QUESTION: What is the best large houseplant for my collection? I want the most dramatic, attention-grabbing large plant I can find that isn’t too hard to take care of. — Jared N.
ANSWER: While there’s no one plant out there that is the “best” objectively when it comes to large houseplants, we’ve cultivated a list of the top few options for you to consider. Each of the plants on this list will provide you with a unique large-scale focal point for your indoor plant collection. We’ll tell you everything you need to know to find out which of the plants on our list will be a good fit for your collection.
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
Crotons are an especially good choice because of the bright colors they come in. Plants situated in brighter areas produce more colorful patterns on their foliage. A croton grown indoors reaches an average height of four feet, but the plants are known to stretch as high as eight feet tall.
Crotons need plenty of sunlight to produce the colors in their leaves, but make sure they’re getting bright indirect light. Direct sunlight will scorch the leaves of the croton plants with sunscald. Humidity that isn’t high enough can result in dropped leaves and reduced colors in a croton plant’s foliage. Humidity should be set between 40 and 80 percent, with the temperature over 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the croton plants protected against drafts and dry air.
Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)
The fiddle leaf fig tree has enjoyed some popularity in recent years because of its beauty. The trees have glossy dark green leaves that grow larger and larger as their height increases. However, fiddle leaf figs are a little fussy to care for, so if you’re looking for something low maintenance, the fiddle leaf fig probably isn’t the right plant for you.
If you are an experienced gardener who will enjoy taking on a finicky plant, here’s what you’ll have in store. Fiddle leaf figs thrive in a bit more humidity than homes usually have, so you’ll need a humidifier. And in addition to rich, fertile soil and sufficient light (in the best case, a combination between direct and indirect light), you’ll need to water the plant and mist it, too. Fiddle leaf figs are known for their Goldilocks-style attitude to moisture: they need it to be just right. Water every seven to 10 days, mist every three days or so, and dust the plant about once a week.
Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
Jade plants are one of the most commonly grown large houseplants, so you’re likely to have seen them in the homes of friends or family. The dark, glossy leaves of this succulent resemble the leaves of trees and hedges. Jade plants can reach up to five feet tall, and unlike other plants on this list, jade is a succulent. That means these plants are seriously low maintenance.
You can keep a jade plant happy by giving it a tall drinking glass full of water whenever the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. Of course, that means you’ll need to check the soil with your fingers for dryness regularly: about twice per day. However, take a break from the watering schedule for a few weeks whenever you move your jade plant or transplant it. Jade doesn’t need quite as much sun as most of the other options we’ve covered here. A jade plant can get by well on just four hours of sun each day.
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
The rubber plant is a stately choice, with deep green glossy leaves streaked with a red central vein. Rubber plants have the potential to reach the impressive height of 100 feet; their mature height depends on the space the plant is given and how well it is cared for. If you want your rubber plant to continue increasing in size, all you need to do is continue upgrading the size of the container it’s planted in.
Give your rubber plant plenty of indirect sunlight (partial shade) and acidic soil that drains well. Rubber plants flourish when provided with humidity higher than most homes naturally have, so using a humidifier in the room where rubber plants are growing is beneficial.
Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)
The Swiss cheese plant features a unique pattern of holes in its leaves, from which the plant gets its name. Swiss cheese plants that grow outdoors have a springtime bloom, but indoor plants do not flower.
Find your Swiss cheese plant a spot where it can get either direct sunlight in the morning or indirect sunlight during the day. It can tolerate either full sun or partial shade. For best results, soil should be peaty and neutral to acidic.
Like many of the large houseplants we’ve listed, the Swiss cheese plant needs more humidity than your home is likely to provide. You can either use a humidifier or spray the plant’s leaves every few days to make up for the difference.
Use deep watering (when lots of water is given at once to penetrate deep beneath the soil) so your Swiss cheese plant gets plenty of moisture but isn’t oversaturated. Deep watering techniques call for you to move the plant’s container to the sink and let water run on the soil until it drips from the drainage holes at the bottom of the planter. You’ll know it’s time to water this unique-looking plant again when you can stick a finger into the soil down to the first knuckle and feel that it is dry at this depth.
To get the Swiss cheese plant to grow upward instead of spreading out horizontally, you’ll need to provide some stakes or other support the plant can use to climb. Your Swiss cheese plant will also need pruning every two months during the spring and summer seasons. However, you don’t need to continue providing fertilizer over the colder months when the plant is dormant.
Umbrella Plant (Schefflera)
The umbrella plant is a distinctive-looking choice due to the shape of its leaves, which are attached to the step in a circle that ends up looking something like a leafy umbrella. It’s easy to see how this interesting plant got its name. When they grow outdoors, umbrella plants can stretch up to 50 feet tall. Indoors, however, their height is limited and will max out around 15 feet tall and six feet wide. In summer, umbrella plants that grow outdoors bloom in white, pink, and red, though indoor plants bloom only rarely.
Umbrella plants need rich soil that stays moderately moist, so make sure the container you choose provides drainage through holes in the bottom. The pH level these plants prefer is slightly acidic, between 6.0 and 6.5. Make sure to provide an umbrella plant with plenty of bright, indirect light.
If what you’re looking to add to your houseplant collection is a large plant that will be a conversation piece, we know one of the plants on this list will be a perfect fit.
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