Gardening

11 Plants That'll Survive (& Thrive) in Your Tiny Bathroom

Yes, even that windowless, airless box.

September  5, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

If you ask me, you should have a plant (or two) in every room of your home—kitchen plants, dining room plants, bedroom plants, and don’t forget bathroom plants! After all, they look beautiful, boost your mood, and clean up the air, so why wouldn’t you spread them all through your home?

If you’re in the midst of turning your home into an indoor jungle, you might be stuck on what types of plants work in the bathroom. (Especially if you live in New York, and are stuck with one that’s both tiny and dark.) The general trick here is to choose plants that enjoy high humidity, because, of course, your shower puts tons of extra moisture into the air. In particular, here are 11 plants that will thrive in your teeny bathroom!


If Your Bathroom Is Light and Bright

Arguably one the most important factors to consider when choosing a plant for your bathroom is how much light it gets.

If the room has windows (or a skylight) and is generally quite bright—for instance, if you don’t have to turn the lights on to use the mirror during the day—then you’ll need a light-loving plant for the space.

Philodendrons

Heartleaf Philodendrons are great for the bathroom, but not for your pets Photo by James Ransom

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.

Orchids

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

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.

Bromeliad

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.

Staghorn fern

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.


If Your Bathroom Gets Minimal Light

On the other hand, some bathrooms only get a few hours of light through smaller windows. If this sounds like yours, you’ll need a low-light plant that won’t be bothered by the lack of sunshine.

Spider plants

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.

Moss

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.

Peace lily

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.

ZZ plant

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 plant


What to Do if There’s *No* Light

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!


What plants do you manage to grow in your bathroom? Tell us in the comments below!

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1 Comment

tia September 5, 2019
Can we stop saying "Orchids" when what we mean is "phalaenopsis" AKA "moth orchids" or "those orchids you get at Trader Joe's"? A lot of types of orchids would not like a bathroom environment. For example, I have one that's native to California and lives on my patio. It would never get enough light indoors, even in a bright bathroom.

If your bathroom has no windows, like mine, you could experiment with grow lights. There are companies out there making attractive ones so you're not stuck with good old T6 fluorescents. They don't run cheap, but if you want plants, that's a way to do it.