Showers (especially in rental bathrooms) can feel a bit drab when there’s little more to look at than your shampoo bottles and a novelty curtain. Here’s an idea that will give your space calming spa vibes in one go: Add a plant or two. While it may seem counterintuitive to bring greenery into a space that regularly fills up with suds, experts say it can actually be the ideal habitat for it to thrive. “The plants will love the steam and moisture boost, and the gentle rain will clean dust and debris off their leaves,” says Joyce Mast, the self-described plant mom at Bloomscape.
The secret to happy shower flora is knowing exactly which species will enjoy the humidity (don’t even consider succulents, which prefer a dry setting) and learning how to care for them appropriately. “Look for plants that call humid, tropical places home,” says Erin Marino, director of marketing at The Sill. Here are nine lush, easy-to-care-for options to turn your bathroom into a zen garden.
This low-maintenance tropical plant, native to Southeast Asia and Polynesia, got rave reviews from both Mast and Marino. “Its large, wavy, bright green leaves can create instant jungle vibes in any space,” says Marino.
Dream home: A humid spot with low-to-medium light, like a windowed bathroom.
Pro tip: Never pour water in the center (since it will rot), only under the leaves and onto the soil.
“A hardy pick for any space, it is sometimes referred to as the cubicle plant,” explains Marino. “It’s a super-quick grower that loves to trail, so it’s perfect for suspending off your shower curtain rod.”
Dream home: A low-light space with passing showers.
Pro tip: Water it weekly, allowing the potting mix to dry out completely between spritzes. Keep it away from where water from the showerhead directly hits—think: on a windowsill, stool, or even in the corner if you’re lucky enough to have a lot of room.
“They’re aroids, and in their natural habitat, they would attain their moisture through heavy humidity in the air and light rain, much like the environment of a shower,” explains Rebecca Bullene of Greenery Unlimited.
Dream home: Somewhere with bright, filtered light and lots of steam.
Pro tip: Be careful to only wet the soil when your anthurium is ready for a drink. Humidity in the air is great, but overwatering is easy when the soil remains overly moist. P.S. Warm water is too hot for the soil or leaves; stick with cold.
Kimberly Queen Fern
This compact fern cleans and filters the air of pollutants and toxins, so you’ll really be turning your grooming routine up a notch.
Dream home: A warm perch (it grows upright, so it’s ideal for hanging, says Mast) that’s not too cramped and gets indirect rays.
Pro tip: Regular misting will only go so far—make sure that your bathroom has a window to help it thrive.
“Not all greenery needs a planter and potting mix,” says Marino. Take the tillandsia. “Instead of using roots to absorb water and nutrients, this air plant uses its specialized leaves to get both from the air.”
Dream home: “If you have a bathroom with a big, sunny window, these fellas are for you,” adds Marino.
Pro tip: Mist it daily (your morning rinse should take care of that) and soak once a week for about 15 minutes in tepid water.
This houseplant has a reputation for being near impossible to kill and having major air-purifying skills. “Fun and whimsical, with long, lovely arched leaves—it makes a statement,” says Mast.
Dream home: Just about anywhere, although a humid location is especially nice.
Pro tip: Hang it from a hook on the ceiling if you can, although it’s fine to keep it on the shower floor as long as it’s out of the direct stream of water. It will still get a good drink from being splashed and misted indirectly.
Given the calathea medallion originates from the tropical rain forests of South America, “the most common issue people have in caring for calatheas is producing enough humidity to keep the foliage healthy,” Bullene explains.
Dream home: A bath with jungle-level humidity, in a corner of the shower where it can have consistently moist soil.
Pro tip: Be sure the pot has a drainage hole and the saucer is removed so excess water can flow freely from the bottom. (You don’t want the roots to drown!)
“We can envision it potted on your bathroom’s windowsill or even mounted on a piece of wood and hung on the wall,” says Marino. “In their native environment, staghorn ferns are epiphytes, which means they live on trees instead of in the soil, like air plants.”
Dream home: As with the bird’s-nest fern, an extra-steamy bathroom, but with a bit more sun.
Pro tip: Mounted staghorn ferns enjoy a weekly shower, which is easier to do if it’s already hung on the bathroom wall. A nice mist will help keep it happy in between waterings.
The philodendron is fast growing with graceful, heart-shaped leaves. “It is incredibly forgiving and will tolerate all kinds of neglect, including low light, poor soil, and inconsistent watering,” says Mast.
Dream home: “This full, trailing plant is perfect on top of bookshelves or on a hanger where its vines can spill out,” she explains. Strong light and humidity not required.
Pro tip: If you’re going to be bathing with it, make sure that it’s out of the way of any soap and shampoo splashes.
Who needs an outdoor shower when your bathroom looks like a tropical haven?
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