These 5 Mini Versions of Your Favorite Big Plants Are Perfect for Your Small Space

published Jul 16, 2021
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Credit: Carina Romano

It can be tough to be a houseplant lover in a small space — especially if you have a collect-them-all mindset. Sure, there are plenty of naturally small plants you can reach for, but what if you have your heart set on a specific plant that’s just too big and unwieldy for your home?

Fret not. These days, thanks to science, many of the most popular XXL houseplants can now be found in dwarf form. From the mini-fiddle leaf fig to tiny orchids, I’ve got you covered. Of course, this is not a comprehensive list — there are many more mini and slow-growing houseplants out on the market. During your shopping, keep an eye out for labels that indicate a plant is a “dwarf” variety, which tells you that its max size will be more manageable than the classic. But for now, take these five miniaturized versions for a spin.

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Dwarf Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata bambino)

These little guys only grow to 2 to 3 feet tall, which means they can happily sit atop a table even when full grown — so if you have space constraints but are dying to own a fiddle leaf fig of your own, go with this one. The care is the same as its larger relative, so you won’t have to do a lot of research if you’re familiar with the ficus family.

These days, the dwarf variety isn’t too difficult to find. A quick web search will source one for you, and you’re even likely able to pick one up at your favorite local nursery, plant shop, or garden center. Before purchasing, note that ficus plants are toxic to dogs and cats.

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Hoya Heart (Hoya kerrii)

Hoyas are currently all the rage in the houseplant collectors’ world right now, but not everyone has the room for a large, vining hoya. If you love the texture of the hoya leaf but don’t want to put in a lot of time or effort, go for a cutting of the Hoya kerri, also known as the “Hoya Heart” or “Valentine hoya.” 

You can certainly find the Hoya kerrii as a larger, vining plant for a high price, but you’ll mostly find this plant as a single leaf rooted cutting (which is what we’re after here). 

The single leaf cutting is rooted and will live for years, but rarely develops into a mature, vining plant. Instead, you’ll have a compact and adorable heart-shaped leaf that never gets larger than a 2 or 3-inch pot.

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Tea Cup Phalaenopsis

Orchids can be intimidating to a lot of people, due to the misconception that they’re hard to care for. Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) are particularly popular because they really are actually easy, but they can take up quite a bit of space. 

Most don’t know that once an orchid produces blooms, it’s at its mature life stage. So, if you find a teeny moth orchid at the grocery store that’s already in bloom, it’s already reached its maximum size. You’ve probably found a tea cup phalaenopsis, which is a perfect small-space plant.

You can source particular varieties of tea cup orchids online, like Jiaho’s Pink Girl. This orchid only grows to just under 10 inches tall and the blooms are only an inch or so wide. They typically grow in 2 to 3-inch pots, which make them perfect for terrariums, too. 

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Mini Jade (Crassula minor)

Traditional jade plants are ancient symbols of good luck and can easily grow to 5 or 6 feet tall in the right conditions over many years. Lucky for those of us without a ton of house space, there is a dwarf variety called Crassula minor that reaches only 3 feet in complete maturity. Just like its family members, mini jade plants are slow growers and require simple care: minimal watering and bright light. Before buying, remember that most varieties of crassula are toxic to both dogs and cats.

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Philodendron “Zena” (Xanadu dwarf form)

While the xanadu philodendron is a small variety of philodendron itself, there is an even tinier variety called “Zena.” 

This mini philodendron has long, thick leaves that overlap, just like its bigger counterpart. It’s touted as the perfect compact variety for terrariums and plant cases. It only needs bright, indirect light and weekly waterings to thrive — making this suited for both small spaces and beginner plant parents.

Keep in mind that philodendrons are toxic to both dogs and cats.