by Matt Gibson
The bathroom may not be the first place in your home that comes to mind when you envision an indoor container garden lush with houseplants. The warmth and humidity created by someone taking a shower provides a nice tropical environment, but when the shower is over and everyone is asleep, the bathroom can get dry and quickly. The tile or linoleum flooring and ceramic sinks or bathtubs many of us use also make the bathroom much chillier than the tropics when the shower isn’t running.
It takes a special type of plant to enjoy the wide temperature and humidity level fluctuations your household bathroom has to offer. Also, most bathrooms only have a small window, and many have no window at all. If this is the case with your bathroom, you may want to invest in fluorescent bulbs before adding plants. Though fluorescent lighting isn’t the natural choice of plants, which prefer the light of the sun, flourescents still give off a light that plants can benefit from in lieu of sunlight.
By now, you may be asking yourself whether there is really a variety of plants to choose from that will flourish in the bathroom. Are there enough plants out there that enjoy minimal lighting, high humidity and rapid fluctuations in temperature? We’re here to prove that there are. Read on to get the details on 22 plants that will actually perform better in your bathroom than they would placed elsewhere in your garden or home.
English Ivy is a great choice for bathrooms for several reasons. At the top of the list is Ivy’s ability to purify the air, which is a big bonus in a bathroom. Ivy also enjoys humidity and only needs a moderate amount of sunlight to grow. This creeping vine is a great fit for hanging baskets and ledges, as it will trail down and bring some life to your bathroom without taking up too much valuable real estate.
If you’ve had trouble keeping orchids alive in the past, try one in your bathroom. These rainforest natives only need a bit of exposure to indirect light, so the fluorescents you purchased or the small bit of sunlight that catches your orchids perched in their spot on your windowsill will be just enough to keep them happy. The humidity created by hot baths and showers warming and steaming up the closely enclosed space also nicely mimics the orchid’s natural environment.
Ferns are a great choice to serve as bathroom dwellers, especially the Boston, asparagus, staghorn, and bird’s nest varieties. Ferns are great in hanging baskets, which are fit easily into small rooms with limited ledge counter space, Ferns also thrive in indirect sunlight and humid conditions. These leafy beauties don’t mind a wide variance in temperature, either. It’s like they were made for bathrooms.
If you have pets in your home—dogs or cats especially—don’t get a snake plant for your bathroom. Unless, of course, the bathroom is the one room in your house where the pets are not allowed. Snake plants are charming, pointy, easy-care plants that are a great addition to home decor, but they are highly toxic to our furry, four-legged friends. The plants do exceptionally well in a bathroom environment, however, so if your home or bathroom is a pet-free zone, put a snake plant on your porcelain throne.
The spider plant is another air purifying bathroom star. Not only does it improve the air, it also helps remove odors. The spider plant requires very little care and enjoys a mix of sunlight and shade. Take your plant outside every once in a while to sunbathe, as it requires some sunlight exposure to develop tiny plantlets.
The gel inside the aloe vera plant is great for treating sunburns and to help heal minor cuts, burns, and scrapes. The outside of the leaves of aloe vera, however, are poisonous, especially to cats and dogs, so be sure to keep this plant out of their reach. Aloe thrives in the bathroom due to the indirect light and humidity, so placing it up high on a windowsill seems like a great idea.
Air plants have had a boom in popularity in recent years, and it’s no wonder. These lovely, spiky little plants don’t require any soil. In fact, as long as they get a little bit of light and regular watering (full immersion underneath the water for 20 to 30 minutes at least three times per week), you can pretty much put them anywhere. Air plants love humidity, too, so the bathroom windowsill is a perfect home.
Pothos is a very popular houseplant that is actually more suited to the bathroom than it is to any other room in the house (as long as your bathroom gets sufficient lighting). That goes double for the golden and neon varieties of pothos. The low-maintenance golden pothos has marbled heart-shaped leaves, while the neon variety boasts foliage that’s almost too bright to look at directly. Both varieties love humidity and perform well in hanging baskets.
Cast Iron Plant
The cast iron plant is perfect for people who love plants but have trouble keeping them alive. Just place a cast iron plant in your bathroom, then forget it’s there—literally. This plant requires a low light environment to thrive. It also needs to dry out completely before being watered. The cast iron plant enjoys a ridiculously wide temperature range, thriving in temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
This gardener favorite is available in 40 different varieties, all of which specialize in air purification and thrive in low light and high humidity environments. The dragon plant, or dracaena, doesn’t require a lot of attention, and its leaves will scorch if it is exposed to too much direct sunlight. The bathroom might just be the perfect place for your dracaena.
The ZZ plant is a tough specimen—it’s named the eternity plant because it can live through nearly an eternity of neglect, seemingly without suffering for the lack of attention. This plant needs light, but not direct light. It does need water, too, but it can survive a long time without it. The ZZ plant loves humidity and a wide range of temperatures, so it’s a perfect fit for the bathroom. An added benfit of growing the ZZ plant is that it’s visually stunning. It has glossy, oval-shaped leaves that appear fresh and vibrant, sure to brighten up any bathroom in need of a splash of color and a bit of life.
These brightly colored tropical plants are great selections for the bathroom because of their care preferences. Bromeliads need filtered light, lots of humidity, and an indoor climate with no exposure to extreme weather. Most varieties are easy to care for, and all varieties are easy on the eyes.
With a preference for warm climates and lots of humidity but the resilience to withstand wide variances in temperature, the Chinese evergreen is a shoe-in for bathroom plant of the year. Beloved for its bright green foliage that’s streaked with white and yellow, the Chinese evergreen is one of the easiest plants available to grow and care for. The durability of this plant has made it a favorite choice of beginners and gardeners whose thumbs are occasionally less than green. This durable plant has even been described as “almost foolproof.”
Bamboo doesn’t need much of anything to thrive. It doesn’t ask for more than a very minimal amount of light. For that matter, bamboo doesn’t even need soil—just place it in a container with some pebbles and water, and watch it go wild. (You will need to change the water every two to four weeks or before it goes stagnant.) Just watch out that your bamboo doesn’t take over the whole bathroom in no time, as these plants can be invasive and grow very quickly. If you put something in the way of bamboo that’s expanding its territory, then the bamboo will adjust its growing speed and branch out in another direction. In this way, you can skip the struggle and teach a stand of bamboo how—and where—you would like it to grow.
The bathroom is actually the location where experts recommend overwintering begonia plants, but you can also choose to keep a few there year-round. Begonias love humidity and bright indirect light. In fact, they actually perform better under fluorescent lights than they do in sunlight. Make sure to place your begonias in the bathroom that you use for showering and baths most often, as these flowers require a daily dose of humidity or direct misting.
Gardenias are not the easiest plants to grow, but these gorgeous tropical flowering plants are worth any extra effort they require from the gardener. These beautiful blooms work well in the bathroom because they like humidity and require indirect light. However, gardenias don’t do well with sudden blasts of extreme heat or cold, so avoid sudden temperature changes in the bathroom if you decide to decorate with them.
Hailing from the rainforests of Africa, the popular fiddle-leaf fig plant loves humidity. So if you use your bathroom for lots of hot showers and baths, the fiddle-leaf fig is going to feel right at home. It’s big, luscious, bright green leaves are sure to add a big splash of character to even the dullest bathroom spaces.
So you see, by honing in on plants that thrive in low light conditions and enjoy the humidity a bathroom environment provides, you can have success in beautifying your bathroom with plants. In fact, with plenty of great options to choose from that require so little care from the gardener, the hardest part may be deciding which of these bathroom-appropriate plants you’ll choose to grow.
Want to learn more about houseplants that grow better in your bathroom?
Here are helpful resources:
Low light, low maintenance houseplants
Better Homes and Gardens covers 11 Plants That Will Grow Better in Your Bathroom
Green Matters covers Housplants Will Grow Better in the Bathroom
HGTV covers Plants to Grow in Your Bathroom
Natural Living Ideas covers 16 Best Plants for the Bathroom