10 Houseplants to Beat the Winter Blues

A Chinese money plant on a windowsill.

spurekar / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

While it's intuitive to think that houseplants could brighten our moods and make our spaces feel extra cozy during bleak winter snow days, scientists have begun to discover the real benefits houseplants have on our mental health. Researchers found that being exposed to indoor plants reduced both psychological and physiological stress in a sampling of young adults they studied. On top of that, houseplants help clean our air — these humble organisms are some very hardworking allies.

Here are 10 houseplants that will help banish those winter blues with their serene, calming presence.

Some of the plants on this list are toxic to pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

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Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider plants on a sunny window sill.

Ann-Sophie Qvarnström / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0


Spider plants are a staple in cozy living rooms and bedrooms, and for good reason. They're easy to care for, preferring indirect sunlight, making them great for home decor projects as they'll likely thrive wherever you place them. They don't require much watering, and they're quick to grow into a calming, leafy presence. Their bright green leaves are often variegated with white stripes, adding a lovely color palette to any indoor setting.

Be sure to gift friends with the small baby spider plants that will grow on long stems called "spiderettes" or "pups."

  • Light: Bright to moderate indirect light.
  • Water: Occasionally during initial growth, sparingly after one year.
  • Soil: Well-draining potting soil.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
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Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa)

Monstera deliciosa on a window sill in partial sunlight.

Andy / Andrew Fogg / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Easily spotted due to its large, split, and glossy green leaves, this big beauty hails from the tropics and will bring a piece of the jungle to your house when it's cold and grim outside. Also known as the Mexican breadfruit, or hurricane plant, Monstera deliciosa will be a pleasant companion through the difficult winter months. They prefer indirect light, so a perfect spot for them would be on a bookshelf or side table near a window.

  • Light: Bright to moderate indirect light.
  • Water: Once every one to two weeks.
  • Soil: Peaty, well-draining.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
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Air Plant (Tillandsia)

Two Tillandsia varieties in a small pot.

Greg Gunn / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Air plants comprise over 650 species of the genus Tillandsia; they have long, springy leaves that will perk up the energy in your home during the wintertime. Called air plants due to their lack of need for soil or much care at all, really, they're perfect if you need to focus your energy on maintaining your mental health.

Set them up in a glass bowl or jar in a spot that gets indirect light for best results. Note that you don't water these plants; you mist them every four or five days.

  • Light: Bright to moderate indirect light.
  • Water: Soak around 20 minutes initially, then mist once or twice a week.
  • Soil: None, keep in a glass vessel.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
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Chinese Money Plant (Pilea peperomioides)

A Chinese money plant in a gold pot.

Impluviatus22 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

With its namesake promise of wealth and abundance, the Chinese money plant could bring a dash of hope to you when you need it most during the winter. Originally from the southwestern Yunnan province of China, this quirky beauty's leaves — which look like a lily pad or a UFO — are sure to inspire a smile. They're simple to grow from cuttings, meaning a whole flock of them brightening up your home is easily within reach.

  • Light: Bright indirect light.
  • Water: Once a week.
  • Soil: Well-draining, peaty potting soil.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
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Aloe Vera

Aloe vera on a sunny window sill.

Andreas Issleib / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Aloe vera is a succulent that can be used as a natural moisturizer that will leave you feeling refreshed and in touch with self-care during the dry winter months. From treating sunburns to even being a tasty and nutritious snack, aloe vera sap is versatile and well-worth having in your home. Its soft, leathery flesh loves indirect sunlight, perhaps on a side table or desk near a window. But be careful – the plant's leaves will brown if exposed long enough in direct sunlight.

  • Light: Direct sunlight.
  • Water: Once every two to three weeks.
  • Soil: Sandy cactus potting soil.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
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Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)

A potted jade plant in even light.

Ernest McGray, Jr. / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

When it's too cold to keep a window open for fresh air, consider welcoming a jade plant into your home—it's a houseplant that's particularly good at removing indoor air pollution. And that's not all: In the practice of feng shui, the jade plant is a good luck charm, especially for bringing financial wealth, and it symbolizes growth and renewal. Its tall, shiny, and evocative green leaves are an attractive addition to most spaces – just be sure to water it when the soil feels dry.

  • Light: Direct sun.
  • Water: When soil is dry.
  • Soil: Sandy, well-draining.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to cats and dogs.
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Fern (Polypodiophyta)

A potted fern plant in a bathroom.

petone80 / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Ferns are well-suited for winter moods because they are just so lush and gorgeous – they bring the woods inside when it's too cold to go out. They're the perfect bathroom plant as they love humidity, but they would be happy in other rooms as well. Many common fern species are found on the forest floor, so make sure their soil drains well and contains plenty of organic matter, to mimic that environment.

  • Light: Indirect.
  • Water: Once or twice a week; keep soil moist.
  • Soil: Potting soil with ample organic matter.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to cats and dogs.
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Devil's Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)

Devil's ivy ascending a grey wall.

Jnzl's Photos / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The name of this plant might sound sinister, but it's actually the perfect low maintenance houseplant to keep you company during the winter. It goes by many common names including golden pothos – the devil's ivy reference comes from the way this plant stays alive (and stays green) in dark and neglectful conditions.

Epipremnum aureum has large variegated green leaves that will be a welcome addition to your home when the weather outside is grey and bleak. Best of all, it can thrive in just about any soil and doesn't need much light or water.

  • Light: Bright indirect light.
  • Water: Once every week or two when soil feels dry.
  • Soil: Nutrient-rich, well-draining.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to dogs and cats.
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Colorama Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata)

This small tree has long stiff leaves in a bright shade of pinkish red that will add the pop of color you need to power through those lonely winter days. They prefer indirect light indoors, and don't need too much to survive, so they won't die just because you don't have an ideal spot near a window. They typically grow three to seven feet tall and three feet wide.

  • Light: Bright indirect light.
  • Water: Once every week or two when soil feels dry.
  • Soil: Nutrient-rich, well-draining.
  • Pet Safety: Toxic to dogs and cats.
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Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)

A small parlor palm growing in a pot.

lukestehr / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

With the ability to look like it came straight from the rainforest even through drought and low light conditions, the parlor palm is an ideal choice to include in your indoor plant family come winter. They grow up to six feet tall, which can add some serious green volume to your living space when you need it most. They grow well in three-gallon pots.

  • Light: Bright indirect light.
  • Water: Once every week or two when soil starts drying.
  • Soil: Peaty potting soil.
  • Pet Safety: Nontoxic to dogs and cats.