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Easy to Grow Houseplants with Colorful Leaves

Sometimes plain green just won't do. Dress up your interior decor (or shade gardens!) with these houseplants that have colorful foliage. 
By Justin Hancock

Croton

Bold just begins to describe how dramatic beautiful croton foliage can be. There are a wealth of varieties; 'Petra' is one of the most common. It bears dark green leaves colorfully marked with brilliant shades of red, orange, and gold. 

Crotons show the best color when grown in a high-light situation; they don't mind a little direct sun when grown inside. 

African Mask Plant

You'll love how African mask brings a touch of the tropics to your indoor spaces, especially in the dead of winter. The plant features big, arrow-shaped leaves boldly veined in silver. Besides being big, the leaves also offer a fun splash of texture to interior spaces. 

African mask (also called elephant's ears) grows best in a humid spot. If the air gets dry in your home or office, supplement with extra moisture.(Get tips for raising humidity here.)

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen wins the award for being one of the easiest houseplants you can grow. It's remarkably tolerant to just about everything, from low to high light; low to high humidity; even infrequent watering. In addition to being easy to grow, it's also lovely to look at, bearing dark green leaves marked with silver. 

Chinese evergreen will grow just about everywhere, but it's happiest in a medium-bright spot with regular watering.

Red Aglaonema

A type of Chinese evergreen, red aglaonema is even showier because it trades in silver for rich red and pink tones to the leaves. Though it's even showier than it's cousin, red aglaonema is just as easy to grow.

Red aglaonema grows just about everywhere, but it's happiest in a medium-bright spot with regular watering.

Purple Passion Plant

Purple passion plant is perfect for its lovely good looks and its soft texture! This colorful houseplant features dark green leaves covered in soft, purple hairs, making the foliage look -- and feel -- like its purple velvet. Happily, this old-fashioned houseplant is super easy to grow: Just give it a bright spot, water regularly, and enjoy the color it brings to your home or desk.

Purple passion plant has something of a vining habit, so it's an excellent choice for hanging baskets or pots with trellises so you can train the slow-growing stems up.

Desert Gems

A charming line of cactus, Desert Gems will dazzle you more than any other thanks to its practically neon colors. You can find Desert Gems in shades of yellow, orange, red, purple, and green. Unlike other cacti, Desert Gems feature soft thorns, so they're safer to have around.

Desert Gems grow best in a bright spot and when the soil dries between waterings.

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Snake Plant

Exceedingly easy to grow, snake plant charms with its lovely leaves marked in shades of silver and gold. The old-fashioned variety of snake plant (which your grandmother may have grown), was tall with silver streaks; look around and you can also find newer varieties that stay shorter and have foliage edged in yellow.

A perfect plant for beginners, snake plant survives just about any situation, but likes best a medium-bright spot with regular watering.

Calathea

Calathea is a tropical houseplant with lovely colorful leaves. Native to tropical rainforests, this exotic beauty loves low- to medium-light situations and high humidity. It makes a bold addition to indoor decor in both homes and offices.

There are a number of calathea varieties available; most have green leaves accented with silver, purple, or varying other shades of green. Some even have exotic, ginger-like blooms.

Variegated Dragon Tree

Dragon tree is a popular houseplant because it's easy to grow and lends a fine texture to indoor spaces. The grassy foliage looks great atop its bamboo-like stems. But variegated varieties that have colorful leaves are even more interesting. Look for selections that have red or pink edges; you can even find types that have silvery-gray leaves accented with pink and red streaks.

Grow dragon tree in a spot with bright light (for the best color; it tolerates low light like a champ, but the leaves aren't as colorful).

Aluminum Plant

Aluminum plant is an old-fashioned favorite houseplant. There's a wealth of varieties; 'Norfolk' is one of our favorites because it offers colorful bronze-purple leaves accented with metallic-silver stripes. The color is subtle by itself, but makes a beautiful contrast to all the other green houseplants. This makes aluminum plant also easy to decorate with: The leaves have a neutral tone that combine well with virtually any other color in your home or office decor.

Grow aluminum plant in high, medium, or low light (though in high-light situations, it enjoys protection from direct sun -- such as using a sheer curtain in the window). It appreciates high humidity, making an excellent plant choice for terrariums.