Flowers are beautiful, sure—but despite tips and tricks to make them last longer, sooner or later, they fade. Luckily, there are a ton of bright, beautiful houseplants out there, from compact, low-light lovers to big, bright tropicals. Their long-lasting leaves in eye-catching shades will liven up your plant collection—no vase needed.
Read on for 14 of our favorite colorful houseplants to brighten up your home
The leaves of these vivid, easygoing plants are speckled, striped, or veined with a rainbow of color. Depending on the variety, your croton’s leaves may be red, yellow, orange, pink, cream, purple, or black instead of or in addition to green. Give them a bright south-facing window where they can soak up full sun to keep their colors looking their best—otherwise, the leaves will fade to green.
Plants in the maranta and calathea families are known for more than their habit of uplifting their leaves like praying hands at night. Their foliage is marked with colors—pink, red, cream, and shades of green—in patterns that resemble a stained-glass window or a snake’s distinctive markings. These humidity-loving plants are great for north- or east-facing bathroom windows.
Madagascar Dragon Tree
Seeking a plant with a distinctly tropical look and eye-catching color? Look no further than the Madagascar dragon tree (Dracaena marginata), which is known for its long, thin green leaves edged in bright red or pink.
While dragon trees can adapt to high or low-light conditions, keep yours near a window with good bright, indirect light to maintain the red coloring.
With leaves colored in candylike streaks of pastel pink or cream, magenta, and green, these tropical foliage plants might as well be a bouquet of flowers. Give yours the humidity it needs to grow healthy and happy by keeping it by a window in a warm, steamy bathroom or putting a tray of pebbles with a little water in it under the pot.
Also known as nerve plant or mosaic plant, these cute, compact, low-growing plants have small, oval leaves shot through with bright white, pink, or red veins. They’ll do best in a humid, warm space that mimics their natural jungle habitat. While it’s versatile enough to grow in lighter or shadier spaces, bright, indirect light is ideal to make its colorful veining pop.
Purple Passion Plant
Technically, this plant has green leaves—but they’re covered in fine, velvety hairs that give the plant a bright purple sheen that almost glows. To keep yours looking its best, pinch back excess growth regularly—this keeps the plant from getting leggy and encourages new, purple growth. For even more color, look out for variegated purple passion plant, which features leaves swirled with cream, pink, and light green.
This common name covers plants in the Tradescantia and Zebrina families, also known as spiderwort. These vigorous growers are known for lush, trailing foliage covered in elegant stripes of white, cream, pink, or purple in addition to green. They’re one of the easiest plants to propagate in water or soil, so you’ll be able to multiply your collection easily once you get started.
Sure, lots of the plants on this list are as colorful as flowers, but the bromeliad has a flowerlike shape. Elegantly arching green foliage grows beneath the plant’s central rosette, which can be colored in shades from red to orange to pink to yellow. When a mature bromeliad is happy and healthy—its central cup full of water, its environment warm and humid—the plant will put out an even more brilliant inflorescence for you to enjoy before growing pups that you can propagate into new plants.
These upright, leafy plants with colorful speckled leaves are beloved by home gardeners because they’re so pretty and easy to care for. Choose from wide green leaves streaked or spotted with silver, cream, or pale green, or go bright with deep pink, red, or yellow.
The main challenge with Chinese evergreens is getting their water right—not too much, not too little—so let the soil dry out a bit between waterings.
Also known as Pilea cadierei, aluminum plants get their name from their signature silvery coloring, which appears in an attractive pattern between the veins of the green leaves almost as though it’s been brushed on. Help yours thrive by displaying it in a warm place with bright, indirect light.
Variegated Rubber Tree
While the rubber tree’s glossy, deep green leaves are a classic look, the showy variegated version is a must-have for any collector of colorful houseplants. The leaves of this type, also called ruby ficus, are daubed and streaked with a dreamy combination of seafoam green, dark green, cream, and pink. These tall plants are great for filling an empty corner near a well-lit window and grow vigorously.
Polka Dot Plant
Unlike other colorful plants, which need brighter lights to show their true colors, polka dot plants (also known as freckle face plants) look best in shadier conditions. However, this will cause this low-growing plant to get leggy, so bright, indirect light is the ideal compromise. In addition to pink, these petite, compact plants with small oval leaves come spotted with white, purple, lavender, or red, too.
The snake plant is known for being almost impossible to kill. But these hardy specimens, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, also have some of the most attractive foliage of any entry-level houseplant. Variegated types offer streaks and stripes in different shades of green, yellow, or cream, while the tall, snakelike leaves of others are banded in a cheerful bright yellow. While they do best in bright, indirect light, snake plants can adapt to dim conditions—and they won’t mind if you wait a few weeks between waterings.
A dramatic tropical with deep purple leaves, the ti plant is also known as cabbage plant or cordyline plant. Depending on the cultivar, these variegated plants are streaked with shades of cream, pink, or pale purple. Take care to display this stylish specimen in a spot with lots of bright sunlight to keep its colors popping. Because the ti plant is sensitive to fluoride in water, try distilled water, filtered water or rainwater to keep leaf tips from browning.