If you're looking for ideas to pep up your indoor plant collection it could be time to consider adding some more unusual varieties into the mix. Maybe you feel your houseplant choices are the same as everyone else you know, or that your Instagram feed is starting to feel a little samey?
Alternatively, maybe you always stick with one particular type of plant you love (fern, succulent, or Swiss cheese plant) without fully exploring what else that particular family has to offer. You might be surprised to learn, for example, that there are nearly 50 different types of Swiss cheese plant.
The best indoor plants come in every shape, color, texture, and leaf pattern possible, so there's no reason to get stuck in a rut with your choices. We think these underrated houseplants should form a part of every houseplant lover's collection - read on to find out why.
10 underrated houseplants
Our expert pick of underrated houseplants are all easy to grow and undemanding types - criteria which are always top of our list when we're choosing houseplants.
They are unusual, have interesting qualities and look good if you enjoy decorating with plants to brighten up your living space. Now to find out what's on our list.
1. Chinese evergreen
Botanical name: Aglaonema
Most underrated for: air-purifying
While we've all heard about the beneficial properties of plants like peace lilies that purify the air while we sleep, and weeping fig plants that mop up toxins, the Chinese evergreen plant might not be on your radar - yet.
'In my humble opinion, this plant genus is highly underrated and isn’t raved about nearly enough,' says Kamili Bell Hill, creator of Plantblerd, founder of Black People with Plants and author of Happy Plants, Happy You!, available from Amazon.
'They are spectacular. If it's variegation you seek, this is the plant for you. You can find them with leaves of green and white, pink and white, red and green, and different shades of green.'
These leafy lovelies are one of the most underrated air-purifying plants. There are a huge number of varieties to choose from in a range of lovely colors. They are a good choice for low light rooms, and require little watering.
It's also one of the most durable houseplants you can grow, tolerating low light, dry air, and drought. Look out for the variety Aglaonema 'Silver Bay'.
'It has striking green foliage and an easy-going nature,' according to the plant experts at Bloomscape. 'The large leaves are detailed with an icy green center flowing into dark and light green striped edges, retaining their color and pattern in even the lowest lighting conditions.'
Kamili Bell Hill combines her love of plants and design to curate a brand and community known as PlantBlerd, where she partners beautiful houseplants with simple care information and words of encouragement. PlantBlerd serves as both a style and a growing guide. After noticing a lack of social media platforms highlighting houseplant collectors that look like her, she established BlackPeople.WPlants featuring Black houseplant collectors from around the world. She put a career in law on hold to pursue her true passion of interior design and quickly realized the important role plants play in her clients’ designs.
2. Whale fin snake plant
Botanical name: Sansevieria masoniana (Dracaena masoniana)
Most underrated for: low light rooms
We're all familiar with the tall, sword-shaped foliage of the regular snake plant but this variety is a little more unusual. Whale fin is a giant version that can grow up to 4-6 feet tall, although admittedly it will take a long time to do so. It has attractive wide dark green leaves and the gorgeous coloring intensifies if you position your plant in a low light spot.
This is the plant to choose if you want something that will thrive in the shade of a hallway. Although it tolerates low light, you will get faster growth if you place it in bright, indirect light.
Like all snake plants this one is easy to propagate. You can simply cut leaf segments and root them in soil, or grow them in water to expand your collection of these shapely specimens.
3. Crispy wave fern
Botanical name: Asplenium nidus
Most underrated: easy to grow fern
If you have struggled with your Boston fern turning brown or your asparagus fern turning yellow it could be time to switch your allegiance to one of the most underrated ferns around, as Kamili Bell Hill has discovered.
'Just when I thought all was lost, I stumbled upon the crispy wave, a fern so different from all the others,' she explains. 'Instead of small delicate leafy fronds, it has these big paddle-like fronds that feel like lettuce and kind of look like a Boston fern leaflet.
'It was a love connection! This cultivar matched my energy and enthusiasm. And more importantly, it matched my growing environment without a hitch. Unlike the others, this fern was able to adapt to average household humidity. The crispy wave showed me the meaning of true fern love. And now here we are – I water, she grows. It’s a beautiful thing.'
This hard-to-kill fern is a good choice if you have a chill plant parent style and a bad track records with other types of fern plant.
4. Stromanthe Triostar
Botanical name: Stromanthe Sanguinea 'Triostar'
Most underrated for: fantastic foliage
This stunning plant has variegated leaves in shades of pink, green and white. A real beauty that will add a vibrant new color mix to your plant collection, its star qualities are reflected in the name. We think you should be snapping one up now.
'Help its variegation stay vibrant by placing it in a spot that receives bright indirect light,' says Eliza Blank, founder of The Sill. 'The stromanthe is part of the same family as prayer plants, and will similarly appreciate high humidity from a pebble tray or humidifier.'
The more indirect light the plant receives, the more variegation you will see on the leaves. Too much bright light and this beauty will lose some of the color variation that catches the eye in the first place. Another plus is that the stromanthe has air purifying qualities, too.
5. Avocado plant
Botanical name: Persea americana
Most underrated: free plant
Instead of throwing all those avocado stones away, why not grow new houseplants from them? These leafy lovelies are one of the best kitchen plants, as well as making an interesting display on a warm, bright windowsill or in a humid conservatory. Given a combination of light, humidity and regular watering, avocado plants will thrive.
As the plants grow, pinch out the tips regularly to create bushy, well-shaped plants. Find out more about how to grow avocados if the idea appeals. There are several techniques including the toothpick method, where you partially submerge the stone in water, or alternatively submerge the whole stone in water. It can take a few weeks and up to several months to germinate, but it's well worth the wait.
6. Variegated Swiss cheese plant
Botanical name: Monstera deliciosa variegata
Most underrated for: making a statement in your living room
The Swiss cheese plant is instantly recognisable and adds a stylish statement to any interior. But if you want to introduce a new type of Swiss cheese to mix up the look of your foliage, try a variegated one.
'The variegated version of the popular Monstera plant has become something like the holy grail of the Plant Tribe,' according to Igor Josifovic and Judith de Graaff, authors of the bestselling books Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants (available to order from Amazon) and Plant Tribe (also available from Amazon).
'This rare variety is hard to find, and even when you do find it, it tends to be pretty pricey. But if you’re lucky enough to come across one (or to receive a cutting from a plant friend), don’t think twice. Go for it, and add this botanical gem to your living room.'
Place your variegated Swiss cheese in a warm spot that gets bright indirect light and keep it moister than you would its non-variegated cousin. If you're interested in growing your collection, find out how to propagate a monstera by taking stem cuttings as they will root easily, especially if they're already growing aerial roots.
7. Purple passion plant
Botanical name: Gynura aurantiaca
Most underrated: colorful houseplant
The eye-popping violet foliage of the purple passion plant offers an unusual and attractive choice for brightly lit rooms. In fact, the brighter light will intensify the purple color of this plant, giving it a lovely shimmering iridescence.
The velvety leaves (the reason it is also known as the velvet plant) have a cascading habit that makes it ideal for indoor hanging baskets if you like a tropical jungle look. This is definitely one of the most underrated houseplants that deserves your attention if you want to introduce a vivid accent to your room.
Despite their exotic appearance, these plants are fairly easy to care for, making them an excellent choice for novice plant parents.
8. Shrimp plant
Botanical name: Justicia brandegeeana
Most underrated for: year-round flowers
The blooms of the attractive and easy-to-grow shrimp plant appear nearly all year round.
The arching flower sprays are salmon-pink colored, and come from the plants plentiful bracts (modified leaves), which helps explain why the 'flowers' are so prolific.
This plant is easy to please and if it likes your growing conditions can reach up to 3 feet. All it requires are warm days, cool nights and a sunny windowsill to call home. If your plant gets a little straggly snip it back by about a half to encourage new growth and it will quickly bush up again.
One of the best indoor flowering plants, it's a good attention grabbing variety to choose if your plant collection is looking a little too uniformly green and you want an easy, long-flowering indoor plant to add some color.
9. Wax plant
Botanical name: Hoya carnosa
Most underrated for: blooms
The very collectable trailing Hoya carnosa plant has exquisite clusters of waxy star-shaped cream flowers and dark green leaves on vigorous twining stems that can reach 15 foot or more. Easy to grow and take care of? Yes. Fast growing? Absolutely.
'Once you add any single plant from the Hoya genus, you will be hooked,' says Kamili Bell Hill. 'You will not be able to stop at one, because they are just delightful. Of all the plant discoveries I have made this is probably my favorite. You’ll add them for their foliage and obsess over them because of their otherworldly blooms. This genus was completely unknown to me before I started collecting plants. Now I am obsessed.'
Kamili likens the fantastic blooms to delicate confectionery flowers, crafted from marzipan or fondant frosting, something you might find on a tiered wedding cake.
Hoya plants love a spot with bright, indirect light in your bathroom or kitchen, which tend to be more humid. Find out how to care for hoya plants and give them the right conditions then they will develop into a large vining statement plant in a relatively short period of time. They look good trailing down from shelves or in a hanging planter too.
10. Lipstick echeveria
Botanical name: Echeveria agavoides
Most underrated: succulent
If, like us, you're a big fan of succulents you'll always be on the lookout for unusual varieties to grow your collection. While super-appealing echeveria are probably already on your radar, the stunning lipstick variety might be new to you.
The red-tinged leaf edges of this pretty plant develop best in sunlight so it's a great choice for sunny windowsills, where it will grow up to 5 inches tall and will spread to 12 inches, making it a pretty decent sized succulent. The more light you give them the more red coloration you will get too.
Also known as moulded wax or wax agave, it's a joy to look after, especially as you don't have to water it for half the year (from October to May). They're also easy to propagate as you can gently pull off any offsets or individual leaves and pot them up separately in gritty soil.
What is the most underrated plant for relaxation?
Add a scented jasmine to your houseplant collection and it will help to ease your mind, and boost your mood and wellbeing. This is due to the fact that the scent of jasmine is known to have therapeutic benefits that help alleviate stress, anxiety and insomnia.
Jasmine is one of the most aromatic tropical indoor plants. It has exotic white flowers and glossy, green foliage. It's one of the best indoor plants to infuse subtle scents into your home. The wonderful fragrance will fill a room, especially at night. It has excellent calming and relaxation properties that make it the ideal house plant for a sitting room.
Sign up to the Homes & Gardens newsletter
Decor Ideas. Project Inspiration. Expert Advice. Delivered to your inbox.
Lifestyle journalist Sarah Wilson has been writing about flowers, plants, and garden design and trends since 2015. Having already studied introductory garden and landscape design as well as a course in floristry she is currently adding to her list of qualifications with an RHS Level 2 course in the Principles of Plant Growth and Development. In addition to homesandgardens.com and livingetc.com she's written for gardeningetc.com, Modern Gardens and Country Homes & Interiors magazines.
How to spring clean your house in one day – 6 time-saving tips and mistakes to avoid
Tackle spring cleaning in 24 hours by planning out the day, prioritizing tasks, and keeping the goal of a cleaner, healthier home firmly in mind
By Millie Hurst Published
How to make drip coffee at home – baristas spill the beans
Coffee experts explain how to make drip coffee at home. Here's everything you need to know (including tips and tricks) for flawless filter coffee
By Laura Honey Published