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Top 15 Houseplants for a Mid-Century Modern Vibe

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With clean lines, natural materials, bold shapes, and an emphasis on being functional, it's no wonder mid-century modern style is one of the most popular design styles out there.

It has a timeless beauty about it, that resonates with many people, myself included.

But, as any plant parent knows, it's not just about the furniture items you have, but the plants you add to a space can really enhance the mood of the room.

Mid-century modern home design is all about bringing the outside in.

It's where natural and functional meet in a truly beautiful design.

When you're looking for a houseplant to boost the mid-century vibes in your home, you want a plant that adds more than just greenery to a space.

You're looking for a plant that not only brings in that natural feeling, but also a plant that could stand as an artistic piece in the room all on it's own.

That's the perfect mid-century plant: an independently functional artistic element in the room.

It's easy to fall in love with every plant. (This is how I have over 40 of them!) But if you really want to up the mid-century vibe in your home, this list of the top 15 houseplants will lead you in the right direction.

All of these are for various plant skill levels, whether you are just a beginner or you're looking to up your plant game with something unique. There's something here for everyone.

Top 15 Houseplants for Mid-Century Modern Décor Style

1. Starfish Snake Plant

Common Name: Starfish Snake Plant

Scientific Name: Starfish Sansevieria Boncel

Light Requirements: Low to Bright Indirect

Care Level: Easy

Snake plants are known to be some of the easiest plants to take care of. They also can do well with just about any lighting scenario you may have.

But have you ever seen this Starfish variety?

The plant has fan-shaped, light green foliage with dark green concentric circles from the top to the bottom of the leaf.

It has a sculptural quality to it, making it the perfect addition to modern décor.

2. Spider Plant

Common Name: Spider Plant

Scientific Name: Chlorophytum comosum

Light Requirements: Bright Indirect

Care Level: Super Easy

Spider Plants have a unique feature: they sprout little plants off of the main plant.

These baby spider plants can be clipped off and repotted to grow an entirely new plant! Beautiful and fun!

Because they naturally cascade down as they grow, they look great hanging in a window or on a shelf.

Pro Tip:

Add even more mid-century vibe by placing it in a macramé plant hanger!

3. Lady Palm

Common Name: Lady Palm

Scientific Name: Rhapis excelsa

Light Requirements: Low to Medium Indirect

Care Level: Medium

As an interior designer, I'm always keeping an eye out for plants that add texture to a space. The lady palm is a perfect example of texture.

With mid-century design, you have a lot of sleek, clean lines, and this is the perfect plant to pair with that style.

It's broad fronds look like a drawing of the sun's rays, radiating outward. And the thin stems they grow from, add a delicateness to this palm that not all other palm trees have.

4. Ponytail Palm

Common Name: Ponytail Palm

Scientific Name: Beaucarnea recurvata

Light Requirements: Bright Indirect or Direct

Care Level: Easy

Want even more texture? The ponytail palm aims to please!

This "palm" isn't actually a palm tree at all! In fact, it's a part of the Agave family and is a succulent. (Read: low water needs.)

It has a sturdy, bulbous trunk that is capped with long, cascading leaves, resembling a ponytail.

It's stout figure packs in a lot of eye-catching drama in a small amount of space. This unique plant balances out the modern sleekness in mid-century décor. It's a showstopper all on its own.

5. Satin Pothos

Common Name: Satin Pothos

Scientific Name: Scindapsus pictus

Light Requirements: Bright Indirect

Care Level: Medium

Pothos are known to be a favorite among beginner plant parents. The satin variety is a gorgeous variety that is (nearly) as easy as other more common varieties.

The leaves really do have a satin sheen to them, allowing you to closely admire the plant as if it were a live painting.

The colors can range from green, pastel green to near white, combining together to make soft pallet that will balance and compliment the clean lines found in mid-century furniture.

Pro Tip:

Resting your eyes on nature promotes well-being. It helps to reset the brain and restores your energy. Put this Satin Pothos on your desk to have natural artwork to glance at throughout your day.

6. Swiss Cheese Plant

Common Name: Swiss Cheese Plant

Scientific Name: Monstera deliciosa

Light Requirements: Medium to Bright Indirect

Care Level: Easy

Monsteras have made a comeback in popularity over the past few years, and it often rivals the fiddle leaf fig as the "it" plant.

Monsteras are great for mid-century décor because they have that bold, sleek, and modern feel to them. They will be as equally impressive in a room with an Eames chair.

The leaves are impressively large with a deep green tone. Each leaf has a unique hole pattern, which can cast gorgeous, interesting shadows on the wall if placed near a light source.

7. Dragon Tree

Common Name: Dragon Tree

Scientific Name: Dracaena marginata

Light Requirements: Medium to Bright Indirect

Care Level: Easy

The Dragon Tree is a personal favorite of mine. It adds that textural element that's so perfect for more minimal styles, but has a stately vibe.

If this plant were a person, and it was heading to work, it would be wearing a three piece suit and tie. That's how fancy this plant is.

With a more formal elegance to it, it looks great with many mid-century style paintings and can add a lot of character to a room.

8. Meyer Lemon Tree

Common Name: Meyer Lemon Tree

Scientific Name: Citrus limon

Light Requirements: Bright Direct

Care Level: Hard (unless you live in Florida 😉)

Full disclosure: I killed my first Meyer lemon tree.

While not the easiest plant to take care of (especially if it gets infested with spider mites 🙄), if you get this beauty to thrive, you're going to have the most functional plant ever.

Meyer lemons tend to be sweeter than regular lemons, a perfect addition to some bubbly water in the summer. Yum!

Plus the plants can be found to be on the smaller side. Think small shrub size, not orchard tree size.

The mid-century era was flowing with new ideas on how to have functional items that also looked beautiful. Form follows function and all that. Meyer lemon trees tick those boxes quite well.

Pro Tip:

If you have a fruit tree indoors, you'll need to pollinate it in order for it to bear fruit. Use a Q-tip or small paint brush and gently brush the pollen around each flower's stigma (the center of the flower). Use the same Q-tip or brush without rinsing so each stigma is getting a mixture of pollen particles. Soon the petals will drop and a fruit will emerge.

9. Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

Common Name: Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

Scientific Name: Ficus lyrata

Light Requirements: Medium to Bright Indirect

Care Level: Hard

Here's another popular plant, that I also have successfully killed. Haha

I called mine the Fickle Fiddle because I just couldn't find it's Goldilocks zone of light, water, humidity, etc. that made it happy.

Despite being finicky, if you do have the perfect conditions, it is a statement houseplant.

It has a striking, bold, waxy leaves that glisten when light shines off of them. With this being one of the potentially taller houseplants on this list, it can be a great vertical element to your room.

Pro Tip:

Mid-century modern furniture can be low to the ground, so taller plants can offer you some height to balance out the space.

10. Chinese Money Plant

Common Name: Chinese Money Plant

Scientific Name: Pilea peperomioides

Light Requirements: Bright Indirect

Care Level: Medium

Not to be confused with the money tree, the Chinese money plant is a perfect sculpture plant.

It has unique coin-shaped foliage, springing from a central stem. While they can grow large, it can take some time, so they are great if you have a bright spot in the home, but don't want it to grow out of control.

The soft, circular leaves go well with the geometric designs often present in mid-century design. It can be very eye-catching as well.

11. Air Plants

Common Name: Air Plants

Scientific Name: Tillandsias

Light Requirements: Bright Indirect

Care Level: Medium

With a multitude of varieties out there, air plants are a fun one to try out different shapes and sizes.

Composing them on a surface or hanging them on the wall can add small pops of greenery to a room.

These were popular back in the day, and they're getting a comeback more recently because of their easy care.

If your mid-century home décor errs on the side of eclectic, air plants will add to the mix with their texture and uniqueness.

12. Parlor Palm Tree

Common Name: Parlor Palm Tree

Scientific Name: Chamaedorea elegans

Light Requirements: Bright Indirect

Care Level: Medium

If you're looking to bring the outside in, look no further than the parlor palm.

Any time you add a tree to a room, you get that indoor/outdoor feeling that mid-century home design was all about.

With the deep green fronds, the parlor palm tree is no exception. Don't feel like you need a fancy parlor room to get one of these. They work in almost any room as long as there is enough bright indirect light for it to thrive.

13. Majesty Palm

Common Name: Parlor Palm Tree

Scientific Name: Chamaedorea elegans

Light Requirements: Bright Indirect

Care Level: Medium

Oh, you like the parlor palm, but want even more impact?

Hello, your Majesty! Majesty Palm, that is.

This large palm also does well in bright indirect light, and grows extra large fronds for maximum impact.

If you have bold colors in your mid-century décor, the majesty palm will be a great compliment with it's impressive stature.

Pro Tip:

Make sure you have tall ceilings wherever you plan on keeping it. It is a fast grower and can quickly outgrow a normal 8-9 foot ceiling.

14. Fig Tree

Common Name: Fig Tree

Scientific Name: Ficus carica

Light Requirements: Bright Indirect and Some Direct

Care Level: Hard

While it is often seen outside, it's unique leaves would provide an artistic quality to any space. Just be sure it gets plenty of sun, especially in the growing season, you may want to move it outside some of the year or get growing lights for this one.

If you do well with this tree, you'll be rewarded with delicious figs, perfect for making jams or to just eat plain!

My favorite types of fig trees are the brown turkey and mission fig varieties both known for their sweetness. Plus, they both have really neat looking leaves and trunks that make the tree look like an organic modern architectural piece.

15. Olive Tree

Common Name: Olive Tree

Scientific Name: Olea europaea

Light Requirements: Bright Direct

Care Level: Medium

Yet another plant where form follows function...the perfect mid-century houseplant!

While olive trees weren't popular during the time period, we're seeing olive trees becoming more of the "it" houseplant.

It does require a LOT of direct sunlight. But, if you can manage that by giving it some time outside or a grow light, an olive tree can add both dramatic height, with a delicate sculptural feel to the space. This is the plant everyone will be envious of.

Pro Tip:

Once mature in about five years, olive trees begin to bear fruit. However, they typically only produce olives every other year, so don't be discouraged if it doesn't fruit every season.

Final Thoughts

Well there you have it! The best houseplants (and a few trees!) that make excellent additions to mid-century modern décor.

Be sure to subscribe in the footer below to receive more tips and tricks for decorating with plants.

Stay well and be inspired,

Want to know what the perfect plants are for your home? Schedule a "Designer on Demand" session, and let's bring the outside in!

Amy Farnum, Owner and Lead Designer of Inspired Design Inc

Hi, I'm Amy!

I'm a knowledge seeker, dog parent, nature lover, and a big fan of bubbly water. I'm also the owner of Inspired Design Inc, a biophilic interior design and flooring company in Kansas City. I help homeowners wade through the many decisions while renovating their homes, including how to add more natural elements into the space. Let's find the perfect solutions so you can finally be living in the home you've been dreaming of.


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