20 Houseplants to Enliven Your Living Room
No green thumb required, these houseplants will infuse your living space with color and vibrancy.
Photo By: Genna Margolis
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Fiddle Leaf Fig
Tall, lush and lovely the fiddle leaf fig trees make a striking addition to any living room design. Fiddles are beloved for their soaring height, glossy emerald foliage and their enduring life span, under proper care. Interior designer Genna Margolis uses two fiddle leaf fig trees to frame the fireplace, accentuate the ceiling height and saturate the snowy white walls in this contemporary living room.
This tall, textured and handsome olive tree brings warmth to this mostly white space. The sophisticated Italian-bred tree continues to grow in popularity as an indoor plant, because of its dreamy sage foliage, rustic texture and effortless refinement. That said, it’s crucial to keep in mind that olive trees are notoriously particular and are happiest in environments reminiscent of their patria. Six (or more) hours of full, southern sun exposure and dry, Mediterranean-like air is necessary for these beauties to flourish.
An Ornithogalum Longibracteatum, better known as a pregnant onion plant, adds flamboyance and flair to the bar cart nestled against the window in this airy den by Christie Leu Interiors. Pregnant onion plants are bulb-based, flowering plants that worship the sun and are relatively simple to care for with a modest watering schedule and quarterly fertilizing.
Variegated Ficus Tree
Ficus trees paved the way for fiddle leaf figs. Similar to fiddles, Ficus trees are statuesque and boast dramatic, texture-rich foliage that are sure to shine in any interior design. Here, a lively, 11-foot Variegated Ficus tree is positioned beside the impressive cast stone fireplace, accentuating the lofty ceilings, creating a visual balance and energizing the otherwise airy gray walls.
A stately Bonsai tree makes a beautiful addition to a living room console or coffee table. The petite potted trees are available in several sub-species, so it is important to select Bonsais capable of withstanding indoor conditions. The Ficus Bonsai, Sageretia Bonsai and Jade Bonsai are particular species that work well indoors. Notoriously delicate, the tabletop trees require regular attention, ample sunlight and high humidity to flourish indoors.
Tillandsia Air Plant
Bring a soft, subdued touch of color to your neutral family room design with a silvery sage air plant. This console features a sleek Tillandsia Xerographica air plant that thrives on bright, filtered sunlight, weekly misting and occasional soaking.
Add a pop of green to your windowsill, bookcase or mantel with a lovely jade plant. Jade plants are low-maintenance succulents with small, smooth round leaves and a dreamy signature hue that shines in neutral and vibrant interiors. The key to keeping jade plants happy and healthy is allowing plenty of drying time between watering.
Warm up your white walls with this rosy beauty. The Red Aglaonema is a designer favorite because its glossy foliage doubles as art and infuses rooms with an emboldened mix of ruby, forest green and muted pink hues. The striking plant is simple to grow for even the most inexperienced indoor gardeners and requires very minimal care to flourish throughout the year.
Euphorbia Peruviana Plant
At first glance one may mistake a Euphorbia Peruviana plant for a classic cactus, but these stunners are actually perennials that will thrive indoors with partial to full sunlight and a regular watering schedule. Plant in a modern cement or unembellished ceramic pot to complement the Peruviana’s streamlined silhouette.
Take notes from interior designer Lauren Henno and bring refinement to your coffee or sofa table with a beautiful orchid plant. Orchids are elegant and ornate blooming plants available in a variety of colors and, with proper and consistent care, can thrive indoors indefinitely.
Snake plants (also called Mother-In-Law’s Tongue) are hardy indoor perennials recognizable by their smooth, unyielding leaves and sharp edges. These attractive plants are loved by many for their durability, forgiving nature and their distinct ability to flourish in shadowy corners and sundrenched windowsills.
Swiss Cheese Plant
Interior designer Crystal Sinclair makes a statement with a gallery wall of antique, wood cutting boards and a voluminous monstera deliciosa plant in a modern cement pot. The glossy, emerald heart shaped leaves feature unique slatted details that earn its nickname as the Swiss cheese plant. Position your potted Swiss cheese plant in indirect sunlight and allow soil to dry fully between watering for best results.
Golden Cane Palm
A flashy golden cane palm enlivens the corner of this inviting family room with its fresh color and lively silhouette. Golden canes boast smooth and slender palm leaves and are happiest with regular watering, moist soil and bright, direct sunlight.
When life hands you lemon trees, take cues from designer David D’Ambrosio, stick them in a chic set of chinoiserie pots and watch them grow. Just be sure your chinoiserie pots have drainage holes because lemon trees in sitting water won't thrive. Another no-no? Shade of any sort. Place your lemon trees in the sunniest spot in your home (preferably south facing) for 10+ hours a day to ensure a fruitful, flourishing tree that will last a lifetime.
Dragon trees are broadleaf evergreens that thrive in bright, indirect sunlight and make a sharp addition to any modern, bohemian or eclectic living room design. Interior designer Genna Margolis uses a potted dragon tree to add earthy texture, natural color and accentuate the tall ceilings in this sunny sitting room.
Add a little romance to your living room bookcase or mantel with a lush heartleaf philodendron. The darling plant is aptly named with glossy, heart-shaped leaves that climb or trail as it grows. Best part? Heartleaf philodendron are exceptionally tolerant to drought, and require little maintenance to thrive indoors.
Copy the pros at Blackband Design and add dimension, color and interest to your sofa table with a collection of indoor succulent plants. Succulents are at their best when potted in vessels with ample drainage, placed in bright, indirect sunlight for at least six hours a day. The fastest way to kill your succulents is by overwatering. Keep them happy and nurtured with a specific soaking schedule and allow their soil to dry between each watering.
Designer Brian Patrick Flynn nestles an airy Ficus Alii tree behind the sofa to create balance and drama in this coastal living room. The Ficus Alii trees are distinct from Ficus Benjamina trees because they boast long, willowy leaves that rarely shed. This breezy tree tolerates much lower sunlight indoors and is generously forgiving when life throws a wrench in your strict watering schedule.
Bird of Paradise
A potted Bird of Paradise plant nestles behind a black Eames armchair to soar above this midcentury modern living room by designer Regan Baker. Bird of Paradise plants are ideal for modern, bohemian and coastal designs as their bold, banana-like leaves complement sleek lines and add tropical flair with ease. The flashy plant relishes bright, direct sunlight and prefers moist soil during spring and fall, and regular fertilizing during the spring and summer.
Pretty and petite, maidenhair ferns make picture perfect additions to your living room coffee or side table. These potted plants prefer indirect sunlight and require ample watering and misting to survive indoors. Interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn incorporates a maidenhair in this space, adding a natural touch and lively color to the otherwise gray sitting room.