The way Jaun Wilson sees it, every houseplant serves a greater purpose. It all depends on how you open up to it. “Plants don’t just grow. You do too,” the full-time artist and “plant parent” tells me, pointing to an emerald Monstera with leaves spilling everywhere. Wilson (whose pronouns are they/them) is offering me their plant wisdom as they take me through The Sill, a favorite one-stop plant shop, in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood. I’ve come here to find some new green friends for my home, so I asked Wilson about the best apartment plants to consider.

I’m aiming for a good bang for my smaller space. But as Wilson tells me, finding the best apartment plants begs for more: It’s a lesson in energy.

Feature image of Ashley Merrill’s house by Teal Thomsen.

Image of Ashley Robertson’s living room by Danielle Sabol

And also in variety. You can dangle a Pothos from above, says Wilson, telling me how this calls the eyes to look up, sparking hope and optimism. Another option is to go dramatic with a bold, vibrant planter. Or you could call in abundance with a Money plant. When you’re looking for the best apartment plants, the options are endless—it’s about what you want to bring into your space.

So here, Wilson walks me through his top picks for the best apartment plants. As I narrowed down my favorites, Wilson kept repeating this sound advice: You’re the one who will be living with the houseplant, so go with your gut and listen to what pulls you in. “The art is in the process.”

15 of the Best Apartment Plants

Image of Diana Ryu’s living room by Teal Thomsen

Statement Pieces

These are the larger, robust plants that anchor a room, command attention, and bring loads of color to a corner or table. To make a statement, Wilson says to go for varieties “with a lot of foliage.”

ZZ Plant

It’s easy to pass by this simple plant. As Wilson says, it has a “pretty standard leaflet situation.” But its organic simplicity leaves room for a gorgeous pot with loads of decoration, making it the perfect complement to an artistic planter.


Calathea

This statement plant has a unique contrast to its leaves, which results in a stripey textured look. When cared for properly (it loves ample water), Calatheas can grow up and out—so much so their leaves can expand to wider than a foot.


Snake Plant

A groovy option for its spiky vertical look. “I had a friend who put this in a metallic pot and it just sat in the window. Gorgeous,” says Wilson, who points out that the Snake Plant is excellent for purifying the air.


Peace Lily

A forever favorite, and for good reason. The delicate blooms offer a bit of contrast to the rich green leaves. Perfect for a living room corner or table.


Pothos

A Pothos is the black blazer of houseplants. It goes with everything. It’s always in style. And if you take care of it, it will continue to look good for seasons and styles to come. Plus, it grows in such a beautiful way. “To watch it crawl along the home is really awesome,” says Wilson.


Monstera Deliciosa

Open any design magazine and you’ll find several of these beauties gracing the floors and tables of living and dining rooms. That’s because their beauty—glossy heart-shaped leaves with airy holes throughout—is both complementary and unique. Wilson says these continue to grow “up and out” with good care.


Parlor Palm

Another go-to of interior designers and the like. The narrow-but-mighty leaves on this easy-to-maintain beauty give it a spiky appeal that stands out from its green cousins. It packs a punch and goes well with a statement planter for an extra pop.


Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachias are supposedly known for expelling negative energy and bringing in the positive. They also have the prettiest leaves peppered with creamy white detailing.


Faux Olive Tree

Maybe you travel a ton. Maybe you have a fear of commitment. Or just maybe you want all the visual glory of a statement plant but zero of the maintenance. There’s no shame and tons of faux options—including this perfectly real-looking Olive Tree.


Fiddle Leaf Fig

Over the past decade, the Fiddle Leaf Fig found its voice in the design space. Yup, the thick-leaved eyecatcher got the credit it deserves as a jewel for the living room. “It’s always a major statement piece in the home,” says Wilson. These tend to be a bit fickle to care for, but their glossy, commanding presence makes up for it.


Tabletop Varieties

These plants run on the smaller side, making them ideal for apartment living rooms, tables, shelves, and bedrooms.

Echeveria Lola

A succulent that moonlights for the rose. An ideal gift, this little lady begs to be put on a living room shelf or table next to another succulent.


Hoya Heart

Wilson rattles off all the reasons why succulents are so popular: Affordable. Easy. And so darn cute—particularly this heart-shaped variety. (They suggest pairing a group of succulents in pots for a side table moment.)


Ficus Burgundy

Glossy burgundy leaves give this plant, which is also known as “the rubber plant,” a dramatic moody appeal. It’s perfect for fall paired with a dramatic grey or black planter.


Philodendron

A living room tabletop superstar. The philodendron, with its tender heart-shaped leaves and tendency to hug the side of a shelf or table, is a low-fuss win.


Money Plant

“What you put out, you get in,” says Wilson about this vining and airy houseplant. Known for attracting positivity and financial abundance, Money plants work if you believe they do, Wilson adds. This aside, they also make for a lovely living room moment.


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