Go Big at Home!
Small houseplants are fun to nurture and enjoy on windowsills and side tables, but if you really want to make a statement in your living space, it’s fun to live among the trees. Not only can indoor trees transform your living space as living sculpture, but they also have the ability to boost you mood, increase creativity, lessen stress and serve as serious air fresheners. If you used to taking care of smaller plants and are afraid of caring for these larger plants, here's a list of low maintenance tropical plants that can be classified as trees, from large & leafy sizes to more compact shrubby ones… something perfect for many indoor environments.
Fiddle-leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata): It's love at first sight! The Fiddle-leaf Fig is a beauty in tree form with its large and glossy, violin-shaped leaves, slender trunk and branching habit. The smaller, more compact plants sport a bushier shape but also look great as indoor containers.
Light: This jungle native thrives in bright, filtered light.
Water: Thrives with consistent moisture
Height: 6 ft. and taller indoors
Best Spot: A bathroom with bright light and ample humidity is the perfect location.
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina): This ficus is a graceful indoor tree with smaller, pointy, rich-green leaves and a single trunk that is sometimes braided with 3 stems. When it doesn’t get enough light, it tends to drop its leaves.
Light: Plenty of bright, indirect light.
Water: Keep soil consistently moist but not wet.
Height: Look for 'trees' with single or braided trunks in the 3 - 6 ft. range. If happy in its surroundings, it can grow over 6 ft. but can be easily pruned.
Best Spot: Place in a bright room with a large window and no direct sunlight. Tip: It doesn't like to be moved, once you find a good spot.
Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica): Large glossy leaves are very dramatic in a dark green or a black-green hue. The dark-colored, bold-shaped leaves contrast beautifully against lighter wall colors and lend an exotic feel to a home or office. Remember to wipe accumulated dust off of leaves every month to keep plant looking its best.
Light: As a native to India, it thrives in medium to bright, indirect light but can also tolerate bright direct sunlight.
Water: Every 1-2 weeks depending on the light levels. Allow potting mix to dry out before watering again. Generally, the plant will droop as a signal that it needs more water. Too much water encourages root rot, but any humidity level is fine.
Height: Can grow up to 30 ft. in its native habitat, but as a houseplant it will be much smaller but can still mature into a tree-like shape.
Best Spot: Place in a bright room with good light, humidity, good air circulation and no drafts.
Dracaena Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans massangeana or lindenni): These popular indoor plants are grown in many homes and offices… for many reasons. They are attractive as larger plants or trees and are also fairly easy to care for and maintain. The leaves can be green on the outer edge and yellow in the center or with yellow and green striped edges and green in the center. The large and glossy, lance-shaped leaves arch over the brown stems... as they emerge from a rosette of leaves.
Light: In its natural habitat of Africa, Dracaena thrive in a mix of sun and shade but not much direct sunlight. Although it grows quicker in bright light, it will grow sufficiently in low light conditions, too.
Water: Keep soil slightly damp to the touch. In the winter months, keep slightly dry but don’t overwater.
Height: Trees can grow 6 ft. or more indoors.
Best Spot: Place in a bright room with bright light and no direct sun for very long.
Ponytail Palm or Elephant Foot tree (Beaucarnea recurvata) (pictured): The Ponytail Palm tree is a good choice because of its unique beauty, as well as its forgiving nature. This ‘palm’ is not a real palm but instead a member of the Agave family. It's actually a succulent with long & thin, curly leaves that grow from the top of a bulbous trunk. that looks like an elephant's foot. Since it doesn't demand frequent watering, it's an ideal choice for many busy people.
Light: Needs bright light but it still is okay if given only bright light half the time. Tip: As long as you summer it outdoors, it will tolerate any indoor light conditions during the winter.
Water: Water is stored in its bulbous stem that looks like an elephant's trunk. This plant doesn’t need frequent watering. Simply, allow the soil to dry out significantly before watering. Fertilize with a succulent plant food and follow directions on the label.
Height: A Ponytail Palm can reach heights of 20 feet or more in its native habitat. However, under normal indoor circumstances, it probably won't grow more than approximately 3 feet tall.
Best Spot: Place in a bright room with good air circulation. It might become your favorite plant!
Lady Palm, Broadleaf Lady Palm tree or Bamboo Palm (Rhapsis excelsa): This tropical, upright beauty has rich, dark green, fan-shaped leaves with blunt tips and wider leaflets on sturdy canes. It has adapted to a wide range of environments and because of this, it has become popular around the world as an indoor plant. This palm can take cooler indoor temperatures, too.
Light: Look for a spot with bright, indirect light near a window or skylight. It's also very adaptable to low light areas. Turn your Palm a quarter turn from time to time so that each side receives the stronger light and 'tree' stays symmetrical.
Water: Thoroughly water plant by soaking or drenching the entire root ball. Keep consistently moist. If soil stays too moist, this can encourage root rot. Plant in a well draining soil mix.
Height: Can mature into a 5 - 14 ft. tall tree shape. However, the Lady Palm is considered a slower grower when kept as an indoor plant.
Best Spot: Look for a Lady Palm tree that fits the space where you intend to keep it and you won’t have to worry about this palm growing too large. It's also an effective, natural air cleaner.
Majesty Palm (Ravenea rivularis): This is a graceful, low maintenance palm to enjoy indoors. Although it grows slowly, it will become larger and more elegant with time and good care.
Light: Thrives in lots of light. Keep them happy near a sunny window with 6 to 8 hours per day.
Water: Never let the soil dry completely. In its native habitat, this plant thrives on the banks along rivers and streams. Make sure you provide drainage holes in containers as the roots could become soggy and rot in standing water. Mist it for extra humidity.
Height: 3 - 5 ft. tall and wide at maturity
Best Spot: This palm tree would thrive near a large window in the corner of your bathroom. If you use Majesty Palms to purify the air in your office, living room or bedroom, you might need to add a humidifier.
Madagascar Dragon Tree or Red-edge Dracaena (Dracaena marginata): It's one of the most popular indoor plants in tree form. The upright habit makes it a good ‘decorator’ plant when placed against a blank wall or use as a privacy screen in front of a window. The narrow, green leaves can be variegated in red or pink and add a grassy texture at the tips of slim stems or trunks. Dracaena marginata is also often grown in spiky, compact forms.
Light: This tree can grow in many different parts of the house as it is able to handle high or low light.
Water: Water plant when the top inch of soil starts to dry, although you don’t have to worry if you miss a watering or two. The leaves appreciate a good misting now and then.
Height: The Madagascar Dragon Tree is one of the easiest indoor plants to grow and maintain. Dracaena Marginata trees can grow up to 6 ft. tall indoors but they're slow growing.
Best Spot: Place in a bright room. Although it tolerates lower light levels, the red or pink variegation on the leaves will lose some of its color in lower light.