Unusual house plants to buy in 2023
From plants that look like rocks to dolphin shaped leaves, we've rounded up some of the most unusual house plants available to buy in 2023
House plants have been taking over our homes for many years now, from succulents to leafy tropicals. Although some of the classics, like peace lilies and begonias will always be popular, it's nice to mix up your collection with a few more unusual house plant varieties.
Hailing from all over the world, we've selected some weird and wonderful plants that will be sure to brighten up your collection.
For more on how to care for house plants head to our pot plant hub and read more about the likes of lithops, blue star fern, and dragon plant.
The most unusual house plants
Living stones is one of the many names given to plants in the genus Lithops. Native to southern Africa, they are also sometimes known as pebble plants and have evolved to look like the pebbles and rocks scattered around the ground of their natural habitat. These unusual house plants are succulents and can therefore be pretty low maintenance when it comes to care. They like to be in full sun all year round, so your brightest windowsill would be perfect. Pebble plants are also very drought tolerant, so be careful not to over water them and be sure that they are potted in a sandy well-draining soil, such as a cacti mix. Read our piece on how to care for them.
String of dolphins
String of dolphins, or Senecio peregrinus, is the more unusual cousin of the popular house plant string of pearls. This succulent boasts strings of fleshy leaves that look like jumping dolphins and as it grows the stems trail down and you end up with a whole pod. The dolphin shaped leaves retain water, so they are quite drought tolerant plants and like to be in bright sun, so a south-facing window is the perfect spot. Pot them up in a succulent compost and allow the compost to dry out between waterings to avoid root rot.
Marimo moss ball
You may have seen these unusual plants on BBC's The Green Planet with David Attenborough, but did you know you can keep a marimo moss ball as a house plant? Native to Japan, these 'moss' balls are actually made up of algae and in their natural habitat they can reach diameters of up to 30cm. To keep some of these weird and wonderful house plants simply put them in an open-topped container of water and place them in a bright spot out of direct sunlight. They're often sold by aquatic specialists and can add interest to fish tanks too. Change the water every couple of weeks.
- Buy now from Gardening Express (£15.95)
If you're looking for a twist on a classic house plant, then Hedera helix 'Erecta' is perfect. Although ivy is very happy growing outside, it has become popular as a house plant that tolerates lower light levels. Whereas most ivy plants have trailing or climbing stems, 'Erecta' has unusual upright stems that end up forming architectural pillars of growth. This is a slow growing plant that will be happy in any fertile compost and is fully hardy so you can keep it in particularly cool areas of the house like porches and hallways.
These strange succulents are native to South Africa and have fleshy light green leaves. The bulbous leaves have transparent streaks around their tips, making these a pretty unusual house plant. In the wild, they often grow with only the transparent tips showing above the sand. Haworthia cooperi like a sandy well-draining soil and are best kept in bright, indirect light. Although they tolerate drought, they will benefit from a consistent watering routine and should be watered less in winter when they are dormant.
If you fancy having a go at growing your own unusual house plant, you could buy some bat flower seeds. The bat flower (Tacca chantrieri) has a dark violet colour, almost appearing black, and has long whiskers; they resemble a bat in flight. The leaves of the plant are dark green and glossy and in themselves quite decorative. They do not like cold temperatures or direct sunlight. To grow these from seed, plant them in moist compost at a depth of around 5cm and place in a heated propagator. They can take several weeks to germinate, so be patient. If you are, you'll have an unusual indoor plant for years to come!
If you're keen to find low maintenance house plants, the idea that a plant could grow on nothing but air might be music to your ears. In terms of their growing habits, air plants make incredibly unusual house plants to add to your collection. In the wild they are epiphytes that grow on other plants, usually trees. At home, they can be placed in terrariums or hanging planters and they'll need soaking in water every couple of weeks. It's best to keep them out of direct sunlight, and most will also benefit from occasional misting to keep humidity levels up.
Crassula 'Buddha's Temple'
Crassula 'Buddha's Temple' is an unusual succulent that has densely packed leaves that grow to form an upright column. Their eye-catching appearance resembles a Chinese temple and they look particularly striking when planted in pots en masse. Like most succulents, they require a well drained soil, such as a cactus mix, and over watering should be avoided.
Mimosa pudica, also known as the sensitive plant, is a unique and unusual house plant to grow. Native to south and central America, they are fairly low maintenance and fast growing. Their delicate fronds of leaves close up when touched, making them a very popular plant to grow with children. They also produce fluffy pale pink flowers in summer. They enjoy full sun to partial shade and are often treated as an annual house plant. With this in mind, save the seed to grow them again the following year!
Dischidia 'Pangolin Kisses'
Dischidia 'Pangolin Kisses' is a plant native to areas from South East Asia to North Australia and takes its name from the scaly-skinned mammal. It has bulbous green leaves and this unusual house plant wraps itself around as it grows. Water regularly in warmer months but allow excess water to drain away and keep soil drier in winter.
Molly is the Gardens Illustrated's editorial and digital assistant. She has a roof garden and has her RHS level 2.
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