Hot Houseplants

The three best indoor plants to bring home now.

September 2016

Though shelter magazines and Pinterest may suggest otherwise, bringing nature into the home is hardly a new idea. People have been growing indoor plants since at least Babylonian times, when it’s believed that King Nebuchadnezzar built the famed hanging gardens of Babylon, a series of tiered gardens that became known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Houseplant trends aren’t new either—from the floral arrangements of ancient Rome to the beloved palms in every Victorian parlor to the recent craze for the fiddleleaf fig tree, there have always been potted plants to claim their 15 minutes of fame. Here are three of the hottest plants to show off now.

Saguaro Cactus

The tall saguaro, or Carnegiea gigantea, is full of personality and thrives indoors—it’s perfect for the busy home gardener. Cacti can survive in punishingly dry conditions, and they reward neglect. Keep them pest-free by rubbing off any intruders with an alcohol-dipped cotton swab.
Décor: From midcentury modern environs to Southwestern spaces and sleek Danish homes, most of today’s hottest décor themes can use a tall cactus as a textural element.
Maintenance: Low. Keep in low humidity, where the temperature is at least 65 degrees and there’s plenty of sun.

Chinese Money Plant

The striking, round-leaved Chinese money plant, or Pilea peperomioides, is said to have come west in the 1940s, when a Norwegian missionary returning from Yunming, China, brought cuttings to friends and family, puzzling European botanists over the sudden appearance of this delightful plant.
Décor: It may hail from southern China, but the plant’s sleek, coin-shaped leaves make it the ideal accessory for minimalist décor.
Maintenance: Medium. Give it bright, indirect light and good drainage; water only when dry.

Swiss Cheese Plant

This rainforest native, Monstera deliciosa, is referred to as the Swiss cheese plant because its monster-size, glossy leaves start with a heart shape and later form holes. With proper care, they’ll take over a room, so give them plenty of leeway—and height.
Décor: Popular in the modernist houses of the 1950s (Ray and Charles Eames added one to their landmark Los Angeles home, Case Study House No. 8), this dramatic plant returns with a major resurgence on Pinterest.
Maintenance: Medium. Keep in a fairly bright room with some shade. Don’t constantly fuss: Let the soil become dry to the touch before watering.