10 Sculptural Houseplants That Add Character to Any Space

floating shelves filed with various potted plants
Getty / Mint Images

The benefits of houseplants are seemingly endless. For one thing, most release oxygen during the day, improving the air we breathe. And while most indoor plants stop releasing that oxygen at night (when photosynthesis stops), other plants, namely orchids and succulents, which photosynthesize at night, take up the cause; they make sure the oxygen keeps flowing, no matter the time of day.

Additionally, studies at the Agricultural University of Norway suggest that housing plants indoors increases humidity and thus decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats, and dry coughs; NASA researchers, on the other hand, found that plant leaves can remove low levels of chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, greatly improving our air quality. Experts at Texas A&M University discovered that patients tasked with taking care of plants experience a significantly reduced recovery time after medical procedures. They can even help us work better: A University of Michigan study concluded that, when you are surrounded by plants, your memory retention can go up by up to 20 percent.

Indoor plants aren't just good for us—they also have an incredible design impact that can elevate just about any space in your home. From wall mountings that double as art and large trees that form a canopy overhead to pint-sized cactuses that spruce up your bookshelves, houseplants provide some serious structural drama and visual intrigue to your house. Read on to discover the 10 sculptural houseplants we think add dramatic green flair to your space (and, yes, improve its air quality and your skin's hydration levels, too).

01 of 10

Staghorn Fern

Staghorn Fern
Getty / Andreas Hoernisch

Antlers, but make it botanical. If that's the look you're after, consider mounting staghorn ferns to a board and using it as living art (they're epiphytes, which means they don't need soil to thrive).

02 of 10

ZZ Plant

ZZ Plant
Getty / Tharakorn Arunothai / EyeEm

We're huge fans of this sturdy plant that sends out dramatic fronds of stiff, arching branches. The best part? It's a succulent, so it's difficult to underwater (and, therefore, kill) it.

  • How to Plant and Grow Hearty Succulent Plants
03 of 10

Air Plants

Air Plants
Getty / Geri Lavrov

Keep your home as tidy as possible with air plants, which require no soil whatsoever to grow. These small, stately gems need a several-hour dunking once a week and plenty of sun, but other than that, they're easy. Just promise us you won't put them in or under glass—they will die. They need air!

04 of 10

Ghost Euphorbia (Euphorbia ammak variegata)

Ghost Euphorbia (Euphorbia ammak variegata)
Getty / skymoon13

For a true structural showstopper, get yourself a ghost euphorbia. This succulent-relative thrives with little water. Plus, it has next to no chlorophyll, making its branches a dramatic white.

05 of 10

Silver Torch Cactus (Cleistocactus strausii)

Silver Torch Cactus (Cleistocactus strausii)
Getty / CoinUp

Fuzzy enough to touch—but don't! Silver torch cactus make great statue-like installations in the home. They need very little water and can eventually reach up to 10-feet tall.

06 of 10

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Fiddle Leaf Fig plant
Getty / Bogdan Kurylo

If you don't have a fiddle leaf fig tree are you really into interior design in the 21st century? We certainly see why they're so popular: The large, glossy leaves really turn heads. But take these words of caution—fiddle leaf figs can be fussy until they're fully satisfied with their conditions, and even then, they're known to start dropping leaves, seemingly for no reason at all.

07 of 10

Sensation Peace Lily

Sensation Peace Lily
Getty / Yaroslav Mikheev

This isn't your typical lily. This is the giant version—sensation peace lilies eventually reach up to six-feet tall. The foliage is enough to anchor a room, but the white flowers that bloom from time to time will also turn heads.

  • Everything You Need to Know About Houseplants
08 of 10

Century Plant (Agave americana)

Century Plant (Agave americana)
Getty / Juliana Andronico / EyeEm

An agave plant adds a big, bold touch to your living room. Give it sunlight, cactus soil, and a little bit of water—but know that this is a plant to avoid if you have young children running around.

09 of 10


Bromeliad plant orange flower
Getty / Daniela Duncan

Remarkably well suited to low-light conditions, bromeliads bring a touch of the tropics indoors. Brightly colored leaves and even brighter blooms are the perfect touch to a room that needs a little life. Plus, it's fun to water their "cups" when they're dry.

  • A Guide to Transitioning Tropical Plants Indoors
10 of 10

Japanese Aralia

Japanese Aralia plant
Getty / DigiPub

For dramatic foliage, nothing beats a Japanese aralia. The deeply lobed leaves are big, as is the entire plant (it will eventually grow to six-feet tall).

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