The 13 Best Houseplants for Your Bathroom, According to Plant Experts

updated Feb 21, 2024
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Even among experienced houseplant enthusiasts, bathrooms can be a tricky outpost for greenery. That’s because even the most stylish bathrooms can be a bit of a wildcard when it comes to overall environment. Unlike living rooms or bedrooms, bathrooms have fluctuating temperatures, constant humidity, and lots (or a little) of sunlight depending on what direction windows face and how many there are. But even under all those variables, there are plants that can thrive in bathrooms.

You need hearty plant babies to survive in fluctuating bathroom environments, so a little research is in order. That’s why we tapped the experts to weigh in on the best plants for bathrooms: Erin Marino, director of brand marketing at The Sill; Joyce Mast, “Plant Mom” from Bloomscape; and Susan Brandt, plant expert at Blooming Secrets. Here, the plant pros give their best advice for choosing houseplants for your bathroom.

The Best Plants for a Bathroom

As a general rule, Marino suggests targeting indoor plants that can thrive in a warm, humid environment that a bathroom provides. How do you know what plants prefer those conditions? As a general rule, “Think of the plant’s native environment: Pick plants that call tropical places home,” Marino says. With that in mind, these picks made our best bathroom plants list.

Credit: Laura Vadi/Shutterstock

1. Peace Lily

Bathrooms often have limited natural light, but these rooms are where a peace lily can thrive. “They can tolerate fluorescent lighting or even artificial light sources, allowing them to flourish in this often dimly lit area of your home,” says Brandt. If you want to add a touch of tranquility and class to your powder room, the peace lily’s glossy green leaves and elegant white flowers can do the trick nicely. Of course, as with any bathroom-loving plant, the high humidity is a pleasant plus.

Peace Lily Care Guide

  • Water: Water when soil feels dry to the touch, but do not overwater.
  • Light: Can survive with minimal light or artificial light sources. 
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize in spring and summer to encourage flowering.
  • Potting: Repot or divide when roots start to burst through soil.
  • Pet-Safe? No, peace lily is toxic to cats and dogs.
Credit: Emma Fiala

2. String of Pearls

Potted trailing plants add an element of visual interest, and you can easily display them from the ceiling by using a plant hanger suspended from a screw-in hook. Although several plants could fit the bill, none does the job better — or adds a cuteness factor —  like the string of pearls. Brandt says this plant thrives in humid conditions, making a full bathroom an ideal environment. The cascading, bead-like leaves may just be the perfect accent for that unsung corner of your bathroom.

String of Pearls Care Guide

  • Light: Place in an area with direct, bright light; a windowless space is not ideal.
  • Water: String of pearls plants are drought-tolerant, so water when the first ½ inch of soil feels dry.
  • Fertilizer: Lightly fertilize in spring and summer, but avoid overdoing it.
  • Potting: Use soil and a container that drain well to help release moisture.
  • Pet-Safe? No, string of pearls is toxic to cats and dogs.

3. Philodendron

When life gets busy, plants often get neglected, so if your plant babies aren’t always top of mind, plan on purchasing a non-needy philodendron. “They are known for their low-maintenance nature and forgiving attitude towards occasional neglect, making them ideal for busy individuals,” advises Brandt. She also says that they can thrive in low-light environments, so small windows and minimal sunlight won’t harm the lush, uniquely shaped leaves of the philodendron.

Philodendron Care Guide

  • Light: Do not place philodendrons in direct sunlight, as they prefer low-to-medium light.
  • Water: Philodendron leaves will turn yellow when overwatered and brown when lacking hydration, so watch for these moisture-indicating signs.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize lightly when you see new growth emerging. Otherwise, they can survive without added nutrients.
  • Pet-Safe? No, philodendron is toxic to cats and dogs.
Credit: The Sill

4. Bird’s Nest Fern 

Add a touch of nature to your bathroom with the help of a bird’s nest fern. These leafy plants like moderate, indirect light, so make sure you don’t put it directly on your window sill. According to Marino, the bird’s nest fern is arguably one of the easiest ferns to keep alive indoors. “Native to areas of Southeast Asia and Polynesia, the bird’s nest fern loves the extra moisture a bathroom can provide,” she says. “Its large wavy leaves can create instant jungle vibes in any space.”

Bird’s Nest Fern Care Guide

  • Light: Make sure these plants receive moderate, indirect light.
  • Water: Allow top half of soil to dry before watering; you’ll water about every 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Fertilizer: Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer once per month only during the growing season.
  • Potting: Make sure to plant in a well-draining potting mix.
  • Pet-Safe? Yes, bird’s nest ferns are safe for cats and dogs.

5. Pothos

Since pothos like moderate to low, indirect light, it’s the perfect plant to put on a bathroom shelf or counter. “Although pothos doesn’t necessarily need the extra humidity, it’s a great pick for a bathroom because it’s tolerant of lower light levels and irregular watering,” Marino says.

Pothos are so easy to care for, many pros consider them practically brown thumb-proof. “Also it’s a super quick grower that loves to hang and trail — it’s perfect for hanging off your shower curtain rod,” Marino adds.

Pothos Care Guide

  • Light: Pothos do best in moderate to low, indirect light.
  • Water: Allow soil to dry out between waterings; you’ll need to water every 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Potting: Make sure the pot you use has sufficient drainage.
  • Fertilizer: Not required, but can benefit from once per month fertilizing in spring and summer.
  • Pet-safe? No, pothos is toxic to cats and dogs

6. Tillandsia (Air Plant)

Air plants are great for the bathroom because they can soak up the humidity right from your showers and baths. Plus, they give you more room for creativity when it comes to display, since they don’t need planters or potting mix.

“Instead of using roots to absorb water and nutrients, air plants absorb both from the air,” Marino says. “They will tolerate a wide range of conditions but are happiest in a spot with bright, indirect light and high humidity. If you have a bathroom with a big sunny window, then these fellas are for you.”

Tillandsia (Air Plant) Care Guide

  • Light: Place air plants in bright, indirect light. Avoid direct light, which can scorch their leaves.
  • Water: Soak weekly in a bowl of room-temperature water for 15 to 30 minutes. Then, shake dry.
  • Potting: Never plant in soil, which can cause these plants to rot.
  • Fertilizer: Use a water-soluble fertilizer that’s formulated for air plants once per month.
  • Pet-safe? Yes, air plants are safe for cats and dogs.

7. Aloe Vera 

Since we’re talking about bathroom plants, your plant might as well have some beauty benefits attached to what you choose, no? That’s where aloe vera comes in. The gooey insides of the aloe plant’s leaves can be used to help soothe skin, heal minor burns, reduce itch, and more.

“Simply slice off a mature leaf at the base of the plant, squeeze out the interior ‘gel’, and apply directly to your skin,” Marino says. These plants like bright, indirect light. For best growing results, be sure to place yours in a spot that’s not too far away from a window.

Aloe Vera Care Guide

  • Light: Place aloe vera in bright, indirect light. If they don’t receive enough sun, leaves can become weak.
  • Water: Water infrequently (every 2 to 4 weeks) but thoroughly, making to soak the soil.
  • Potting: Pot in sandy, well-draining soil.
  • Fertilizer: No need to fertilize this plant, which grows naturally in poor desert soil.
  • Pet-safe? No, aloe vera is toxic to cats and dogs.
Credit: Dabney Frake

8. Staghorn Fern

Like the bird’s nest, the staghorn fern loves the extra humidity a bathroom offers, so it won’t be mad at you for taking a longer shower. But it also needs bright to moderate, indirect light to thrive.

“We can envision it potted on your bathroom’s windowsill or even mounted on a piece of wood and hung on the bathroom wall,” says Marino. “In their native environment, staghorn ferns are epiphytes, which means they live on trees instead of in the soil (like air plants).” This is why the wood mounting idea works, and it’s a great alternative if you’re short on space and can’t fit any potted plants in your bathroom.

Staghorn Fern Care Guide

  • Light: Staghorn ferns require moderate to bright indirect light to thrive.
  • Water: You’ll need to water less frequently in lower light conditions, but expect to water every 1 to 2 weeks. Let the potting mixture dry out between waterings.
  • Potting: Young staghorn ferns can be planted in traditional pots, but larger ones should be mounted to simulate their natural environments (where they grow attached to trees).
  • Fertilizer: Use a water-soluble fertilizer once per month in spring and summer.
  • Pet-Safe? Yes, staghorn ferns are safe for cats and dogs.
Credit: Jenny Dettrick/Getty Images

9. Calathea “Freddie” 

The majority of potted calathea plants flourish in humid environments, so it’s a great plant to spruce up your bathroom. And since it enjoys moderate, indirect light, you don’t have to worry about how small your bathroom window is or whether it’s placed too far away from it. “The calathea ‘Freddie’ is one of our favorites because it’s more tolerant of low light than other varieties,” Marino says.

Calathea “Freddie” Care Guide

  • Light: Bright to medium indirect light is best, but this plant can tolerate low indirect light.
  • Water: Water only when soil has dried halfway down; this will be about every 1 to 2 weeks. Calathea can be sensitive to tap water, so you might need to use filtered water for best results.
  • Potting: Calatheas do best in a lightweight potting mix that’s peat-rich.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize only in the growing months.
  • Pet-Safe? Yes, calathea Freddie is safe for cats and dogs.

10. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

The Chinese Evergreen, or aglaonema, is a great plant for the bathroom because it is so hearty. It even thrives when you forget to water it, so it’s a great choice if you travel a lot or can be a little forgetful. It’s also very adaptive; it prefers medium indirect light but can grow in lower light areas as well. It loves humidity but doesn’t like quick temperature changes. Keep your windows closed on chillier days to avoid strong drafts that might disrupt its growth.

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema) Care Guide

  • Light: Aglaonemas prefer bright to medium indirect light, but can adapt to lower light conditions.
  • Water: Water once half of the soil is dry, which will be about every 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Potting: These plants like to be slightly root-bound, so there’s no need to size up pots more often than every 2 to 3 years.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize once per month during the growing season.
  • Pet-Safe? No, aglaonema is toxic to cats and dogs.
Credit: Anna Oleinik/Getty Images

11. Gardenia

Gardenias are tropical, so they’re at home in humid bathroom air. They thrive with bright, indirect light, so think morning sun and afternoon shade. “Gardenias are a beautiful plant that needs a little bit more sun to thrive and flower,” says Mast. “If you have a window in your bathroom that gets at least four hours of sun, for example, south or west-facing, this would be a perfect spot to add a gardenia.”

Gardenia Care Guide

  • Light: Gardenias need partial shade, and do best in morning sunlight (too-intense afternoon sun can scorch their blooms). Try for an east-facing window.
  • Water: Water when half of the soil is dry, making sure to fully saturate the soil.
  • Potting: Gardenias do not like wet feet, so make sure to use a pot with a drainage hole.
  • Fertilizer: You can use a balanced fertilizer once per month during the spring and summer.
  • Pet-Safe? No, gardenias are toxic to cats and dogs.

12. Snake Plant

The snake plant is nearly impossible to kill, making it a great, non-finicky option for the bathroom. It grows faster in bright light, but it can tolerate less light as well. Its origins are in West Africa, so it can handle desert-like conditions, too. “Snake plants need very little water and thrive on neglect, so they are a perfect addition for someone who is new to plants or needs a plant that doesn’t mind being forgotten from time to time,” Mast says.

Snake Plant Care Guide

  • Light: Medium to bright indirect light is best, but snake plants can also tolerate low indirect light.
  • Water: Water when soil is completely dry, every 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Potting: Use a well-draining potting mix and a planter with a drainage hole to avoid wet feet.
  • Fertilizer: Snake plants don’t require fertilizer, but can benefit from occasional feedings in summer when they’re actively growing.
  • Pet-Safe? No, snake plants are toxic to cats and dogs.
Credit: Rachel Jacks

13. Spider Plant

Spider plants are another no-fuss option. They can tolerate low light or bright light, but make sure they’re not in full sun, or they will scorch. They like a little humidity, so your baths and showers are a plus for them. You can cut and propagate spiderettes from a parent plant, so you get a lot of bang for your buck with this species.

Spider Plant Care Guide

  • Light: Bright indirect light is best, but spider plants can also tolerate medium indirect light.
  • Water: Water when the soil dries out, about every 1 to 2 weeks. You’ll need to water more often in brighter light conditions.
  • Potting: Use a well-draining potting mix that provides plenty of aeration for roots.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize sparingly, as too much fertilizer can cause browning on the tips of leaves.
  • Pet-Safe? Yes, spider plants are safe for cats and dogs.

What to Keep In Mind When Choosing a Plant for Your Bathroom

A word to the wise: If your bathroom doesn’t have windows, a live plant probably isn’t the best idea. “Light is food for plants, and they need it to survive,” says Marino. “A plant might tolerant no natural light for an extended period of time but not for the long run.” She recommends opting for preserved or faux plants instead.

If you have a plant in mind for your bathroom that’s not on this list, keep this checklist in mind when decorating with your plants:

  • Pick plants that thrive in high humidity and can tolerate added moisture in the air.
  • Make sure your bathroom has a window that gets natural light.
  • To avoid root rot, keep the plants away from where the water directly hits (so don’t place them on the floor of your shower).
  • Opt for planters with drainage holes or go with epiphytes like air plants that do not require a planter.