Nothing brightens up an empty corner like a big, beautiful plant. Unfortunately, big beautiful plants can be extremely expensive—a worthy investment, of course, if you manage to keep them alive for more than a couple of months. 

That’s my design conundrum when it comes to greenery. I love the impact that large plants can have on a space, but the stakes are so much higher. If the plant doesn’t thrive, I haven’t just lost an eco-friendly aesthetic element: I’m out a hundred bucks (or more).

There are large, low-maintenance plants out there, and I asked Lauren Upham, product manager at Vancouver-based Plantsome, for her advice on flora that's as hardy as it is eye-catching. Here are her top five picks. 

Plantsome snake plant

Sansevieria Laurentii (Snake Plant)

If you’re a serial under-waterer, this is the plant for you. “They are nearly impossible to kill,” says Upham. Snake plants don’t need much light to survive, and very little water—you can let the soil dry out completely in between watering, which can take any time from a couple of weeks over a month. Really, the only way you can mess with a snake plant is by watering it too much. 

A downside to this is that snake plants don’t grow very quickly (and that's true for most of the plants on this list—low-maintenance often equals slow growing in the world of plants). So if your goal is a large plant, don’t buy a small one and expect it to shoot up. Start big! 

Plantsome bird of paradise

Bird of Paradise  

“These plants grow a little bit faster than snake plants, and they can get very large,” says Upham. Birds of Paradise thrive best near south-facing windows, but can fare well in an east or west-facing window as well. “They are super fun to watch grow because new leaves come up furled, and then they unfurl,” she shares, adding that split leaves are normal. Keep your Bird of Paradise’s soil moist and you’re good to go. 

Plantsome buddhist pine

Buddhist Pine 

Buddhist Pines add a real pop of personality to any space. “They’re definitely a funkier look, almost frilly,” says Upham. Keep a Buddhist Pine away from any AC vents or heaters, especially baseboard heaters. Bright, indirect light is key. 

Plantsome cast iron plant

Cast Iron Plant

These plants are like the Peace Lily’s lower-maintenance cousin: they have the same big, glossy leaves but are much, much sturdier. Care for a Cast Iron plant is similar to a snake plant (not much light and not much water is required). Unlike a cast iron pan, this plant isn’t a fan of the heat—keep them out of direct sunlight. 

Plantsome dragon tree

Dragon Tree

“Dragon trees are pretty flexible in terms of lighting,” says Upham. The plant expert says that Dragon tree parents often freak when the plant starts losing leaves, but that’s normal. “They gradually lose their leaves along the bottom of the trunk, so eventually you will end up with this super long trunk that bends towards the light,” she explains. In fact, you can make the trunk twist around by gradually turning the plant.