Advanced Houseplants - Hard To Grow Houseplants

A Potted Houseplant
(Image credit: Firn)

Difficult houseplants aren’t impossible to grow, but they tend to be a little fussier when it comes to temperature, sunlight, and humidity. The beauty of growing advanced houseplants is always worth the effort.

If you’re an experienced gardener and you’re ready to try something more challenging than pothos or spider plants, consider these houseplants for advanced gardeners. 

Challenging Houseplants: Houseplants for Advanced Gardeners

Boston fern (Nephrolepsis exalta) is a gorgeous, lush plant from the tropical rainforest. This plant is slightly fussy and prefers indirect or filtered light. Like many difficult houseplants, Boston fern doesn’t like cold, and appreciates daytime temps between 60 and 75 F. (15-25 C.), slightly lower during the night. A humidifier is a good idea for most challenging houseplants, especially during the winter months. 

Miniature roses are lovely gifts, but they are hard to grow houseplants because they really aren’t intended to grow indoors. Ideally, it’s best to move the plant outdoors within a week or two, but if you want to try growing it as a houseplant, it needs six hours of full sunlight. Keep the soil evenly moist but never soggy, and be sure the plant gets plenty of air circulation.

Zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa) is a distinctive plant with dark green, white-veined leaves. Ensure the plant is in bright indirect light, and the room is at least 70 F. (20 C.) all year. Keep the soil slightly damp all the time, but not soggy. Feed zebra plant every week or two during the growing season.

Peacock plant - (Calathea makoyana), also known as cathedral window, is appropriately named for its showy leaves. Peacock plants are challenging houseplants that require warmth, humidity, and moderate to low light. Beware of too much sunlight, which fades the bright colors. Water with rainwater or distilled water, as fluoride can damage the leaves. 

Ctenanthe (Ctenanthe lubbersiana) is native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. Like many challenging houseplants, it doesn’t tolerate temps below 55 F. (13 C.). This elegant plant, also known as never-never plant and bamburanta, has large vivid leaves that lose their distinctive pattern in too much light. Water when the surface of the soil feels dry, and mist often, using distilled water or rainwater.

Stromanthe sanguinea ‘Tricolor,’ sometimes known as Triostar prayer plant, displays thick, shiny leaves of cream, green and pink, with burgundy or pinkish undersides, depending on the variety. This plant, one of the more advanced houseplants, likes lower light and needs high humidity and frequent misting. The bathroom is a good location for Stromanthe.

Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.