I had such an excellent time on new Channel 4 show Steph’s Packed Lunch this week, as we showed a whole range of unusual houseplants. Strange and bizarre plants don’t have to be difficult to grow either, here is 20 that you can easily grow at home!
1. Houseleek (Sempervivum)
Not technically a house plant, but will cope on a north facing window sill. Houseleeks have a rich history of folklore, and they were even said to be able to protect houses from lightning. Whether that’s true or not, you’ll have to find out for yourself!
You can also use the leaves in a similar way to Aloe vera too, simply ship of a leaf and use it to soothe any burns and cuts.
2. Living Stones (Lithops)
These are really fun and interesting to grow from seed, so try and hunt down a packet if you can!
As the name suggests, they are designed to look like living stones, and this protects them in the wild. Whilst they are mimicking stones, they can often fall below soil level, and that’s where the solar panels on the top of each fleshy leaf help!
3. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Here’s something a bit different for the windowsill, but you may never harvest it, because the plant looks so good! The rhizome of this plant is the same ginger that you buy in the supermarket!
It will love a sunny windowsill, and that foliage has a gorgeous bronze tinge from time to time. It really is one of my favourites right now.
4. Musa Cavendishii (Banana)
With a little bit of care and attention, it’s possible to harvest bananas in the UK, in a conservatory. This is the best variety for doing so.
But, even if you’re not going to bring it to fruit, bananas make an excellent architectural house plant, with those big oversized leaves.
5. Anthurium in water
Now he has something different, and it’s especially adored by people that don’t like dirt, those crazy rascals!
This plant is growing in water, all you need to do is change the water every two weeks, top up any that evaporates, and keep out of direct sunlight.
6. Conophytum (Ugly Toes)
Succulents are fascinating, and amazingly easy to grow, they store all of their own water, so that means you can forget about them for a fair while!
This oddity is perfect for a sunny windowsill, and will surprise you once a year with a daisy like flower.
Here’s another plant that doesn’t need any soil, Airplants are fascinating and can be used to create all sorts of displays.
You can either dunk them in water for a half an hour each week, or spritz them with a water spray. I’ve even got some in my shower, with some special suction pads from Amazon!
8. The Resurrection Plant (Selaginella)
This plant is native to the desert regions in Mexico, and basically blows around like tumbleweed for months upon end, but once it hits a water source, it can bounce back to life.
Really fun for kids, the resurrection process takes about an hour, you can literally watch it unfurl before your very eyes!
9. String of Beads
Now, some people think these look a bit cheeky! But I don’t know what they’re talking about…
The string of beads is amazingly popular, and is an easy to grow succulent. Let it dry out between waterings for best results.
10. Gin and Tonic Plant (Eriostemon)
This plant is amazing, the foliage smells of gin and tonic. It’s perfect if you’re doing a sober month…
Technically an outdoor plant, but you can grow it on a cool windowsill and have easy access to that G&T fix!
11. Mind your Own Business
I love it when people ask me what this plant is. And it was a great way of getting away with swearing, of sorts, when I was a kid, too!
A really easy houseplant, fun to propagate, and could even be used outdoors in shady spots￼.
12. Spider-Man Plant (Alocasia)
Probably the most widely available bizarre plant, this is one of my favourites.
Give it a warm spot in the room, and let it dry out between waterings for best results.
13. The Sensitive Plant (Mimosa pudica)
This plant is incredible, it protects itself from predators by literally curling into a ball. Try it out for yourself, but give it a bit of a rest from time to time!
Excellent for a sunny windowsill, brilliant for kids, and the flowers aren’t half bad either, rich purple and appearing once a year.
14. Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea)
The most famous insect eater in the world! But don’t try to force-feed them, their diet only needs a couple of insects per year!
Give it a sunny windowsill, and top up the water regularly, to keep it happy. Recreate a bit of a swamp feel for it, if you can!
15. Plants on Lava
This is incredibly cool, this plant again doesn’t have any soil, because it’s growing on lava rock.
The plant gets all the nutrients it needs from the lava, all you need to do is top up the saucer with water once a week.
Indoor ponds are all the rage right now! This lovely floating plant quickly colonises, and makes a perfect house plant.
Get up close, and you’ll also see how unusual the textures are, all designed to keep it afloat!
17. Marimo Moss Balls
Not actually moss, these are balls of algae that have collected up on the river bed.
Some people are choosing to have these as a “pet” in the home! Really easy, just shake them once a week to refresh the water!
18. Bishops Cap Cactus (Astrophytum)
If you want a cactus, but you’ve got pets or kids in the house, then this is perfect.
The bishops cap doesn’t have any spines, so it’s completely safe. It loves a windowsill, and doesn’t need oodles of water, whatsoever!
19. Sundew (Drosera)
This insect eating plant captures its prey in a very different way. The sticky pads attract insects, they then get stuck, and the leaf curls up and simply digests them!
Keep the plants wet at all times, and give them a sunny spot.
20. Dischidia ‘Pangolin Kisses’
Possibly the most unusual succulent you will ever lay your eyes on!
Despite the name, I think this looks more like a dodgy intestine! The perfect plant for a sunny windowsill, and definitely a talking point.
If you’d like to see more about weird and wacky plants, why not follow my special account on Instagram!￼
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Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook – and writes a plant-focused Substack called Grow This, Not That.