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An indoor tree serves the same function in a room as a piece of furniture: it acts as an anchor and sets a mood in a room. Trees are popular houseplants due to the structural element they add to living spaces as well as the air-cleaning qualities they possess. When you choose an indoor tree, you must consider light and moisture requirements and its mature size.
Here are 20 indoor trees that are popular due to their low maintenance needs, compact size, and visual appeal.
Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)
The fiddle leaf fig hails from the jungle, so a bright bathroom would be an ideal indoor location. A living room will also work if you protect the tree from drafts and give it enough bright filtered light and humidity. Outdoors will also do wonders for the fiddle leaf fig, so give it a temporary home as a patio plant for the month of June.
Light: Bright, filtered lightWater: Moist but not wetTemperature: Between 60 and 80 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Ten feet (indoors)
Citrus (Citrus family)
The bewitching scent of an orange or lemon tree in bloom is superior to any room freshening spray you will ever encounter. Of all the popular indoor trees, citrus trees are the most demanding, especially if you want them to produce fruit. They want more of everything: water, sunlight, humidity, and fertilizer. So buy a humidity tray, sneak the tree outdoors when you can, and start looking up lemon pound cake recipes.
Light: Full sunWater: Moist but not wetTemperature: Between 50 and 80 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Six to ten feet (indoors)
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
Also known as ficus trees, weeping figs are beloved for their rich green color and ease of care. A well-lit room goes a long way toward preventing the most common complaint about the weeping fig, which is leaf drop. A room with a large picture window, skylight, or south-facing window is most desirable. Plant your weeping fig in well-drained soil, and only water when the soil surface is dry.
Light: Bright, indirect lightWater: Moist but not wet; allow to dry out between wateringsTemperature: Between 65 and 85 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Two to ten feet (indoors)
Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica)
Native to India, rubber trees produce large, glossy leaves in a dark green hue that pops against pale paint colors. Like most tropical trees, rubber trees like moderate temperatures, a humid environment, and good air circulation without drafts. An optional step for the pampered plant is a monthly leaf wiping session with a damp cloth to remove dust. Fertilize your rubber tree every two weeks during periods of active growth to achieve maximum leaf size.
Light: Bright, indirect lightWater: Moist but not wet during the growing season; reduce water from fall to late winterTemperature: Between 50 and 80 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Two to ten feet (indoors)
Banana Tree (Musa spp.)
Giant leaf lovers should look no further than an indoor banana tree to satisfy a desire for lush foliage. Some banana trees, such as the Cavendish, produce fruit while others, such as Musa basjoo (Japanese banana), do not. When shopping for an indoor banana tree, seek out dwarf cultivars to keep them to a manageable size. Warm temperatures, full sunlight, and regular fertilizing help these fast-growing trees reach their potential. If leaves start to brown or curl, check for mites, which are notorious banana pests.
Light: Full sunWater: Moist but not wet; do not let soil dry outAverage height: Six to ten feet (indoors)
Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla)
For the winter holidays, small potted Norfolk Island pine trees are for sale as "indoor Christmas trees." But these long-lived trees look great at any time of year. Slightly acidic soil, bright light, cool temperatures, fertilizing once per month, and moderate watering will keep your tree happy.
Light: Full sun with some shade in the afternoon to prevent foliage bleachingWater: Moderate moistureTemperature: 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (can tolerate cooler weather)Average height: Two to six feet tall (indoors)
Umbrella Tree (Schefflera spp.)
With its attractive glossy foliage, the umbrella tree is a fine choice for homes with little direct sunlight or north-facing windows. These trees require little care, but they are attractive to pests like mites and scale, so watch out for them when you bring the tree indoors. Umbrella trees like constant moisture, but do not leave them sitting in a tray of stagnant water. Leaves will drop if soil becomes too moist or too dry.
Light: Bright, indirect lightWater: Moderate moisture; water deeply then let soil dry between wateringsTemperature: Above 60 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Three to six feet (indoors)
Yucca (Yucca spp.)
Yucca trees, also called yucca stick or spineless yucca, offer a striking live accent in homes. The yucca tree features a solid trunk with leathery strap-like leaves emerging from the top. Groups of three in a pot with staggered heights look very attractive. These trees prefer a well-drained sandy soil mix. The size of the container will affect the size of the plant. Give your yucca tree as much sun as possible, and don’t be afraid to cut the plant in half if it outgrows its space.
Light: Full sun or bright, indirect sunWater: Dry to medium moisture; let soil dry between wateringsAverage height: Up to ten feet (indoors)
Jade (Crassula ovata)
The jade tree is probably the lowest maintenance indoor tree on this list, making it perfect for beginners and anyone who doesn’t have a lot of time to care for houseplants. The succulent leaves and trunk of this plant give it a sculptural look. Jade trees are also ideal as bonsai specimens. Water the plant every few weeks and locate it near near a window with bright light.
Light: Bright filtered light with afternoon shadeWater: Does not tolerate moist soil. Water lightly and allow soil to dry between waterings; reduce water from fall through late winterTemperature: 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (can tolerate cooler weather in winter)Average height: 18 to 30 inches tall (indoors)
Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)
The spindly trunk of Pachira aquatica, also known as the money tree, lends it to braiding and that is how many of these trees are sold. The braids will grow with the tree over time, hardening and becoming woody as the plant matures. The money tree prefers high humidity and moisture but don’t let it sit in standing water. In the wild you’ll find it growing in swamps and wetlands. Make sure the container is filled with a potting medium that has excellent drainage.
Light: Bright, indirect lightWater: Keep consistently moistTemperature: 60 and 85 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Six to eight feet (indoors)
Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
The lady palm is a popular palm specimen to grow as an indoor tree thanks to its ability to tolerate low-light conditions. It also has a slow growth rate, meaning it won’t take up much space in a room. But its fan-shaped, glossy green fronds will still add a tropical feel to any space. Plan to water and feed it more frequently during the growing season and reduce water over the winter. Also, protect your palm from direct sun, as it can burn the fronds.
Light: Bright, indirect lightWater: Moderate moisture; let soil dry between wateringsTemperature: 60 and 80 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Up to six feet (indoors)
Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)
The dragon tree is a stunning houseplant with its sword-shaped green leaves with red edges. This plant is quite hardy and easy to care for. It is slow-growing and adapts well to life in a container. Keep your plant out of direct sunlight, as this can burn the foliage. And be sure not to overwater it, which can cause the leaf tips to turn brown.
Light: Bright, indirect lightWater: Moderate moisture; let soil dry between wateringsTemperature: 70 and 80 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Four to six feet (indoors)
Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
As its common name suggests, the parlor palm has long been grown in parlors and other indoor spaces. It adapts well to relatively low-light conditions, remains fairly small indoors, and adds a tropical vibe to a space with its lush green fronds on multiple stems. In fact, giving a parlor palm too much care is often what damages it, especially by overwatering. These palms also are fairly light feeders and only need a weak liquid fertilizer once or twice during the growing season.
Light: Bright, indirect lightWater: Keep moisture at an even level. Err on the side of slightly too dry rather than overwatering; water when the top one inch of soil feels dryTemperature: 65 to 80 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Two to six feet (indoors)
Majesty Palm (Ravenea revularis)
The majesty palm is commonly seen in nurseries sold as an indoor tree specimen. It’s a very attractive palm tree with large, arching, green fronds on multiple stems. Indoors, it has a slow growth rate, adding no more than one foot per year until it reaches ten feet tall. These palms have a reputation for being temperamental about their growing conditions. They prefer warmth and high humidity, along with lightly moist but not waterlogged soil.
Light: Bright, indirect lightWater: Evenly moist but not wetTemperature: 65 to 85 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Up to ten feet (indoors)
Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)
The corn plant does not, in fact, produce corn. Instead, it grows from one or more thick stems that form long, narrow leaves (similar to corn plants) at their tops. They make good indoor trees because they grow tall and narrow and don’t take up a lot of floor space. And they are fairly hardy plants that can withstand less-than-ideal growing conditions. But maintaining a humid environment is key for healthy growth, along with keeping them away from drafts.
Light: Bright, indirect lightWater: Moist but not wetTemperature: 60 to 75 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Four to six feet (indoors)
Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
Areca palms are commonly grown as houseplants as well as landscape plants in tropical climates. These palms have a clumping growth habit with many stems much like bamboo. In fact, another common name for the plant is the bamboo palm. They do well indoors when located by a bright window. They are slow growers and won’t need to be repotted very often. Aim to keep their location humid because dry air can turn the leaf tips brown.
Light: Full sun or bright, indirect light in a south- or west-facing windowWater: Keep moist but let the potting mix dry out slightly between wateringsTemperature: 65 to 75 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Six to seven feet (indoors)
Kumquat (Citrus japonica)
Kumquat trees generally perform well in containers and even have the potential to bear fruit indoors. The key to success is giving them as much full sun as possible and using a supplemental grow light if windows don’t provide enough light. Kumquat trees don’t tolerate sitting in soggy soil, so don’t overwater them and use a container with excellent drainage. The trees have dense, glossy, dark green foliage that looks great even if they don’t happen to bear their small orange fruits.
Light: Full sunWater: Keep soil slightly moist but not wetTemperature: 55 to 85 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Six to 12 feet (indoors)
Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
The bay laurel tree has pointed oval leaves that are a common cooking ingredient. It’s fairly easy to keep this plant as an indoor tree to have its leaves right at your fingertips. Bay laurel has a slow growth rate and takes well to pruning, so you will be able to keep the container plant at a manageable size. Use a container that just fits the plant’s root ball because bay laurel likes to be a little cramped. And make sure not to overwater.
Light: Full sun or bright, indirect lightWater: Moderate moisture; let soil dry between wateringsTemperature: 65 to 85 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Four to six feet (indoors)
Guava (Psidium guajava)
Guava is a shrub or small tree that’s native to tropical regions. However, it also can be grown indoors if you can mimic its preferred tropical conditions of high heat and humidity. Give your plant lots of light, warmth, and humidity. Moving it outside during the warmer months is a good option so that the tree receives the sunlight it craves. These plants grow from a single or multi-stemmed trunk. They won’t always flower and bear fruit indoors, but their mottled green bark and large green leaves still provide visual interest.
Light: Full sunWater: Moist but not wetTemperature: 65 to 85 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Four to ten feet (indoors)
Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
Ponytail palms are popular indoor trees thanks to their slow growth rate and long lifespan. It can take several years before a young ponytail palm reaches even a few feet tall, so these are perfect plants for desktops and other surfaces. Their narrow, ribbon-like, green leaves cascade down the stem. These plants like as much light as possible and don’t require much care beyond watering every one to two weeks.
Light: Full sun or bright, indirect lightWater: Moderate moisture, let soil dry between waterings; the bulbous stem stores water, so be careful not to overwater it. Reduce to monthly watering during the winter months.Temperature: Above 60 degrees FahrenheitAverage height: Up to six feet (indoors)
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