If you’re looking for a plant that will add plenty of structure into a bare space, softening the look of any corner and adding more life and color to your home, look no further than a large tree houseplant.
But this does depend on your definition of a tree. Some people refer to palms, tree ferns, banana plants, bamboo plants, and others as trees.
Others suggest that only woody plants that can be used for timber or grow to a certain level qualify as trees (and historically unless grown as bonsai trees, and even then, those species can be difficult to grow indoors).
For this post, we’ll use the wider definition. Who doesn’t want more choice?
1.Araucaria Heterophylla ‘Norfolk Island Pine’
Perhaps something you’d expect to see around the holiday season but nowhere else, the Norfolk Island Pine will make a statement in any room.
They can also last for decades or longer if you give them the right care, so make sure you put this particular species in bright and indirect light, somewhere warm but away from drafts and sources of heat.
2. Caesalpinia Pulcherrima ‘Red Bird Of Paradise’
Not to be confused with the Strelitzia Bird Of Paradise, this South African native can grow up to 5 feet tall and bursts into color with bright orange flowers.
These blooms look stunning against the fern-like foliage, though you may struggle to get this plant to flower indoors, the leaves are lovely enough that it might not matter!
One thing to note about Caesalpinia plants is that they need plenty of humidity, more so than average levels, so be prepared to invest in a humidifier if you don’t already have one.
This plant also needs plenty of light, but little to no direct sunlight, please!
3. Caryota spp. ‘Fishtail Palm’
While Caryota plants can reach an impressive 25 feet outdoors, these plants are likely to stay at a more manageable 6 feet or fewer indoors.
As for light levels, the Fishtail Palm will cope with shadier conditions than some, but it does prefer bright and indirect light.
It looks striking with its long pendant leaves, not unlike the tail of a tropical fish, and it can also flower, too.
4. Chamaedora Elegans ‘Parlor Palm’
A favorite houseplant that’s long stood the test of time is the Parlor Palm. The Victorians used to grow this plant as a houseplant, which should tell you everything you need to know about its striking appearance.
It also helps that this plant will grow in very little light (even no natural light if there is artificial light available).
5. Crassula Ovata ‘Jade Plant’
One plant that can outlive you if you care for it properly is the Jade Plant. It’s easy to care for, easy to propagate, and will withstand some neglect, provided that you give it plenty of light with some direct sunlight and infrequent watering.
6. Dracaena Fragrans ‘Corn Plant’
The Corn Plant is a fixture of offices and homes across the world, with its strong stem and explosion of leaves at the top of the plant.
Don’t let it fool you, though, it needs more water than other Dracaena plants and will start to suffer if more than the top two inches dry out for a while.
The good news is that you can get away with lower light levels for this plant, but ideally, still keep it within a couple of feet of a window.
7. Dracaena Marginata ‘Dragon Tree’
Just as beautiful as the Corn Plant, the Dragon Tree is a relative, though it has a more tree-like appearance with its dark brown stem and thinner leaves.
8. Dracaena Sanderiana ‘Lucky Bamboo’
For a tree you don’t even need to grow in soil, Lucky Bamboo is your best option.
This plant is pretty tough, as long as you give it enough light and water, but eventually, you will have to move it to soil, even if you do give it a mixture of fertilizer and water to keep it going.
9. Ficus Benjamina ‘Weeping Fig’
For very glossy, ruffled leaves, and a thin trunk, the Weeping Fig might be for you. It’s not as popular as the Rubber Tree or the Fiddle Leaf Fig, but it tends to be a little less demanding, and beautiful in its own right.
10. Ficus Elastica ‘Rubber Tree’
If you’re after a plant that nearly mimics a magazine in its glossy sheen, the Rubber Tree is for you. This plant can get more than 6 feet tall, but keep in mind that its sap is quite toxic.
11. Ficus Lyrata ‘Fiddle Leaf Fig’
A fussier and more elaborate relative of the Rubber Tree is the Fiddle Leaf Fig.
This plant is notoriously ‘stubborn’ in that it will protest if you move it by curling and dropping leaves, so make sure you get the conditions right from the outset.
12. Ficus Microcarpa ‘Ficus Ginseng’
If you’ve tried your hand at growing Bonsai Trees, but you’ve never had any luck, it’s time to try Ficus Ginseng, botanically known as Ficus microcarpa.
This plant features a twisted, swollen trunk and small, oval leaves which contrast perfectly, and look great in a bonsai pot.
If you can raise the humidity, the aerial roots look fantastic, too.
13. Ficus Triangularis ‘Triangle Fig’
Another option from the Fig family for an indoor tree is Ficus triangularis. This species is available in solid green as well as a variegated form and isn’t as fussy as some of its relatives.
It will need humidity higher than average levels, however.
14. Monstera Deliciosa ‘Swiss Cheese Plant’
A staple of many houseplant collections is the Swiss Cheese Plant, famous for its fenestrations in the leaves, and huge aerial roots that look like they should belong in Jurassic Park.
This plant will deal with varying levels of light, but it cannot cope with drying out or getting too wet, so keep an eye on your Monstera.
15. Musa spp. ‘Banana Plant’
A little finickier than most of the plants on this list, Banana Plants are beautiful, but they require a lot of light, and plenty of humidity, and under no circumstances should you let them dry out completely.
The leaves quickly crisp up in the wrong conditions, so keep this in mind. Another thing to note is that the plant discards older leaves quickly, so one or two leaves going yellow or brown are typically nothing to worry about.
16. Pachira Aquatica ‘Money Tree’
A very striking plant, the Money Tree, or Pachira aquatica, is a firm favorite in the houseplant world, with its braided trunk and glossy leaves.
While your plant may start as about 30cm tall, it can reach between 6 and 8 feet tall at maturity, depending on the growing conditions, making it perfect for larger rooms.
Do not keep this plant in drafts or sources of heat, as this is a fast way to kill it.
17. Polyscias Fruticosa ‘Ming Aralia’
For a smaller plant that looks stunning, Polyscias species might be the one to turn to.
These plants produce several stems and airy, bamboo-like leaves that soon create a sea of green.
Polyscias fruticosa needs plenty of humidity, warmth, and some light to thrive, though it does better with indirect light.
18. Rhapis Excelsa ‘Broadleaf Palm’
For an indoor tree that does fine in low humidity, the Broadleaf Palm may be your next plant. It’s fairly easy to grow, as it doesn’t even need a lot of light.
19. Schefflera Actinophylla ‘Umbrella Tree’
Umbrella Trees are striking, with their fan-shaped leaves, and need plenty of light and some humidity, but you will need to keep on top of pruning to stop them from outgrowing your space!
20. Yucca Gigantea ‘Spineless Yucca’
Better for a sunny window in your home, the Spineless Yucca makes a great statement, but keep it out of reach, as the leaves are sharp!
How To Get The Most Out Of Indoor Trees
Many large indoor plants will need bright and indirect sunlight, some will tolerate some direct sunlight, some will not grow properly if they’re more than a foot or two away from a window, and others will grow under fluorescent lights.
Tropical trees that are grown as houseplants largely require higher humidity levels than average, so it is worth investing in a humidifier if this is the case with the species you choose.
For those houseplants that can reach more than six feet tall, they may need weighty pots to keep the roots anchored, stopping the plant from getting too top-heavy to the point where it is dangerous, or it’s likely to tip over.
You may even need castors underneath the pot for very large plants!
It’s also worth thinking about how much time you have to spend on the plant species you want to grow.
Some species that get large are also very fussy and need at least some time from you during the week to thrive, and for some people, this can be a tall order!
Other species will practically wilt if you (figuratively) look at them funny or give them more attention than the slightest glance every few weeks, so bear this in mind!
Another thing to think about, if you have pets or children even as visitors in your home, is the potential toxicity of the tree you’re considering.
Some species are incredibly toxic, to the point where it’s not worth the risk, even if no one’s taken an interest in your plants before – it only takes one incident, and it’s not worth the worry.
Others are considered pet and children-safe, but it is still worth keeping the plant well out of reach, to avoid any damage to the plant if nothing else!
For your indoor trees, it’s always better to match your unique growing conditions – the space you have in mind – with the right plant species.
That’s not to say that it is impossible to grow something that you’d need to make some adjustments to the space to get the plant to thrive. It’s just more difficult.
The closer you can match a plant’s native conditions, the better it will do in your home, no matter what plant you go for, but if you’re up for a challenge, why not try something different?