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20 Houseplants That Love Bathrooms — And A Few That Don't

Emma Loewe
August 14, 2020
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
By Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director
Emma Loewe is the Senior Sustainability Editor at mindbodygreen and the author of "Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us."
Guide To Plants For The Bathroom
Image by Sidney Morgan / Stocksy
August 14, 2020

While it may not be the first place you think to put houseplants, bathrooms can provide a great environment for greenery to thrive. There's just one caveat: The room needs to have a window, or at least a grow light. "Light is energy for plants," explains Rebecca Bullene, the founder of Brooklyn-based plant shop Greenery Unlimited. "So it's crucial that no matter where you are, you're always going to be providing that energy source."

If you are lucky enough to have a window-lit bathroom, here are a few plants that would love to call it home.

20 plants that thrive in the bathroom.

Between its shower and sink, the bathroom tends to be the most humid room in a home. "The relative humidity of a bathroom is usually somewhere between like 30 and 50%," says Bullene, which is a prime range for many tropical plants native to warm, humid environments. She adds that the ficus, fern, and philodendron families in particular will appreciate the extra moisture. Some of these might actually grow to be more robust in a bathroom environment than they would in another room. You might notice your philodendron or pothos, for example, latching onto bathroom surfaces or starting to climb walls. "It becomes more like its native self when you create an environment that's closer to its native habitat," Bullene explains. Here are a few popular houseplants that will flourish in the warmth and humidity:

  1. African mask plant (Alocasia)
  2. Bird's-nest fern (Asplenium nidus)
  3. Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
  4. Maidenhair fern (Adiantum)
  5. Fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata)
  6. Climbing fig (Ficus pumila)
  7. Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
  8. Rubber fig (Ficus elastica)
  9. Ficus Audrey (Ficus benghalensis)
  10. Peacock plant (Calathea makoyana)
  11. Eternal flame plant (Calathea crocata)
  12. Pinstripe calathea (Calathea ornata)
  13. Zebra plant (Calathea zebrina)
  14. Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  15. Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
  16. Blushing philodendron (Philodendron erubescens)
  17. Lacy tree philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum)
  18. Eucalyptus
  19. Cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)
  20. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)

Plants that don't belong in the bathroom.

While most plants will appreciate the extra humidity of a bathroom, a few desert species—such as cactuses and aloe—prefer drier conditions. Since these plants are native to drought-prone habitats, too much water can overwhelm them in the long run. And when they are placed in a humid environment, the humidity makes it harder for excess water to evaporate from their leaves, essentially drowning them.

A few telltale signs that your plant is holding in too much moisture include brown, black, and mushy leaves, wilting, and slow growth. Excess moisture can also attract pests. If your bathroom plant is starting to show these signs, start by watering it less often. If that doesn't help, you might need to move it to another room and give it a few weeks to acclimate to its new environment before reassessing.

The bottom line.

Bathrooms with natural light provide warmth and humidity that many tropical houseplants love. However, houseplants that are native to dry environments might not dig the bathroom as much. When in doubt, look up where your houseplant grows in the wild and consider whether your bathroom provides similar conditions.

Emma Loewe author page.
Emma Loewe
mbg Sustainability + Health Director

Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.

Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.