Best houseplants for the apartment gardener

Last Updated July 2019

Not only is gardening a rewarding hobby, it can improve your mood and beautify your environment. Don't let the fact that you lack a garden hold you back — you can find a wide variety of houseplants to grow and tend to in your apartment.

If you're not sure which plants to start with, we're here to give you a hand. We'll go through some common problems that may deter people from buying houseplants, as well as some of the best houseplants for the gardener who lives in an apartment.

Problem: You don't have much light

One of the main worries we hear from would-be apartment gardeners is they think they don't have enough light in their apartment. Depending on the layout of your apartment, how many windows you have, and where they're located, you might find you have little natural light. However, it’s not necessarily a problem, as long as you choose the right plants. Some plants need little light and some even thrive in low-light conditions. That said, even a single sunny windowsill can house a few light-loving plants.

Problem: Space is at a premium

We get it — when you live in a studio or other compact apartment, you might barely have room to store your plates and bowls, let alone keep a plant that's only going to keep on growing. Luckily, you can find some smaller plants that take up little room and won't grow a large amount. If you still can't find a spare spot to place them, consider buying some hanging planters, such as these Mkono Macrame Plant Hangers. Since they hang from the ceiling, they take up zero floor, counter, or surface space.

Problem: Getting gardening supplies into your apartment is a pain

Nobody wants to lug a 20-pound bag of compost up five flights of stairs into their apartment, so plants that need lots of maintenance and equipment or require regular repotting aren't great for apartment living. You might be pleased to know there are plenty of houseplants that are extremely low-maintenance. Some of them can live in the same pot you bought them in for several years and only need watering, so there's no need for any fancy supplies. Just a small watering can like the StainlessLUX Brushed Stainless Steel Watering Can will suffice.

DID YOU KNOW?

Keeping houseplants in your apartment helps to purify the air.

Our plant picks

  • For the studio apartment

Living with limited space, you'll want to pick plants that don't take up much room. If you have a bright windowsill to put them on, you can find plenty of compact varieties of cacti and succulents. What's great about them is they only require occasional watering — they're ideal if you're new to gardening or you're often away. For apartments with little light, the peace lily is a better choice. It thrives in low-light environments (sunlight can damage its foliage), doesn't need much space, only requires occasional water, and sports lovely white flowers when in bloom. Although snake plants can grow quite tall, they only grow upward, not outward, so they're perfect for sticking in a corner that needs a splash of green. They're great air purifiers and require little in the way of light and water.

  • For the midsized apartment

In a midsized apartment you can spread out a bit more, but you still don't want anything that will take up too much room. You should also have some more windowsill space for plants that like plenty of light. Our top pick for midsized apartments is the aloe vera plant. Although you can find both large and small specimens, it will keep growing, so it's better for midsized spaces. Plus, healthy aloe vera plants spawn "pups.” Pups are baby aloe plants you can remove and repot — your single aloe plant might quickly turn into double digits. Aloe vera prefers infrequent watering and a sunny spot. The gel-like substance within its leaves has soothing and healing properties. The ZZ plant is another excellent choice for a medium-sized apartment. It's a fairly large (but not huge) plant with pleasant green foliage that only requires watering a few times a month and likes shady spots.

  • For the spacious apartment

If you have a large home that has everything but a garden, you can be more adventurous when choosing your houseplants. The yucca plant is a dramatic choice, with its thick woody stem and shock of green foliage. Depending on the variety you choose, it can grow as tall as eight feet when fully mature. It likes a sunny area, but doesn't need much water. Another popular choice is the weeping fig (or ficus tree). The majority of those sold as houseplants are dwarf varieties which grow up to three feet tall, but other types can reach up to ten feet. They like spots that receive some both bright light and some shade during the day.

Written by:
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer