By Erin Marissa Russell
When you want maximum impact from your houseplant collection, you look for plants with the biggest possible leaves. We’ve put together this list of big-leaved beauties for you to consider.
Yes, this is the plant that produces bananas, although a banana tree kept as a houseplant won’t create any. Look carefully into which species of banana tree you choose, as the mature sizes of banana trees can vary from heights of two to 30 feet and widths of 1 to 15 feet. The banana tree’s large, blade-shaped leaves are the perfect attention getter. This plant is sometimes also called plantain tree.
Provide your banana tree with full sun (that’s at least four to six hours of direct sunshine each day). The more sun, the better, as far as banana trees are concerned. Your new plant will also need loamy soil that drains well and has an acidic pH level.
For more information, see our article How to Grow Your Own Banana Plant or Banana Tree.
The glossy green leaves of the bird of paradise plant are topped with flaming orange blossoms that resemble the bird for which the plant is named. These tropical beauties can get to heights of six or seven feet tall and four feet wide. Be advised that the bird of paradise plant is toxic to people and animals, so do not keep it as a houseplant where children or pets may reach it.
Bird of paradise can do well in direct or indirect sunshine. It needs rich, loamy soil that drains well and should be watered whenever the soil has dried out. (Not sure how to test this? Just stick a finger into the soil where your plant is growing, about an inch deep. If the soil feels moist to you or clings to your finger, it isn’t yet dry, and it isn’t yet time to water your plant again.)
This plant is occasionally called pinstripe plant for the pretty striped pattern on Calathea orbifolia’s foliage. Once the plant is well established, the leaves can be between 15 and 35 inches wide. The whole plant can reach a height of several feet tall when it receives proper care.
Keep these plants out of direct sunlight, instead finding them a place with indirect light or even low light. Light that’s too bright can result in faded or scorched foliage. Plant Calathea orbifolia in rich potting soil that gets excellent drainage.
This plant grows slowly but rewards patient gardeners with long, narrow leaves that emerge from a bamboo-like central stalk. In a container, a corn plant can grow up to six feet tall, although if kept outdoors they can reach up to 50 feet tall. Be aware that corn plant is poisonous for animals, so keep this plant out of the reach of pets or skip it if you have furry friends.
Corn plant needs a place to grow that has partial sunlight and moist, loamy soil that drains well. It does best in soil with an acidic pH level (from 6.1 to 6.5).
Croton plants are known for their showstopping color. The foliage of a croton plant may be brushed with green, yellow, orange, or red. Although it’s possible for crotons to get very large, in most cases when kept as houseplants they will top out around three feet tall.
Croton plants do best in full sun, but some varieties tolerate shade better than others. The croton plants with the most colorful leaves need the most sun. Use a rich, nutritious soil that will retain moisture well. Crotons are poisonous to people and animals, so keep them away from children and pets.
For more information, see our article How to Grow Croton Plants (Codiaeum variegatum).
Dumb cane plants will grow to heights of up to 10 feet tall, with large pointed leaves. You can choose the standard type or a more colorful variety. The leaves come in shades of cream, green, and white.
Dumb cane plants enjoy partial shade or bright indirect light. Plant in peaty potting soil that offers plenty of drainage. The pH level of your soil should be slightly acidic, between 6.1 and 6.5. Dumb cane is toxic to humans and animals, so keep it away from children or pets.
Elephant Ear (Colocasia or Alocasia)
Elephant ears are usually grown outdoors, but they can be cultivated as houseplants, too. Their leaves are some of the largest you can get, and there are varieties in different colors, from green to deep black.
These easygoing plants will thrive in sun or shade. They need rich, moist soil that offers plenty of drainage. If the plants are ingested, they can cause irritation to the mouth and digestive tract. For this reason, it’s best not to grow elephant ears where children or pets will play alone.
For more information, see our article How to Grow Elephant Ears in Containers.
The large, violin-shaped leaves of a fiddle leaf fig tree all emerge from the end of one long stalk. This tree has enjoyed a lot of popularity lately, so you’re bound to have seen it in offices, homes, or apartments. It’s not the easiest plant to grow, but it will reward you with a mature size of up to 10 feet tall when kept indoors.
Fiddle leaf fig does best in partial shade. Plant it in loamy, moderately moist soil that offers good drainage. The soil pH level should be between 6 and 7. Fiddle leaf fig is poisonous to cats and dogs, so don’t keep it where pets will play unsupervised.
The rubber tree has long, oval leaves that emerge from a central stalk. The green leaves are veined in deep red. Rubber tree is an easygoing plant that doesn’t require a lot from you as far as maintenance. Outdoors, these hardy plants can reach heights of 50 to 100 feet tall, but indoors they’ll be limited by the size of the pot you grow them in.
Give your rubber tree partial shade and moist soil that offers plenty of drainage. The soil pH level should be acidic. Rubber trees are toxic to dogs and cats, so keep them out of the reach of pets.
For more information, see our article How to Grow a Rubber Tree Houseplant (Ficus elastica).
This is a very slow-growing plant, but indoors it can stretch to six feet tall. The large leaves have a folded, ridged or ruffled texture and grow in a large fan shape.
Grow ruffled fan palm in partial to complete shade. Established specimens can tolerate more sun, but the plant does best in shade. This plant isn’t picky about the type of soil you use. Just make sure to let the soil dry out before watering the ruffled fan palm.
You’re probably already familiar with the snake plant and its long lance-shaped leaves. Although they’re not very wide, these leaves can get quite tall because the plant grows up to eight feet tall.
Find your snake plant a spot where it will get partial sunlight or shade. It prefers sandy soil that offers good drainage, and a pH level that ranges from slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. Be aware that snake plant is poisonous to cats and dogs, so keep it in a spot where pets can’t reach it or choose another plant that isn’t toxic to animals.
For more information, see our article How to Grow Snake Plant.