House plants aren't just for decoration -- indoor plants can improve your home's air quality, add flavor to your meals and even act as natural humidifiers. To help you choose the best ones for your home, we at west elm have put together this handy list of the top indoor plants.
"Succulent" is a broad term given to a wide variety of plant species that are especially thick and fleshy and which tend to retain water in arid conditions. Since they don't require frequent watering, succulent plants are ideal for absent-minded gardeners and homeowners who wish to reduce their water consumption. Among the most popular indoor succulents are snake plants, aloe plants and burrow's tail.
Placing a few ferns around your home is a great way to give your space a tropical feel. Ferns are also easy to care for, provided they receive the right amounts of water and natural light. There are more than 20,000 known varieties of fern growing around the world. One of the most popular varieties is the Boston fern. According to a 2011 study, this type of fern was the most effective in removing pollutants from the air when compared to other common houseplants. Other popular varieties of indoor ferns are asparagus ferns, maidenhair ferns and staghorn ferns.
A common misconception is that orchids are difficult to grow outside of the controlled conditions of a greenhouse. In fact, orchids are relatively easy to grow indoors. Many varieties only require indirect light and, while they prefer tropical conditions, will bloom in indoor environments as long as they are kept away from forced air vents. There are approximately 30,000 species of orchid, with the most popular being the Phalaenopsis ("moth orchid"), the Paphiopedilum, the Cattleya orchid, the Vanda orchid and the Miltonia orchid. With their vibrant colours and uniquely shaped petals, these beautiful flowers add a subtle exotic touch to any room of the home.
4. Money Plant
Money plants (Crassula ovata), also called jade plants, are succulent shrubs with tree-like stems and thick, waxy leaves. The plants are native to South Africa, where they thrive in arid climates. Since they don't need to be watered frequently, money plants make great additions to dry gardens and indoor container gardens. Money plants are also some of the easiest plants to propagate, as they can be grown from a single leaf. While a money plant may not produce actual money, one thing the Crassula ovata is proven to bring is cleaner air. Numerous studies show that the jade plant is effective in removing harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like acetone, benzene and chloroform from indoor air.
5. Spider Plants
Also known as ribbon plants and airplane plants, spider plants are easily recognizable by their long, grass like leaves. The most common variety of spider plant has white striped leaves, but all-green spider plants also exist. Spider plants get their name from the spider-like "plantlets" that grow along the hanging stems. These low-maintenance hanging plants make great indoor air filters -- a dozen spider plants can purify the air in an average sized home.
Many herbs thrive as indoor plants. All you need is a bright area, such as a sunny windowsill and a few varieties of culinary herbs. Most herbs require five to six hours of sunlight every day; if you don't have southwestern-facing windows, you can supplement natural sunlight with an artificial light source like an LED lamp. Among the easiest herbs to grow indoors are basil, parsley, sage and thyme. For best results, pot each herb separately so it has sufficient room to grow. You'll also want to avoid placing certain herbs too close to one another. Mint, for example, grows quickly and can be invasive, so it requires its own space.
Bamboo plants are classified as a variety of grass, although some varieties are even stronger than hardwood. The type of bamboo plant most commonly used indoors in the Dracaena sanderiana, or "lucky bamboo." Lucky bamboo plants require very little maintenance. They thrive in almost any light and don't require soil -- stalks can be arranged in a vase filled with water and decorative rocks. Bamboo plants remove toxic chemicals like formaldehyde from their environment while also adding moisture to the air.
Indoor plants provide many more benefits than just serving as decoration for your home. The above plants will not only brighten up any room, but they will also help improve the quality of air you breathe and the food you eat. The next time you're shopping for houseplants, consider picking up a few of the health-giving plants listed above.