They will thrive inside your home, say our experts.
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indoor houseplant Ficus Elastica
Credit: Oscar Wong / Getty Images

When you think of a tree, what comes to mind? Likely a large, towering structure that casts a a canopy of shade over your home, but that's necessarily true for every variety. In reality, there are several miniature trees that can thrive in your living room—or even at your bedside. Plus, these small options are just as easy to care for as the rest of your houseplants. Ahead, our experts share some of the best trees to grow in your home.  

Ficus Triangularis

"[This] is always a top choice for us when designing spaces or recommending trees to customers," Tylor Rogers, the owner and creative director of Arium Botanicals, says. "As its name implies, Ficus Triangularis has triangular leaves and a beautifully wispy grown pattern." Rogers notes that as the plant matures, it will even develop a weeping look. To care for this variety of tree, keep it away from full, harsh lighting (some morning or afternoon light will suffice). Because they manage well in dry conditions, you won't have to worry about a strict watering schedule. Rogers recommends adding moisture every seven to 10 days or when the first two inches of the soil becomes dry. "A standard indoor potting mix—such as Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix ($13, amazon.com)—would be just fine for these, as well," he adds. "Keep these trees above 60 degrees and they won't have any problems."

Ficus Binnedijkii "Alii"

Marc Hachadourian, the director of Glasshouse Horticulture and Senior Curator of Orchids at New York Botanical Garden, explains that, so long as you keep it moist, this ficus tree grows quickly; its long, willow-like leaves grow across its multiple branches. Even better? It tolerates low light and neglect more than other similar cultivars. While they are adaptable to a wide range of conditions, Hachadourian says they thrive in warmer weather (think 60 to 85 degrees). "Essentially, if you are comfortable, they are comfortable," he shares, noting that he recommends spinning the plan weekly. "Rotating plants throughout the growing season helps them maintain their shape and prevents them from growing lopsided towards the light source." 

Ficus Elastica

With attractive dark foliage, the Ficus Elastica is, in some ways, elastic: It's flexible enough to grow in a myriad of ways. "You can grow these to stand perfectly straight up for a clean appearance or let them curve and chase the light for unique character," shares Rogers. "We love these trees when they are allowed to do what they want for a few years." He recommends placing this variety near an eastern or western window, so long as it doesn't get direct sunlight, and watering every 10 days or so. Do, however, make sure to allow the soil to dry out halfway between each watering. They like standard indoor potting mix, but enjoy some extra perlite and warm weather. Stick to a temperature range between 60 and 80 degrees, and this plant will be happy.

Ficus Lyrata

The Ficus Lyrata, also known as the fiddle leaf fig, needs constant light and even moisture to look its best. Hachadourian says to allow this tree to dry in between waterings, as waterlogged or overly-damp soil will eventually cause the lower leaves to yellow and the foliage to drop. "The large leaves can get dusty—wipe them clean with a damp cloth or paper towel to help remove dust and dirt," adds Hachadourian. "These plants can get large over time and might require some pruning to maintain their shape." Simply prune like you would for your outdoor plants or shrubs. Using secateurs—like the Martha Stewart Easy Grip Secateurs ($40, amazon.com)—trim the tree, but leave some foliage to encourage growth and branching, he advises.

Natal Mahogany

"This is one of our top picks for trees that do well in moderate light," Rogers notes. "These would thrive in a northern or eastern window—just keep them away from full midday sun to avoid burning the foliage." The Natal Mahogany prefers a loose, airy indoor potting mix, temperatures above 60 degrees, and plenty of water (hydrate the plant at least once a week); make sure to let the top inch of soil dry between every watering to increase its longevity. If needed, this variety can also be grown in low light. In this case, you can reduce the watering schedule.

Schefflera Arboricola

Schefflera Arboricola is best described as "an easy and fast-growing plant that also comes in a number of beautifully variegated forms," Hachadourian says. You can start the tree from cuttings and propagate it to make even more. They thrive in both low and bright conditions, making the multi-stemmed bush or tree (depending on how you decide to grow it) even simpler to care for in your home.

Dracaena Marginata

"The spiky leaves and textured stems give Dracaena Marginata a very sculptural appearance," Hachadourian notes. "While it will tolerate lower light, it will look its best in bright conditions." This indoor option is a long haul: It grows slowly, but remains controlled over time (it doesn't outgrow its environment, for example, so you won't have to worry about changing the planter).

Dracaena Fragrans 

Dracaena Fragrans, also known as a corn plant, grows in just about any environment—it can tolerate warm and cool temperatures, and low light, too. It is known for its tropical foliage and is a favorite amongst hands-off plant parents (it's so easy to care for!). This is another slow-growing option, so it won't require much water. "The key is to allow the soil to approach dryness before watering again," Hachadourian explains. "Then, water until moisture comes out the bottom of the pot."

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
March 20, 2021
why would you have an article about various plants what a horrible article you should've had a picture of each plant the only thing more stupid, is I registered just so I could add this comment