Feb. 28, 2013 at 12:22 PM ET
Don't let anyone fool you—growing indoor plants is easy and just as fun as having an outdoor garden. In fact, indoor plants not only help clean the environment around them, but they act as a quick decorating tool. We found 15 hardy indoor house plants that anyone can keep alive and thriving. If you've got kids or pets, do note before you buy: some may be toxic.
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Why you want it: First of all, this indoor plant has an air-purifying quality that can absorb and strip toxins like formaldehyde from materials in the home like carpet. How neat is that? It has trailing stems and works well in a hanging basket or as a climbing plant with some training onto a trellis or whatever object you like that will support it.
How to care for it: This indoor house plant can produce stems that trail eight feet or longer, so just cut them back when they get too long and your plant will continue to look full and healthy. It can thrive in an array of lighting conditions, but low light may diminish the leaves' variegation. Allow soil to dry somewhat between watering. Pothos does well in an array of normal room temperatures.
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Why you want it: This succulent with long pointed leaves has medicinal properties you probably well know from product labels. It can grow three feet high for big impact indoors. Smaller varieties like the popular aloe vera, work great in small, sunny indoor spaces.
How to care for it: Aloe likes room temperatures around 70 degrees and a lot of sunlight. As you might expect for a succulent, this indoor house plant prefers dry soil, so avoid frequent watering for the best result.
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Why you want it: These unusual-looking indoor plants add visual interest to a room, and they haven't fallen out of fashion after years of popularity in the home. Spider plants come in a number of varieties, and work well as hanging plants.
How to care for it: Spider plants do well with evenly moist soil and bright or medium lighting conditions. Room temperatures of 60 to 75 degrees keep them thriving.
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Why you want it: There's a real timeless elegance to ivy, and it trails down furniture for a pretty effect. Plus, it's super easy to start a new plant for yourself or a friend by cutting a section of the stem. Instant hostess gift! (OK, not really instant, but give it just two weeks or so.)
How to care for it: English Ivy likes moist soil and cooler room temperature conditions, ranging from the mid-50s to about 70.
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Why you want it: For those who love the look of a succulent—not to mention the ease of care—a jade plant offers thick, lush leaves and visually interesting branches. It grows slowly and has the potential to live from your kids' birth until their high school graduations— at least! It also looks great in a pretty pot when paired with other succulent varieties.
How to care for it: Jade plant does not require a lot of water, so keep soil somewhat dry. It prefers bright light and ordinary room temperatures.
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Why you want it: This easy-to-grow indoor house plant will grow into an eight-foot-tall tree for a major pop of greenery in a room. If you prefer a smaller plant, just make your rubber tree into a shrub shape by pruning any long stems. The dark green leaves have an attractive shine to them.
How to care for it: Allow the surface of the rubber tree's soil to dry out in between watering. It thrives in lighting conditions from medium to bright, and a range of room temperatures between about 60 and 80.
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Why you want it: The leaves of this pretty indoor plant can grow to a foot long, and provide a tropical-looking accent to home decor. The whole plant can grow six feet high for a cheery room focal point.
How to care for it: Diffenbachia thrives in normal room temperature not colder than the mid-60s. Keep the soil evenly moist, and provide medium or low lighting conditions for the best result.
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Why you want it: Surely you've seen this indoor house plant in many homes, since it has such pretty, curving white blooms and dark leaves—and it's super easy to grow.
How to care for it: This house plant favors low humidity and also low light, making it great for rooms with few windows. It prefers moist soil throughout the pot and tolerates standard temperatures ranging to about 85 degrees.
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Why you want it: It doesn't get much easier than this indoor house plant—also sometimes known as mother-in-law's tongue! It has variegated leaves that grow upright, and some varieties' leaves have yellow or white edges. It has small white flowers that bloom only rarely.
How to care for it: This indoor plant grows well in a whole range of lighting conditions. The air should be somewhat dry, as should the soil. Any normal room temperature should suit it just fine.
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Why you want it: This indoor tree has shiny leaves to add cheer to any indoor space. Its stems can be braided for a tidy topiary effect we love.
How to care for it: This tree likes full sun, or at least bright filtered light. Most varieties (there are about 800!) prefer several days of dry soil in between thorough watering. Room temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees work best.
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Why you want it: This is a trailing indoor house plant that loves to make its way down from mantles or bookshelves. Its perky, dark green leaves come to a heart shape where they meet the stems.
How to care for it: This may be the quintessential easy indoor plant. It thrives in a range of lighting conditions from low to sunny, preferring indirect light. It does well anywhere close to standard room temperature. Let the surface of the soil dry between watering; it should not be constantly wet.
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Why you want it: A whole array of small indoor house plants with textured, shiny, often colorful leaves fit into this category. Some popular and attractive—and easy-to-manage—indoor varieties include watermelon, red-edge, and ripple peperomias.
How to care for it: Peperomias favor indoor temps from about 60 to 75 degrees and medium or low lighting conditions. The surface of the soil should dry out between watering.
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Why you want it: This jaunty indoor house plant has bright green leaves that look like shamrocks, plus sweet white flowers on tall stems.
How to care for it: This house plant loves bright but indirect or filtered light. Allow the soil to dry out a bit between watering thoroughly about once per week.
Why you want it: This lovely indoor tree (actually a species of ficus) has large, dark-green leaves that seem to form the vague outline of a fiddle or violin—that's how it gets its name.
How to care for it: This indoor plant likes room temperatures between about 65 and 75 degrees, and exposure to bright to medium light. The surface of the soil should dry out slightly between watering. If it starts to look a bit pale, try moving it to somewhere less bright.
Why you want it: This pretty indoor house palm is a great inspiration if you're dreaming of tropical climates—or just trying to conjure the look in your home decor. It can grow to about seven feet for a dramatic touch in a room, but a smaller pot will keep it contained if you'd like it to stay smaller
How to care for it: The areca palm does well in indirect light. Keep the soil somewhat dry, only watering on alternate weeks or so.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.