Best Classroom Plants: How to Choose for Students in All Levels & Their Benefits

Adding plants to your classroom can help lower stress, increase focus, and boost productivity for both students and teachers. 

On top of that…

They can also help purify and humidify the air, which is an added bonus during allergy season and dry winters. 

Growing plants can be a manageable task, even for teachers who have never planted a single seed. The best plants for classrooms will help anyone feel like a proper gardener.

My top pick is the Costa Farms Aloe Vera Live Indoor Plant. And you’ll know why as you read on. 

The Top Classroom Plants Reviewed

1. Costa Farms Aloe Vera Live Indoor Plant – Best Overall

Costa Farms Aloe Vera Live Indoor Plant

In my opinion, the best plants for teachers are aloe plants, like the Costa Farms Aloe Vera. They are succulents which means that they require very little water or attention.

Aloes are also incredibly useful for first aid purposes. You can use the gel to treat minor injuries like cuts, scrapes, blisters, and even sunburns.

Every lower elementary teacher has had a student who refused to let them clean their scraped knee. The aloe gel is an excellent alternative to those alcohol wipes that sting the tiniest cuts. Even the most reluctant student will significantly appreciate the cooling sensation of the aloe.

Aloe plants do require lots of sunlight, so these are best suited for classrooms with lots of windows or even just one sunny windowsill. 

Pros

  • Requires water once every 2-3 weeks
  • Has first aid benefits
  • Easily grow new plants through propagation

Cons

  • Requires direct sunlight

Takeaway

If you like the look of air plants but what something more practical, Costa Farms Aloe Vera plants are the most sensible option. You can keep one right next to your first aid kid for easy access. 

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2. Bupree Snake Planter – Best For Windowless Classrooms

Bupree Snake Easy Care Indoor Planter

Snake plants are a popular choice for teachers. They are some of the best air-purifying plants for a classroom because they help reduce allergens in the air. 

The Bupree Indoor Planters are low maintenance and very tolerant plants, which easily diel. This makes them wonderful options for teachers who want their class to help with plant care. You won’t have to worry about your students making mistakes. 

Your snake plant can grow from 8 inches to a couple of feet tall. Their leaves are pointed and sometimes quite sharp, and they are toxic when eaten. As a result, these are better suited for upper elementary and older. 

Avoid this plant if you teach the lower grades, especially preschool and kindergarten.

Pros

  • Requires water only 1-2 times a month
  • Great fit for classrooms with few or no windows
  • Purifies the air and helps reduce allergens 

Cons

  • Can be dangerous when ingested
  • Can be difficult to propagate

Takeaway

If you teach students over the age of 10 and want a plant that they help care for themselves, then a Bupree Snake Indoor Planter is the best choice for you. You can rest easy knowing that your plant will survive while your students learn how to take care of it.

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3. Jade Plant Crassula Ovata Plant – Best For Middle and High School

Jade Plant Crassula Ovata Plant

If you teach middle or high school, this Jade Plant Crassula Ovata plant could be perfect for your space. They do not require much attention, but they are succulents, which means they like lots of sunlight. 

They feature fleshy, oval leaves and resemble bonsai trees. The presence of jade plants can create a peaceful, zen learning environment.

They grow well in dry, warm indoor environments, so they will most likely do well in a temperature-regulated classroom. 

While jades don’t require much maintenance, they can develop root rot if they are overwatered.

Therefore, older students are able to care for them independently as long as they remember to water only once every 2-3 weeks. 

Over long periods of time, they can grow to be the size of small trees or shrubs. However, they do not grow as quickly as other plants like pothos, so you won’t have to worry about repotting them that often.

Like snake plants, their leaves are toxic when ingested. The sap can cause swelling of the month, tongues, and throat. Because of this, jade plants are best avoided in elementary classrooms. 

Pros

  • Very low-maintenance and doesn’t require much water
  • Doesn’t require repotting frequently
  • Air-purifying

Cons

  • Toxic to animals and small children when ingested
  • Require lots of sunlight

Takeaway

If you love the look of bonsai trees but don’t want to commit to the upkeep, then the Jade Plant Crassula Ovata plants are a good option for you as long as you have enough sun to sustain them. You can create even more zen by adding a lucky bamboo shoot or two as well.

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4. Echeveria Elegans Mexican Snowball – Best For Lower Elementary

Echeveria Elegans Mexican Snowball 4”+ Clay Pot

Another succulent on the list is Echeveria elegans, a.k.a. Mexican snowballs.

These hardy little plants are similar to the other succulents because they require sunlight and not much else. They also help humidify their environment, which is a bonus in the colder months, especially if you or your students struggle with winter eczema. 

These are fantastic for preschool and kindergarten classrooms because young children can care for them entirely independently.

Their “soak and dry” method of watering is super straightforward and lends itself to an engaging circle time activity. You can also read a book about seed planting to add literacy.

The students will quickly learn to watch the soil and wait for it to be completely dry before soaking it again with water. Imagine how much fun they’ll have running into the classroom every day to check.

If you’re lucky enough to have a sink in your classroom, your students can easily fill up a child-sized watering can themselves. If not, you can occasionally fill one and keep it next to the plant for easy access. 

Pros

  • Low maintenance and slow-growing
  • Appropriate for the youngest students
  • Helps humidify the air
  • Easy to propagate

Cons

  • Requires lots of direct sunlight

Takeaway

If you teach the littlest learners and want an indoor plant that they can care for by themselves, then get a Mexican snowball. This is also an engaging alternative to growing a green bean or mung bean in a paper towel.

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5. American Plant Exchange Spider Plant – Best For Beginners

American Plant Exchange Spider Plant Easy Care Live 6

For those of you that are total newbies when it comes to plants, a non-intimidating option is this American Plant Exchange spider plant

These are some of the best plants for teachers because they are appropriate for all grade levels and can thrive in classrooms that lack natural light.

They are also a smart choice for smaller spaces as they look gorgeous hung from the ceiling. They look just as lovely as pothos plants, but they don’t grow as large. You won’t have to worry about your spider plant dangling too low and tickling your students.

They don’t easily die, so you won’t feel guilty if you or your students forget to water them or neglect them entirely. These durable plants are classified as invasive weeds in Australia, so there’s no reason they can’t thrive in your classroom. 

As long as you make sure the soil doesn’t dry out, your spider plant will be pleased.

Pros

  • Great for classrooms with few or no windows
  • Appropriate for all grade levels and ages
  • Easy to propagate
  • Very difficult to kill

Cons

  • May require frequent repotting 

Takeaway

If you’re nervous about having plants because you’re worried you’ll kill them, then an APE spider plant is for you. They can withstand even the most forgetful plant parents and are a good alternative to pothos.

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6. Plant Friendship Foliage’s Family Farm Peace Lily – Most Impressive

Plant Friendship Foliage's Family Farm Quality Live Indoor Peace Lily

The most visually stunning plant on this list is the Family Farm Peace Lily. These plants have glossy leaves and white “flowers.”

What most people think is the flower is actually a type of leaf called a spathe. The spathe acts like a hood that protects the spadix, the group of tiny flowers that stand up in the center. As peace lilies mature, the spathe fades from white to green. 

These plants do well in low-light environments. You should avoid placing them in direct sunlight because their leaves could turn brown or yellow from too much sun.

Peace lilies are not toxic, but they can cause irritation when chewed. As a result, these plants are best in classrooms with students over the age of 6 or 7.

Pros

  • Perfect for classrooms with very little sunlight 
  • Elegant and beautiful 
  • Air-purifying 

Cons

  • Not suitable for preschool or kindergarten

Takeaway

If you want a beautiful plant with minimal effort, then get yourself a Plant Friendship Foliage’s Family Farm Quality Live Indoor Peace Lily. They will add elegance to your space with very little maintenance. 

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Which Plant Should You Get?

retro style sprinkler with plants in a classroom

Countless articles outline the benefits of having plants in your classroom, particularly in regards to student performance. But with all the amazing plant options, it can be a challenge deciding which one is best for your space. 

There are two main things to keep in mind when selecting the best classroom plants: the type of light you have and the age of your students.

Asking yourself the following questions can help narrow down the options. You’ll quickly realize which will be the best indoor house plants for your classroom.

What Kind Of Light Do You Have In Your Classroom?

Take a look around your space.

Do you have a lot of natural light, or is your classroom windowless? Do you live in a sunny climate, or do you have a lot of cloudy, rainy days? 

The kind of light you have will dictate the types of plants that will thrive in your classroom. So be sure to select plants for the light in your classroom. 

How Old Are Your Students?

Different plants are better suited to specific age groups. 

Some plants are mildly toxic to children. As a result, you should avoid these plants in lower elementary classrooms, especially if the plants will be within reach of the students. 

Anyone who has spent even a few minutes with small children knows that they put almost everything in their mouths. No teacher wants to tell a parent that their child had a bad reaction because they ate a bit of the plant. 

It’s worth mentioning that toxic plants can also be hazardous to animals, so avoid them if you have a class pet.

Mildly toxic plants are perfectly suitable for middle and high school teachers because there’s a much lower chance that your students will nibble on them. 

Why Should You Have Plants In Your Classroom?

Growing plants in the classroom can be intimidating for beginners, but they add life to the learning environment. 

They can also be a classroom job. Students can take turns caring for plants which will foster a sense of responsibility and attachment.

Seeing other teachers fill their rooms with plants can help convince you that it can, in fact, be easy.

Becca De La Plants is a teacher and Youtuber who uses her channel to spread her love of plants to educators (and everyone else too).

You can watch Becca take a trip to the garden center and “plantify” her classroom in the video below. 

Get Growing!

My top recommendation out of all the best plants for classrooms is the Costa Farms Aloe Vera Live Indoor Plant. They are easy to care for and a practical first-aid tool. 

They’ll look great on your windowsill, and they’ll come in handy when your kindergarteners scrape their knees or when your high schoolers burn their hands on the instant noodles they brought for lunch. 

If you’re a true beginner who is concerned that a plant might be too much effort, then I would highly suggest a Bupree Snake Indoor Planter. It’s a forgiving indoor plant that will thrive even with neglect. 

Every classroom can be a home for plants. You just have to pick the right ones.

Last Updated on January 21, 2022 by Emily

Emily/ author of the article

Emily is an active mother of two and a dedicated elementary school teacher. She believes the latest technology has made a huge impact on the quality of early learning and has worked hard to upgrade her classroom and her own children’s learning experience through technology.
She created this blog to make it easier for other teachers to take advantage of some of the best devices out there to upgrade their classrooms without having to do the research themselves. She loves to hear your tech-based problems and share her extensive experience :)

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