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LifestyleColumnistsJessica Damiano

The best houseplants to grow in your bathroom

From blooming orchids and sweetly scented gardenias to twisted lucky bamboo, your friends will be surprised at what you grew in the loo!

Aloe vera can thrive in a bathroom.

Aloe vera can thrive in a bathroom. Photo Credit: Lorina Capitulo

If you’re a houseplant parent, chances are you’ve got some flanking your fireplace, hanging from above a sunny window or perched in a planter in the kitchen or dining room.

They add color and cozy comfort to these spots, to be sure, but sometimes they struggle.

Most potted plants sold as houseplants in our climate are simply tropical plants. And, by definition, tropical plants require a tropical climate. That typically means sunlight, warmth and humidity — and lots of it.

So, what’s the most humid room in your home? The room I’m thinking of usually gets at least one daily dose of steam (more if you have a large family,) and often is lacking in the décor department. You can take advantage of all that moist air — and add flair to the space — by bringing your houseplants into the bathroom, where they’ll not only survive, but thrive with each shower.

Each type of plant has its own requirements for light and humidity levels, and each bathroom is unique in what it can provide, so be sure to take into account your own space’s particular conditions before adding some green to your latrine.

Whether displayed on a shelf, hanging over the window or seated on the ledge of the tub, these six plants are well-suited to typical bathroom conditions.

Orchid

Both dendrobium and phalaenopsis orchids thrive in warm, humid conditions. Place them on a shelf or atop the toilet tank to the side of a window, where they’ll be exposed to indirect light — and add a spalike vibe to the room. If your bathroom doesn’t have a window, plants are usually small enough to move into another part of the house that will provide indirect light for part of each day. To water, place the whole pot in the sink and let the faucet run until water flows from the drainage holes at the bottom, then allow to drain. To avoid root rot, don’t water again until dry. Orchids are considered nontoxic to cats, dogs and humans.

Pothos

Available with green, yellow or variegated heart-shaped leaves, pothos (Epipremnum aureum) are low-maintenance vining plants that can trail up to 8 feet. Let them grow freely to lend interest to a bare wall when placed on a high shelf — or keep them trimmed to suit your space and taste. They thrive in bright light but can handle lower light exposures, as well. Don’t allow soil to dry completely between waterings, and keep in mind that these beauties earn their Devil’s Ivy nickname — they’re toxic when ingested, so avoid them if you have pets or children.

Lucky bamboo

These plants aren’t technically bamboos at all. Lucky bamboo is a common name for Dracaena sanderiana, which is said to bring good fortune. And what’s luckier than a pretty bathroom? Usually sold with their bundles of stems braided or tied together with ribbons in a ceramic container filled with pebbles and water, they’re perfectly suited to dress up the toilet’s water tank, but keep out of reach of children and pets. Give it moderate, indirect sunlight, add water to maintain the level every two to three days, and provide a complete water change once every week or two. Because the plant may turn yellow if exposed to chlorine, it’s best to use bottled water. And to provide a nutritional boost, add a single drop of a liquid fertilizer, such as Green Green, to the water once a month.

Aloe vera

Succulents are all the rage right now, and aloe vera’s plump, spiky foliage explains its allure. Equally at home in both rustic and modern bathrooms, the plant is a cinch to care for: Simply plant in well-draining (sandy) potting mix, provide bright, indirect light and infrequent watering (once or twice a month, when soil dries out completely). As an bonus, you won’t have to open the medicine cabinet the next time you burn yourself or get an insect bite: Simply split open a leaf and apply the gel, which is not toxic, obviously. The leaves, however, should not be eaten, so keep out of reach of children and pets.

Spider plants

One of the easiest plants to care for, spider plants can make themselves at home in almost any lighting condition, but prefer bright, indirect light. Place one on a high shelf or atop a cabinet, from where long stems holding baby spiderettes can hang. Water thoroughly until water drains from the bottom — and not again until dry. To make free plants, clip off babies and sink their roots into a small pot containing fresh soil mix, and water whenever dry. Although not considered toxic, the allure of the spider plant is often irresistible to children and pets, especially cats, and they may get sick from eating the foliage, so situate plants accordingly.

Dieffenbachia

If you have a palatial bathroom — or at least a large, bare corner, dieffenbachia may be the plant for you. Also known as Dumb Cane, the plant is easy to care for, preferring filtered light during summer and direct light during the winter months, and benefiting from additional fluorescent lighting. Keep soil moist, but never soggy. The plant is toxic, and because its size makes it difficult to keep away from small children and pets. Avoid if you have either.

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