17 Best Houseplants for Your Bathroom

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17 Best Houseplants for Your Bathroom

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Houseplants can make bathrooms more pleasant places by adding a touch of greenery to the décor and improving air quality. A bathroom is typically a warm, humid room that provides the perfect backdrop for some houseplants, and water to irrigate the plants is always close at hand. However, you still need to choose plants wisely because those conditions are not always ideal for some plants, for example:

Although a bathroom provides plenty of warm, humid air during shower time, the room becomes cooler and less humid when not in use, especially at night. These wide temperature fluctuations are not ideal for many plants.
Not all plants enjoy high humidity: succulents prefer drier conditions and will rot if kept constantly moist; some houseplants might develop powdery mildew in high humidity.
Many bathrooms receive very low levels of sunlight, if they have windows at all. Do not give up if that is the case with your bathroom. Fluorescent bulbs provide plenty of light in wavelengths that plants can use.

You need to consider these three factors—low light, high humidity, and temperature swings—when choosing plants for a bathroom. Here are suggestions for plants that will do well in average bathroom conditions.

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Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus)

Airy, lacy asparagus fern loves the humidity of a bathroom. It does well in either moderate or bright light, so a spot by a window is best. Asparagus fern looks soft to the touch, but the stems have thorns, so beware. It can grow to two feet tall with branches that can sprawl laterally as much as six feet.

Warning

This plant is highly toxic—keep it away from pets and small children.

Color Varieties: Pale green foliageSun Exposure: Bright artificial light or window sunlightSoil Needs: Well-drained potting soil

Bamboo (Bambusa Spp.)

Growing bamboo in containers controls its size and spread because it is well-known that it can become very invasive when planted in the garden. But even when confined to containers, bamboo plants can become large, requiring repotting every year or so. The clumping varieties will need repotting less often than those that spread through runners. During the growing season, feed bamboo weekly with a diluted fertilizer high in nitrogen, cutting back to monthly in the winter.

Color Varieties: Pale to dark green foliage; variegated forms availableSun Exposure: Six hours of sunlight dailySoil Needs: Prefers sandy potting mixes but tolerates most potting soil mixes

Begonia (Begonia Spp.)

Many types of begonias grow well in containers, and they enjoy the warmth and humidity of a bathroom shelf. In particular, rex begonias (Begonia x rex), with their showy foliage, grow well indoors. Begonias like humid conditions but not water-logged soil, which can cause root rot. Begonias prized for their flowers need a bright spot in the bathroom with some direct early morning sunlight. Begonias grown for their foliage need a bright location away from direct sunlight.

Color Varieties: Light-green, dark-green, bronze, or variegated foliage. Some varieties are grown for beautiful blooms while others are grown for their distinctive and unusual foliage.Sun Exposure: To encourage flowering, provide some direct sunlight; for varieties grown for their foliage, provide bright filtered light.Soil Needs: Begonias do best in general-purpose, soilless potting mix.

Bromeliads (Various Genera)

Bromeliads are unusual specimens; they readily produce long-lasting blooms in locations where most houseplants do not blossom at all. Bromeliads flower with yellow, pink, or red blossoms in winter, and the blooms last for several weeks. Bromeliads include several different plant genera and dozens of species, many of which are epiphytic (drawing moisture from the air rather than from soil). These are ideally suited to bask in the humidity of a bathroom, but they also need good air circulation, which can be provided by running the bathroom exhaust fan or setting up a small portable fan to run for a few hours each day. Feed them with an orchid fertilizer. (While they’re not orchids, they require the same nutrients as orchids.)

Color Varieties: Dark green foliage and pink or red flowersSun Exposure: Bright, indirect light is best. They will tolerate a few hours of direct sunlight each day, but don't place them in hot afternoon sun because it can burn the leaves.Soil Needs: Soil depends on genus and species; those requiring soil do well in a succulent potting mix.

Cast-Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)

This plant earned its common name, the cast-iron plant, because it is so hard to kill, Aspidistra elatior is an excellent low-maintenance houseplant. A tropical plant growing two to three feet tall, this is one of the rare houseplants that will tolerate almost full shade. Variegated varieties need more light than solid-green specimens. It also does not require high humidity, making it good for guest bathrooms that aren’t used often.

Color Varieties: Medium-green foliage; rarely flowers when grown as a houseplantSun Exposure: Low, indirect light; tolerates full shadeSoil Needs: Well-drained, peaty potting mix

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema Spp.)

Few plants are as forgiving and adaptable as the Chinese evergreen, comprising about 20 species within the Aglaonema genus. These large-leaved, tropical perennials will thrive even if you forget to water and feed them. While they love humidity, they will also tolerate dry air, provided you keep them out of cold drafts, which can damage the leaves. They grow from ten inches to four feet tall, depending on the variety; some cultivars (such as ‘Silver Queen’) have gray-green and even pink variegation.

Color Varieties: Dark green; some varieties are variegatedSun Exposure: Low, indirect light; no direct sunSoil Needs: Rich, well-drained potting mix

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum var.)

You will find croton plants in an assortment of brightly-colored foliage, and the pictum variety has multi-colored leaves. These tropical broadleaf evergreens grow slowly, but they can grow up to six feet tall and three feet wide, so be sure you give it enough room to grow. Croton plants need bright, but indirect light, and lots of humidity and moisture, although they do not like to sit in wet soil. Wait until the top two inches of soil are dry before watering. Reduce watering in late fall and winter.

Color Varieties: Green, or combinations of yellow, pink, orange, red, bronze, purple, and greenSun Exposure: Bright, indirect lightSoil Needs: Well-drained, humusy potting mix

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia Spp.)

Dumb cane plants, also well-known by their botanical name dieffenbachia, do best with minimal care. Water them when the soil feels dry (feel just a few inches below the surface). This plant requires more light during the short days of winter and dappled light in the summer. Rotate your dumb cane plant every month so it grows evenly on all sides. These plants can grow several feet tall.

Color Varieties: Combinations of green and yellow/white foliageSun Exposure: Bright, indirect lightSoil Needs: Loose, fast-draining potting mix

Ferns (Various genera)

Ferns are a unique family of shade-loving plants that reproduce through spores rather than flowers and seeds. Many ferns make great houseplants and can handle the temperature fluctuations and humidity in a bathroom environment. Some can even be grown right in a shower stall where they are regularly soaked. Some recommended ferns for the bathroom include Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), maidenhair fern (Adiantum spp.), bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus), and button fern (Pellaea rotundifolia).

Color Varieties: Light to dark green, depending on speciesSun Exposure: Depends on the speciesSoil Needs: Depends on species; most thrive in moist, well-drained potting mix

Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)

The gardenias most often grown as indoor plants are G. jasminoides, also known as cape jasmine. These tropical broadleaf evergreens are not particularly easy to grow indoors because they respond poorly to cold drafts or sudden blasts of heat. However they can grow well in the humid conditions of a bathroom provided they receive enough bright light. Gardenias can be large plants, growing to six feet tall, but they can be kept smaller with frequent pruning. Feed with an acidic fertilizer.

Color Varieties: Dark green leaves; white flowersSun Exposure: Needs six to eight hours of sunlight for floweringSoil Needs: Well-drained, acidic potting mix rich with peat moss

Orchids (Orchidaceae Family, Various Genera)

Orchids comprise hundreds of species in dozens of genera in the Orchidaceae family of plants. Many orchids are ideal for growing in bathrooms that do not get too cold. Some species are planted in soil, while others are epiphytes (air plants) that absorb moisture from the air. Orchids can bloom for weeks, and because some varieties are smallish plants, you can cluster several together for quite a show. Some prefer moderate light; others need bright light.

Color Varieties: Pink, red, purple, white, depending on the varietySun Exposure: Depends on variety but needs light for bloomsSoil Needs: Depends on type, but generally requires a bark mix designed for orchids

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum Spp.)

Peace lilies are elegant plants that require minimal care. They do best with regular watering and appreciate the humidity in the bathroom. Do not allow the soil to remain dry for extended periods of time. Peace lilies do well in limited light; however, if your plant is not flowering, it might need a slightly brighter location. When feeding, use a very diluted fertilizer mix.

Color Varieties: Glossy green foliage; white flowersSun Exposure: Bright, filtered lightSoil Needs: Well-drained potting mix

Philodendron (Philodendron Spp.)

Philodendrons are tropical plants that thrive in bathroom conditions. Some varieties produce vines or trail with stems as long as 20 feet and other varieties grow upright. Both types are relatively easy to grow. If you water this plant too much or too little, the plant will drop its leaves. However, it prefers consistently moist soil. Philodendrons need bright, indirect light; too much shade creates spindly stems.

Color Varieties: Dark-green foliage; some cultivars have variegated leavesSun Exposure: Bright, indirect lightSoil Needs: Soil-based potting mix

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Closely resembling the heart-leaved variety of Philodendron (P. hederaceum), pothos is an almost indestructible plant. As indoor plants, it is common to see pothos specimens grow to six to ten feet or longer. However, if you regularly prune stems back to just above a leaf, the plant will become fuller and bushy. Water whenever the soil feels dry. Pothos will thrive in low light or bright, indirect light.

Color Varieties: Green to marbled yellow foliageSun Exposure: Bright light to near-full shadeSoil Needs: General potting mix rich in peat mos

Warning

All parts of the pothos plant are poisonous if ingested.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

A common name for the snake plant is mother-in-law’s tongue. They are low maintenance plants and their vertical growth habit provides a nice contrast to trailing and vining plants. Depending on the variety, mature plants can range from eight inches to four feet tall. If the leaves start to flop open, hold them together with twine to keep them growing upright. Snake plants prefer bright light but can handle less than ideal conditions. Variegated varieties need more light, or they can revert to all-green foliage. Potted plants are often moved to shady outdoor locations in the summer. Water when the top 2 inches of soil is dry.

Color Varieties: Deep green leaves with gray-green or golden yellow stripesSun Exposure: Bright, warm light; avoid direct sunlightSoil Needs: Soil-based potting mix

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider plants like growing in tight quarters, so do not plant them in a container that is much larger than the root ball. Mature plants regularly send out long stems that bear small, star-shaped flowers. Once the flowers fall off, tiny plantlets form in their place. These plantlets ultimately grow their own roots and can be removed and repotted to grow more spider plants. These low maintenance plants tolerates bright light, but the leaves will scorch in full sun. They prefer relatively cool (but not cold) temperatures. Spider plants typically grow two feet wide and two to three feet long in containers.

Color Varieties: Green foliage, sometimes striped with whiteSun Exposure: Bright, indirect sunlightSoil Needs: Loose, fast-draining potting mix

Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)

If you have the space for a small tree, weeping fig can dress up a bathroom. However, it does not like sudden temperature changes. Cold drafts can cause it to drop its leaves, but it should recover. Although it likes humidity, a weeping fig does not like being overwatered and sitting in wet soil. Wait to water until the top inch or two of soil feels dry. Weeping figs prefer bright, indirect light and need more light indoors than when grown outdoors.

Color Varieties: Glossy green leaves; some varieties are variegatedSun Exposure: Bright light; likes some sunlight when grown indoorsSoil Needs: Rich, fast-draining potting mix

Consider the Type of Bathroom

Plants for a bathroom are often chosen with the assumption that they need to tolerate humid conditions. Yet constant humidity is really present only in primary bathrooms or family bathrooms, where the shower or bathtub is used frequently. In a guest bathroom or powder room, the conditions may actually be relatively dry most of the time, as well as being darker than in a family bathroom. Make sure to consider the nature of the bathroom and pick plants that are suited to those conditions. Plants for a guest bath need to have a good tolerance for drier, darker conditions.

About This Term: Primary Bathroom

Many real estate associations, including the National Association of Home Builders, have classified the term “Master Bedroom” (or “Master Bathroom”) as discriminatory. “Primary Bedroom” is the name now widely used among the real estate community and better reflects the purpose of the room.

Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge to make The Spruce a site where all feel welcome.

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