The Best Winter Indoor Plants To Brighten Your Home
Katie Ziraldo9-Minute Read
January 11, 2021
Houseplants can be one of the easiest ways to add a pop of color and personality to your living space. From simple succulents to windowsill gardens and potted pieces, there is a plant out there to fit any style. But the benefits of indoor plants extend far beyond style and design. Plants also offer medicinal, psychological and environmental benefits to their caretakers, which can help ease seasonal depression and other ailments.
Susan Brandt is the co-founder of Blooming Secrets, a gardening website that provides personalized selections based on the individual’s location and gardening expertise. Brandt explains, “Interaction with indoor plants, including touching and smelling, reduces physiological and psychological stress. [Studies have] even found potting soil that contains microbes dubbed ‘outdoorphins’ works as a natural antidepressant. It boosts your mood by releasing cytokines, which then leads your brain to produce serotonin.”
Amira Johnson, an interior designer for Emerald Doors, an internal and external door provider, adds, “Plants not only benefit your mental health but also help in physical health. Plants help to offer the immune system a much-needed boost, especially during flu season.”
These plant perks are particularly beneficial during the winter; however, supporting your plants through those harsh months can prove challenging for beginners. Experts recommend transitioning your potted plants from livening up a front porch for fall to dressing up your living space at the first sign of frost.
But which plants will survive in your home and how can you help them thrive? If you’re ready to reap the benefits of indoor plants but aren’t sure where to start, this comprehensive list of the best indoor plants for winter is for you. We have considered the ease of maintenance, beauty, edibility and medicinal benefits of each house plant. Keep reading to find out which plant is best for your home!
1. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera isn’t always bought at the drug store – it can actually be one of the simplest and most sustainable plants to keep in your home! In addition to its medicinal benefits, aloe vera plants are also succulents, which means they can retain water and are therefore great for drier environments. If you decide this plant is right for you, we recommend placing it near a window as it needs plenty of light. Aloe vera will not wilt when it needs watering, so check the soil every couple of weeks to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
2. Chinese Evergreen
Although Chinese evergreens prefer warmer temperatures and humidity, they can survive in less than ideal conditions. They thrive in medium to low light, so a lack of windows will not prevent this leafy plant from growing.
However, it needs to be kept away from harsh winter drafts, which can lead to premature browning of its leaves. Moderate watering, around once per week, is needed to keep this plant happy and healthy.
3. Christmas Cactus
Known for its vibrant red and pink blooms, the Christmas cactus can be kept inside year-round or moved into outside shade in the summer months. It requires moderate light, but darkness can actually encourage blooming, meaning the shorter winter days will not prevent this plant from reaching its full potential.
“The Christmas cactus is an easy solution to an indoor flowering plant,” said Laura Burns, a sensory designer for Ambius, who focuses on the design of healthy commercial spaces through plants and scenting. “The flowers can be quite full when in full bloom, and it is a more modern choice than the typical poinsettia.”
Check your Christmas cactus’ soil to determine when it needs watering. Be sure to keep the soil moist while the plant is blooming, which you can aid through frequent misting.
If you’re looking for a pop of color, a clivia plant could be a great option. Its vibrant blooms can easily brighten any room, and it is one of the easiest plants to care for as it doesn’t require excessive watering or light.
“If you have a room that does not get a lot of sunlight and it is a little chilly, try growing a clivia in the room,” said Brandt. “[This plant] actually enjoys having a period of cooler weather, which assists in having their flower blooms emerge.”
5. Fiddle Leaf Fig
Fiddle leaf figs don huge green leaves that can easily become a centerpiece in your living space. But because they are tropical plants, they can become dormant and stop growing in less than ideal conditions.
Avoid this by placing your plant in brighter, warmer corners of your home when possible. If you do not have bright light in your house, consider supplementing natural light with a fluorescent grow light or increasing humidity through a humidifier! This plant also needs intermittent watering, typically about once a week.
6. Flowering Maple
The flowering maple, which received its name because it bears leaves similar to those found on maple trees, is the perfect plant to transition from outdoors to indoors as the weather changes. It does not need a lot of direct sunlight and can withstand cooler temperatures, making colder rooms the perfect home for this plant. Occasional misting is recommended as the flowering maple needs less water in the winter months.
If you’re looking for practicality in your plants, consider growing herbs in an indoor garden! This is a great option for homeowners with a windowsill in direct sunlight, as most herbs need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Expert gardeners recommend starting slow and have seen success with rosemary and jasmine plants especially, as they do not require a lot of water or particularly rich soil.
However, Brandt warns against moving your outdoor garden indoors, commenting, “It is best to get new plants rather than to try to bring what you’ve been growing outside into your home. Such a transition can be traumatic to your herbs.”
8. Jade Plant
Often considered a symbol of good luck, the jade plant is well known for its unique appearance and ease of care, making it one of the most popular houseplants in the winter.
“This tree is a succulent but looks more like a mini tree,” said Brandt. “This plant does not mind drastic temperature variations and can survive close to an open window in the winter.”
As a part of the succulent family, the jade plant does not require frequent watering. You can easily check if your jade plant needs watering by feeling its soil for dryness.
9. Moss Terrarium
Increasingly trendy because of their design and versatility, moss terrariums are a good fit for plant lovers who do not have the space for larger plants. Glass terrariums serve as miniature greenhouses and can retain humidity while protecting the greenery inside from drafts and other dangerous conditions. These are most often used for mosses, ferns and other plants that thrive in humid environments. And if you’re feeling creative, you can even create your own terrarium!
10. Moth Orchid
Moth orchids are one of the most popular indoor plants year-round, in part because of their beautiful blooming, but also due to their ease of care. Orchids tend to do well on a windowsill with moderately bright light. They begin blooming in the winter and bloom through the spring. You will need to water your orchid when the spoil begins to dry out, typically every 7 to 10 days.
Philodendrons, such as the Monstera and other foliage plants, can survive through periods of neglect, making them one of the easiest plants to care for in the winter months. Native to Central and South America, philodendrons grow best in warm, humid, bright conditions, but can adapt to inconsistent watering, poor soil, and lower light as needed. Due to their adaptability, we recommend checking the soil to determine when your plant needs watering.
12. Ponytail Palm
Don’t be deceived by its tree-like appearance – the ponytail palm is actually a part of the succulent family! In addition to needing infrequent watering, these slow-growing, tolerant plants can withstand periods of neglect, making them perfect for people who travel a lot or have otherwise demanding schedules. Although they prefer bright light, ponytail palms have been known to grow in low lighting for half the year as long as they have bright sunlight in the other half. They typically require watering every 2 to 3 weeks.
Pothos plants offer a unique trailing look that is popular in modern design. In addition to their appearance, pothos are also popular due to being inexpensive to procure and easy to maintain.
“In general, slow-growing plants with thick leaves [like pothos] hold up best to the challenging conditions winter brings,” explains Justin Hancock, a horticulturist for Costa Farms, one of the nation’s largest growers of houseplants. “Because these varieties are slower growing, they also need less frequent watering, so they’re able to survive better than more needy plants.”
In addition to needing less watering, pothos also doesn’t require a lot of direct sunlight but grows best in moderate light if your home offers it.
14. Snake Plant
The snake plant is easy to care for and adaptable to many conditions, making it able to withstand drafts, excess heat from radiators and heaters, and lower humidity levels.
“During the dreary winter months when you work in daylight patterns in your home, snake plants will stay with you,” explains Johnson. This makes the snake plant ideal for beginners. “They aren’t fussy about being in the perfect lighting scenario and handle a lower light frequency.”
The snake plant also offers environmental benefits to its caretakers. According to Brandt, this plant emits oxygen at night while simultaneously taking in carbon dioxide. She adds, “You will have better air quality and a better night’s sleep with this plant in your bedroom. It also filters out some not nice but common household toxins – formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and benzene.”
15. ZZ Plant
The ZZ plant is easily one of the best indoor plants for winter, as its thick, rubbery leaves make it durable enough to survive the dry winter air and even lack of sunlight. Although it requires more watering in the summer months, it can easily survive on one watering per month in the winter.
“If you have a dark corner of a room, this plant is for you,” said Brandt. “[It] can survive in nearly any type of lighting which means it does well in the winter.”
The Bottom Line
Indoor plants offer a variety of benefits and can provide comforting greenery during the gray winter months, but it is important to understand the conditions of your home before buying a plant. Consider your home’s temperature, humidity, sunlight and any potential drafts while choosing the right plant for you. Keep in mind that a full indoor garden isn’t necessary and most beginners find success in starting small.
Interested in additional ideas to transform your home? Check out more Homeowner Tips on the Rocket Homes® blog!
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