Taller indoor plants exude the soothing feeling of shelter. People have an instinctive need to surround themselves with foliage. Also, using plants at varied heights (small, medium and tall) will help create the feel of nature indoors. Nature is random and by mixing up the size of your indoor plants your space will be able tap into the essence of the outdoors.
There are hundreds of plants that will grow indoors – many being small or medium in size. The number of taller plants is somewhat limited, although there are some out there that do well indoors. Five good tall indoor plants include:
Dracaenas are one of the most common types of tall indoor plants. Dracaenas come in a variety of sizes, shapes and forms but it is their cane form that is the tallest. There are a wide variety of Dracaenas, including Dracaena fragrans, Dracaena deremensis, Dracaena reflexa and Dracaena cincta (formerly Dracaena marginata).
Dracaenas are very popular because they are very easy to find in stores, readily available, rather inexpensive and relatively easy to care for. Another key advantage is their tolerance of most indoor conditions, including relatively low light. A few helpful tips about Dracaenas include:
- Be careful not to over-water Dracaenas as this can cause decline or death.
- Allow the soil to partially dry out in between watering.
- When watering, water the soil thoroughly and discard any excess that accumulates in the saucer.
- Dracaenas do not require direct sunlight but most appreciate indirect light. Most windows or areas relatively bright are best for Dracaenas. Avoid very low light.
For example, many sizable yet inexpensive palms are easy to get at big-box stores. Although these are very tempting to purchase, bear in mind many are short-lived when taken indoors if not given ideal conditions and care. The Areca Palm is an example of this. Higher-quality, longer-lasting palms more tolerant of indoor conditions include the Kentia Palm (Howea forsteriana) and the Rhapis palm (Rhapis excelsa). Although these palms are more expensive, they last considerably longer indoors.
Tips to caring for palms include:
- Most palms enjoy medium to high light. In most cases, this will require having the palm near a window.
- Palms like a well-drained soil and prefer to be pot-bound. Typically it’s not necessary to transplant them into a larger sized pot.
- Palms like to be watered thoroughly but do not like a soggy soil.
- Allow the soil to dry out somewhat in between watering.
- Palms also benefit from high humidity.
When people think of Ficus, they often think of the weeping fig, Ficus benjamina. Ficus benjamina is a popular office plant and houseplant because it is inexpensive and easy to find. However, it also sheds leaves very easily which can be annoying. Fortunately, there are other types of Ficus to choose from including Ficus lyrata (fiddle-leaf fig, formerly Ficus pandurata). Ficus lyrata is relatively inexpensive and has very large green leaves. There is also Ficus ‘Alii’ and Ficus ‘Amstel King‘ – these are both similar to Ficus benjamina but have larger leaves that are less prone to dropping. The rubber plant, Ficus elastica, is another good choice.
A couple tips for caring for Ficus:
- Almost all Ficus require high light. Low light will lead to excessive leaf drop and premature death. Ficus enjoy direct sunlight as well bright, indirect light. To achieve this, it almost always requires being near a window.
- Ficus are heavy drinkers meaning they need to be watered thoroughly and frequently, especially when actively growing in higher light.
- Although Ficus need plenty of water, they can still be over-watered so be sure to check soil moisture before watering.
A taller and often overlooked Schefflera is Schefflera actinophylla ‘Amate’. This Schefflera has large, banana-shaped glossy leaves and can get very tall indoors – up to 16 feet or more in height.
For homeowners, it may be somewhat difficult to find in stores but if you ask a garden center, they may be able to special order it for you. If you have an area with high light (preferably direct or bright indirect light), Schefflera could be a very good plant for you.
- Water thoroughly and let soil dry in between watering thoroughly.
- Use a well-drained soil and make sure it gets plenty of bright, indirect light.
- Keep at temperatures above 50 degrees F.
It’s popular indoors because it is relatively inexpensive and readily available as well as being overall easy to care for. Although not a true pine, it does resemble pine and spruce trees, making them additionally popular of the holidays.
- Norfolk Pine benefits from direct or bright, indirect light usually requiring them to be in or near a window.
- When watering, water the soil thoroughly and allow the soil to dry out somewhat in between watering.
- Over-watering and inconsistent watering cause the lower leaves to fall off.
Green Side Up,
Matt Kostelnick, Senior Horticulturist at Ambius
Do you have any plant-related questions? Ask away in the comments below!