The Best Plants for a Small Yard or House

The best nursery with plants for a small yard or house.

Written by Kelsey W.

Do you live in a cozy apartment or a small cottage and worry whether your plants will enjoy living in a small place? Do you fear they’ll take over and that you’ll require a new, bigger home to make them happy? 

Well, you’re in luck because many indoor potted plants and outdoor plants remain small for many years due to their natural size or because you can put them in a small pot and keep them small. Other plants are kept small through regular pruning, but you don’t necessarily need to take scissors to every plant to keep it small.

A good example is a bonsai tree, which you can keep small in a small pot, but which can grow up to 80 inches tall when given enough space. However, a bonsai tree is just one example of a plant that will feel perfectly at home in your tiny abode.

Let’s explore some of the other excellent plants for a small yard or house.

Air Plants

Air plants are wildly popular right now, and many of these plants only grow to a maximum of a few inches wide. Although there’s one air plant, the “Tillandsia xerographica,” which can grow up to 2 feet wide, most air plants will feel right at home in a hanging pot that’s much smaller.

One of the benefits of air plants is that you don’t need to replant them, ever, because they’re not placed in soil. You’ll find all sorts of creative hangers and small cradles for air plants, and they tend to tolerate a variety of lighting conditions, growing best in bright, indirect light.

Bear in mind, however, that the term “air plant” is mildly incorrect as far as its watering requirements are concerned. You may see advice to mist the plants a few times a week, but they fare much better with a weekly dunking for about 15 to 20 minutes in a pot of water. They don’t need soil, but they do appreciate more than just air and misty sprays.

Mini Pilea and Pilea

Sometimes called a money plant or Chinese money plant, Pilea Peperomioides is a popular houseplant around the world for its simple care requirements and interesting appearance. The leaves are round (like coins), and they don’t need a lot of light to flourish.

Not only can you regularly forget to water your money plant, but you can place them in an area with terrible lighting, and they’ll still do just fine. Although they love sitting on a windowsill, you can put them on a side table that’s in the middle of the room and not next to any direct light source.

One of the reasons these plants are excellent for small homes and spaces is that they respond well to pruning. Not only can you create new plants quite easily with cuttings, but you can snip off a few of the longest stems without shocking the plant to keep it a compact size.

Baby Toes

Although the name is slightly disconcerting, baby toes plants are a perfect little plant to put on a desk or shelf that’s near a window but not directly in front of it. Baby toes don’t need much water at all, and they’re actually part of the succulent family.

If you forget to water your plants, your baby toes won’t mind. In fact, you can actually over-water them, so always make sure the soil is dry and well-drained before using your watering can on them. They’re actually related to lithops, the finicky “living stone” succulents that get quite wrinkled and angry when you water them too often.

Place your baby toes in a very small pot, and try to water them only when they’re very dry. You can use the “soak and dry” technique where you soak the soil completely in-between watering during the summer, but you can forget about them for just about the entire winter, and they won’t mind a bit. They will fare well with indirect sunlight or a windowsill that gets sun for part of the day.

Echeveria Succulents

One of the best Southern California plants for your small house or tiny garden is the Echeveria, which comes in all sorts of beautiful colors and lush shapes. They look like flowers that are constantly in bloom, and they grow relatively slowly.

In fact, they love small pots, and they don’t mind at all being “pot bound,” where their roots get crowded in the soil. Not only can you grow them for several years in small pots, but you can also easily snip off any babies (or pups) that grow off the plants to keep them small.

If you’re so inclined, you can very easily make new plants from the pups. Simply cut the pup from the mother plant and leave it on a counter for about a week. After the wound on the end of the pup scabs over, plant it in well-draining soil, and voila! An instant, new echeveria plant for your home or a gift. They’re excellent as an indoor plant for your windowsill or a plant in your tiny outdoor garden.

Jade Plants

Jade plants are another excellent succulent for small spaces. You can treat them like a bonsai and force them to remain small by keeping them in a small pot. They grow slowly, but their stems may get quite fat at a certain point, and you may want to put them in a slightly larger pot.

Jade plants love the sun, so if you have a windowsill that gets a lot of bright light every day, your jade plant will love it. If you find your jade plant is looking a little poorly in the winter, you can put the pot outside. They easily tolerate Southern California winters unless you’re high enough in the San Bernardino mountains that you get snow.

If you have limited space outside, you might want to keep your outdoor jade plant in a pot. They will spread as much as they can, and while they look beautiful, they might take over a small lawn. If you really want to plant them in the ground and have limited space, just get your cutting shears ready for a yearly pruning session.

African Violets

With their beautiful flowers and fuzzy leaves, African violets can keep their blooms going all year long, especially in climates like that of Southern California. You can find flowers in all sorts of colors like blue, purple, red, and white, so it’s easy to find an African violet to match your décor.

You can keep African violets in one pot for their entire lifespan, and they can happily grow for many years in small pots. There are some mini varieties, but they’ll often grow larger if you put them in a bigger pot than the one you receive when you buy it. If you notice a pup growing off the side of your African violet, cut it off and make a new plant with it. They enjoy growing solo in their small pots.

The most important thing to remember about African violets is that you can’t get water on their leaves. In the wild, they reside at the bottom of the rainforest canopy, and their leaves never get wet from rainfall. Water your African violets from the bottom by submerging their pots in a wide bowl of water for about 10 minutes.

Asparagus Ferns

An asparagus fern looks exactly like what the name suggests, and they’re an interesting addition to any shelf with potted plants. If you feel confident in watering your plants regularly, the asparagus fern is a great choice. They enjoy bright indirect sunlight and frequent watering, especially in the summer.

Asparagus ferns actually grow quite quickly, and they can get a little wild with their roots. To keep them happy in small pots, you can divide the plants (tops and roots) every so often and put the extras in new pots. You can regularly prune your asparagus fern, too, to keep its compact shape. 

If you find that your asparagus fern is getting a little leggy, it might need some extra sunlight. Prune the plant, give it a good watering, and find a sunnier place in your home for it. You can place your asparagus plant outside occasionally if you have a dark home or apartment. Just make sure you don’t let it get too much direct sunlight during its outdoor sojourn.

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