As the enthusiasm for houseplants has increased in recent years, people of all ages are intrigued. Even young kids have grown curious about having a plant or two of their very own. This has led some of us to wonder, what are the best houseplants for children? We’ll share the list here, as well as care tips.
Why Give Indoor Plants to Kids?
Houseplants allow children to enjoy nature, develop gardening skills, and learn responsibility.
Understandably, it’s exciting for children to have anything alive they can care for in their own space. This gives them a sense of accomplishment and rewards the nurturing side we all have.
Houseplants are also a perfect option for kids because they don’t require as much responsibility as caring for a pet. Costa Farms wrote a helpful article explaining why a houseplant should be a kid’s first pet.
Furthermore, children enjoy some secondary benefits from having houseplants. There have been countless discussions about the human need for greenery and the calming benefits of nature. Although less widely known, houseplants give us similar psychological benefits that we receive from outdoor plants.
The Journal of Physiological Anthropology published a study that showed caring for indoor plants reduced psychological and physiological stress. As so many kids live in cities or experience long winters, it can be uplifting for them to have indoor plants.
While some houseplants may be too challenging for children, there are many suitable options. Most plants in this article are relatively low maintenance, hardy, and interesting. For older kids up for a slight challenge, we’ll share some fun and more unique plants.
Considerations Before Bringing Plants into Your Home
While houseplants are incredibly beneficial to children and the household, safety is always a priority. Some plants are toxic if ingested by people and pets. Therefore, keep these poisonous houseplants away from pets and toddlers who may accidentally eat the plant.
Additionally, houseplants may pose a choking hazard for young children. No houseplant is worth potentially causing harm to kids or pets. To keep your plants away from children and pets, consider hanging them in locations out of their reach.
Many of us believe that if children are too young not to be ingesting plants, they are likely too young to care for them. However, every kid and household is different, and no one knows your child as you do.
Although there is no set age at which all children can safely be around plants, parents can work with kids to teach them about the potential dangers of eating plants.
Non-toxic Plants Easy for Kids to Grow
This list includes some non-toxic plants that are easy to care for. Since these are examples, don’t feel you must stick to this list. These plants were chosen not only being safe options but being good starter plants for inexperienced little growers.
1. Succulents (Most varieties)
Toxicity: Most succulents are non-toxic for people and pets, but there are a few varieties to avoid if ingestion is a concern.
According to the Missouri Poison Center, Euphorbia and Kalanchoe succulents are toxic to people and pets. Aloe vera, Jade, and String of Pearls are also unsafe for pets. Therefore, it is best to double-check the succulent chosen to ensure it is safe.
Common succulents are a good option for kids since they don’t require much care. A succulent can be placed on a window sill and only needs watering when its soil is completely dry.
Some of the common easy-care succulents are listed below.
- Haworthia – regular or Zebra varieties have distinctive shapes, and their tips are not too sharp for kids.
- Echeveria – looks like a beautiful flower and comes in various colors.
- Burro’s Tail – can grow long luxurious stems that drape over a shelf.
2. Easy-Care Hoyas
Hoyas are available in some of the most striking colors, including green, pink, and white contrasts. With thick leaves that feel succulent-like, they have a fun texture for children to enjoy.
With care, Hoyas need lots of bright indirect light and appreciate even a few hours of direct morning sun. However, they don’t like being overwatered and prefer to be watered when their soil is completely dry.
Kids will love easy-care, colorful Hoyas such as these:
- Krimson Queen
- Krimson Princess
3. Spider Plants
Toxicity: Spider plants are non-toxic to pets and people. However, this plant is listed as a potential choking hazard for small children. The plant also produces a mild hallucinogenic effect in cats (similar to the effects of catnip), which is said to be harmless.
These make excellent houseplants for anyone, and kids especially enjoy them. The Spider Plant comes in many varieties, including a fun curly one (Bonnie). They are easy-care and grow well indoors. Additionally, this houseplant puts out “babies” or new Spider Plants that make great gifts for family and friends.
4. Friendship Plant
Toxicity: Non-toxic to people and pets.
The Friendship plant (Pilea Involucrata) is a fun and easy plant for children to grow. The leaves have an interesting texture that kids love. Give the Friendship plant medium to bright indirect light and well-draining soil. Water this houseplant when the top inch of the soil is dry.
Easy-Care Plants that are Unsafe to Eat
For children who have learned and understand that we shouldn’t eat plants, these houseplants are easy for kids to grow. They are just not safe for kids to eat! However, all plants on this list should be kept away from pets entirely as they are not pet-safe.
1. Snake Plant
Toxicity: All parts of the snake plant are toxic to people and pets if ingested. Keep out of reach from pets and small children who may consume the plant. For kids too young for a snake plant, consider these adorable plush options for them meanwhile.
Snake plants are stylish, low-maintenance houseplants. They come in a variety of patterns and can also grow relatively tall, which kids will enjoy.
With care, the main element to watch for with snake plants is watering before the soil dries out, which can quickly cause root rot. However, as long as a snake plant is in well-draining soil and gets plenty of bright indirect light, it usually stays happy.
2. ZZ Plant
Toxicity: The ZZ is toxic to both humans and pets. Exercise caution.
A very low-maintenance indoor plant, the ZZ is a beautiful addition to a kid’s room. It has dark green leaves but also comes in black (Raven ZZ) or green with yellow variegation (Chameleon ZZ).
ZZs don’t require much light and only need to be watered when completely dry. Therefore, it’s not uncommon for a ZZ to only need water every 1-2 months (depending on the level of light it receives). With this in mind, it is great for an adult to help check the soil initially until the kiddo becomes familiar with watering this plant.
LEARN MORE: ZZ Plant: Care Guide, Growing Advice & Best Tips
Toxicity: All Varieties of Pothos are toxic to pets and people. Keep away from pets by hanging the plant out of reach, and ensure a child will not try to eat the plant.
Pothos (Epipremnum) are beautiful, easy-going houseplants that grow prolifically. With their long leafy vines, kids can enjoy draping the plant over a shelf or letting it climb up a trellis.
Keep Pothos plants happy by letting them dry out between waterings and giving them bright indirect light. They also tolerate low light fairly well.
In addition, Pothos are easy to propagate, which can be a fun project for kids to make gifts.
Listed below are some of the many common easy-care Pothos for kids.
- Marble Queen
- Pearls and Jade
- Baltic Blue
- Global Green
- Cebu Blue
- Snow Queen
4. Scindapsus Pictus
Toxicity: Scindapsus plants contain calcium oxalate crystals and are toxic if ingested by pets and people. Exercise caution.
While often nicknamed the Satin Pothos, the Scindapsus Pictus is a different genus from Pothos. Most Scindapsus plants of the common varieties have dark green, velvety leaves with striking patterns of silver variegation.
Like many houseplants, they grow well in medium to bright indirect light. Water this indoor plant when the soil is approximately 75% dry. Also, it’s best to avoid other species in the Scindapsus genus, such as the Scindapsus Treubii, since they aren’t as easy to care for.
For kids, stick to the following common Scindapsus Pictus varieties:
- Silvery Ann
5. Philodendron Brasil & Green Heartleaf
Toxicity: Philodendrons are all toxic to humans and pets. Keep them away from young children and pets who may accidentally eat any part of these plants.
They prefer to dry out between waterings and receive bright indirect light. While they are able to be in direct morning light indoors, avoid prolonged direct sun to prevent burning their leaves.
The green heartleaf is a beautiful dark green color, and the Brasil has a vibrant yellow stripe down the center of its green leaves.
Indoor Plants for Teenagers
You may consider a wider variety of plants for kids a bit older. These plants are still relatively easy to care for but may have a challenging aspect to their care. Older kids often want to try their hand at unique plants. Therefore, they may not mind the extra care.
1. Philodendron Micans
Toxicity: Like other Philodendrons, the Micans is toxic to people and pets.
The Micans is a Philodendron Hederaceum, related to the Green Heartleaf. However, the Micans differs in that it has very dark olive-green, velvety leaves. Regardless of how many rare plants a person collects, it is hard to find anyone that doesn’t admire the striking appearance of the Micans.
This houseplant requires similar care to the Brasil and Green Heartleaf but prefers to be watered when 80% dry. It can experience signs of drought stress when left dry for too long, which may stunt its growth. While not particularly pest-prone, the Micans can be harder to treat for pests due to the sensitivity of its velvety leaves to treatments.
2. Monstera Peru
Toxicity: Unfortunately, Monstera Peru is toxic to humans and pets. Exercise caution and keep away from young children and pets.
The Monstera Peru was a rare plant for years. Fortunately, it became more accessible in 2021 to 2022 in the U.S. and is now in many big box stores. This plant is very distinctive in the appearance and texture of its leaves. While it is part of the Monstera genus, the Peru stays compact. It therefore makes an excellent plant for a teenager’s room.
This tropical plant enjoys bright indirect light, 40-50% humidity, and being watered when 80% dry. The leaves can scorch in harsh direct sunlight, but the Peru appreciates gentle morning sun through a window.
3. Common Syngoniums
Toxicity: Also known as the Arrowhead Plant, Syngonium is toxic to people and pets. Exercise caution around small children and pets who may eat this plant.
It’s hard to deny the beauty of Syngoniums with their unique leaf shapes and various color patterns. The common Syngoniums found at big box stores are good plants for teenagers with natural light in their rooms.
Syngoniums love getting plenty of bright indirect light and will even lean toward a window if the light is too scarce. However, avoid direct sunlight to prevent scorching the leaves. Water Syngoniums when they are about 70% dry and provide 40-50% humidity.
FURTHER READING: Syngonium (Arrowhead Plants): Care, Propagation & Problems
Some of the common but interesting varieties of Syngoniums are:
- Neon (pink)
- Berry Allusion
- Maria (brownish red)
4. Philodendron Imperial Green & Prince of Orange
Toxicity: Like other Philodendrons, these are toxic if ingested by both people and pets.
These Philodendrons grow upright and have large, beautiful leaves. They’ll give a teenager’s room a cheerful tropical feel. The Imperial Green has luxurious green leaves, and new leaves come in a lighter shade of green. The Prince of Orange is a striking Philodendron with new leaves coming in a reddish-orange color.
Both of these houseplants need a good amount of indirect light and grow best with at least 50% humidity. A small humidifier can easily increase humidity, which may also bring additional health benefits to people in the space.
5. Bonus Plant: Maranta
Toxicity: Non-toxic for people and pets.
The Maranta is a Prayer Plant with exquisite features. Since it is more challenging than other plants on this list, the Maranta is our bonus plant for teens. However, Marantas are easier to care for than their relative, the Calathea. Both are highly sought after because their beautiful leaves move during the day. These Prayer plants bend their leaves upward during the night, displaying the backsides of their leaves. During the day, they bend their leaves back down to absorb sunlight.
Marantas need medium to bright indirect light and humidity of at least 40%. Aside from requiring humidity, Marantas are sometimes challenging with watering. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. A good rule of thumb is to water your Maranta when the top layer of the soil becomes dry.
For teenagers, the easiest Marantas to care for are the Red Maranta, Lemon-Lime, and Rabbit’s Foot Maranta.
Types of Houseplants to Avoid for Kids
Generally, we should avoid giving children plants that are overwhelming or difficult to care for. Since kids often have busy schedules and growing responsibilities, it’s best not to give them plants that are impractical for their time constraints.
Types of houseplants to avoid are the ones that require a lot of special care, can quickly die if watered too late, or become too large for a bedroom.
For young children or those with pets, avoid highly toxic plants. As noted previously, many houseplants are toxic for pets and people if ingested. Stay safe, and use your best judgment when deciding if a plant is appropriate for a child’s age.
Listed below are some types of houseplants that may be too challenging or impractical for kids.
- Polka Dot Plants
- Carnivorous Plants
- Fiddle Leaf Figs
- Large Monsteras
- Dieffenbachias (highly toxic for people and pets)
How to Get Kids Started with Indoor Plants
The best way to introduce houseplants to kids is to teach them about some of yours and ask them which plants they like. If you have a kid in your life that has shown enthusiasm about plants, it may be time to give them their first easy-care houseplant.
Additionally, plant shopping can be a fun adventure for everyone. Kids can explore plants they like, and you can guide them on which ones are good to start with. As for any new hobby, start slow and encourage children to take their time before getting more plants. You’ll love getting to share your appreciation for houseplants with the kiddos in your life.