Indoor trees make for beautiful vertical elements that draw the eye upward, creating height in a room or a group of plants. They also balance out larger floor plants and furniture that don’t add a lot of height. They should be added to any room which has many low-lying visual elements like most pieces of furniture, since they are usually set on the floor. In this post, I’ll be recommending 5 trees which flourish indoors and provide basic care tips for each. The images used throughout have been sourced from the internet, as I’ve used images that I believe capture the visual strengths of these plants in balancing out low-lying and wider visual elements, as well as drawing the eye upwards.
1. Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig)
Ficus lyrata, commonly known as fiddle leaf fig, is every plant person’s old faithful. They exploded in popularity a few years back, and have only recently dropped back down in price. In fact, they were so popular that you’ll see them littered about in most interior decor magazines. Their large leaves bear a unique shape that resemble fiddles, paddles or guitars, and there’s something ineffable about their appeal. Some consider these plants rather difficult to care for, but I find them to be fine for the most part. They just like a lot of sunlight and don’t take well to being completely ignored, since their large leaves attract dust and they have thinner leaves which are indicative of the fact that they are sensitive to under-watering. That being said, if you overwater a fiddle leaf, it will show very quickly in the form of edema, red spots on the leaves that are caused by the bursting of cells when overwatered. Edema on new leaves does, however, fade in time. Basically, the soil should be dry between watering, but it should not be left for too long. Interestingly, some say that giving your Ficus lyrata a gentle shake every now and then imitates the wind, and encourages sturdy root growth to keep the tree upright in the wind.
2. Ficus elastica (Rubber Tree)
Ficus elastica is a vigorous grower which enjoys great popularity because it is so readily available in a range different coloured leaves and variegation. Though they aren’t as emblematic of indoor trees as their close relative, Ficus lyrata, they can be found at plant shops, grocery stores, and department stores alike. Ficus elastica is relatively hardy, with thick, glossy leaves which help it better withstand under-watering. It requires bright, indirect light, and should be allowed to dry out a little between waterings.
3. Plerandra elegantissima
Plerandra elegantissima, formerly known as Schefflera elegantissima, is commonly called False Aralia. It truly lives up to its name, with elegantissima presumably deriving its suffix from Latin, thus making its species name mean ‘most elegant’ or ‘extremely elegant’. Thin and upright in form with spidery leaves that are reminiscent of a Japanese maple, this plant is absolutely breathtaking if you are going for a more dainty look. Like the last two plants, this plant requires a bright light. As with most houseplants, this plant should not be watered until the soil is completely dry.
4. Schefflera arboricola (Umbrella Tree)
Schefflera arboricola has an accessible and readily available variegated version, much like Ficus elastica. Also known as the umbrella tree, the leaves of a Schefflera arboricola fan outwards in a way that it reminiscent of small, green umbrellas. If you’re looking for a version of this plant with larger leaves, try the Schefflera actinophylla, which grows larger leaves when mature. This tree loves bright, indirect light, and can even withstand light from a west-facing window with no shade curtain (do be sure to gradually acclimate them to direct light, though). Schefflera arboricola follows the same rule of watering that most houseplants do: wait for the soil to dry thoroughly before watering generously.
5. Dracaena marginata (Dragon Tree)
Okay, so this is something of an unusual choice for a ‘tree’. Technically, some Dracaenas are considered to be trees, but a lot fo them are also considered to be shrubs. So why would I recommend such an unusual genus that doesn’t necessarily look particularly tree-like? Well, I wanted there to be a lower-light option for those who want the tree-like structures. Dracaena marginata can tolerate medium light, and its relatives, Dracaena fragrans and Dracaena Janet Craig, are also tree-like, and tolerate low light (though they are marginally less tree-like than the marginata). The Dracaena marginata should only be watered when the soil in its pot is fully dry.