Houseplant of the Month for May 2019: Bathroom Plants

The Story of Bathroom Plants 

Bathroom plants all tolerate shade, high temperatures and high humidity—similar to the conditions that are found in a rainforest (and the bathroom). And they fit in perfectly with the interiors trend where a room is more than just somewhere to dash in and out of and becomes a space to enjoy for a good start to the day or relaxing end.

We’ve specially selected chosen four bathroom plants that can be displayed together for optimum effect. 


Maidenhair ferns of various species.

Tillandsias originate from Central and South America, peace lilies from the jungles of Brazil, South America and Asia, creeping fig (Ficus pumila) clambers and trails in the Far East, and maidenhair ferns are found through the tropical world. What they have in common is that they grow in an environment that resembles a tropical rainforest. And that in turn is very similar to the bathroom after the morning rush; the moisture and steam left behind offer ideal conditions for these plants.

Bathroom Plants Range 

There are literally hundreds of varieties of tillandsias.

The best tillandsias, also called air plants, for use in the bathroom are the classic epiphytes, of which Tillandsia xerographica (large gray rosette) or T. ionantha (small gray rosette) are examples. There are also many other tillandsias offered as small rosettes in various shapes and sizes. Bought in bloom, T. cyanea (pink and blue) or T. flabellata (red) are also very suitable and have the added benefit of bringing color to the bathroom. Another choice is Spanish moss (T. useneoides), an extreme epiphyte without even any roots, although it will need a very bright window to live any length of time.

Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) are offered in many different cultivars, from very small plants with small white blooms to plants almost as tall as a person with large sail-like white spathes. There are green-leaved and variegated-leaved varieties. 

Maidenhair ferns (Adiantum) come in various species and cultivars, ranging from green-leaved to bronze-colored varieties.

Creeping fig

Creeping fig (Ficus pumila) is offered as both a hanging plant and climber in green-leaved and white variegated cultivars. The young plants have small leaves. The leaves can get larger as they get older.

What to Look for When Buying Bathroom Plants  

Peace lily
  • Choose the best specimen of any species, a plant of the desired height (or length, when it comes to trailing plants) and diameter. Flowering plants should be in bud or just beginning their flowering.
  • With epiphytic species offered without pot, it’s important to check that the plants are sufficiently fresh and are not dried out.
  • With the other plants the soil must be sufficiently damp, otherwise they will either droop (Spathiphyllum) or the leaves will have dried up (Adiantum or Ficus pumila).

Care Tips

Mirrors and white walls can help reflect light to the plants. Every little bit helps!
  • Light is, of course, important (no plant can live without it!), but bathroom plants can cope with quite low light levels. If there’s no window in the bathroom, they can survive fairly well on artificial light if you leave it on all day.
  • Water plants grown in pots thoroughly every week or so.
  • Water epiphytic tillandsias by soaking them in water at the same frequency.
  • All these plants love the steam and mist from repeated showers.
  • Apply a light soluble fertilizer once every few weeks during the growing season (spring through early fall). With tillandsias, you can apply it to the water when you give them their weekly soaking.
  • If the plants become overgrown, simply give them a trim.
  • If the bathroom is very dark, move the plants to a bright but humid room two weeks out of every month. 

Text and photos from a press release by
Styling by Elize Eveleens, Klimprodukties

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

6 comments on “Houseplant of the Month for May 2019: Bathroom Plants

  1. Do you remember ‘air ferns’? Oh my; they are still around!

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