Houseplants are popular. Really popular. People whose only growing experience is the marigold they grew in a Solo cup in kindergarten have become obsessed with indoor plants. Why? COVID. The pandemic kept us home, and caring for houseplants kept us sane.
Their popularity shows no signs of letting up. “We’ve not seen anything like this since the 1970s, and this may even eclipse that,” says Justin Hancock, a horticulturist at Costa Farms, the world’s largest houseplant grower.
As plant parents master the basics, their tastes in plants’ shapes, sizes and colors are expanding. Here are six trends we’re following in 2023:
1. Big Foliage
Showstopping, look-at-me leaves are having a moment. It started with the Swiss cheese plant, Monstera deliciosa. People are looking for bigger, more dramatic plants, and finding them in banana (Musa), fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata), and split-leaf philodendron (Thaumatophyllum). They make a statement in whatever room they’re in.
Tip: Big plants need big pots, and big pots can be heavy. Hancock recommends setting them on rollers. Not only are they easier to move, getting a pot off the floor improves airflow. When moving large plants with wide branches, “wrap it in a sheet or blanket like a sleeve,” he says. “That will keep its branches safe and confined.”
2. Golden Foliage
Colorful foliage is always in demand. White, pink and silver have led the pack for a while, but plants with gold leaves are catching up. Golden Goddess philodendron, Neon pothos, and Chameleon ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) add a warm glow to dim spaces.
Tip: Dusty or dirty foliage looks dull, and since a plant absorbs sunlight through its leaves, it interferes with photosynthesis. Dust the leaves of indoor plants regularly with a microfiber cloth. For grimier leaves, a gentle wipe with a damp paper towel (no soap!) should work.
3. Variegated Plants
Be it streaks, splashes or splotches, variegated foliage – leaves featuring more than one color – is hot. Variegation is often white, but you can find cream, pink and silver, too. Schismatoglottis wallichii Green Shield has arrow-shaped leaves marked with silver. Cool Beauty dieffenbachia has creamy centers and white edges. Silver Dragon alocasia is a collector’s (i.e., rare) plant with leaves more silver than green.
Tip: Bright light keeps most variegated plants looking their best. Without it, the variegation can fade on older leaves or may not be as vibrant on new growth. For a less-than-bright spot, supplement with an LED lamp or other artificial light source.
4. “Beginner” Plants
Lots of people want indoor plants, but lack of knowledge and fear of killing them holds them back. Starting with beautiful, yet forgiving plants that can handle too much as well as too little attention is what gives newbies the confidence to grow their indoor garden. That’s why plants such as Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), snake plant (Sansevieria) and pothos are always on-trend.
Tip: The biggest killer of houseplants is too much water. Don’t get out the watering can just because the top of the soil is dry. Use a moisture meter, or do it the old-fashioned way: Stick a finger into the soil. If it’s moist a couple of inches down, hold off; check back in a day or so.
Indoor plant parents want to garden responsibly, looking for ways to keep a smaller ecological footprint. Suppliers are meeting that demand, using coconut coir instead of peat moss in their potting mixes, for instance, as well as less-harmful pest control practices such as releasing beneficial insects rather than applying pesticides.
Tip: You can do some of the same things at home that the large-scale growers are doing. Hancock recommends regularly inspecting plants for signs of pests to head off a full-on infestation, washing plants in the sink or shower to get rid of insects and avoiding peat in potting mixes.
6. White Pots
Classics by definition never go out of style, which is why white containers remain in demand. “They show plants beautifully, so it makes sense,” Hancock says. “We’re also starting to see 90s influences popping up more, likely because kids raised in the 90s are moving into their own spaces for the first time and leaning on cues from childhood: bright, vibrant colors; geometric shapes; etc.”
Tip: For plants that are grouped together, keeping the pots all the same color or style (rustic, geometric, etc.) gives a unified look and lets the plants themselves be the stars.