Houseplants are amazing, aren’t they? But sometimes they can look a bit samey, and if you’ve been living with the same plants for a few years now, it might be time to introduce some new life and mix your indoor plant collection up a bit.
Unique House Plants: Summer
From sumptuous succulents to fantastic flowers, take inspiration from this list of distinctive houseplants and use it to jazz up your interiors and make a real statement in the home.
Colourful House Plants
Cape Sundew (Drosera capensis)
Cape sundews are one of the easiest varieties of sundew to grow. Sundews are carnivorous plants, and fascinating to watch as the leaves curl over their prey. They are particularly partial to fungus gnats, so are best placed alongside other plants to help keep the pests in check. Small rosettes of lime green leaves glisten with a sticky trap and feature brightly coloured tentacles.
Sundews prefer a humid environment and free-draining soil that is left to dry out between waterings. They prefer bright light but keep them out of direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves or cause them to lose their vibrant colouring.
Rex Begonia (Begonia rex-cultorum)
Rex begonias are sometimes called painted leaf begonias and possess bright, colourful foliage with veined or streaky patterns in various shades of green, red, purple and silver. They are usually grown as outdoor plants in more tropical regions but grow best as house plants in the UK.
Rex begonias flourish in warm, humid rooms and are ideal houseplants for the bathroom or kitchen. Alternatively, place them on a pebble tray in living rooms and bedrooms. They like a bright spot but keep them out of full sun to prevent the leaves from getting burned.
Eternal Flame (Calathea Crocata Tassmania)
This tropical plant gets its name from the glowing orange flowers that bloom on tall stems at the top of the plant. The flowers last for 2-3 months, and when they’re not in bloom the foliage provides plenty of colour interest of its own. The large leaves have wavy edges and are bi-coloured in dark green and purple, producing an ornate appearance even outside flowering season.
These unusual houseplants love a warm, humid environment. Place your eternal flame plant in a bright spot out of direct light and mist it regularly. Check the soil once a week and water it whenever the top 2-3cm feels dry. This plant can be fussy about the type of water, so it’s best to leave tap water out for around 24 hours before using it to water the plant.
Chinese Evergreen Pink Star (Aglaonema Pink Star)
Featuring pale pink leaves variegated with green and cream, this beautiful plant is easy to care for and is the perfect houseplant for new and experienced plant parents alike. Aglaonema Pink Star has waxy leaves that are long and narrow in shape. It is native to the subtropical rainforests of Asia and grows to around 50cm tall indoors.
Chinese evergreens cope well with most light conditions, but it’s worth noting that the more light this plant receives, the more vibrant the colours will be. It should, however, be kept out of direct sunlight. Use well-draining potting soil and water when the top layer of soil dries out. Mist occasionally or use a pebble tray underneath to help raise humidity levels.
Large Indoor Plants
Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus lyrata)
This stunning houseplant has fiddle-shaped foliage and an upright growing habit perfect for slimmer spaces. It is a fast-growing plant that reaches up to 6 feet tall indoors and is an ideal statement floor plant for any room in the house.
Fiddle leaf figs prefer a spot in bright indirect light. Avoid direct sunlight, as strong rays can scorch the large green leaves. The glossy foliage loves to soak up humidity, so occasional misting is appreciated. Water whenever the top 2-3cm of soil feels dry, usually every 7-10 days. Fiddle leaf figs are fairly easy to care for and droop their leaves to let you know when they need watering.
Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
Boasting long, feathery, arching fronds, areca palms are elegant houseplants that can reach 6-7 feet tall when grown indoors. They are excellent air purifiers, removing harmful toxins and pollutants from the home.
Position your areca palm in bright indirect light and water it weekly to keep the soil moist but not too wet. Too much watering can be an issue with palms, so be careful not to overwater the plant. Stand the pot in a tray of water and pebbles or mist regularly to keep humidity levels high.
Spiral Cactus (Cereus forbesii spiralis)
A spiral cactus is like a living sculpture for the home. It can grow up to 5 feet tall and, as the name would suggest, grows naturally in an eye-catching twisted manner. This is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to look after. It is ideal for beginners and those without a green thumb.
Like other cacti, the spiral cactus is drought-tolerant and can last a few weeks without watering. Ensure the soil dries out before providing another drink – and remember that it’s always better to under-water than over-water a cactus plant. Spiral cacti like full sun in the morning but prefer indirect sunlight in the afternoons.
Coconut Palm (Cocos Nucifera)
The coconut palm tree is the perfect plant for anyone looking for a unique addition to their collection. Tall green stems of foliage sprout from the partially buried coconut shell to produce a stylish look perfect for minimalist interiors.
Given the right conditions, coconut palms are quite simple to care for and reach up to 1.5m indoors. They don’t grow well in low light conditions, so choose a bright spot with plenty of natural light. Native to tropical Asia, coconut palms prefer a humid environment and moist but well-drained soil. Water them once a week or whenever the top layer of soil feels dry.
Indoor Plants for Shelves
String of Pearls (Senecio rowelyanus)
This trailing succulent boasts almost perfectly spherical pea-like leaves growing along vines, hence the name string of pearls. It is a fast-growing succulent, ideal for hanging baskets or high shelves. Mature plants produce small cinnamon-scented flowers in late spring to early summer.
String of pearls grows best in bright but filtered sunlight. Water sparingly – it’s better to under-water than over-water this unique plant. The crown is low to the soil, so it’s a good idea to water from the bottom to prevent the foliage from getting soggy. Use well-draining cactus soil and water whenever the top layer feels dry.
Polka Dot Begonia (Begonia maculata)
Polka dot begonia is an eye-catching indoor plant native to South America. Its heart-shaped leaves are dark green on top with red undersides and spotted with silver dots, which give it the name polka dot begonia.
As you’d imagine, this beautiful houseplant likes a warm, bright spot in indirect light and away from chilly draughts. Water it weekly to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and mist occasionally to maintain humidity.
Air Plant (Tillandsia spp.)
Many different types of air plants are available, but each one of these unusual plants has an interesting appearance. What makes air plants unique is the fact they don’t need to be planted in soil or water. They can grow literally anywhere! Place them directly on a shelf or house them in a glass bauble or even a sea shell.
Air plants may grow without soil, but like all other plants, they do require light and water. Place air plants in a bright spot out of direct sunlight. Water the plant by dunking it in a bowl of tepid water and leaving it to soak for around an hour once or twice a fortnight. Air plants like a humid atmosphere and like to be misted every few days.
Corkscrew Albuca (Albuca spiralis)
If you’re after a plant that will be a real talking point, look no further than the corkscrew albuca. Also known as the frizzle sizzle plant, these unique houseplants feature unusual foliage that grows in a spiral corkscrew shape. Your guests are sure to take a second look at this striking succulent when they set eyes on it.
Fizzle sizzles are low-maintenance plants that flourish in bright, filtered light. Average room temperature and humidity are perfect for these unusual plants, but they don’t like sitting in draughts or too close to heat sources such as radiators.
Trendy House Plants
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Like many other succulents, snake plants have experienced a boom in popularity over the last few years. While they may no longer be uncommon house plants, they are striking in appearance and one of the few indoor plants that convert CO2 into oxygen overnight, making them a great choice for bedrooms.
Snake plants are undemanding houseplants. They cope well in lower light conditions and can tolerate some direct sunlight. However, they grow best in bright indirect light. This plant’s fleshy leaves store moisture, so it only needs to be watered once a fortnight and less often during the winter months. Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth occasionally to remove dust and promote photosynthesis.
Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
Showy white flowers and red veining on glossy green leaves make this a popular indoor plant that makes a real statement. It is known as the prayer plant because it folds its leaves together at night, resembling two hands joining in prayer. Prayer plants are ideal to grow indoors in warm living rooms or bedrooms.
Marantas are native to the West Indies and Central and South America. As such, they enjoy high humidity and grow best in bright indirect sunlight. Water every 7-10 days or whenever the top half of the soil has dried out.
Hoya Hearts (Hoya kerrii)
These cute little succulents look super-cool and make great gifts for partners on Valentine’s Day – or even just because. In their natural habitat, hoya plants grow as climbing vines with their heart-shaped leaves growing upwards. However, the full plant is rarely found in the UK, where a single planted leaf is much more popular.
Hoya hearts prefer a bright spot with plenty of indirect light. Let the soil dry out between waterings, and that’s it! Also referred to as the lucky heart, this is a low-maintenance plant that is really easy to care for.
Bunny Ears Cactus (Opuntia microdasyss)
Perfect for lazy houseplant owners or even those who struggle to keep a plant alive, bunny ears cacti require very little maintenance to thrive. Although both the name and the plant itself are cute, don’t be lulled into thinking it is harmless. Each dot on the plant’s pads contains masses of short prickly spines that are quite difficult to remove from the skin.
So it’s just as well the bunny ears cactus doesn’t need much handling to survive. In fact, this plant thrives on neglect. Place it on a sunny windowsill in a warm room and only water when the soil has completely dried.
Wine Cup (Crassula umbella)
This unique succulent can be quite tricky to source but is worth the effort. Shiny leaves resemble bowls, or wine cups, while tall stems grow from the middle and produce clusters of tiny reddish flowers.
Mature wine cup succulents are drought tolerant, but younger plants need a little extra moisture to give them the best start. Use a well-draining potting mix and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. These plants grow best in a warm spot in full sun – a south-facing window is ideal.
String of Dolphins (Senecio peregrinus)
String of dolphins is another succulent plant that is rare in the UK but definitely worth getting your hands on if you can. It is a fast grower producing trailing vines of tiny leaves that look just like swimming dolphins.
String of dolphins plants grow well in part shade and don’t need to be watered too often. If the vines start to grow straight up or lean towards the window, it’s a sign the plant needs moved to a brighter spot. Allow the soil to dry out before watering again as the plump leaves store moisture.
False Shamrock (Oxalis triangularis)
Also known as purple shamrock, false shamrock is a tropical plant native to the Brazilian rainforests. This unique houseplant boasts triangular purple leaves in groups of three – hence the shamrock reference in the name. The leaves close together in the evening and open back out as the sun comes up. Purple shamrocks are relatively low maintenance, and their striking appearance makes them a wonderful addition to any indoor garden.
False shamrocks tolerate partial shade but prefer a spot in bright indirect light. They can be prone to root rot, so use well-draining soil and ensure the soil dries almost completely between waterings.
Black Bat Flower (Tacca chantieri)
Undeniably cool, the black bat flower is an indoor plant with a truly unique appearance. Tall, bright green stems produce large leaves. In late spring and summer, dark purple-brown flowers shielded by wing-shaped bracts in the same colour. The gothic hue isn’t even the most unusual thing about these blooms. Long whiskers emerge from the centre of the flowers, reaching up to 60cm long.
Black bat flowers are a quirky alternative to growing orchids and are not difficult to care for. They flower best in bright light but keep the plant out of direct sun. If the room isn’t humid, place a pebble tray of water under the pot or group plants together to increase humidity levels. Use well-draining loamy soil and ensure it’s kept moist but not too wet.
A unique plant doesn’t just add natural appeal to your home, it also creates an attractive focal point. Whether you’re looking for a statement plant or something a little bit different to add to your houseplant collection, take inspiration from our pick of the best unusual houseplants and bring something special to your indoor jungle.