Make Your Friends Green With Envy: These 6 Plants Are the Next Fiddle-Leaf Fig

published Jun 1, 2019
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For the past four years or so, I haven’t been able to turn around without bumping into a fiddle-leaf fig. Coworkers detail their fiddle-leafs’ new growth as if they were describing their first-borns’ attempts to walk, and I’ve double-tapped the plant countless times on Instagram.

I even spotted one in a suburban diner recently—which is a sure sign they’ve become ubiquitous. It’s time for a new trend. Here are six up-and-comers that could soon surpasses fiddle-leaf as the darling of the houseplant world.

Cardboard palm

Tactile types will obsess over cardboard palm (Zamia furfuracea), which truly does feel like a sheet of corrugated. The leaves are palm-esque, but this plant is actually a cycad, a category of plants that reproduce from cone-like seeds like pine trees.

Cardboard palm is simple to care for. As with other tropical plants, give it high to moderate light and well-draining soil. Take heed: this one is prone to root rot.

Maidenhair fern

Notoriously needy for moisture and humidity, maidenhair fern (Adiantum) is a new challenge for plant parents ready to handle a rebel. But as difficult as it is to please, maidenhair fern is flooding Instagram almost as frequently as monstera these days. Its feathery leaves gracefully dot slender stems in an unkempt-but-cool, “Oh, I just woke up like this” manner.

There are many varieties of maidenhair fern, but types like Southern (Adiantum capillus-veneris), rosy (Adiantum tenerum ‘Scutum Roseum’), and Delta (Adiantum raddianum) are the in-crowd.

Ficus Audrey

Still can’t get enough of fiddle-leaf? Let us introduce you to its more amiable relative, ficus Audrey (Ficus benghalensis). Cousin Audrey has large oval leaves, a skinny white trunk, and looks right at home next to your mid-century couch. She’s also a less demanding houseguest and won’t insist on only the sunniest of windows. Bright, indirect light will do—and she only needs water when the soil is dry.

String of hearts

If you think string of pearls is sweet, string of hearts (Ceropegia woodii) will steal your… heart (sorry). Its heart-shaped, thumbnail-sized leaves are dark green and variegated with white veins. The leaves are attached like charms to trailing veins that look best displayed in a hanging basket or tall urn-shaped planter. Bright sunlight is a must, as is restrained watering.

Mini monstera

Mini monstera (Rhaphidophora tetrasperma) is actually not a monstera at all, though it looks sort of like it. It’s a bit more compact, with leaves that look more like jigsaw puzzle pieces than lace doilies. It’s also more resilient in the face of abuse, but treat it right and it’s a downright speedy grower. Bright light and consistently moist (but not wet) soil are key.


Hoya (Hoya compacta) is an oldie but goodie. I’m crossing my fingers that my hunch it’s having a revival is accurate. It has a regal, Victorian flair with curly leaves like ringlets. If you’re lucky, it blooms with spheres of tiny star-shaped pink-white blossoms. It’s also fairly indestructible and can literally last a lifetime. It is forgiving of almost any treatment save direct sunlight, which will cause scorching.