Plant therapyDuring lockdown, sales of houseplants took off. It’s easy to see why: Some perfectly placed greenery brings a little bit of the outdoors inside, and it can completely transform your space and your mood. “Plants bring people joy, and more people than ever are realizing that caring for them helps contribute to their well-being, especially during this time,” says Joyce Mast, a horticulturalist who works with Bloomist. According to research, plants may lower your stress levels and even improve your physical health. Now all you need to do is buy the best indoor plants to reap the health benefits of gardening—and find the right spots for them. Collecting plants can be almost addictive, so if you start running low on windowsills, indoor hanging plants are a great solution. They add a new focal point to rooms, don’t need their own stands or shelves, and are safely out of reach of pets and kids. Plus, says Mast, many hanging plants are easy to care for and therefore great for beginners. While ideal hanging plants generally vine or climb and look lovely spilling over their containers, plenty of varieties—from ferns to orchids—can work in hanging pots or baskets. And, as an added perk, these plants tend to be easy to propagate, which means even more hanging plants for you! Whether you’re looking for low-light plants, air-purifying plants, or even a flowering hanging plant, this list has the perfect options and the best places to buy plants online.
Tradescantia nanouk (Tradescantia albiflora “nanouk”)
Plants that trail, creep, or climb are known as vining plants and are perfect for hanging baskets, which allow the vines or “runners” to spill over the edge of the pot, says Mast. That makes them look super lush and adds to the ambiance of any room. This one, and a variation known as Tradescantia Zebrina, are easy and fast-growing indoor hanging plants; they’re beloved for their green, purple, and cream-colored striped leaves. Tradescantia nanouk likes indirect bright light, so make sure that the sun’s rays don’t hit the leaves directly.
Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus)
Easily identified by its wavy, rippled-edge fronds and bright green color, this fern is non-toxic to animals, unlike these plants that are poisonous to dogs. It is tropical, so it prefers humid environments and bright indirect light, although it will tolerate low indirect light. Keep in mind that hanging plants still need adequate drainage, but if you don’t want water dripping, you can use a pot without holes and fill the bottom with lava rocks, which are lightweight and create a place for excess water to pool away from the plant’s roots. Because this fern won’t trail like vining plants, a hanger that displays its beauty in three dimensions, like this wood and metal one from Braid & Wood, is essential.
English ivy plant (Hedera helix)
This rather traditional ivy is often found outdoors, but it does just as well as an indoor hanging plant, and with just as little maintenance, making it ideal for anyone who doesn’t have a ton of time—or doesn’t want to put in a ton of effort. Unlike tropicals, this variegated leafy climber does not like humidity, prefers well-drained soil, and thrives best in a window with a southern exposure, in indirect light. It adds instant sophistication to any room.
Arrowhead hanging plant (Syngonium nephthytis)
Its name comes from the unique shape of its large green and yellow leaves, but this hanging plant is also known as the American evergreen plant. Native to the tropics, it loves humidity so much, you can even hang it in a bathroom. It cascades or climbs beautifully if it receives nutrients from liquid fertilizer, and it needs rich, well-drained soil to thrive, preferring indirect light. If something goes awry with your plants, all may not be lost: Here’s how to revive a dead plant.
Polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)The polka dot plant is a charming specimen. Thanks to its color, pattern, and outward personality, it is becoming increasingly popular with plant collectors, according to Kate Cooper, CEO and founder of Bloombox and an adviser to PlantX. You can find it in various shades of green, pink, and purple, and its dappled foliage is naturally eye-catching, drawing attention in a way that can softly fascinate and encourage us to notice nature more. This, coupled with its dramatic response of wilting to any overwatering or underwatering, is a daily reminder of how you’re living alongside another living thing. FYI, the polka dot plant requires only moderate light, and its foliage is actually more colorful when it’s kept in low light.
Chinese money plant (Pilea peperomia)
The most distinctive feature of this plant is its large, coin-shaped leaves, which perch on thin stems—a look that sometimes lead it to be called a UFO plant. It’s a popular choice because of its striking geometric shape, brilliant emerald color, and easy care. Just set it in bright indirect light, and water it once a week or so. It’s also safe to have around four-legged friends, and practitioners of feng shui say it brings good fortune.
Marble queen pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Pothos, also known as devil’s ivy because it is a fast grower and notoriously difficult to kill, comes in many varieties (the variegated golden and pearls and jade varieties are both popular), and all are lovely options for indoor hanging plants, according to Kay Kim and Ryan Lee, cofounders of Rooted. With its variegated white and green leaves, the marble queen variety really pops. Its roots enjoy being slightly crowded inside a pot, which can make it a great choice for small spaces, and because it can be toxic to furry friends, it’s ideal for hanging high. FYI, beware of plants that are poisonous to cats.
Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens)
Who could resist this plant’s heart-shaped leaves? Plus, the name philodendron comes from the Greek word for love, philo, so it’s extra sweet. This fast-growing vine will thrive in low-light or medium-light conditions, making it perfect for rooms that don’t get a ton of natural light. But beware: All varieties of philodendron can be toxic to pets—all the more reason to hang them high out of reach, preferably over a counter to catch any fallen leaves. More humidity encourages larger leaves, so if that’s the look you want, use a mister regularly.
Lemon button fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia “lemon buttons”)
This smaller variety of Boston fern grows only about a foot high but is more forgiving than Boston ferns. “It is a sweet little plant to add to any fern collection,” says Debbie Neese, a horticulture expert for Lively Root. “And bonus: It has a lemony fragrance!” Ferns require high humidity, and do great in bathrooms, but don’t leave their care up to chance. Neese recommends using a 3-in-1 soil meter to determine your plants’ water and sun needs. “Too many people ‘over-love’ their indoor plants by giving them too much water,” she says. “So many plants could have been saved by using this little smart gadget.”
Air plant (Tillandsia xerographica)
Talk about low maintenance—air plants don’t even need soil to survive. Just soak them in water every three weeks and they can survive just about anything else. Their soil-less existence makes them easy to place in wire or glass wall hangers, where their delicate tendrils make a beautiful visual. Plus, they’re great for small spaces.
Swiss cheese plant (Monstera adansonii)
Few plants are as distinctive as this one, with its large, lace-like leaves. Though not typically grown as a hanging plant, it can be done to great effect. “I’ve seen them used in large pots and allowed to grow down instead of up and I find it quite charming,” says Jeff Dinslage, CEO of Nature Hills. They have a proclivity to climb, and due to their tropical origins, they do best in bright direct light or partial shade with regular watering.
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String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
If you have an indoor hanging plant, you should be aware of one potential issue: If you can’t see the plant’s soil or it’s in a less accessible location, it might not get as much care as if it were on an eye-level shelf. For that reason, it makes sense to put more hardy and drought-tolerant plants in baskets, says Puneet Sabharwal, CEO and cofounder of Horti, which offers plant subscriptions by mail as well as an “Order a Jungle” option of between five and 20 curated plants for your space. Trailing succulents, like strings of pearls, do well in a hanging basket because they don’t need a lot of water, and the long tendrils of sphere-shaped leaves have a beautiful, modern look. For placement, Sabharwal says to always choose a bright spot within three to four feet of a window.
Donkey’s tail (Sedum morganianum)
While most people think of succulents as short and squat, there are several varieties of these desert plants that trail and make the perfect hanging plant. There are several variations on string of pearls, including string of dolphins, string of hearts, and string of bananas, and all look really interesting as hanging plants and can grow as long as you allow them to. Donkey’s Tail is great for beginners and can tolerate a little more water than normal succulents. Make sure you use succulent soil, which drains well.
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
This spiky-leafed beauty with variegated foliage is probably one of the top two options you think of when you think of indoor hanging plants, and for good reason—it’s incredibly low-maintenance. “It is very adaptable to different growing conditions,” says Elisa McCurdy, creative director of Greendigs. “Spider plants are forgiving if the occasional watering is missed, and they do best in bright, indirect light but can also adjust to lower light conditions.” They’re also among the easiest plants to propagate. A good watering can can help keep your hanging plants healthy; look for one with a long, slim spout to get water directly to the roots.
Purple orchid (Orchis mascula)
There aren’t a ton of flowering indoor hanging plants, but orchids, despite their reputation for being fragile, can do well in baskets. Plus, they look beautiful cascading over a hanging planter. They have what are known as aerial roots, which absorb moisture from the air. (In their natural habitat, orchids grow on trees.) They do like humidity, though—so much so that it pays to set a humidifier with a warm mist function nearby.
Angel vine (Muehlenbeckia complexa)
This delicate-looking vine with small, oval petals is also known as lace vine. A New Zealand native, it loves light and thrives indoors with minimal care. It’s a fast grower and can be trained to different shapes because of how easily and quickly it climbs. You’ll want to keep a pair of pruning shears handy to give this plant an occasional trim. If you want to cut down on your indoor gardening, you can always mix live plants with a few artificial plants that no one will be able to tell are fake.