Whether you want to spruce up your space for a party night or just want to welcome living flowering colour inside, here are 14 outdoor plants that love to holiday indoors.
Tip: Buy two identical plants and you can just keep swapping them over, inside to out regularly, so the indoor display always remains the same.
The word philodendron translates to ‘tree lover’ because of the plant’s ability to grow on trees. But this lush ornamental plant with big glossy leaves loves pots too. Popular varieties include Xanadu, a compact philodendron with frilled foliage. Rojo Congo is also compact, with heart-shaped leaves. As Lickety Split matures, each new leaf reveals more fingers and frill, giving it an ever-changing appearance. Philodendrons relish a shady spot outside and a sunny spot inside.
2. Maidenhair fern
Maidenhair fern’s botanical name is thanks to its waterproof foliage - adiantos meaning unwettable in Greek. This South American native features clusters of feather-like fronds that give it a lovely lace-like appearance. When outdoors, keep in part shade, sheltered from hot sun and wind. Indoors, maidenhair ferns like a bright spot away from draughts.
3. Bird's-nest fern
The leathery, shiny, sword-shaped fronds of this dramatic-looking plant radiate from a nest-like rosette. As an epiphyte, bird’s-nest ferns can be grown on pieces of timber but they’re equally at home in a pot filled with sand and leaf mould or peat moss. Indoors, a bird’s-nest fern will tolerate low-light areas in your home. Outside, they can be grown in full sun to part shade.
4. Bird of paradise
There’s probably one reason you want this South African native in your home and that’s to show off its brilliant blooms when they appear in spring, summer and if you’re lucky, winter too. Leaving finished flowers on the plant will discourage it from producing more, so make sure you cut these and pop them in a vase. Whether inside or out, bird of paradise plants like plenty of sunlight. Read more about bird of paradise.
Another plant to bring inside when in flower is a bromeliad. There are literally thousands of species – including Vriesea, Guzmania and Alcantarea, mentioned below. The flower bracts provide the plant's brilliant colour, as the true flowers they enclose are small. Bromeliads like humidity so when inside, mist the plant regularly. Outdoor growing conditions depend on the species so check the plant label. Read more about bromeliads.
Vriesea form brightly-coloured tall, sword-like flowers that last for months. They grow better and reveal stronger colours in low light. When inside, place the plant in a spot where it can enjoy filtered sunlight. When outside, place the plant in part shade.
This group of bromeliads are known for their brilliantly-coloured bracts in shades of yellow, orange, red and deep purple. Indoors, guzmanias need low light and should be kept out of direct sunlight. Outdoors they like part shade.
Big, bold and beautiful, an alcantarea will make an eye-catching statement in your home. If you want the beautiful colours to develop to their full potential, a sunny spot outdoors is best. When holidaying indoors, place it in a sunny spot also.
6. Rhapis palm
Also known as lady palm or ground rattan cane, this small, attractive palm is native to southern China. It has a clumping habit with bamboo-like slender stems and light green, fan-shaped fronds that are deeply divided into finger-like segments. The Rhapis palm enjoys part shade when outside and a bright spot indoors.
7. Parlour palm
From the rainforests of southern Mexico and Guatemala, this small palm is one of the best plants for cleaning the air in your home. Short, deep-green papery fronds grow in a spiral fashion around a dainty stem. An adaptable plant, it’s also great for the houseplant beginner. The perfect indoor position for a parlour palm is a spot that enjoys early morning or late afternoon sun and a part-shade location outside.
8. Golden cane palm
Also known as a butterfly palm, this Madagascan native is a popular ornamental plant, with a clumping habit, and golden trunks and cane-like stems. Its short fronds arch elegantly and have a beautiful light-green colour. As a hardy plant, the golden cane palm prefers full sun outside, but will tolerate low-light spots in your home.
Bamboo comes in many shapes and sizes. Some are airy and tall, while others are short and striking. If you want to enjoy your bamboo indoors, make sure to choose a variety that won’t grow too tall. Bamboo will happily grow in a large pot, provided it has plenty of room and good drainage. Some bamboo like a sheltered but sunny position while others thrive in full sun, so check your plant label. Learn more about bamboo.
10. Staghorn fern
This majestic, evergreen fern is an epiphyte plant, meaning it can grow on other plants. This makes the staghorn perfect for a mounted wall hanging. A staghorn fern must have natural light, so give it pride of place in the brightest space in your home. When outdoors, keep in part shade.
11. Elkhorn fern
The elkhorn fern is native to the northeast coast of Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia. It’s smaller than a staghorn fern and features multiple rosettes or ‘eyes’ of foliage. The elkhorn fern is an easily-grown plant and its care needs are much the same as a staghorn fern (above).
If you have the space, a Monstera deliciosa is a real treat. This plant is also known as a Swiss cheese plant because of the holes in its handsome foliage. In the garden, a monstera can get quite big, but growing it in a pot will dictate its size. They are slowing growing though, so repotting isn’t something you’ll need to worry about often. Keep your monstera in part shade outside. Gentle sunlight is fine inside.
Native to Madagascar, these glorious plants flower from June to September with masses of little bouquets of four-petalled blooms. From pink to yellow, orange and red, the intense colour of the flowers , make it a welcome addition to your home during the the coldest months of the year. They don’t mind full sun or shade outside and can be kept inside in a spot with dappled sunlight.
Also known as crab cactus, zygocactus features stunning pink and red blooms in autumn and winter and a graceful arching habit that creates a waterfall of colour. But zygocactus will only flower when it can enjoy the darkness of night longer than the day. Electric lights keep it awake! Easy to grow, zygocactus likes a sunny windowsill and a part shade position outdoors.