it can also be kept as a small potted plant – in fact, we’ve got a schefflera arboricola (variegated types need more light than green) that’s kept under 20 cms tall, and it’s absolutely adorable. Big or small, you won’t need to stress over this one. Give it water a few times a month and it’ll be fine.

If your plant starts to drop leaves, you’ll know that it’s not fully thriving and you might consider giving it a bit more light.

Also known as: Dwarf Umbrella Tree, Parasol Plant, and Octopus Tree

Ficus Lyrata, Fiddle Leaf Fig

Fiddle leaf fig

Looking for the perfect large indoor tree? Then look no further. The Fiddle Leaf Fig or Ficus Lyrata has some of the biggest green leaves you can dream of for a houseplant. With time and the right conditions, it will become the perfect tall indoor plant – and without a doubt the most tree-looking plant on this list.

The Fiddle Leaf Fig is notoriously sensitive to disturbances (light, draft, etc), and you’ll notice any disturbance it might have experienced in the leaf production, as new foliage will be undersized or look a bit off. In order to achieve a balanced and harmonious look, don’t disturb this plant too much.

They can be quite costly, especially if you don’t have the patience to grow one from small but are on the look for a tree-sized version. As with many other plants on this list, be sure to clean its leaves to remove dust with a cloth.

Strelitzia Reginae & Nicolai, Bird of paradise

In my opinion, not many plants ooze of tropical vibes, but the Bird of Paradise certainly does. You will find two different varieties of this beautiful tropical plant: Reginae, the shorter and bushier one, and Nicolai the tall and more simplistic looking one. Both are nothing but stunning and will become a statement in any room.

If you are looking for a large indoor flowering plant, this is one of the few ones on this list with the potential of achieving this. It will however completely depend on where in the world you are located, as conditions have to be optimum before the lovely orange or white flowers (depending on which of the two varieties you have) will appear.

Ficus Benjamina, Weeping Fig

Unquestionably one of the most popular indoor plants for decades, the Ficus Benjamina, or Weeping Fig as it’s also called, is a familiar plant for many. It’s chosen not because it’s unique or the most stunning one out there, but simply because it’s a solid average plant. It’s an evergreen that doesn’t require a lot from you, and for many, that’s what’s needed.

Impressively enough, the Ficus Benjamina is versatile enough to grow big enough to turn it into a tree-like shape, but also to go in the opposite direction and treat it as a bonsai. Take a trip to IKEA or many general plant stores, and the majority of the selection Bonsai selection will be all Ficus.

The Ficus Benjamina doesn’t need a lot of light to thrive but will do best in a room with lots of indirect light, and at most a bit of direct sunlight in the mornings or afternoons. As with some of the other plants on this list, try to find a good place for it before you buy it, as it’s sensitive to being moved around, and doing so can result in leaf loss.

Keep the plant moist, but do not allow it to soak in water as the roots will die.

Also known as: Weeping fig, Benjamin fig, ficus tree

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