The 13 Best Plants for Your Apartment... And How To Keep Them Alive

The 13 Best Plants for Your Apartment... And How To Keep Them Alive

Plants are excellent elements to add in architecture and built spaces. However, when it comes to indoor environments, which usually receive less natural light and ventilation, certain species are resistant to adaptation. 

Therefore, when thinking about species for indoors – be it a home, apartment or commercial space – some species are better than others. We have selected the best 13 indoor plants for your home. 

Mipibu House / Terra e Tuma Arquitetos Associados. Image © Nelson Kon

Croton (Croton lawianus)

Characteristics: Large, colorful leaves that vary in shades from green and yellow to red and purple. This shrub draws attention for its shiny leaves and long lifespan.

Care: Crotons require hours of sunlight, therefore it is well suited near windows and spaces that receive comprehensive lighting. This species does not adapt to low temperatures and/or to the presence of air conditioning. It strives in warmer climates and can reach 2 to 3 meters in height, allowing for branches to be pruned and replanted. The soil is best kept moist, but not soaked. When handling for maintenance or changing planters, wear gloves, because its sap contains toxic properties that can cause skin irritation.

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia amoena)

Characteristics: As one of the most popular indoor plants, this shrub species is perennial and grows up to 50 centimeters in height. With white veins under its foliage, it blossoms in the summer and spring. Sensitive to low temperatures, it is indicated for tropical and subtropical climates.

Care: It adapts well to intermediate luminosity, but it is best to place it near windows and natural light. It requires humidity to develop, therefore, water it daily, but don’t let the soil get too soaked. It has a high concentration of calcium oxalate, a chemical that can be toxic if ingested and causes asphyxiation. Therefore, it must be kept out of the reach of animals and children. 

MLA House / Bernardes Arquitetura. Image © Leonardo Finotti

Pinstripe Calathea (Calathea ornata)

Characteristics: The Pinstripe Calathea is evergreen and robust with reddish ornamental foliage. This species can reach 30 to 90 centimeters in height and blossoms in areas of high moisture. It is sensitive to cold and air conditioning.

Care: Keep the plant moist and under low light. When young, the leaves are toxic, so gloves are recommended for gardening and maintenance. The leaves multiply faster if pruned.

Rabbit’s Foot Fern (Davallia fejeensis)

Characteristics: A fern native to the Fiji Islands and Australia, this species grows around 20 to 40 centimeters in height. Its leaves are fragile and curl down, so they should be placed in high locations.

Care: This species needs rich organic soil and must be placed under a diffused light, as it cannot grow under direct sunlight. In winter, the leaves tend to fall, with only the branches remaining. In the case that they don’t, pruning is recommended to allow new growth.

JZL House / Bernardes Arquitetura. Image © Leonardo Finotti

Macho Fern (Nephrolepis spp.)

Characteristics: Its foliage has the same characteristics as the previous plant. It cannot adapt in cold regions, therefore prefers tropical climate.

Care: Due to the variation of the foliage size, it must be pruned, fertilized and placed under natural but indirect sunlight. The soil must be kept moist and rich with organic material. It can be planted or hung.

Babylon Garden Condotel / ALPES GDB. Image © Hiroyuki Oki

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Characteristics: This species has been increasingly adopted indoors. It is low maintenance and can stand under low light. 

Care: If placed under more light, it is recommended that the plant receive more water. If watered excessively, it can yellow. The leaves must be cleaned regularly with a hose or damp cloth to remove dust and keep the shine. Don’t forget to remove dead branches, avoiding contamination spread.

Bridal Veil (Gibasis pellucida)

Characteristics: Characterized by its minuscule white flowers, it is a hanging plant that grows very quickly, thus it is necessary to prune constantly. It needs to be planted in a hanging planter or wall vase.

Care: As it cannot thrive in low temperatures, it must be grown in warm places that either receive natural light or under half shade. If placed in poorly lit spaces, the leaves will likely fall and lose color. Keep the soil moist and regularly watered.

Maracanã House / Terra e Tuma Arquitetos Associados. Image © Pedro Kok

Centipede Tongavine (Epipremnum pinnatum)

Characteristics: This ornamental, evergreen and semi-herbaceous plant is found in temperate regions, therefore can adapt to low temperatures.

Care: Place indoors. It is usually grown in hanging planters under a natural light or half shade.

MLA House / Bernardes Arquitetura. Image © Leonardo Finotti

Cylindrical Snake Plant (Sansevieria cylindrica)

Characteristics: With its outstanding vertical and cylindrical leaves, this is an ideal indoor plant given its durability and long life.

Care: For those that prefer low maintenance species, this plant is for you. It needs to be watered once every 15 days and doesn’t require pruning. It is important to stress that the water must be poured in the soil, and not on the leaves.

Broadleaf Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

Characteristics: Native to Asia, it has slender stems, similar to that of the bamboo.

Care: It should be cultivated in low light and watered weekly in moderation. Dried and burned leaves should be cut off. Its leaves need to be cleaned with a spray water bottle.

Ruffled Fan Palm (Licuala grandis)

Characteristics: Ideal for tropical climates, this one stalk species looks like a Japanese fan. 

Care: It is recommended to place them by windows or in verandas, but without direct light. They need to be watered around 4 times a week and also sprayed with water on its leaves.

Binh House / VTN Architects. Image © Quang Dam

Moso Bamboo (Phyllostachys Pubescens)

Characteristics: Characterized by its shape, its name means “hairy bamboo.” The “hair” function is to protect it against plagues.

Care: Its leaves and stalks are vibrant green and can reach up to 15 meters in height and 15 centimeters in diameter, so pruning is recommended. Unlike other bamboo species, it can be planted in vases, provided that there is a reasonable spacing between stalks.


Characteristics: Its thick leaves store water for long periods of time, therefore they are very easy to maintain. 

Care: In case the leaves begin to wither, increase the amount of water; if they begin to rot, decrease the amount of water. If the succulent loses leaves, it is possible it is not receiving enough light; in this case, it is recommended that the succulent be placed under direct sunlight 4 hours a day.

Mipibu House / Terra e Tuma Arquitetos Associados. Image © Nelson Kon

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Cite: Pereira, Matheus. "The 13 Best Plants for Your Apartment... And How To Keep Them Alive" [Espécies e dicas para cultivos de plantas nos interiores] 23 Aug 2018. ArchDaily. (Trans. Cavallaro, Fernanda) Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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