Best Plants For The Bathroom

Shortage of space, lack of light and a varying temperature are common problems in bathrooms. But some house plants can cope with these conditions and love the humid atmosphere. Here’s how to display them to their advantage.

Estimating the natural light

The more light in the room, the wider the range of house plants that will flourish. Those that like less light can be placed further from the window. But remember a plant on a windowsill in a north-facing room will only get 9-10 per cent of the outside light. There is even less light available if the plant is placed further from the window — especially at its sides.

Plants will show signs of lack of light by becoming tall and leggy and stretching desperately towards the window. Light coloured walls and mirrors will reflect any light there is and make the most of it.Best Plants For The Bathroom

Use a photographic light meter to check the light in the room. If you don’t have a light meter see if you can read comfortably without turning the light on. If you can do so, then most green plants should grow well. If there is not enough natural light it can be supplemented by using fluorescent tubes or special grow lights. Even if your bathroom has no natural light at all, it is still possible to have some house plants in it if they are permanently lit with artificial light.

Temperature variations

Bathrooms tend to be hot and steamy when we use them, but cold between times. Plants do not like wide variations in temperature, although they prefer a cooler nighttime temperature —a round 2– 5°C less than the daytime one. Fluctuations of more than 12°C (55°F) within a 24-hour period are bad for most house plants. Check the range of temperature in your bathroom by using a maximum, minimum thermometer.

In winter don’t pull the curtains leaving the plants on a windowsill sandwiched in a cold spot–and check that their leaves don’t touch the window panes.

Finding space

Space is at a premium in most bathrooms but with a little ingenuity some room for plants can always be found.

Using the window

Frosted glass does not cut out light but diffuses it and stops leaf burn, so use windowsills. To hold plants in place, screw a batten across the sill front.

If the view is bleak, screw a piece of painted garden trellis over the window. Use as a frame for a flowering climber, a Passion Flower or a Black-eyed Susan and hang a few small plants on hooks.

Adding shelves

Extra shelves are always useful in a bathroom. A room divider that separates the loo from the bath or basin can hold small decorative plants and bathroom paraphernalia. If floor space is not available, put shelves on a wall instead.

Glass shelves across the window can be placed on lipped brackets slotted into upright shelf supports fixed to the window frame.

Hanging containers

A group of containers hung at varying heights add high-level interest as you can see in this long, narrow bathroom. Use hooks screwed into the ceiling joists or brackets fixed to the wall to hold securely. If you hang two or three baskets close to the end of the bath you could use one for sponge, talc, shampoo and so on and the others could contain a Maidenhair Fern and a Spider Plant.

Plants to choose for your bathroom

For light rooms

For darker rooms

For cold rooms

Small and decorative

Varying temperature

  • Ivy
  • Cast Iron Plant
  • Wandering Jew
  • Yucca
  • Spotted Laurel
  • Urn Plant
  • Trailing Plants
  • Emerald Fern
  • Sword Fem
  • Basket Grass
  • Mother of Thousands
  • Piggyback Plant
  • Swedish Ivy

Do’s and Don’ts


  • Use mirrors—they reflect light and show you twice as many plants.
  • Add a flowering plant for temporary colour.
  • Either pick out the bathroom colour or make a bright contrast—a sunny yellow primula in a blue room, for instance.
  • Turn plants regularly to avoid uneven growth.
  • Position taller, background plants first when arranging a group: then ‘fill in’ with the others.


  • Overwater. The room’s high humidity will help to keep plants damp.
  • Place plants closer than 60cm (24in) to tungsten lights—the heat will bum the leaves.
  • Use breakable containers where bare feet are at risk or balance tall plants on the bath edge. They will probably fall in.

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