How to identify houseplants with large leaves

Written by linda richard
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How to identify houseplants with large leaves
Coleus is a colourful houseplant that can get large. (coleus image by palms from

Houseplants with large leaves are often tropical plants, since tropical plants in the right conditions grow large leaves as well as large flowers. Other large-leaf plants do not have flowers, but provide greenery for the home. Some of the large-leaf houseplants are in the palm family and are more like a tree than a plant, but their leaf size makes a statement not easily missed. You can care for large-leaf houseplants best with correct identification.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Identify your houseplants online. Moving houseplants with large leaves is a challenge, and houseplant lovers do not want to remove a leaf for identification. The best way to identify plants too large to transport to the nearest nursery is to look online. Use a website such as the plantfinder offered by the National Gardening Association (see Resources), which allows you to search by a number of variables.

  2. 2

    Identify your large-leaf houseplants by the shapes of their leaves. Nephytis and purple passion plant (gynura) have arrow-shaped leaves. Broad leaves are shefflera with the umbrella-shaped leaves and maranta or prayer plant. Heart-shaped leaves may be aralia, philodendron and begonia. Split-leaf philodendron has a large leaf, too, although most of the ivy varieties are not in the class of large-leaf houseplants.

  3. 3

    Look at some of the common large slender-leaf houseplants and see if you can identify yours. Dieffenbachia or dumb cane is a common large-leaf houseplant; so is aspidistra, or cast iron plant. Spathiphyllum or peace lily is another common slender-leaf plant. Bromeliads have slender leaves stacked in alternating rows like the top of a pineapple.

  4. 4

    Check the fern varieties. Asparagus fern and some of the other ferns can be large houseplants, including Boston fern, maidenhair fern and staghorn fern.

  5. 5

    Recognise the palm varieties that are common large houseplants. These include sago palm and Chamaedorea or parlour palm. Yucca is a desert plant in this category. These houseplants have large leaves as well as large trunks.

  6. 6

    Know the colourful leaves of large-leaf houseplants. These include the cordyline or ti plant, the aluminium plant and peacock plant or calathea. Coleus has colourful leaves and some varieties get large. A large leaf that looks much like coleus is red basil, and the leaf is smelly when touched, as this is an herb.

  7. 7

    Recognise the succulents. The cacti and succulents have thick leaves to hold the water, and sometimes they get large. Aloe vera and mother in law's tongue develop large leaves, as do some of the kalanchoe family.

Tips and warnings

  • Control the size of your large-leaf houseplants by controlling the pot size and the fertiliser.

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