Bathrooms are a great spot to pop a pot plant or two, especially bathrooms that are light and airy. They add a splash of colour and personality that is important in a rental. For plants that love humidity, a humid bathroom is also the perfect environment for them. However, choosing the right plants for bathroom environments can also be hit and miss unless you know your houseplants…
For the non-green thumbs amongst us, we hope this list of top bathroom plants will help make your foray into bathroom plants more hit than miss. So – with that in mind, let’s look at some of the important considerations when it comes to selecting the right plant for your bathroom, and which plants can reasonably be expected to do well in your bathroom.
Considerations For Selecting The Best Plants For Your Bathroom
Before you go out and choose your bathroom plants, you first need to consider the most important aspects of a bathroom from a plant’s perspective – light, humidity, and temperature. In general, the best plants for a bathroom are those that like:
- Shade or low to medium light conditions
- Higher humidity; and
- Consistently warm temperatures.
Not all bathrooms are created equal when it comes to natural light and because yours is a rental, there’s not a lot you can do about whatever natural light it does, or doesn’t, have.
Some houseplants thrive in shade and low light conditions whilst others prefer bright light or even direct sunlight. So – you’ll need to select the right plants to suit the light your bathroom environment has. For instance, if your bathroom doesn’t have a window or is on a shaded side of the house, you would not put a plant that needs direct sunlight in there, or at least not if you want it to thrive…
A bathroom is typically a very humid room, which make it ideal for houseplants that need humid conditions. As a general rule – if a plant originates in a steamy humid part of the world, it will probably like living in your bathroom!
Tropical Orchids and ferns, including the Boston fern, do like high humidity. Epiphytic orchids in particular have adapted to absorb moisture from the air, so they not only ‘like’ but ‘need’ high humidity and excess moisture.
Conversely, plants that don’t like humidity or prefer low humidity would probably not do well in the bathroom. So don’t put your Monkey Mask Monstera in there.
Bathroom temperatures also fluctuate so you need to factor this into your choice of bathroom plant. Cooler, darker bathrooms suit species like Peace Lilies whilst Aloes need a lot more light and warmth.
Now that we know something about the main characteristics of the environment your bathroom plants will be living in, let’s look at some of the top plants proven to do well in bathrooms.
1. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
We looked at the spider plant, a native of South Africa, in a previous post about the best indoor plants for purifying air. Notably, it can remove pollutants such as formaldehyde and toluene/xylene.
If you like spider plants, they are also easy to propagate because they produce ‘pups’ that can be cut off to create a whole new plant.
Popular Bathroom Plant Can Tolerate Both Low And Bright Light
Spider plants can tolerate high humidity and a range of light conditions. However, they do best in bright indirect light with moderate watering and well-draining soil. It does well as a general houseplant and can even grow outdoors in the right conditions but also likes being a bathroom plant.
With its cool green and white striped leaves, spider plants look great in a decorative hanging pot. Another ideal spot is to have them perching on top of a bathroom shelf where the leaves can cascade over the edge. Alternatively, it also looks good sitting on the vanity or window sill too.
2. Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
The Snake Plant AKA Mother-In-Law’s Tongue or Sword Plant is a general-purpose, very low-maintenance plant. It ranks highly on our best bathroom plants list because, although it likes bright indirect light, it can tolerate low light and even shady conditions too.
Snake Plants come from West Africa and are a succulent with long tough variegated foliage. They like low light (perfect for darker bathrooms), minimal water (great if you have a habit of forgetting to water your plants), well-draining soil, and can survive (a lot of) neglect.
In fact, if you have a habit of killing house plants or a guest bathroom that rarely gets used, this almost indestructible plant may be perfect for you! It is also an excellent choice of plant if you’re going for a contemporary, minimalist bathroom look.
Low Light, Best Bathroom Plants for Air Purification
The Snake Plant is one of only a few plants to produce oxygen at night – most only produce it during the day as a by-product of photosynthesis.
The Snake Plant’s leaves are also great for air purification. We ranked it 4th on our Best Plants To Clear The Air list. It can remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and toluene/xylene.
3. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
The ZZ Plant is an East African native. It has found its way into bathrooms, and plant-lovers’ hearts, around the globe.
The hardy succulent with its glossy, dark green leaves and upright growth is often used to add a touch of sophistication and colour to bathroom environments. As a bonus, the ZZ plant is quite a good air purifying plant too.
Drought Tolerant, Low Maintenance Plants
Although ZZ plants grow best in moderate to bright indirect light, they will also thrive in low light so suit a range of bathroom environments, even those with not a lot of natural light.
What they don’t like is being over-watered. Their roots have rhizomes that can store water very effectively for long periods, so a drink every 2 to 3 weeks is recommended. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
Tip: watering frequency will depend on light conditions. ZZ plants growing in low light need less water than those growing in bright light.
4. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Pothos, AKA Devil’s Ivy or Golden Pothos, also made our list of top air-pollution control houseplants. It can remove benzene, formaldehyde, and toluene/xylene.
Pothos/Golden Pothos originates from an island in SE Asia. The tough, colourful trailing plant does well in bathrooms and throughout the house generally. With its dark green and yellow dramatic leaves on long trailing/climbing vines, it is an excellent choice for hanging pots or trailing over the edge of a shelf.
A Hardy Colourful Air Plant For The Bathroom
Pothos gets its common name ‘Devil’s Ivy’ because it is very tough and hard to kill. It doesn’t mind a range of light conditions and will adapt to anything from low light to bright indirect light.
To keep your Pothos in good condition, water moderately, choose well-draining soil, and allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. You can also create new plants very easily as the nodes along the vines develop roots when they contact enough moisture in the ground.
5. Ferns (e.g. Boston Fern)
Being tropical plants, ferns love moisture, high humidity, and indirect light, and add a lush feel to indoor environments. The Boston fern especially is an indoor favourite because it functions well as an air purifying plant, being effective against formaldehyde, and toluene/xylene.
Great Tropical Plant For The Bathroom
Ferns do add moisture to the air so are good for drier climates. But they may be a problem in very humid bathrooms that don’t have much ventilation. You’ll need to be on the lookout for issues like mould.
Boston ferns can be tricky to grow so may not be the best choice if you have a busy lifestyle and not much time to tend to your houseplants! They need regular watering and misting so are definitely best suited to primary bathrooms where they won’t be forgotten.
6. Orchids (Orchidaceae)
If elegance and sophistication is the theme of your bathroom, or you have tight quarters, an orchid could be the perfect plant for you. Most orchids come from tropical areas around the globe so do prefer humid environments, like a steamy bathroom. They also have the added bonus of gorgeous flowers!
Temperamental High Humidity Loving Plant
Orchids have a reputation for being hard to grow. However, in the right conditions – high humidity, bright indirect light, warm temperatures, and a well-draining specialist orchid soil, they will do well, even in novice hands!
Even though they are tropical plants, don’t be tempted to overwater your orchid. They like plenty of air circulating around their root ball, hence using a proper orchid soil mix. Also, the best location for your bathroom orchid is a windowsill or bench in indirect light that still gets enough bright light throughout the day.
7. Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
As its botanical name indicates, Lucky Bamboo is not bamboo. It’s not even related to true bamboo (Bambusoideae) which is a type of grass. Rather, Lucky Bamboo is a member of the Dracaena genus, which in turn belongs to the Asparagaceae family. It does have ‘bamboo-looking’ stems however, hence the name. It is also called ‘lucky’ because of its long association with luck, prosperity, positive energy, and Feng Shui.
Note: Asparagaceae includes a large number of plants like the edible Asparagus (A. officinalis) and the common Asparagus ferns Sprenger (A. densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’), Plumosa (A. setaceus), and Foxtail (A. ‘Meyeri’). Incidentally, an asparagus fern is also a great plant for the bathroom and will tolerate neglect too. However, a number of species of asparagus fern are now listed as ‘Weeds of National Significance‘ so come with biosecurity conditions around their use, even as houseplants.
Good Energy But Not So Good For Pets!
In its natural environment, D. sanderiana lives in bright filtered light conditions on the rich rainforest floors of tropical Africa. Therefore, it loves humidity so does very well as a bathroom plant in a humid environment and can be grown in either rich soil or water. You may for example see it growing in aquariums. If grown in soil, keep the soil moist.
Unfortunately, however, if you have pets you’ll need to avoid this plant or keep them away from it because it contains a chemical called steroidal saponin that is toxic if ingested.
8. Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis miller)
The succulent aloe plant is renowned for the health benefits of its gel, which is used in a range of products from topicals for soothing skin irritations to edibles and drinks. It also has some benefits as a clean air plant because it is capable of removing benzene and formaldehyde from the environment.
Direct Sunlight Loving Succulent, Or Not?
When it comes to growing conditions, opinions differ about whether aloes need indirect light or bright sunlight. Although the popular consensus is that they require several hours of indirect sunlight each day, some people grow them very successfully in direct sunlight or even full sun.
Evidence in fact suggests that aloes, like most succulents, do need 6 or more hours of sunlight daily to retain their nice compact growth pattern. Not providing them with this could be where many people go wrong with their aloes.
So – to keep your aloe nice and compact, put it on the bathroom window ledge in a sunny spot for at least part of the day so it gets enough sunlight. Do keep an eye on it though because the leaves can be prone to burning, especially if the plant isn’t used to it.
Other Houseplants That Do Well In Bathrooms
The Peace Lily, with its dark green glossy leaves and striking white spathes, is one of the best plants for purifying air. It also likes low light, loves humidity and does well in rooms with high humidity, like humid bathrooms! However, unlike many other high humidity-loving plant species, the Peace Lily prefers cool humidity. So, it is probably best suited to a bathroom on a shaded side of the house that doesn’t get direct sun on it.
The air plant (Tillandsia) is another plant gaining popularity on ‘best bathroom plants’ lists. This is primarily because it doesn’t require soil but draws all its nutrients and moisture from the air instead. Therefore, it needs higher humidity. On the down side, air plants do like a bright spot so don’t suit dark or shaded bathrooms.
Key Takeaways About The Top Plants For Bathrooms
When choosing houseplants for your bathroom, a clue to keep in mind is where they originated. Many plants do not like the humidity, low light levels, and reduced air circulation found in many bathrooms. So stay away from these, at least for your bathroom. Choose ones that come from tropical regions of the world, and are known to do well in the conditions present in your bathroom.
Finally, make sure the houseplants you do choose are safe for pets or children if they have access to the bathroom.