By Matt Gibson
Ready to go big indoors? How about growing a tree plant! If you really want to step it up a notch and beautify your home with living decor, adding an indoor tree or two as an eye-catching houseplant is a simple addition that will turn any indoor space into a lush, vibrant, tropical oasis. Indoor trees are beginning to catch up with smaller houseplants in the mind of the public because just one can make such a big difference in a room.
Just like a central piece of furniture, an indoor tree can have a major influence on the mood of the environment where it is placed. There is no other statement piece that brightens a home quite as effectively as a charming tree.
Nurseries and garden centers are packed with trees you can select from, many of which are well equipped to thrive indoors when they’re provided with the proper care. As long as your home includes a room with relatively tall ceilings and sunny windows to let in some bright, direct sunlight, there is nothing to stop you from bringing a tree (or multiple trees) into your home—you have everything the trees on this list need in order to thrive.
When you bring one of these trees into your home, you’ll likely find that you and your family members, your guests, and even your pets will feel more connected with nature and more peaceful.
When it comes to deciding what kind of tree you want to add to your indoor space, you should keep in mind how large the tree will be once it is fully mature. Do you have a location that receives plenty of sun for at least six to eight hours per day? If not, you will need to install some grow lights to help supplement the missing sunshine.
Also consider how much water you’ll need to provide your tree on a regular basis and what its lighting requirements are. If you choose an especially thirsty tree, it may make things easier if you choose a spot for your tre that’s near the kitchen or bathroom sink. That way, you won’t have to tote full, heavy buckets through the house every time you water the tree.
Once you’ve figured out the logistics, you’re ready to select the type of tree you want to bring into your home. To make your task a little bit easier, we have narrowed down the nearly limitless choices and curated this list of our favorite trees that are well suited for indoor environments. The eight trees we discuss below are perfect for the indoor garden—and what’s more, they’re guaranteed to give your home an extra spark of personality and natural beauty. Without further ado, let’s meet these trees.
Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
The parlor palm tree is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a tropical, coastal vibe and you don’t have a strong light source. Parlor Palms are one of just a few indoor tree varieties that only need low light to flourish. If your home doesn’t have a lot of big windows, you may have been hesitant to add trees to your decor, thinking that a tree would need to get plenty of sunshine in order to stay healthy and attractive.
This isn’t the case with parlor palm trees. Just like a standard palm tree, the parlor palm has lots of long, narrow leaves that emerge from the center stalk and fan out in all directions. These trees also grow to be very tall, even when kept indoors in low lighting, making them a striking choice and the instant centerpiece of any room.
Natal Mahogany (Trichilia emetica)
Toxic to Pets and Humans
The natal mahogany tree is another example that is tolerant of environments that don’t have tons of sunshine, making it a perfect fit for many homes. This evergreen tree is large and bushy, but it has an upright shape, as well as glossy dark green leaves and a wide crown that spreads out wide. The natal mahogany tree has moderate sun needs and thrives on regular watering.
Natal mahogany trees do not require a humid environment to survive, but they will still appreciate an occasional misting to create a bit of extra humidity from time to time. One thing to remember is that unlike most of the trees that we’ll cover in this article, which will survive if you forget to water them for a week, a natal mahogany tree will not. If you let this tree’s soil dry out completely, there’s likely to be no chance of reviving it, so if you add a natal mahogany tree to your collection, make sure to give a drink at least once per week.
Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)
Toxic to Pets
If these lovely little fig trees weren’t so aesthetically pleasing, we would have omitted them from this list just based on their needy behavior. The fiddle leaf fig tree needs extra attention and care from the gardener in order to stay attractive and have a long, healthy life. This tall, broad-leafed beauty needs: both direct and indirect sunlight, a rich soil medium that drains well, a dose of water every seven to 10 days, and some personal pampering in the form of weekly misting and dusting.
Most home environments aren’t quite humid enough for this fig tree, so to keep a fiddle leaf fig tree happy, running a humidifier in the room where the tree is growing is recommended. This tree variety doesn’t like being in soil that is too wet or too dry, so the safest way to keep your fiddle leaf fig properly hydrated is to purchase a water gauge so that you can carefully time your watering routine.
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
Toxic to Pets
A cousin of the fiddle leaf fig tree, the weeping fig has smaller leaves shaped like teardrops and smooth, gray bark. The weeping fig tree’s leaves are all grouped near the top of its trunk, leaving it bare near the base. Weeping figs are easy to grow. They only require a bright, indirect light source and a dose of water whenever the top of the soil in their container has dried out entirely.
The weeping fig tree gets its name from its tendency to drop its leaves if it happens to be exposed to windy conditions. (Obviously, this won’t be a concern for weeping fig trees that are kept indoors.) The tree may also drop some leaves when it gets lower levels of light during the fall season, so don’t be concerned if you notice this happening.
Weeping fig trees prefer temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 30 degrees Celsius). The weeping fig is actually a bit more needy than its cousin the fiddle leaf fig tree, another beautiful fig that was close to being omitted from this list due to its picky tendencies. In the end, though, weeping fig trees were simply too pretty to dismiss. Just be forewarned—both these fig tree varieties are more than a little demanding, but they’re well worth the effort and energy they require from the gardener.
New Zealand Laurel (Corynocarpus laevigatus)
New Zealand laurel trees aren’t the best choice for gardeners with small children or pets that may be enticed to eat the tree’s toxic fruit. However, others will enjoy the New Zealand laurel for its glossy evergreen leaves and its striking height—these trees can stretch up to 40 feet high. (You did say you had high ceilings, right?) In all seriousness, the New Zealand laurel is unlikely to reach maximum size when it’s cultivated indoors, and it has a tendency to grow quite slowly, so don’t let its potential mature size scare you off.
These trees are bound to please gardeners of any experience level because they’re not too fussy and are really quite beautiful. The New Zealand laurel is a good choice whether you can offer it full sun or partial shade, as long as you keep the soil where it’s growing consistently moist. In spring, the tree will reward your care by bursting into bloom, covering its foliage with white flowers.
Jade (Crassula ovata)
Jade trees have been a popular houseplant for years, both in their bonsai form and as full-size trees. This tree is actually a succulent, which makes it perfectly on point with modern design trends. Succulents aren’t only popular because they’re cute; hailing from the desert, succulent plants are particularly low maintenance, allowing the gardener to be pretty hands-off with their care, and the jade tree is no exception.
You’ve likely seen large mature specimens at least a time or two in other people’s homes—because jade trees are so simple to care for, they tend to have very long lives (as in 70 to 100 years) and can grow up to five feet tall. Like other succulents, jade trees prefer somewhat dry conditions, so you can go weeks between watering session without the tree suffering ill effects. The only thing to watch for is the tree becoming top heavy, in which case it may need some support in the form of stakes. You’ll also need to transfer your jade tree into a larger container once a year or so.
African Candelabra (Euphorbia ammak)
Toxic to Pets and Humans
The African candelabra tree is a unique choice for the indoor garden because of its unusual appearance, for which it was named. The foliage looks somewhat like the Christmas cactus, with ribbed geometric segments that join together to form the branches. Unlike the Christmas cactus, however, these branches stick almost straight up, which makes the tree look a whole lot like a fancy candelabra.
Every spring, the African candelabra bursts into bloom with chartreuse flowers along its ribs. These are succulents like the jade trees we just discussed, so they also come along with the same ease of care. Bear in mind, however, that they are poisonous—in their homeland of Africa, the trees are used to put the poison in poison-tipped arrows.
Majesty Palm (Ravenea rivularis)
Also called majestic palms, majesty palm trees are an excellent way to inject some classic tropical appeal into your decor. Its fans of narrow fronds manage to look like they came either from the beach or the jungle. The majesty palm is actually from Madagascar, so these trees like to be kept relatively wet. In addition to working well indoors, they can also grow happily alongside a pond or as part of a water garden as long as the root system of the plant isn’t totally submerged. What makes them a particularly good houseplant is that they aren’t picky about how much sunlight they get, performing well in low light conditions. The only thing they’re just a little bit fussy about is the humidity, so if you are considering a majesty palm for your indoor plant collection, make sure you won’t mind misting it or installing a humidifier in the room where it grows. These trees grow slowly, especially as part of the indoor garden, but in their native habitat, they can reach a stunning 80 feet tall. Indoors, however, their slow growth means you won’t need to worry about them scraping the ceiling.
Of course, there are other trees out there that you can grow indoors if you like. These are just our top picks, selected either because they’re especially visually appealing or for their ease of care. What trees have you grown successfully indoors? Leave us a message in the comments to tell us which indoor trees are your favorites.