When we think about houseplants, we would often assume that they are small in stature and easy to move around, but on the contrary, houseplants come in a variety of sizes. There are tall ones, small ones, and their leaves come in various sizes as well. Some plants may be short but have huge foliage. In this article, you will learn about the variety of houseplants that sport big leaves, why do they have large leaves, and how to take care of them efficiently.
Having houseplants with large foliage is not uncommon, in fact, interior decorators have created a large-leaf trend making these plants quite popular over the past few years. Some of these plants include Peacock Plants, Triostar, Rubber Tree, Elephant Ear Plant, Swiss Cheese Plant, and more.
It’s easy for a novice to be intimidated by their large leaves. But, you might be surprised to discover that some of the above listed plants, like the Rubber Plant, are actually quite easy to care for.
Houseplants That Have Big Leaves and How to Care for Them
There are dozens of plants that you can choose from, but here are only a handful that have large foliage. If you enjoy seeing huge leafy plants in your home. Here is a collection of houseplants that have big leaves:
Peacock Plant Calathea spp
There are actually many species of Calathea plants available in the markets today. They are often confused with the Maranta spp, also known as the prayer plant, and the Aphelandra spp, commonly known as the Zebra Plant. The Peacock Plant grows much larger than any of these and is often the center of attraction due to its large foliage.
These plants are native to Brazil and are easily identified with its big bright green leaves that are streaked with yellow or pink streaks that make it look like feathers. The leaves alone can grow up to 2 feet in length.
- Like most houseplants, everything starts with the potting mix. The ideal mix would consist of two parts of perlite and two parts of peat moss. This mix will keep moisture around the roots but not let the plant sit in too much water.
- Fertilizers may be used, just be sure to apply them at half-strength. Too much fertilizers will make your plant grow leggy.
- Peacock plants thrive in high humidity since this is what it is accustomed to in its natural habitat. Which means they need to be misted several times within the week. If the atmosphere is arid, place a pebble tray with water to allow the moisture to build up within the space.
- Most gardeners assume that intense heat and light are the primary requirements of this plant since it is native to tropical areas. But these plants mostly grow under the shade of larger trees. Ideally, they need to be kept within 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Excess light is never an issue with plants; diffused or indirect light should be enough to care for your Peacock plant. The issue that is often encountered with direct sunlight is heat rather than the light’s intensity.
The care for these plants may be quite fussy, and it may not fit within your lifestyle, which is why it always best to do your research before purchasing a plant.
Triostar Stromanthe spp
The Triostar is known for its striking houseplant with its variegated leaves with pink, cream, burgundy, or green colors. However beautiful these plants are, they are quite complicated to care for but not entirely impossible. These plants are native to the rainforests of Brazil and would require high humidity and warm temperatures.
These plants have thick, glossy leaves that are larger than mid-range house plants which stretch to around 6 to 12 inches.
- These plants are used to growing on the floors of the rainforests, which would mean indirect light would be great for them to thrive. Find an ideal space that is brightly lit and do not forget to rotate them now and then since they tend to grow toward the source of light. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight since this would burn their leaves.
- Maintaining the humidity in the environment your plant is in may be quite a challenge. Some homes may be too dry, depending on the state you live in. As odd at it may seem, these plants would do great in the bathroom or kitchen. If you are really keen on keeping them in the living space you can opt to place a humidifier for your plants or use a pebble humidity tray.
- The Triostar does not do well in chilly temperatures. You would need to keep it away from cold drafts at all times. Room temperature would be fine, but during winter, you would need to take an extra step to ensure that the temperatures would be kept in an ideal rate of 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The soil of your plant must be airy and fast-draining. The pot itself should have a hole to allow the water to seep through and must be large enough to accommodate its roots. A perfect mix would be an equal amount of coco coir, perlite, and potting soil.
- Moist plants are happy plants, be sure never to overwater your Triostar. Check the soil before watering. If the topsoil is dry to the touch, you can start watering your plant again. Having your plant sit in water for prolonged periods will cause root rot and will eventually kill your plants.
Rubber Tree Ficus elastica
In the wild, rubber trees can grow up to 100 feet in height. Indoors they adapt well to their pots and can grow to about 6 feet tall. They are quite popular because of its large waxy leaves that are often in dark hues. The plant’s name hails for the sap that it produces. This is commonly used to make rubber.
- Rubber plants prefer a lot of indirect light. Keeping them in an open room with access to free flowing light for at least 4 to 6 hours. You can even keep your plant near a window or sliding door with a sheer curtain to give them the right amount of light. There are variegated varieties available, and these types would need more light exposure to bring out their colors.
- Watering schedule for the rubber plant varies depending on the season. During the summer when the plant is actively growing, the soil must be kept moist. In addition to this, you would also need to wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth to maintain the moisture and clear out the dust that may be blocking the chlorophyll from absorbing the light more efficiently. During the dormant seasons like winter, keep the soil dry but not too dry. You will know that your plants are too dry when their leaves start to droop. Like most plants, the rubber plants do not appreciate being in soggy soil. This will rot the roots of your plant, which make it unable to absorb nutrients.
- Ideally, these plants grow best between 60- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in an area where winters are intense, you would need to keep your plants at least within 50 degrees Fahrenheit in order for them to survive. They prefer moist, humid air because of its tropical nature. Being able to maintain the right temperature and humidity is important to keep your plant thriving.
Elephant Ear Plant Alocasia cucullata
The common name of this plant describes a group of tropical plants known for the excessively large heart-shaped leaves that resemble elephant ears. Other genuses include Colocasia and Xanthosoma.
These plants are native to Asia and Africa and are therefore accustomed to warm temperatures. Aside from the fact that their foliage is large in size they also come in a variety of colors that include red, bronze, purple, and green. These plants are a great choice for your home, but they would need an extra amount of love and care compared to regular house plants.
- Being native to tropical conditions, the alocasia thrives in bright indirect light. You can place them in an open room with lots of windows, or keep them by the balcony where light is easily accessible.
- Alocasias thrive in warmer climates and would ideally thrives within 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Exposure to temperatures lower 60 degrees would signal the plant to enter dormancy. If kept in cool spaces for prolonged periods, the leaves will start to droop. It is equally important to keep these plants away from cold drafts and direct access to air conditioners.
- Allow the top 2 or 3 inches of soil dry out before watering the plant again. It is vital to keep the soil moist but be sure that your plant is not sitting in water. Overwatering the plant and misting the leaves too often would make your plant susceptible to a variety of fungal infections. During winter time, it would be best to keep your watering to a minimum. Allow the soil to completely dry before watering again.
- Fertilization should be done every two weeks during active growth. Be sure to dilute the fertilizer solution to half its strength before administering. Never fertilize your plant during winter, the buildup of salt in the soil because of unused fertilizer will cause absorption problems to your plants. Whereas too strong or too much fertilizers would burn the leaves.
- The soil needs to be light, airy and loose. Adding peat moss to the mix would be ideal for keeping it this way. If the soil you bought the plant in seems to heave, you can add builder’s sand or some perlite to lighten it up to allow the roots to breathe better.
Birds of Paradise Strelitzia reginae
These unique tropical plants are native to South Africa and are closely related to bananas. They are often mistaken as a banana plant due to the similarity of their leaves, but these plants are actually named after the regal birds that seem to look like their crane-like blossoms.
Under the right conditions, these plants can thrive and blossom. Although they can survive indoors, having them fully bloom within interior spaces would be quite rare. They grow to about 5 feet high in its natural habitat but can maintain a smaller stature indoors, roughly around 2 to 3 feet.
- Ideally, these plants would prefer direct sunlight, enough exposure would allow it to reach its full potential. But if you’re planning to keep them in your home, just be sure to allow it to have easy access to light, like a window sill. You can also keep them in the kitchen or by the patio.
- Watering should be done moderately. Allow the soil to dry out before adding more water. Like most houseplants, they would prefer moist conditions but will not appreciate being in soggy soil. Overwatering would cause a mountain of problems like root rot and even incurable fungal infections.
- These plants thrive in warm climates and high humidity, keeping the temperature within 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit would be ideal. If your home is dry, it’s time to invest in a humidifier or simply place a tray with pebbles and water to promote a moister environment.
Swiss Cheese Plant Monstera deliciosa
Surprisingly enough, this plant is quite easy to care for. They are native to the jungles of Mexico and Panama. Their huge glossy leaves have multiple splits that start from the edge and find its way to the center vein of the leaf. The leaves alone can grow to about 2 to 3 feet wide, and come in a vibrant green hue.
The only downside to keeping these plants is that they are quite poisonous and would be a hazard to have around pets and small children. There are about 50 variants of this plant, and all of them fall under the genus monstera. The name hails from its monstrous leaves which split or cuts open upon maturity.
- The Swiss Cheese Plant easily adapts to interior spaces that it would only need an ample amount of light. It can even grow in low-lit areas. If the light is not enough, the leaf will not split, and the plant would have the tendency to become leggy.
- Overwatering of the plant can easily be identified since the leaves start to form droplets that seem like perspiration when there is an excess of water in the pot. It is important to keep the soil moist, and this just requires moderate watering. Check the soil now and then before watering your plant to be sure.
- You may fertilize your plant monthly during watering, but this must be done at least a week or two after you have re-potted your plant. Avoid fertilizing your plant during dormant seasons. This could cause leaf burns. The only effective remedy to cure overly fertilized plants would be repotting them in new soil.
- Keep the leaves clean by wiping them whenever they get dusty. You must also watch out for spider mites that may start nesting under the huge foliage. The leaves of this plant will last quite a long time, and with the proper care, they can even last for years.
Chinese Evergreen Agalaonema spp
The genus agalaonema has a wide variety of plants. They come in different colors and various sizes too. You would often see smaller evergreens in homes of new plant parents, but there are large-leaved varieties that will just pop-out in your living room.
One remarkable thing about this plant is that it is incredibly low maintenance. With just a little care, and the basic requirements. You will have a plant with lush foliage making you look like an expert. It is entirely durable and would tolerate low-lit spaces, dry air, and even periods of drought.
- Even if these plants are quite resilient, providing them the best care possible would end in greater results. Everything starts with the right kind of soil. These plants would thrive better in proper potting soil, perlite, and sand.
- These plants thrive in medium light exposure. You can practically place them anywhere in your home. Just be sure that you keep them in warm and humid areas.
- Speaking of warm spaces, these plants, being tropical in nature, cannot tolerate cool temperatures. Anything below 60 degrees Fahrenheit would cause browning in the leaves and eventually be detrimental to its survival. Ideally, they should be kept in a space in between 70 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
- These plants would need to be moderately watered. Be sure not to put too much, and not to completely forget about them. Even if they tolerate drought, you would want them to die completely. Allow the soil to dry out in between watering, if the soil is moist skip the watering for that time.
- The Chinese evergreen does not need to be fertilized regularly. If you want to fertilize them you can do so, but you must not do this frequently. At most, you can fertilize them once a year, preferably during the spring when the plant is actively growing.
Fiddle Leaf Fig Ficus lyrata
Being closely related to the rubber tree, the fiddle leaf fig sports a similar waxy dark green leaf. The only difference would the shape. The fiddle leaf fig gets its name from the shape of their foliage. Their big violin-shaped leaves give this plant a lot of structure.
These plants can grow up to 6 feet in height indoors, given they are well taken care of. Other varieties can be shorter and bushier, but this variant is a favorite because of its sculptural shape. You can actually purchase them as mature plants, but it will definitely cost you. In addition to good aesthetics, these plants are quite tough and easy-to-care-for.
- Bright light would be the best thing for your plant. Like the rubber tree, you can place them near a sunny window. It is important to rotate your plants every now and then since they have the tendency to lean towards the source of light. The same is true for the fiddle leaf fig.
- Well-draining soil is the secret to a low-maintenance plant. This way you are able to efficiently maintain moisture but not allow the plant’s roots to completely soak in water, which would cause root rot. It would also be helpful if you re-pot your plant yearly.
- Water your plant only when the soil is dry to the touch. Drying the soil out in between watering would be great for your plant. Too much moisture can also cause fungal infections, and too little water will cause your plant’s leaves to brown and droop.
Why Do Plants Have Huge Leaves?
As we know, plants leaves vary in colors, shapes, and sizes. For this article, we choose to focus on size and why it is important for these plants to have such large foliage. Most of the plants we have listed are of tropical origins, one thing you would notice is that the closer the plants are to the equator the larger the leaves get.
Plants native to Southeast Asian countries would have bigger foliage compared those to the ones in Europe. Botanists were able to identify this trend in the 19th century but did not thoroughly explain this phenomenon. Here are some rationalizations that have been collated over the years that is based on temperature, humidity, and rainfall.
It is said that large leaves are meant to help with the heat in the tropics, some scientists would argue that desert regions do not have plants with similar foliage sizes. A good rebuttal would be that tropical plants would need to be larger and thick to manage the humidity and the rainfall as well. If they were common in desert spaces, they would need to be sturdier and have the ability to lock in moisture.
As much as heat plays a factor in the evolution of plant foliage, night-time freezing is equally as important as daytime heat. Large leaves are equipped with thicker boundary layers that allow them to adapt to cold nights. These veins act as insulation, making it harder for the leaves to release the heat.
Amusingly, scientists have utilized this information to predict severe climate change. For example, some regions that used to be wet and cool, would have small-leaf species, by the time you start noticing the growth of large-leaf plants, you can be sure that the area is starting to get warmer and drier.
House plants with big leaves are aesthetically pleasing to see in an open space, if you have a large room with not much furniture, having one of the plants we have listed would definitely be great for your home. Just be sure that you do your research before investing in one of these plants since they can be quite expensive, especially when you plant to buy them when they are fully grown. Doing your part and knowing if you will be able to care for them efficiently is only half the journey of being a well-established plant parent.