Here is a list of our favorite indoor plants for vertical gardens. Light levels are the biggest factor in choosing the right plants.
The Just Right Environment
As all green thumbs know, plants can only thrive in their optimal environment. Most vegetables and herbs require full-sun and hot summers to thrive. Succulents like to be dry and in full to part sun. Ferns like shady bright light areas that are moist and cool at night.
Indoor plants commonly known as ‘House Plants’ are best suited for human habitats. Most of which are native to the shady floors of tropical rain-forests. Ideally, this is also the same 70 degree environment where humans thrive. So it’s only natural that we would want to fill our lives with plants.
With outdoor plants there are so many choices and so many options. Indoor plants have more limitations due to the low light and low humidity for most locations.
Overall the Philodendron family is the most hardy. There are many colors of foliage with bold stems and roots. They can drape down or reach upward. And most can be transplanted from cuttings which means you can literally spread your garden around.
Low Light Tropical Indoor Plants
For walls across from windows or there is only artificial light available. Halogen floods provide the best artificial light but are big users of power, consider high intensity LED spots or fluorescent flood lights. Use a light meter to insure a minimum 250 foot candles falls on all the plants. The more you can provide the more healthy the plants will be.
Philodendron Congo Green
Bright Light Tropical Indoor Plants
Indirect natural light can provide ample illumination for Indoor locations across from a bank of southern windows or a skylight. 700 foot candles will keep these indoor plants happy. Or an array of metal halide floods can provide adequate illumination.
Calathea Burle Marx
Cissus Ellen Danica Oak Ivy
Aglaonema Mystic Marble
Orchid Vanilla Bean
Aechmea Del Mar
Additional Bright Light Tropical Indoor Plants
Aglaonema Gemini, Aglaonema Juliette, Aglaonema Maria, Calathea Lancifolia, Ficus Belize, Ficus Sylvie, Ivy, Maranta Red Pole, Philodendron Brazil, Philodendron Congo Rojo, Philodendron Cordatum, Philodendron Moonlight, Philodendron Prince-of-Orange, Schefflera Arboricola Gold Finger, Schefflera Arboricola Mini, Schefflera Arboricola Variegata, Spathiphyllum Dario, Spathiphyllum Domino, Spathiphyllum Liana, Spathiphyllum Power Petite, Spathiphyllum Star Dust, Spathiphyllum Sweet Pablo
Nothing is more delightful than a wall of cascading ferns. They love bright indirect light 700 foot candles but typically prefer shade to part shade conditions. They are home to the Pacific Northwest where they are constantly in moisture and they prefer cool evenings with slight breezes. Many ferns will also do great mixed in with a bright light tropical indoor plant collection.
Bear Paw Fern
Blue Star Fern
Kangaroo Paw Fern
Blechnum Silver-Lady Fern
Bird Nest Fern
by Bodie V. Pennisi, Extension Floriculture Specialist