Plants are kind of like the ultimate finishing touch in a room. They add life, movement, and greenery to a space that might otherwise feel a little flat. Not only that, but plants help to purify the air we breathe, and they’re something living to care for, with minimal time involved. A bird of paradise makes a living room stately, a trailing pothos brings a kitchen to life, and a snake plant completes any nightstand. But what about the bathroom? Can plants survive in there, too?
Well, the short answer is: it depends. All plants need light, even the low light ones. This means if your bathroom has absolutely no natural light, you probably can’t keep a plant in there permanently. The good news? All your plant needs is a bit of rotating out into a room with sun, and then back into the bathroom to spruce the place up. If your bathroom does get lots of light, though, then you’re lucky! You’ve pretty much got the pick of the litter (the garden?) when it comes to decorating with living art.
The other thing to consider when picking a plant for your bathroom is that there’s a lot of steamy humidity, so it’s best to pick plants who enjoy that kind of climate. Luckily, many of the most popular houseplants (monsteras, palms, bromeliads) are native to tropical regions, where heat and humidity abound.
No matter what your situation is, below, find 12 of our favorite plants that’ll thrive in your bathroom.
Heartleaf philodendrons are easy to take care of because they show you exactly what they need. If their leaves are turning brown, they need more water, and if they’re turning yellow, they need less. However, this may not be the right option for you if you have pets, as they’re toxic to animals.
These beautiful flowers love the damp environment of bathrooms (Some people even go as far as to put them in the shower), but they do need bright, indirect light to thrive.
Airplants are basically tropical plants, and they absorb moisture through their leaves, making them a great choice for the bathroom. Because these cool plants don’t need soil, you can place them all around your space—no pots necessary.
These fun, colorful plants will love the high humidity of your bathroom. Just make sure to water the plant via its “tank”—the central part of the leaves, which serves as a reservoir.
These cool ferns absorb moisture through their leaves, so they make a great addition to a high-humidity bathroom. Because they usually grow on the sides of trees, they’re happiest when mounted to a board or are hanging in a basket.
Fiddle leaf fig
While incredibly popular on Instagram, fiddle leaf fig trees are notoriously finicky, and as such, we’d really only recommend them to more experienced plant parents. Because they’re a tropical plant, they’ll actually do better in a bathroom with a lot of light and humidity than in a regular air-conditioned room.
Spider plants are my absolute darlings. They’re happy pretty much wherever I put them, and they’re unfazed when my cat gives them dramatic haircuts. Hang them in your bathroom, and they’ll soon be sprouting little babies for you to give to your friends.
People actually make bath mats out of moss, because it’s so soft on your toes and will happily soak up the water from your shower. You can also put moss in the pots of other plants, or in cute bathroom terrariums.
These guys are another favorite of mine as they can be placed just about anywhere. They also wilt dramatically when they need to be watered, making caregiving so easy. You’ll walk in to find them laying on the ground, but then they perk right back up again once they’ve had a drink.
If you’re a self-proclaimed brown thumb, you could probably keep a ZZ plant alive. These hardy, low-light plants can tolerate a lot of neglect, so they’ll happily live in a somewhat dark bathroom. Just don’t let your pets chew on them, as they’re toxic when ingested.
Snake plants are an all-time fave of Home52 Editorial Lead, Arati Menon, whose snake plant is absolutely thriving—despite her admission that watering is infrequent at best and fresh air is a rarity. They’re exceptionally tough plants, and would be just peachy in a bathroom.
Dracaena is a broader genus of about 120 tropical plants, and they’re well-known for being easy to grow. They have a strong tolerance for low light, and actually don’t need watering all that often either. Dracaena also come in a wide range of shapes, colors, and sizes, some of the most popular varieties include the Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’), lucky bamboo (Dracaena braunii), corn plant (Dracaena fragrans), and the song of India (Dracaena reflexa).
Finally, there are bathrooms like mine, which have neither windows nor natural light. Despite what some people might tell you, no plants can live on artificial light alone—after all, they use sunlight to make food, so no window means no sustenance.
However, that doesn’t mean your bathroom is doomed to be a barren, plantless tundra. There are two options: First, buy some fake plants! Personally, I love getting fake versions of plants that I can’t seem to keep alive. Right now, there’s a fake orchid in my bathroom, and I've placed it high up on a shelf so you can’t even tell it’s fake (unless you stand on the toilet).
The other option—brought to you courtesy of my plant-guru mother—is to rotate low-light plants into your bathroom for a short time. For instance, you could have a snake plant that you let live in the bathroom for a week, and then swap it out with a peace lily. On their “off weeks,” put these plants in brighter locations so they can soak up the sun. This lets you have real greenery in your lightless bathroom without starving the poor plants of sunlight!