My 2 favorite Indoor plants

Some of you have asked what my favorite indoor plants are.  Here’s my philosophy, just like ANY flower, i truly believe that with the right styling (aka, the right pot in the right environment) ANY plant can look beautiful.  Even the ones you are sick of. 

We all know this example:



The 80’s rubber plant.  Seemingly over-used.  But check out what Robyn Glaser did with it:

What? you crazy. And thus began the rush on rubber plants across all anthropologie wearing hipsters four years ago.  But, naturally you don’t actually keep your plants in your beautifully worn leather bag…..

By Lili Diallo.  

Obviously the styling is kinda crucial. Don’t put it in a woven basket or a terra cotta pot. Put it in a footed brass pot or something weird and sculptural, or an old pot with age.  It’s an average plant so you have to elevate it with a beautiful pot.  You just do.  Any plant can look cool – they are all interesting sculptures in their own right, just keep the pots interesting and put them in unexpected places.  

So my two favorite all time indoor plants are:

1. The Fiddle Leaf Fig

That’s my old living room, and the tree kinda makes the shot.  Why? because they are big and sculptural and yet super graphic – their leaves are large scale and dark green and it commands attention.  They add sooo much height that they basically become another piece of furniture. 

Look, Jonathan Adler likes them.


This one probably cost $500.  But when was the last time you paid only $500 for a HUGE sculpture that brought that much impact into the room.  

I bought mine at Ikea for $60 3 years ago, but yes they in general are way more expensive and i haven’t seen one there in a long time.  Normally for a full grown (like 5-6 feet) they will run you around $150 at a nursery, PLUS the cost of the pot, and we all know that pots are ridiculously expensive.  

They need ample light or they will die. Not full sun, but in a sunny room.  I don’t think they are the most hearty of indoor plants, i’m not going to sugar coat it, but i kept mine alive for 2 years before i gave it to a client for the show during a last minute ‘how the hell do i fill that corner’ moment.  And i’m sad that i don’t have one now.  

#2 The Maiden Hair Fern

In general, i’m a fern lover.  I love Boston’s in a fun ironic way, i love huge outdoor ferns (like you’ll see tomorrow in my new office post) but Maiden Hair’s have my heart becasue they are so soft and graceful and airy.  There is something romantic about the.  


They are cheap, but delicate as hell.  Good luck keeping them alive. BUT, here’s my theory on cheap plants – they have the same impact as cut flowers and yet are cheaper, so if you kill them every two weeks, you can simply replace them. These ferns are at Home Depot or Lowe’s for $12 – $15 which is way cheaper than a pretty flower arrangement.  So yes, as sad as it sounds i probably replace them like 6 (cough, 12) times a year.  You’ll see one of them in my office shoot tomorrow on the blog.

Of course i love succulents and bonsai trees a lot, doy, but Fiddle Leaf Ferns and Maiden Hairs are the two that i always buy and i never ever sick of. PLUS i find them the easiest to style – they look good in most pots.  

Just a quick ‘plants that are harder to style’

Big palms go ‘dorm room’ or ’80’s bachelor pad’ really easily. 

money trees (especially with the braided stems). These i can like, but in general i stay away from. Some room in my past must have scarred me somehow.  

Orchids – of course they are beautiful, but they can also be ubiqutious and look mass manufactured.  I love them most in bathrooms.  Please put them in a pretty pot; in a terracotta pot they look like you just picked them up from the supermarket (which you did, but you don’t need to advertise it).  

What are your go to favorite plants, my friends.  Am i missing something?


  1. All lovely, but I think, all toxic to cats. Can't find specifics on the fern. I had a scary call to Animal Poison Control after my boy did some serious acrobatics to get to a tomato seedling I thought was out of his reach. Luckily he's fine, but that call was one too many. Now I'm really cautious about what kind of plants I bring inside. Currently I'm not killing (this week) a rex begonia and a prayer plant. Not the prettiest, but kitty safe!

  2. Julia Reiersgord

    philodendrens– the kind with larger (8-10") buttery soft heart-shaped leaves (not loving the separated scary-fingers variety). also they don't want/need direct sunlight, which makes them easier to place. sweet plant.

  3. Love your fig tree. So beautiful! I just posted today about my new little succulents – the Jelly Bean plant. I love them and hope they last more than 2 weeks. :D

  4. My favorite hard-to-kill indoor plant is the peace lily. They have dark green leaves and when they bloom, graceful white flowers. These things can live almost anywhere in the house (by the window or with virtually no sun). Sometimes I only remember to water mine when all the leaves are completely wilted and I've still had the thing for almost five years and going strong! I've also seen them grow successfully when fully immersed in a clear glass vase-like container filled with water so you can see their roots and everything.

  5. I've never had live house plants before because of 2 main reasons:

    1. Fear of killing them
    2. The high probability that my cats will try to eat them

    That being said, the plants you shared are lovely. <3

  6. The Fiddle Leaf Fig! It's name is even fun to say. However, with a bad history of plants, I think I would spare myself $500 down the drain. I prefer the plants you don't have to water (not much anyway)… succulents. They look stunning in terrariums. I would LOVE a Fiddle Leaf Fig, but I need to work on my green thumb first.

  7. Linda

    Just a tip for those looking for fiddle leaf figs…search Craigslist! I got an 8 foot tall fiddle leaf fig this past weekend for $30 because it outgrew the previous owner's apartment! I absolutely love it!

  8. Cheryl

    another vote for the Peace Lily. Beautiful leaves and flower. Mine are so begging for beautiful pots though they are happy in the home depot ones they are presently potted in. Looking for pots with a little height and wabisabi. Hard to find!

    Shamrock — I've had mine for two years now and it's happy, happy — blossoms and is full. Loves to be fertilized and kept in bright light. Does not like heating/air vents at all, no direct sun.

    I think finding the right spot for plants is part of the struggle and joy of plants. Spots they are happy in.

    Maiden Fern — lovely plant which I may just go looking for right now at HD as I have just the spot for those delicate stems. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Mika

    JADE PLANTS! Amazing, hard to kill (well they don't like being transplanted, or moved across town. That's how I killed mine), pest resistant with a gorgeous asian style. I had a big one in a black square pot which looked gorgeous everywhere I put it, and so sculptural and graphic against a white wall!

  10. Sarah

    Asparagus fern! I bought an asparagus fern nine years ago at . It's still alive and flourishing! They are lacy-looking, like a maidenhair fern, but much less needy. I keep mine in the kitchen window by the sink where it can benefit from the steam from the hot water. My cat likes to eat plants, too, and he has never been interested in my asparagus fern (and he likes to eat weird things like the Haworthia and jade.)

  11. Christa

    I like any plants that thrive on neglect and also make my house feel like it's Palm Springs groovy. Agaves, cacti, Mexican grass trees, palms, philodendrons. I give them each a little talking to when they move in — "Nobody gets an ideal living situation, including you little buddy. Make your peace with the limited sunlight and minimal watering." Some plants I regard more like long-term cut flowers…

  12. Tasha

    Thanks for this. I am terrible at keeping anything besides myself and my children alive. I even killed an Ivy once (twice). I live in a mcm ranch, and we have a sandstone built-in planter in the entry way. I want a real plant in there, well, because they're good for air-quality and whatnot, and they add an organic element as a first-impression to my house. I recently purchased ferns for that space. I mixed a few different kinds together, and I really like the look of it. So far, they're still alive. Anyway, thanks again…love reading your blog and watching you on TV.

  13. Perry

    I found that most nurseries in SF sell fiddle leaf figs for ~$40. I paid that for mine and have had it for almost two years. It gets ample sun and I water it well every other week or so. I was worried that it would be a "sensitive" plant, as that's what most folks say however, I have had NO problems with it!

  14. marie b

    No kidding… I just made some research on google image to find out which kind of plant you had in your former living room (sooooo great)!! what a coincidence.
    Thanks for your very inspiring blog!

  15. Cactus! Cats don't eat cacti, if they do, you probably have bigger problems than calling poison control. Cacti are hard to kill, and they can look neat in the right pot(s) and groupings. I had three little cacti on my window sill, but replaced a dead one with a succulent. My plant-loving cat is not at all interested in any of them.

  16. barb c

    totally cracking up at your description of the maiden hair ferns!! I love those freakin things and feel the exact same way!! Why are they so hard to keep alive?!?!?!?!?

  17. Charity S.

    Lemon trees! I got a big one this weekend, and it's awesome. Sculptural with the big leaves and sweeping branches, but then all these pops of yellow. And they're "pops of yellow" you can eat. And desk-size ones are pretty too.

  18. Karen

    Well, I wish I could get a Fiddle Leaf Fig to grow that big. I'm on my third. This time I bought a teeny weeny one at Home Depot. Maybe if I start small, I won't kill it. Seems like it's going along just fine and then I water it and all the leaves start dropping off. It's INCREDIBLY frustrating, because I want a big HUGE one, like the one you GAVE AWAY! I hope it's still alive.

  19. Betsy

    I love using African Violets and Kalanchoe (little tiny flowering plants). They bloom forever and you can usually find them small enough to fit in just about anything, so you're not limited to buying planters. I love putting them in bowls, cups, or greenware-esque pottery.

  20. I needed plant advice. I love the fiddle leaf fig too. I have been afraid to get one as I tend to kill anything inside. Any advice other than a lot of sun. A lot of water?

  21. Sara

    Thank you for the great advice. I never know about plants…I am so bad about remembering they are alive and actually need to be watered and aren't just another decorative item ;). That being said, my husband loves the snake plant we got for our living room. It's pretty masculine, but sculptural and is perfect for spots where you want a plant but there is not much light. Good to know about your ferns…totally great logic!

  22. Michelle

    Bought a Fiddle Leaf Fig at Lowe's a couple of months ago. 6In pot for about $10. He already has 3 new (large) leaves and is doing great. I water it about every 10 days but may need to increase that with summer. He is in my dining room and gets a couple hours a day of direct sun. A landscaper told me they like to be crowded in their pots so not to transplant too often. Since he is only about 14in. tall now he sits on our 1950's Jens Risom dining room table. The Fig looks so Mid Century to me that I think he looks great there. Will need to relocate soon though at this rate.

  23. Kevin

    I love maiden hair fern too. I plan on planting a few in our back yard, since they are endemic to Portland.

  24. I bought two Fiddle Leaf Fig trees at Lowe's for $10 each, and they were a couple of feet high at the time. I was so excited to find them that inexpensively, you have no idea! I was planning on bringing them inside, but they love my north facing front porch, so there they sit. I was wondering if I should be removing the bottom leaves, so that it looks more like a tree than a bush? Any ideas for larger plants that do better inside and DON'T need a lot of light?


    Hi, My love of gardening is only is only exceeded by love of family and as a man a garden indoor or out has kept me kinder and more appreciative of all I love. My favorite "house plants" are ones that thrive in a a given spot. We have all seen plants in the wrong place or plants that can't acclimate to where we wish them to grow.I have spoken to people of these issues for 50 years now and those who chose to pick plants that will thrive in a needed or desired area do look ever so much better than a plant that appears to being dying of small doses of poison! Please do a little home work and start with tough plants. They can always be moved to another plant worthy spot and you can try one that might, or might not be more desirable! Good luck, Have fun!! Lrr Sherwood Mcdonald

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