There’s a trick to keeping houseplants thriving in drier climates: It’s the bathroom. The typical high humidity and warmth of your bathroom is exactly what most tropical plants are missing in their lives. So if your houseplants are struggling, gather them up and display them near your tub or sink. But keep in mind that not all species can tolerate the lower light levels many windowless bathrooms have, so you may need to provide some supplemental light. So brighten up a shelf or that corner by your sink and tuck in a few of these plants that will prefer the conditions in your bathroom to the rest of your house.
Orchids, though they can be a tad bit temperamental, are so worth the extra effort to grow in your bathroom; after all, they keep their gorgeous flowers for months on end. The damp, warm conditions in most bathrooms are a perfect environment for these pretty plants, which grow in bark instead of soil and prefer for that material to be damp but not wet. Some easier-care varieties of orchids include Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, and Paphiopedilums, which will all do well with bright, filtered bathroom window light.
One of the most popular indoor vining plants is pothos, or Epipremnum aureum. It comes in a variety of leaf sizes, colors, and variegations. As long as it stays out of direct sunlight and its soil doesn’t dry out (it doesn’t care for overwatering, either), pothos is a low-maintenance beauty that is exceptionally pretty in a hanging basket or on a high shelf where it can trail to its heart’s content. Golden pothos can develop beautifully variegated leaves with streaks and flecks of gold among the green.
Test Garden Tip: All types of pothos can be toxic if ingested, to both children and pets.
This variety of Epipremnum aureum has bold neon leaves that will add color and life to your bathroom. It’s just as easy to care for as golden pothos, but it has brighter, even more eye-catching foliage.
Houseplants don’t get easier than the no-fuss spider plant (Chlorophytumcomosum). They tolerate low light like champs, enjoy a little humidity, and their baby shoots (which can be detached and propagated) are just so darn cute. You can also let them dry out between waterings, and established plants can usually go up to two weeks without a drink.
China Doll Plant
A dark green China doll plant (Radermachera sinica) is perfect for sliding into a bathroom corner near a window. China doll plants need bright, indirect sunlight and moist, well-drained soil, and must be protected from drafts. Since they like the heat and moist conditions, they’ll thrive in the warmth of your bathroom.
These bright tropicals are in a family of plants that consists of thousands of different species. Though they vary in care depending on the specific species, most bromeliads grown as houseplants will have similar needs: Bright, filtered light, plenty of moisture in the air, and a temperate indoor climate. Most are prized for their incredibly colorful, variegated foliage and long-lasting color. Some common, easy-to-care-for varieties include Scarlet Star (Guzmania lingulata), Blushing Bromeliad (Neoregelia carolinae, shown), and the incredibly prehistoric-looking Urn Plant (Aechmea fasciata).
Also part of the bromeliad family, these beauties are commonly referred to as air plants. The specimens that fall into the Tillandsia genus (we’re talking hundreds and hundreds of species) are beloved for their ability to grow without soil, or without necessarily being planted at all. In the right environment, they hardly need any care whatsoever. What’s the right environment beyond the jungles of South America? You guessed it, the bathroom. If you have a shower with a bright window, even better. They’ll love to have occasional shower overspray, and they’ll soak up all that trapped humidity. If your air plant doesn’t quite get enough moisture from the air, you can mist it, or give it a good soak every few weeks (depending on how dry your climate is). Some common varieties include Tillandsia xerographica, Tillandsia bergeri, and Tillandsia ionantha.
Test Garden Tip: The more silvery the foliage, the more drought-tolerant it is.
This small-growing, low-light-loving plant comes in a variety of colors and adorable leaf shapes. Its compact size makes it perfect for tight quarters, such as narrow shelves or terrariums (but it doesn’t like direct sun, so keep it away from the windowsill). This particular striped variety is watermelon peperomia, or Peperomia argyreia. Peperomia is super easy to care for, loves humidity, and only needs watering when the top of the soil feels dry.
Tropical Pitcher Plant
Also sometimes adorably referred to as monkey cups, Nepenthes are a widely diverse genus of tropical plants that all display some variation of the distinctive pitcher (filled with a liquid that attracts and helps digest insects as food). Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to “feed'” insects to these plants; the average household has enough to tide one specimen over. Pitcher plants like their soil to be kept moist, and they love humidity, so they’ll be quite at home in the bathroom. They’ll also tolerate low humidity but will produce fewer pitchers under those circumstances. Their vining habit makes them a captivating windowsill addition.
This plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, viper’s bowstring hemp, or St. George’s sword, is nearly impossible to kill. Sansevieria varieties tolerate almost any growing condition, from nearly no light to bright light to direct light. They need little to no water, and if you keep them in a humid bathroom, you might never have to water these hardy West African natives at all.
Editor’s Tip: This plant is considered mildly toxic to people and animals when ingested.