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Green living: 10 indoor plants that will flourish despite small spaces and low light

Bring nature indoors – these hardy plants will change your living space into a lush green healing sanctuary.

Green living: 10 indoor plants that will flourish despite small spaces and low light

Picking the right indoor plants can transform your living space into an oasis of calm. (Photo: Unsplash / Brina Blum)

Urban gardens are very popular today. They are powerful air purifiers and stress-busters, and give your pad a charming, whimsical, eco-chic vibe.

The good news is, you don’t need a sprawling mansion or a dedicated gardener to nurture your very own Instagram-worthy indoor garden. With the right plants and a few fuss-free tips from horticultural experts, anyone can find their green fingers.

Here are 10 plants that will flourish despite challenging space constraints and insufficient sunlight in your HDB flat.


The Mother-in-law's Tongue (left) is the ultimate oxygen-makers. (Photo: Super Farmers)

Fresh air is a natural mood-booster and stress-buster, and the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue produces a constant supply of it.

This compact and low maintenance plant not only filters harmful oxides and formaldehyde from the air during the day, it is also one of the few plants in the world that can convert carbon dioxide into oxygen at night, shared Cynthea Lam, founder of Super Farmers, an urban farming company. This makes it perfect for the bedroom, bathroom and virtually any living space.

Hardy and adaptable, it thrives well in bright or dark places on very little water. “Native to West Africa, its striking appearance and upright erect leaf makes it a popular choice for both traditional and modern homes,” she added.


The spider plant is a hardy species that thrive well in a moist but well-drained soil. (Photo: Adrian Tan)

Like the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, the spider plant functions as the green lungs of your home, filtering toxins from the air so that everyone in the family breathes better, said Lam. Its long arching foliage also spruces up your space.

These hardy plants do not require direct sunlight and thrive well in moist but well-drained soil, so pick a pot with drainage holes to prevent them from getting waterlogged, she advised. “Flowers from the plant will develop into spiderettes, which can be used to grow new plants,” she added.

Replant them in smaller hanging pots to further adorn the house.


The money plant is believed to bring prosperity to the entire family. (Photo Rohit Saini/Pixabay)

It flourishes in indirect medium to low light environments, and only requires watering every seven to 10 days. Money plants are simple to care for and propagate.

“Select a healthy branch about 30cm in length with at least two to three nodes, cut it at a 45-degree angle, and place the branch in any container with clean water, ensuring that water covers at least one node,” explained Lam.

Since they can be grown in bottles, mason jars, old electric bulbs or any of your favourite containers, they offer more design options for HDB-dwellers.


The Peace Lily is one of the hardiest indoor flowering plants (Photo: Pixabay)

If you have always wanted an indoor flower garden, the Peace Lily is a great choice. Few flowers bloom indoors without direct sunlight, and this elegant green-and-white plant is one of them. It thrives in low-light areas, but truly flourishes with moderate partial sunlight such as by the window or in the balcony.

“Most varieties do not require a very large pot and are very space efficient,” shared Pablo Inigo Pablo, senior horticulturist from Far East Flora.


The yellow palm will spruce up your space with its gorgeous fronds. (Photo: Adrian Tan)

Brighten up your dining or lounging space with the yellow palm. With arching golden-yellow feather-shaped fronds, this gorgeous plant brings the sunny tropics indoors. A low- to medium-maintenance plant, it thrives in bright areas, even without direct sunlight.

Simply feed it regularly with fertiliser for leafy plants, said Pablo. An effective air purifier, it filters away volatile organic compounds for easier breathing as well.


The Monstera has distinct heart-shaped split leaves. (Photo: Chris Lee/Unsplash)

Also known as the Swiss Cheese plant, the Monstera’s glossy heart-shaped split leaves instantly add detail and elegance to your living space. Since it does not require direct sunlight and flourishes with bright filtered light with little more than weekly watering, Lam recommends it for time-starved urbanites.

“Monstera needs a lot of space to grow and is more suitable for the living room rather than a windowsill or a tight corner,” she noted. Bear in mind however, that it is toxic and should be kept out of reach of young children and pets.


The asparagus fern is intricate but also poisonous, so be careful if you have children and pets at home. (Photo: Super Farmers)

If you are looking for an unusual addition to your plant collection, Lam recommends the asparagus fern. Its light feathery foliage adds texture to your base. This plant prefers morning sun and bright indirect light, so place it close to an east-facing window, and water once or twice a week.

“Be careful if you have pets though. The entire plant, including berries are poisonous and should not be ingested. If this is a concern, plant it in a hanging basket to keep it out of reach of pets,” she recommended.

As the plant matures, the stems of this droopy hanging plant may grow long enough to create a gorgeous cascading effect.


Aloe vera is a superfood, skin food and air purifier. (Photo: Igor Son/Unsplash)

For farm-to-table enthusiasts, aloe vera is a great plant to start your urban farming journey. This low maintenance plant flourishes in bright areas without frequent watering, shared Pablo. As a superfood, it is chockfull of minerals, vitamins and enzymes. It supports digestion and detoxification, and eases inflammation. You can also create your own DIY moisturiser and mask with it. 

“Aloe vera releases oxygen at night, so placing it in a bedroom will help promote a good night’s sleep as well,” Pablo added.


Air plants are perfect for compact spaces. (Photo: Far East Flora)

Love the idea of a green living space, but don’t fancy grimy soil or bulky pots? Air plants are ideal for those obsessed with cleanliness. These soil-less plants can be displayed in glassware, driftwood and stone, or even displayed hanging, and fit well in tight spaces and compact HDB flats.

“They need to be misted regularly and fed with low copper-content orchid fertiliser,” shared Pablo.


The Zamioculcas will thrive despite neglect. (Photo: Tran Mau Tri Tam/Unsplash)

Zamioculcas or ZZ plants are a perfect for the lazy or busy homeowner – if left in bright indoor areas, they can survive weeks of neglect without withering.

The clincher: “This plant has a natural water-storing root system; hence, it does not require frequent watering and is one of the hardiest indoor plants,” said Pablo.

In fact, too much TLC may kill it. If you find leaves turning yellow, you might be over-watering it and causing its underground to rhizomes to rot.

Source: CNA/bt