The top 10 house plants – that all interior design lovers should know about

We speak to Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal Winner and At Home with Plants author Ian Drummond for his expert view

top 10 house plants
(Image credit: Future)

We caught up with award-winning interior landscape designer and RHS Chelsea Flower Show gold medal-winner Ian Drummond on his top 10 house plants. House plants have been having something of a moment in the past year or so, including in the schemes of top interior designers. House plants look wonderful, but they have health benefits for us, too, especially when we spend more time indoors than we would like to. 

Back to our expert. Ian Drummond is the Creative Director at Indoor Garden Design, an industry leader who are celebrating their 45th anniversary this year, is more than passionate about finding new and exciting ways to use plants in a home, work or event space. Ian also develops show stopping displays for world renowned events such as the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

Specialising in creative projects, Ian has created indoor gardens for the BAFTAs, London Fashion Week and Elton John just to name a few. Ian is also the author of house plant manual 'At Home with Plants', which is now available in seven languages and has proven to be a popular addition to novices and experts alike.

Top 10 house plants

There are many plants that Ian swears by when creating a scheme for any space as their biophilic properties are always beneficial to the people using it. Here are his top 10 that you shouldn’t be without.

1. Aloe vera

Top 10 house plants

Aloes are a great addition to the workplace as they are virtually indestructible providing you have plenty of natural day light in the room, so they are ideal for forgetful waterers. The architectural, silver grey foliage makes a real statement on your desk and will have your colleagues green with envy.

2. Spider plant – chlorophytum

Top 10 house plants

Alike most retro houseplants, the humble Spider Plant has made a humungous comeback due to their scientifically proven, air purifying properties. Their ability to remove 95% of benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and nitrates from the air in the room is a must have benefit in our ‘sealed’ office environments where air quality can be of low quality. 

Also, Spider Plants produce a mass of plantlets which make great gifts for your friends and jealous workmates.

3. Snake plant – Sansevieria

Top 10 house plants

With over 70 species of Sansevieria available on the market, you’ll be sure to find a variety that suits your tastes. All act as great natural filters in your home or workplace whilst being a doddle to look after. 

Requiring infrequent watering and tolerant of lower light levels if you have a dark corner that needs brightening up with some greenery.

4. Peace lily – Spathiphyllum

Top 10 house plants

(Image credit: In-tray)

Another plant worthy of its NASA endorsed air purifying qualities; the fresh, if not a little dramatic Spathiphyllum or Peace Lily is a beautiful flowering plant readily available in a variety of sizes. 

With crisp white bracts above deep green foliage, this house plant essential lets you know exactly when it needs watering by drooping its leaves and perking up again an hour after you’ve given it a drink – much like ourselves on a Friday afternoon.

See: The hardest house plants to keep alive – what to avoid for an easy life

5. Vanda orchid

Orchid - top 10 house plants

Photo by Yeimy Olivier on Unsplash

(Image credit: Yeimy Olivier/Unsplash)

One of my favourite flowering houseplant species is the Vanda Orchid for its richly hued blooms and silvery trailing root systems. Predominantly grown for the cut flower market, they are now increasingly becoming available to buy as whole plants.

As the Vanda doesn’t require soil in which to grow, you can save on desk space and hang them from a shelf or the ceiling for an impressive tropical display. Their epiphytic nature means that wild Vandas survive on the moisture in the air; so in our less humid workspaces a quick spritz every few days with a spray bottle will ensure the roots don’t dry out.

6. Calthea

top 10 house plants

A Calathea is such a beautiful choice of foliage plant and they come with such a wide variety of leaf shapes, colour and pattern. Best of all, they provide entertainment by moving their leaves throughout the course of a day to capture as much light as possible. 

Visually they will boost your mood and really create a lush, jungle feel in your space – a benefit to mental wellbeing you have to agree.

7. Ficus

top 10 house plants

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

From the Mulberry genus of over 750 species, the Ficus family is one of the most popular indoor plants to date. With a vast array of leaf size, shade and variegation, you’ll be sure to find one to suit your home office area. 

The most common and suitable for your desktop is the Ficus benjamina, more commonly known as the weeping fig. With small green leaves and a woody stem, they can be grown in a variety of shrub or tree shapes. An easy to care for choice, providing they are regularly watered and kept out of cold draughts.

See: These are the world's most Instagrammed house plants

8. Gerbera

top 10 house plants

(Image credit: Simon Whitmore)

Why not add a pop of intense colour to your home working space in the form of a blooming Gerbera? Orange, yellow, pink or purple, this happy little house plant will be sure to brighten the mood on your desk. 

With over 600 varieties to choose from and the most classic of flower shapes, the Gerbera has strong leaves which come with the added benefit of being air purifiers. As the symbol of innocence, this beautiful plant will really be working hard whilst you attempt to do the same.

9. Jade plant – Crassula

top 10 house plants

(Image credit: Amateur Gardening)

This desktop staple comes in a wide variety of forms and is a great choice for both the novice and expert houseplant grower. Practically indestructible, they can survive long periods of neglect as they store water in their thick, fleshy leaves. 

As they mature, their trunk thickens and the plant can take on a miniature tree like form – perfect for structure and interest on your desk.

10. Dracaena Marginata

top ten houseplants

(Image credit: Mark Grimwade)

Commonly known as the easiest indoor plant to look after and seen everywhere from shops to offices and hotels, the Dracaena marginata or Dragon tree is an architectural plant for the minimal space. 

An ideal choice if you go away for prolonged periods or are simply a forgetful waterer.The narrow leaves of this plant are also proven to purify the air around them, therefore increasing air quality in your room.

See: Health benefits of houseplants: Why you need greenery while working from home

More about Ian Drummond

As if catering for a celebrity clientele wasn't enough, Ian also launched In-Tray, a home and office delivery service for house plants.

Launched as part of Indoor Garden Design’s 45th anniversary celebrations, In-Tray has been created as a way to help the people of London (and eventually the whole UK) to green-up their personal living and working spaces with tropical plants, along with all the care tips and expert advice needed to keep them happy and healthy.

Jennifer Ebert
Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. 

Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.