When I moved to a new apartment a couple of years ago, I spent weeks moving furniture around and adjusting plants to make the space exactly how I wanted. Unfortunately, no matter how much I shuffled, there was always something missing.
That is until I found my first indoor tree on a spontaneous trip to my local nursery. It was a massive Ficus maclellandii almost double my height (although I am quite short, so that’s not saying much), and I knew instantly that I had to have it.
You’ll be surprised how much of a difference a potted tree can make in your indoor garden. It’s the easiest way to bring the outdoors in and make your space feel like a little slice of nature. Any of these 23 trees (including a few plants with a tree-like shape) are bound to make a statement in your indoor garden.
Fiddle Leaf Fig
Ficus lyrata requires consistent care to prevent leaf drop.
The lovely Ficus lyrata is probably the most famous indoor tree of them all, catapulted to popularity a few years ago as the must-have houseplant of the indoor jungle craze. And it’s easy to see why it became an instant hit.
The massive fiddle-shaped leaves make a statement indoors, especially when this tree is allowed to grow to ceiling height. Given the right sunny spot and a large enough container, a fiddle leaf will quickly fill an empty corner with lush greenery and architectural branches.
Unfortunately, despite their widespread popularity, these trees aren’t the easiest to keep happy. Avoid any sudden changes in environment or care to stop them from dropping their leaves.
When growing rubber trees, opt for various cultivars, like ‘Tineke’ and ‘Burgundy’.
A more beginner-friendly fiddle leaf alternative from the same genus, Ficus elastica provides the same value without the fussy nature. These trees are known for their glossy leaves, which have a more structural look compared to the other ficus species. They’re great for minimalist interiors.
One of the benefits of growing rubber trees is the many interesting cultivars on the market. If the deep green of ‘Robusta’ is not quite what you’re looking for, you can opt for the patterned variegated ‘Tineke’ or the dark ‘Burgundy’ for a little drama.
This tree is prone to leaf drop and is best for experienced growers.
Sticking with the Ficus genus, Ficus benjamina is a somewhat old-school but reliable indoor tree with much smaller leaves than the previous species. It has a bushier shape, with plenty of branches and a thick trunk that gives it the most tree-like look of all the plants on this list.
The variegated cultivars are particularly popular, especially if you want to add a pop of brighter color to your houseplant collection.
These aesthetic benefits do come with a downside. Weeping figs are notoriously fussy and quickly drop their leaves at the first sign of struggle. They may grow back in the right conditions, but this is not the tree for low-maintenance gardeners.
Keep indoor money trees compact by using smaller containers and regularly trimming roots and leaves.
Pachira aquatica can grow to a massive 60 feet tall outdoors in its native habitat. But when grown indoors and confined to a container, it remains a compact and wonderfully decorative indoor tree. These trees are often sold with braided stems, adding to their architectural shape and becoming an instant living art piece.
If you want to keep your money tree short, restrict the container size and prune the roots and leaves when it starts to outgrow its pot. Planting them in larger containers will increase their size and can even improve your chances of flowering once the tree matures.
This tree thrives indoors with direct sun and well-draining soil.
For a Mediterranean-inspired indoor garden, you can’t go wrong with an olive tree.
The grayish foliage and delicate shape make wonderful décor in modern interiors, especially when combined with a classic terra-cotta pot. You may not get to harvest olives when growing indoors, but they are just as impressive as leafy houseplants alone.
Due to their differing native environments, olive trees don’t have the same needs as other houseplants you may have experience with. They need plenty of direct sun in front of a south-facing window and well-draining, gritty soil to avoid negative impacts on health and growth.
Favored for its unique shape, the umbrella tree grows well indoors in bright, sunlit spots.
Schefflera is slowly gaining popularity among indoor gardeners, appreciated for its unique shape and ease of care. The leaves are clustered around a central stem and arch gently outwards, creating an umbrella shape and lending them their common name.
The species Schefflera actinophylla is better suited as an indoor ‘tree’ for its size compared to the smaller Heptapleurum arboricola, but both grow well indoors in pots or containers.
Placing these trees in a bright area inside your home with some gentle, direct sun in the mornings will boost growth. With the right care, Schefflera actinophylla will eventually reach ceiling height and become a central feature in your home.
This is a compact houseplant suitable for pot stands or shelves.
Spiked and structural, Dracaena marginata has a unique look that instantly stands out in any houseplant collection. They grow over 15 feet when planted outdoors but remain compact indoors. As a smaller tree, they are ideal for pot stands or placing on shelves if you don’t have any floor space for a towering tree.
The thick stems of this tree store water for times of drought, allowing them to handle a missed watering or two without struggle. Avoid watering when the soil is still moist to prevent any risk of root rot.
Though they’re not true trees, banana plants have a tree-like appearance.
Although the banana tree is not technically a tree, its size certainly makes it look like one. The tropical origins (and tropical look) of plants in the Musa genus make them great candidates for growing indoors in large containers.
They may not produce any bananas without the right sunlight levels, but banana trees are still worth growing for their impressive ornamental leaves.
Banana trees need a spot in front of a sunny south-facing window to look their best. They also love consistent moisture to prevent wilting and splitting, especially if you’re growing in smaller pots.
Bird of Paradise
These ornamental plants bring a tropical vibe to indoor gardens with their vibrant orange flowers.
Similar in look to banana trees, Strelitzia are South African ornamental plants growing in popularity in indoor gardens. They add an instant tropical feel to any space, especially when their bright orange flowers are on display.
Unfortunately, birds of paradise don’t often flower indoors unless lighting, humidity, and watering conditions are just right. Giving them at least five hours of direct sun will increase your chances of seeing flowers once the plant matures.
Norfolk Island Pine
The stunning Norfolk Island pine offers a compact indoor conifer option.
Looking for a long-term and sustainable replacement for your faux Christmas tree? Norfolk Island pine is the answer. This tree is not technically a true pine as it comes from the Araucariaceae family, with the scientific name Araucaria heterophylla.
This conifer is massive when grown outdoors and given plenty of space to spread. Indoors, they are much shorter, typically staying around four feet tall. They can fit into tight corners but prefer a spot out in the open in front of a bright window. Decorate with lights and ornaments around the holidays and enjoy them for their foliage the rest of the year.
Known as the banyan tree, ficus Audrey adapts well as a slow-growing houseplant.
Adding another Ficus to the list, this species is also known as the banyan tree, scientifically Ficus benghalensis. They are common outdoors in tropical regions but are now widely available in containers to grow as houseplants.
Ficus benghalensis is a slow-growing tree. It can reach ceiling height when given enough time but is often kept as a compact houseplant. If you want some extra color, look out for the variegated cultivars with glossy leaves and colorful lime margins.
Begin your yucca garden with a fully grown plant to achieve a tree-like presence.
Members of the Yucca genus are tough and adaptive, making great houseplants for beginner gardeners. They have a sharp and structural look similar to the dragon tree that works well for contemporary and minimalist spaces.
There are several species of yucca ideal for growing indoors thanks to their adaptability, particularly in their tolerance of low light. Many can eventually reach ceiling height indoors, but since they develop slowly, it’s best to start with a mature and tall plant if you want the tree look from the get-go.
Resembling trees, these shrubs reach a height of 15 feet, boasting glossy, fan-shaped leaves.
Lady palms (Rhapis excelsa) are classified as shrubs rather than trees, but their mature height of up to 15 feet and branching shape give them a wonderful tree-like look. Strong stems support glossy fan-shaped leaves that soften the structural shape.
Despite their delicate look, these palms are not hard to keep happy. A full day of bright indirect light and consistent moisture as the soil just starts to dry out will ensure the glossy leaves remain lush year-round. There are a few different cultivars to choose from, so you’re bound to find one that suits your available indoor space.
A popular indoor plant, parlor palm grows up to six feet tall.
Chamaedorea elegans is one of the most widely grown palms indoors, particularly for beginners. Again, it’s not quite a tree but can fulfill the same functions in height and design, growing up to six feet tall indoors in the right environments.
Parlor palms have a lush, tropical look that instantly warms a space and adds a resort-like feel to your interior design. But they can also wilt and yellow quickly in the wrong conditions, detracting from this tropical beauty. Water often and keep the pot in a spot with moderate to bright indirect light, feeding a few times a year to ensure the plant has plenty of nutrients to grow to its full potential.
Dracaena fragrans, or corn plant, is a resilient houseplant with a distinctive appearance resembling corn.
Another member of the Dracaena genus, Dracaena fragrans is commonly known as corn plant thanks to its resemblance to the famous crop. The thick stem and narrow floppy leaves give this houseplant a unique look that balances organic and structural shapes.
Like the dragon tree, it’s a popular houseplant among beginners due to its impressive tolerance of neglect. Whether you miss a watering session or leave repotting that little bit too long, the corn plant won’t show many signs of struggle and will bounce back quickly.
For successful indoor kumquat growth, provide ample direct sunlight.
When growing citrus, kumquats are probably not the first fruits to come to mind. But if the only available space you have is indoors, these trees do make great potted houseplants. They are naturally compact plants that won’t overwhelm a space, with a long fruiting season that gives you a better chance of harvesting indoors.
To ensure your tree is able to produce the adorable bright fruits they are known for, direct sun is essential. You can always supplement with grow lights if you don’t have a sunny south-facing window available, ensuring the plant has all the energy it needs to flower and fruit.
This compact citrus tree produces white flowers and a pleasant aroma.
Calamondin is an even shorter citrus tree with bright orange fruits that have a sour and tart flavor. If you don’t have the outdoor space to grow citrus and are limited on indoor space, too, this is the ideal species to try.
They adapt well to indoor conditions, tolerating a little less direct sun than other species and producing stunning white flowers to fill your home with a citrusy scent. As long as you plant in the right soil and maintain a consistent watering routine, these plants are unlikely to give beginners any trouble.
If you want to make the orange fruits pop even more during the calamondin season, plant these beauties in a large terra cotta pot for complementary color and a Mediterranean feel.
Indoor lemon trees, particularly the versatile Meyer lemon variety, thrive in pots with sufficient sunlight.
Calamondin oranges are the best suited to indoor growth, but they do have limited uses in the kitchen. If you’re looking for something more versatile, you can grow lemon trees indoors, too, as long as you choose the right variety.
There are several dwarf lemon trees that will grow, flower, and produce fruit in pots. The Meyer lemon is ideal for indoor conditions, with the caveat that it needs to get enough direct sunlight in order to flower. Keeping them indoors also lowers your risk of problematic pests and diseases that can become a huge nuisance when growing outdoors.
The Ponytail palm thrives indoors but requires smaller containers to avoid rot.
Beaucarnea recurvata is a fascinating plant that looks more like something out of a fantasy novel than a tree you would keep indoors. It has a swollen base that stores water and nutrients, topped off with narrow, twisted leaves that give them a palm-like shape and their common name despite not being true palms at all.
Ponytail palms grow happily in containers and in indoor conditions, but you need to be careful when planting. It can be tempting to choose a massive container to balance the size of the bulbous base, but it’s best to choose tighter containers that match the overall height of the tree to prevent rot.
You won’t get many coffee beans, but coffee trees have glossy leaves and an impressive shape.
Regular coffee trees are most appreciated for – of course – their berries and the ‘beans’ we get from them. But that’s not all the value they have, especially when you’re looking for trees to grow indoors.
Coffee plants have glossy leaves and an impressive shape that commands attention. They’re not the most common choice for indoor growth but grow happily in indoor conditions if they receive enough direct light. That also means they’re ideal for houseplant growers looking for something unique that few others have.
Coffee is a little tough to grow, especially under indoor conditions. Even if you do get a few berries, it probably won’t be enough to replace your current coffee supply. It’s best to enjoy these as ornamental foliage plants instead.
The ideal amount of sunlight boosts the growth and form of bay laurel trees.
For a tree that has as much value in the kitchen as it does in your houseplant collection, Laurus nobilis is ideal. Originating from the warm and sunny Mediterranean, it appreciates the cold protection that indoor gardens provide.
For strong leaf growth and to help maintain their tree-like shape, direct sun is preferred. They can handle partial sunlight but grow far better with more direct sun. Harvest the leaves and use them immediately, or dry them for long-term storage. Just make sure you have a true bay laurel and not another tree with ‘bay’ in the common name before using it in the kitchen.
These indoor trees are the best way to add height and fill gaps in your indoor garden. They may take a little longer than other houseplants to fill out, but the difference they make in your home is worth the wait.