Do you want to turn your sad, bare apartment into a lush jungle quickly? Or maybe you’re just impatient when it comes to, you know, the miracle of life. No worries. These 14 fast growing houseplants will fulfill your need for speed and have your home looking like a tropical jungle in no time.
Table of Contents
If you’ve ever sat in a waiting room, you’ve probably seen pothos (If you haven’t ever sat in a waiting room, please trade lives with me). It’s a staple of boring office buildings everywhere.
A vining plant with heart-shaped leaves, pothos comes in a variety of patterns and shades of green. It can grow up to six feet in just a few months and, over time, the vines can reach up to 40 feet long. You can put it in a hanging basket, train it to grow up a trellis or, if you’re lazy like me, just let it grow in a crazy clump, letting it shoot out vines wherever it likes.
Pothos is one of the easiest plants to grow (see our list of low maintenance plants here). They prefer a shady spot, although the variegated types need a bit of indirect light to maintain their vibrant colors. Water them once or twice a week, and as long as their soil drains well and their environment is a bit on the humid side, they’ll start shooting out new vines and leaves in no time.
2. Sweet Potato Vine
FYI: Sweet potato vine doesn’t actually grow sweet potatoes. Confusing, I know. Although it’s the same species as actual sweet potato plants, it’s an ornamental variety that’s bred for its leaves rather than its tubers. It’s crazy to think that there are plant scientists sweating away in a greenhouse somewhere, attempting to breed crazy stuff like tomato plants with basil leaves (Caprese salad, anyone?) or marigolds that smell like tangerines (oh wait, they already invented that).
The vines of the sweet potato plant grow ridiculously fast and come in a variety of shapes and colors. (Monrovia makes some cool varieties, including the ones in the photo above.)
Being a classic spiller plant, lots of people treat sweet potato vine like an outdoor annual plant, adding it to containers in spring, then letting it die in winter. But we weren’t born to simply follow rules! So put it in a hanging basket or other cool container and grow it as a houseplant. No rules, just right.
Most varieties of sweet potato vine prefer full sun, although it may struggle with that during the hottest months if you live somewhere hellishly hot, like south Florida. Just make sure you keep it moist (but well drained) and don’t be afraid to trim it back when it gets too leggy, especially during the winter months when it can start to look a bit scraggly.
3. Philodendron (including monstera)
You know that super trendy plant you see in all the home decor photos? It’s called monstera and it’s a type of philodendron. These guys can get quite large (up to three feet) and are famous for their fast growth and lush look.
If monsteras don’t butter your flapjacks, there are plenty of other varieties of philodendron. Vining ones, trailing ones, variegated ones, orange ones – you can definitely find a species you like.
Philodendrons are native to tropical rainforests, where they grow in dappled sunlight on the forest floor. So give yours a fair amount of indirect light and plenty of humidity (the bathroom is a great spot for them if you have the space). Water it once every week or two and it should be happy.
4. Snake plant
Snake plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, is like the Tom Hanks of houseplants. It’s super easy-going and wildly successful. Plus, everyone loves it.
Snake plant is incredibly tolerant and easy to grow. Live in a dark apartment? Snake plant. Sun-filled mansion? Snake plant. Tent in the woods? Snake plant. More sunlight = more growth, but they’re happy pretty much anywhere as long as they have good soil.
The snake plant’s sword-shaped leaves grow upright and are often edged with yellow, grey or silver. They can grow as tall as five feet, but three feet is more typical. Its fast growth and adaptable nature makes it a favorite of interior designers.
5. Jade plant
These little sweeties are a type of succulent often given as a token of good luck. Their thick, shiny leaves grow from woody stems, making them look like miniature trees as they mature. You can even train them like bonsai trees.
Being a succulent, jade plants love lots of sunlight and very little water (think desert style). They can grow up to seven or eight feet tall and live for decades – that’s really impressive for a houseplant! If they’re super happy, they’ll put out a dazzling show of tiny star-shaped pink or white flowers in winter.
But the coolest thing about jade plants (and most succulents) is how easy it is to propagate them. If a leaf falls off the plant (and is still in good condition), you can literally grow a whole new plant from just that leaf. Lay it on top of some soil and keep the soil moist. In about a month, you’ll see little roots growing out of the leaf, which means it’s ready for planting. Booyah, free plant!
6. Aloe Vera
Another succulent, but this time with magical healing abilities. You’ve probably seen aloe vera gel marketed as a salve for sunburn and other skin irritations. Grow it yourself and you’ll have an unlimited supply of magical healing plant goop. Just snip off one of the thick, spiky leaves, split it open, scoop the gel out and rub it on your skin. Make sure to wash your hands afterwards though. Not because it will harm you, but because if you instead start stuffing your face with Cheez-its, you’ll wonder why they suddenly taste so bitter. Ask me how I know.
Anyway, aloe is super easy to grow (I literally forgot about one in my dark garage for like a year and it was fine), but it grows fastest when it gets minimal water and lots of sunlight. Just be careful not to take it from your dark garage (or local garden center) and shove it straight into full-on direct sun. It will literally get sunburnt. So give it lots of indirect light and then slowly transition it into more direct light if you want faster growth.
The only real effort you’ll have to make with aloe is repotting it once every year or so. It grows so fast that it will literally outgrow its pot. Read our full guide to repotting houseplants here.
7. Spider plant
Another fast growing plant that prefers to be borderline neglected. Wait a minute. Isn’t that literally the definition of a weed? Who decided what’s a weed and what’s a $30 houseplant? I have some questions for them.
Spider plants are cool because they grow baby spiders called spiderettes. Obviously these are not actual baby spiders or no one would ever want them in their home. They’re actually baby spider plants. Another houseplant that will create new plants for free!
The long, thin leaves of the spider plant arch out from the center like a fountain and can get up to three feet long. They prefer part sun, which means just a couple of hours of indirect light. If you notice the tips starting to brown, especially during winter, it may need more humidity. Give it a good misting or get yourself a humidifier.
Ferns are great. Except when they’re being finicky assholes. It seems like people either think ferns are super easy or completely impossible to keep alive. My experience says it’s the latter.
But if you like a challenge (or you’re a weirdo who thinks they’re easy), get yourself a fern. There are lots of different varieties – some like sun, some shade – so you can definitely find one to fit your particular situation. If I had to pick one that’s least likely to die, I’d go with the macho fern for shade (supposedly they’re actually pretty macho/tough) or the Kimberly queen fern for a sunnier spot.
Whichever you choose, make sure your fern gets plenty of water, humidity and airflow. They love to be misted, but you don’t want that water to sit stagnant around the base of the fern. That’s why they need plenty of breathing room.
9. Wandering Jew
God, I feel racist just typing that. But it’s actually what it’s called. Maybe I should call it by its scientific name – Tradescantia zebrina. Eh, that’s kind of a mouthful. Some people call it “the plant that shall not be named,” but that seems a bit long. I think the best name I’ve seen is “wandering dude”. That’s better, let’s go with that.
Wandering dude is another awesome plant that will give you new baby plants for freeeeeee. Just snap off a stem, stick it in some dirt and you’ll have a beautiful new plant in a matter of weeks. Seriously. I saw a broken stem of wandering dude lying under a table at my local garden center for weeks. I finally snatched it up, took it home, stuck it in a pot with some other plants and forgot about it. A few weeks later, I was like, “What is this crazy purple plant growing out of my container? Oh yeaaaaaaaah…”
Obviously wandering dude doesn’t need a lot of care. Water it once every week or two and keep it out of direct sun and it will be fine. More indirect light = more colorful foliage, but it’s just as happy in a darker area.
10. Purple Velvet Plant
Did you know that purple velvet plant was Prince’s favorite plant? I mean, I would assume. I never knew the guy. But he was all about the color purple, and I’m pretty sure he exclusively wore velvet.
This plant actually does look kinda like purple velvet. It’s soft and fuzzy, with fine purple hairs all over the leaves. If it’s happy, it will reward you with interesting orange flowers. But don’t get too close, they smell a bit… off.
Being from southeast Asia, the velvet plant loves a moist, tropical environment. But it can be a bit tricky to find the balance between moist and soggy soil. Too wet and it will easily get root rot. Too dry and it will simply shrivel up and die.
Despite its pickiness when it comes to watering, it always loves lots of bright sunlight. So stick it in a window and check it frequently with a moisture meter to keep it happy.
Another tropical beauty, cordyline (aka ti plant) grows wild all over places like Hawaii and south Florida. Its elongated leaves fan out from the center in shades of magenta, bright red and deep purple.
According to legend, the more stalks on your cordyline, the greater your fortune when it comes to matters of the heart. So if you’re tired of being single, try getting a new cordyline plant. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet the human of your dreams at the garden center. (Note to self: Create a dating site for plant lovers. But like, not for people who want to date plants. For people who like plants and want to date other humans. Duh.)
These guys love lots of bright, indirect sunlight, warm temperatures and high humidity. They can reach up to 10 feet tall (hope you have high ceilings) and three to four feet wide. Keep the soil moist, but let it get a bit drier during winter when the plants go into dormancy. If your cordyline starts dropping leaves, increase the temperature and humidity.
If you’re really lucky, your cordyline will flower in late winter to early spring. The sweet smelling flowers are white to pale lavender and grow from a trailing stem known as a panicle.
12. Peace Lily
Did you know that peace lilies are named such because they were bred by hippies back in the 1960s? No? That’s because it’s not true. They’re actually called peace lilies because their white “flowers” (actually bracts) supposedly resemble the white flag of surrender. Why you would want to name a plant after that is beyond me.
Peace lilies quickly grow to around three feet tall and wide, with big, dark green leaves gracefully swooping out from the center. They typically bloom in spring and sometimes again in fall, but the blooms last for months, so they almost always has a few flowers (bracts).
Peace lilies are tropical, shade loving plants, so they’ll do just fine in a dark room as long as they stay moist. You’ll notice they wilt a bit when thirsty, but they revive quickly once watered.
Bonus: NASA included peace lilies on their list of “Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement.” So you can tell all your friends (cats) that your peace lily is endorsed by NASA.
13. Money Tree
Money trees (aka Pachira aquatica) supposedly bring good luck and financial success. So if you’re hoping to increase your bank account, you should totally spend money on another houseplant. Sounds legit.
Money trees are native to Central and South American swamps, where they can grow to be over 50 feet tall. Those crazy plant scientist breeder people know you don’t want a 50-foot tree in your house, so they’ve bred the houseplant version to reach a max of six feet tall.
They also thought you’d appreciate a braided tree trunk on these low maintenance plants (or they were just bored), so they slowly braid the trunks as they grow in the greenhouse. Professional tree braider, what a job title. You can add that job title to your resume by binding the tops of the trunks with string and slowly maintaining the braid as your money tree grows.
Money trees prefer warm, sunny spots, high humidity and well-drained soil. They also do well in low light but won’t grow as quickly. Let the soil dry out between waterings, then give it a nice, deep drink.
Hoyas are another tropical houseplant that’s easy to grow. Often sold in hanging baskets, their trailing stems sport thick, waxy leaves and can grow as long as 20 feet. You can train them to climb a trellis or other support, or just let them spill over your pot and trail along the floor.
They’ll tolerate low light, but they prefer bright, indirect light. Don’t water them too much, as they’d rather be a bit too dry rather than too wet. The thick leaves can store water, so they’ll be fine if you forget a watering or two.
If you sacrifice enough virgins to your hoya, it will bloom! The fragrant, star-shaped flower clusters develop from the long tendrils (so don’t trim them!). Supposedly you can encourage your hoya to bloom by letting it get a bit root-bound.