Best Large Indoor Plants for Beginners (And Why)


Swiss Cheese Plant Monstera Deliciosa growing in water and Sweating dripping water or "crying"

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As someone new to indoor gardening, you steer clear of large plants especially. They just seem like they require a lot of work, plus there’s so much more of the plant that you could accidentally kill. Yet larger houseplants aren’t necessarily any easier to kill, at least if you grow the right ones. But which large indoor plants are best for beginner, and why?

Here are the best large indoor plants for beginners:

  • Anthurium
  • Ponytail palm
  • Rubber plant
  • Heart-leaf philodendron
  • Agave
  • Cast-iron plant
  • Snake plant
  • Swiss cheese plant
  • Dieffenbachia

Why do I recommend these 9 houseplants specifically? Ahead, I’ll tell you just that. If some of these plants are unfamiliar to you, don’t worry, as I’ll also provide some pertinent facts for each one.

9 Most Beginner-Friendly Large Indoor Plants

Anthurium

The anthurium or laceleaf in the Araceae family is one in about 1,000 different species. If there’s any feature of this houseplant that’s most beloved, that’s undoubtedly its red “flower” that has earned this plant the nickname flamingo.

Why the parentheses? Like the peace lily, the anthurium’s flower is not technically that, but rather, a leaf bract known as a spathe that looks like a flower.

Depending on the anthurium cultivar, the color of its flower can vary. For example, the Anthurium Pandola grows flowers in a shade of light pink with some hints of green, making its true status as a leaf more apparent.

The Princess Amalia Elegance or Anthurium andraeanum cultivar is white with dark pink veins and edges. Some cultivars, including the Anthurium scherzerianum, are bright red with curled leaves.

What Makes the Anthurium Such a Great Houseplant for Beginners

I’d recommend the anthurium over the peace lily for beginners any day, and that’s for a multitude of reasons. The Anthurium is not nearly as finicky about the light it receives.

For beginner indoor gardeners or people new to caring for houseplants, choosing a houseplant such as the anthurium that isn’t as picky about it’s light requirements is a huge boon.

If you don’t provide indirect light every single day, you’ll still see anthurium growth.

While providing your anthurium less than indirect light will likely cause it to grow at a slower rate with less flowering, it’s not going to mean certain death.

The anthurium allows much more wiggle room when it comes to light than a lot of other houseplant options.

The anthurium also doesn’t demand daily watering. If anything, you’ll want to let its soil become dry to the touch before you water it again.

The biggest and easiest mistake you can make when caring for an anthurium is overwatering it. The anthurium is well known for root rot, which can kill it.

The Anthurium is Low Maintenance When it Comes to Fertilizing

You don’t even need a super-strict fertilizing schedule when tending to the anthurium. Maybe every four months you should fertilize your plant using a fertilizer that’s at quarter strength.

The more phosphorus the fertilizer has, the greater the likelihood that you’ll see beautiful blooms from your anthurium.

Ponytail Palm

Making a statement in your apartment or office is as easy as adding a ponytail palm. The Beaucarnea recurvata is a Mexican native plant in the Asparagaceae family that’s technically in a different family from true palms. Even still, this houseplant is appealing from tip to stem.

Why is it called the ponytail palm, you ask? The fronds of this houseplant grow long and then dangle downward, sort of like the way a person’s hair looks when pulled into a ponytail.

Why the Ponytail Palm is a Great Houseplant for Beginners

Besides its stately appearance, the ponytail palm is super easy to care for. You’ll feel like an expert indoor gardener once your ponytail palm sprouts up big and tall.

Once you find a home for the ponytail palm, you don’t have it move it throughout the day. Remember, this palm is from Mexico, where it gets quite hot. The plant can handle a bit of sun as long as it’s not direct.

You needn’t water your ponytail palm too frequently. Like the anthurium, allow for the soil to get dry about an inch deep, even two inches. Then grab your watering can.

You also don’t have to worry about setting your thermostat just so. Throughout most of the year, room temperature environments suit the ponytail palm.

In the winter, please maintain temperatures of around 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit so the plant can enter dormancy. That’s about the hardest thing you have to do for this palm.

In the right conditions, the ponytail palm can live for an extraordinarily long time. In Mexico, one such registered palm has been around for 350 years and counting!

Rubber Plant

Known as everything from the rubber plant to the rubber tree, rubber bush, and even the rubber fig, the Ficus elastica has rubber-like leaves that lend this indoor plant species massive appeal. Originating from Asia, many parts of the world have naturalized this plant, making it easier than ever to get your hands on a rubber plant.

Able to grow both outdoors and indoors, the rubber plant is largely used for ornamental purposes. Should a relatively healthy rubber plant leaf fall off, you can take that leaf and use it to propagate an entirely new rubber plant!

What Makes the Rubber Plant a Great Houseplant for Beginners

The rubber plant is a classic addition to any indoor garden. Although it lacks some of the eye-catching details that you’d find in an anthurium or ponytail palm, it’s an unassuming plant that’s worth having.

While many indoor plants can be finicky about the temperature they remain healthy in, that’s not the case with the rubber plant. The rubber plant is one of the more forgiving large houseplants when it comes to temperature.

The recommended average temperature for the rubber plant is 60 to 75 degrees, which is room temperature for most homes and offices. You won’t have to adjust your thermostat in any special way for the rubber tree, which is wonderful.

Like many of the large indoor plants I’ve discussed so far, the rubber plant will grow best when its soil can dry out completely between watering. You will need to increase its watering schedule as the growing season begins in the spring and the temperatures subsequently heat up.

Indirect but bright light, like that from any window with a sheer curtain, is best for the rubber plant, so there’s no need to buy an artificial grow light or anything like that.

There are two caveats I want to mention regarding the rubber plant. For one, you have to keep its leaves clean some of the time, misting them or wiping them with a damp cloth. Doing this allows the plant to absorb sunlight more adequately.

Otherwise, try to touch your rubber plant as seldom as possible, as direct contact with the leaves can cause skin irritation for some people.

Heart-Leaf Philodendron

Few large plant species are more beloved than the philodendron, but are you familiar with the heart-leaf philodendron?

The Philodendron hederaceum in the Araceae family comes from the warm tropics of the Caribbean and Central America. It can grow up to 20 feet in height as a climbing plant, but its acclaim mostly comes down to its naturally heart-shaped leaves.

When your philodendron matures, it may someday grow white flowers. Here is a photo of what those flowers look like courtesy of the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Should your heart-leaf philodendron’s flowers bloom, they open for only a short period, two days. Then they close up shop. The flowers, of which there may be three at most, do bloom at different times though! This maximizes your enjoyment of your heart-leaf philodendron’s flowers.

Why the Heart-Leaf Philodendron is a Great for Beginners

The biggest reason people go gaga over the heart-leaf philodendron is for its looks, and that’s fair. Beyond that, the philodendron is surprisingly easy to take care of. As in, you hardly have to do anything. Some gardening experts say you can go several years without doing much for your heart-leaf philodendron and it will keep right on living.

Agave Plant

I also recommend adding the agave to your indoor garden, which is a succulent. If you’ve ever heard of and even tasted agave syrup/nectar, the name similarity is not a coincidence. The agave plant can be harvested for its sap, which contains the sweet ingredient.

The agave plant itself grows throughout South America and the Americas. Depending on the variety, when it reaches maturity, the agave can reach widths of 10 feet, so it will definitely require considerable space in your indoor garden!

Why the Agave is a Great for Beginners

Succulents are a beginner gardener’s best friend. The less you do, for the most part, the better. The leaves of the agave are thick to store water for long periods, which allows you to go weeks without watering it. You may have to increase the watering frequency in warm weather.

The agave is at no risk of having its leaves scorch in the sun considering it natively grows in some of the hottest regions in the world. If your home or office is a bit on the warmer side, that’s even better for this houseplant. Even average humidity though, which is 40 percent relative humidity, suffices for the agave.

Cast-Iron Plant

Do you know why the cast-iron plant is called that? No, it has nothing to do with the coloring of this houseplant species from Taiwan and Japan. Rather, the cast-iron plant, also referred to as the bar-room plant, got its name because it too is tough like iron. That makes it right up your alley!

This Asparagaceae family member has long, blade-like leaves. The width and height of the cast-iron plant are about 24 inches on average. Versatile in that it can grow indoors or outdoors, the cast-iron plant makes a fantastic addition to the corner of your office or as a living room accent.

Why the Cast-Iron Plant is a Great for Beginners

I’ve seen descriptors for the cast-iron plant such as “indestructible” and “tolerant of neglect,” which goes to show you why it’s such a great pick for beginners. It’s hard to mess this one up. If the environment the plant is in is too cold, it’ll live, and that’s also the same if things are on the toasty side.

Since full shade is a growing requirement for the cast-iron plant, if your home or office isn’t particularly bright, you don’t have to feel bad for your plant if it’s the Aspidistra elatior.

Snake Plant

If you’re new to this blog, I’ll introduce you to the snake plant now, but I have written about it extensively, such as this post.

In short, the Sansevieria trifasciata in the Asparagaceae family is sometimes funnily called the mother-in-law’s tongue. Its other nickname is the viper’s bowstring. All the snake imagery is due to this plant’s long, curling leaves, which do resemble the body of a snake.

Many snake plant cultivars are out there waiting for you to explore, including the succulent-like blue Sansevieria or Sansevieria Ehrenbergii, which no, isn’t actually blue. The Twisted Sister cultivar is indeed twisted though, which is a cool take on your average snake plant!

Why the Snake Plant is a Great for Beginners

Striking looks aside, the snake plant has a reputation for being very easy to manage. You can earn your green thumb by caring for the snake plant and build up your confidence as you do.

Relative humidity of about 40 percent is all the snake plant needs, so save your humidifier for another plant.

Water it about weekly. As for light? The snake plant doesn’t much care, but you should a little. If you own a colorful snake plant cultivar, its leaves will be a brighter shade if the plant has more light. That said, your snake plant won’t die in dim lighting either.

Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)

The only large plant more popular than the philodendron is the Swiss cheese plant or Monstera deliciosa. If you want to add some instant tropical appeal to your home or office, this plant will do it.

Its gigantic leaves have cutouts that make them resemble the fronds of gently swaying beach palms. Speaking of the beach, the Swiss cheese plant has spread to Hawaii, but it’s native to South Mexico’s tropical forests.

Have you ever wondered where the Swiss cheese part of this indoor plant’s name comes from? I’d attribute it to the Monstera obliqua cultivar. Unlike the Monstera deliciosa’s purposeful leaf cutouts, this variety has fenestrations or holes of all sizes throughout the leaves, much like Swiss cheese itself is full of holes.

Why the Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa) is a Great for Beginners

The Monstera has so many varieties with fenestrations of all kinds that you could fill your indoor garden solely with this species. You’d just need a pretty big room to do it.

Some plants make you sacrifice beautiful looks for high-maintenance care routines, but not the Monstera. Keep its soil somewhat moist and it’s happy. If the soil gets a bit dry between waterings, that’s okay, but don’t allow the soil to reach a state of bone-dryness.

Indirect, bright light and even medium light are recommended, so a curtained window should work fine. If your Monstera is exposed to direct sun, it won’t like it at first, but it can adjust to these conditions if that’s all you can provide.

Temperatures of 65 to 85 degrees are a requirement, as is relative humidity that’s about 40 percent, so there’s no need to go out of your way in these areas. If your home is comfortable, then you’re taking good care of your Swiss cheese plant.

The Dieffenbachia Plant

My last recommendation for large plants that even indoor gardeners can grow is the dumb cane or Dieffenbachia. An Araceae family member, this houseplant grows natively from Argentina to Mexico and other parts of the New World Tropics.

An attractive ornamental indoor plant, you have about two dozen cultivars to select from. My suggestions? The Dieffenbachia camouflage is an eye-catching electric green hue throughout. If you like patterns, the Dieffenbachia Seguine almost resembles the zebra plant with its contrasting stripes.

The Dieffenbachia even comes in pink!

Why the Dieffenbachia is a Great for Beginners

The fun variety of cultivar options is definitely a big selling point, so to speak, for the dumb cane. You’ll also appreciate how simple this plant is to maintain. Depending on how variegated or patterned it is, the Dieffenbachia needs either speckled shade or indirect light. If it’s in a relatively dark room then, it’s safer.

You can let up to two inches of its soil dry out before you pick up your watering can. That can buy you a week, maybe even two weeks before you have to water your dumb cane again. Its temperature requirements are very achievable as well, with preferences of 62 to 80 degrees.

Fred Zimmer

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

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