Treehugger / Lesly Junieth
My green thumb has been hard-earned through a lot of trial and error. One time, in desperation, I put some especially sad houseplants in the bathroom because I was at my wit’s end and thought having them closer to a water source might help. But then, against all odds, they exploded with happy shiny leaves and start taking over my shower!
I never stopped to think about whether this was a thing or not a thing; it’s just that my plants became thrilled upon moving to the bathroom. And in turn, I became thrilled upon taking a shower beneath a lush canopy of greenery—my own little cloud forest.
It actually makes perfect sense. Most plants like moisture; most bathrooms have moisture to spare. My bathroom has a skylight, so it’s not dark; most bathrooms with a window will provide enough light.
Here are the plants that worked for me and other moisture-loving plants that will likely love living in your bathroom.
Eternity Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
Able to grow in many situations and under less-than-perfect care, the eternity plant is certainly appropriately named. We love this stalwart cutie because it needs little water and low to medium light, and in a naturally lit bathroom it can thrive nearly independent of human attention. As far as houseplants go, it’s new on the scene—it has only been commercially propagated since the 1990s. It’s also known as the ZZ plant, in homage to its botanical name, Zamioculcas zamiifolia.
- Light: Indirect bright light is best; tolerates low light and direct light.
- Water: When soil is completely dry (in some cases, as little as once monthly).
- Soil: Well-draining potting soil.
- Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.1
Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis spp.)
The moth orchid grows best in humid environments, which makes it a perfect shower plant, especially if you live in a drier clime. While many orchids have a reputation for being finicky, the moth orchid is widely thought of as the best orchid to grow in a home, because it grows easily and can flower often. These plants like a lot of light and are best situated near a bright window.
- Light: Bright indirect light.
- Water: Thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch.
- Soil: An orchid-specific potting mix is best.
- Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.2
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
The spider plant can tolerate a lot, which makes them a great choice as a bathroom plant for new plant owners. This sprawling plant enjoys moisture and can thrive even in poorly lit conditions. It’s also easy to propagate, since it grows “spiderettes,” which can be divided and replanted easily.
- Light: Indirect light.
- Water: Plenty, when the soil becomes dry. More in summer than in winter.
- Soil: Potting mix.
- Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.3
Air Plant (Tillandsia spp.)
Any of the more than 670 air plant species might get the nod as the easiest shower plants out there.4 These South American natives don’t need soil and can soak up most of the water they need from the air when in a moist environment. Air plants are having something of a renaissance as a houseplant, and some species are being overcollected. It’s worth making sure the ones you purchase are nursery grown rather than foraged from the wild.
- Light: Indirect light and shade.
- Water: A humid environment and misting can replace watering.
- Soil: Not needed.
- Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.5
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
The snake plant is another easy-growing plant that can tolerate humidity and low light and doesn’t need much attention. It also is known as “mother-in-law’s tongue,” due to its sharp, swordlike leaves, which stand upright and give the plant its distinctive appearance. The snake plant is a succulent that stores water in its thick leaves. Although it can produce small, white flowers, they only appear rarely, even when grown in proper conditions.
- Light: Medium, indirect light; tolerates sun and shade.
- Water: Water regularly, allowing soil to dry well before re-watering.
- Soil: Rich, well-draining potting mix.
- Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.6
Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
Lucky bamboo is a water-loving plant that is prized for its minimalist aesthetic and its distinctive stalks, which can be trained into spirals or lattices as it grows. It’s not actually related to bamboo; rather, it’s an African species that is closely related to the garden asparagus you might find on your dinner table. It can be grown in water without soil, though if you choose this method, be sure to change out the water every few weeks.
- Light: Prefers indirect light; tolerates low light better than sun.
- Water: Water frequently.
- Soil: Rich, well-draining.
- Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.7
Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)
The dragon tree is often referred to as an indestructible houseplant that can survive even the most inattentive owners. While it’s fairly drought resistant, it also can tolerate high humidity and is one of the largest houseplants that will happily live in the bathroom. Outdoors, dragon trees can eventually grow to about 20 feet in height; some indoor varieties can reach almost six feet tall.
- Light: Low to medium indirect light, filtered sun.
- Water: Keep soil moist but not soggy.
- Soil: Rich, well draining.
- Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.7
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exalta bostoniensis)
Boston ferns are so ubiquitous that they are easy to overlook, but this attractive, hardy species really does make a perfect bathroom plant. They crave humid environments and can be displayed in hanging baskets anywhere in the bathroom to transform the space. Since they prefer moist soil, you can even hang them in the shower, as long as they are in a pot that drains well.
- Light: Indirect; prefers dappled, filtered sunlight.
- Water: Keep soil moist whenever possible.
- Soil: A loamy, rich potting soil.
- Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.8
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
The peace lily is a flowering evergreen plant that is easier to care for than its delicate blooms would suggest. This native of Central America is at home in warm, tropical climates, making a steamy bathroom a natural replacement habitat. It can grow to three feet in size, and when it’s well cared for, its flowers are long lasting and can appear twice a year. It prefers a mix of indirect light and shade; pale or curling leaves can be a sign that it’s receiving too much sunlight.
- Light: Filtered light; generally prefers shade or partial light.
- Water: When soil is dry; roughly once a week.
- Soil: Rich, loose potting soil with organic material.
- Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.9
Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Golden pothos is a forgiving plant that can make even a novice gardener feel like a seasoned caregiver, especially when it’s provided the high humidity that it likes best. It’s a fast grower, in some cases adding 12 inches of length a month. Its heart-shaped leaves drape rather than grow vertically, and can be trained onto trellises or allowed to fall naturally. Though it prefers bright, natural light, it can do well in shade or even artificial lighting.
- Light: Bright, indirect light; can tolerate partial shade or artificial light.
- Water: Allow to dry completely between watering; water thoroughly when leaves droop.
- Soil: Ordinary potting mix that drains well.
- Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.10