WHAT HOUSE PLANTS ARE HARD TO KILL?
That was the question I posed to my sister, a horticulturist, several years ago. I had wanted so badly to have a house plant that would actually survive and thrive. Really, I wanted to be surrounded by beautiful houseplants, large and small. But I needed to put first things first.
I was given a list of nine great suggestions for easy indoor plants, which I researched a little in order to determine what was a good fit.
- Any Pothos
- Heartleaf Philodendron
- “ZZ” Plant
- Spider/Airplane Plants
- Christmas Cactus (and relatives)
- Fiddle Leaf Fig
- Mass Cane (my personal addition)
Pothos is a fabulous pick for a low-maintanence addition to your home. It has beautiful leaves that come in many varieties and cascade down as they grow out. It is perfect in a regular pot or a hanging pot, sitting on a table or shelf, or really anywhere. I love my Golden Pothos that sits atop my produce basket tower in my kitchen. It is nearly self-sustaining, as I have several long vines that are living in a jar of water. You see, that’s another cool thing about Pothos. It will live in soil or water! A beautiful glass cylinder with a few rocks (or not) and a few cuttings of Pothos are a lovely addition to a bathroom or kitchen counter, mantle, or accent table. If you want to try this plant out, you may have a friend who would give you a little clipping that you can just put in some water. It’s that easy!
The Heartleaf Philodendron is a popular houseplant and reminds me of the Pothos plant a little. It is a tropical plant that does not require a lot of light or a lot of maintanence. The “Brasil Philodendron” variety (pictured) is a very unique and attractive variety with a light colored stripe (sometimes quite thick) that looks to me as if an artist took a paintbrush and put a one-of-a-kind stripe on each leaf. Its look is eye-catching and makes a very nice accent.
Sanseveria (also called Snake Plant) is a very unique plant that naturally creates interest in a room. It comes in varying shades, designs, and thicknesses. The one pictured is a particularly wide leaf with a more pastel color, which to me is just lovely. The one my sister gave me is quite cool, with thinner leaves and bright/dark, contrasted striping. Its leaves are like little swords and can even grow up to about three feet long. It is considered one of the easiest houseplants to grow and, according to my sister, can be neglected and still bounce back! Sounds like a winner to me.
The ZZ Plant, known as such because of its official name, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, has what I consider a very classy and simplistic appearance due to its even leaves and slender stalks. To me, it almost looks fake! The leaves on the ZZ are very glossy and succulent. Because of this, it holds water well and is a very tolerant plant. It is said to literally filter toxins and give off fresh air. This plant is also known as the Eternity Plant since it is believed it can live forever. If you happen be prone to forget watering for some period of time, maybe this is the plant for you (and me)!
The Spider Plant, which also called the Airplane Plant (according to my sister), is a pretty cool plant I remember seeing even as a child. This plant is non-toxic to pets, so you don’t have to worry about it being down low. It is incredibly versatile. The Spider Plant produces little “spiderettes” that grow on the ends of its long leaves. These small plantlets not only look neat, but can be propagated and turn into more little Spider Plants to put elsewhere or share with others. This is one my sister also passed along to me doing just that. If you know of anyone who has this plant, maybe they would be happy to give you a little plantlet!
The Christmas Cactus is a favorite houseplant because it requires very little upkeep and, when healthy, provides beautiful blossoms at the start of every winter (hence the name). This cactus hails from the Brazilian Rainforest and does quite well indoors. Because it is a rainforest cactus and not a desert cactus, it likes more watering than other cacti. Keep it well watered, but also well drained. It can be started with a cutting at any time, and moved outdoors when warm, if desired, or kept year-round inside. It grows pretty quickly and produces blooms at the end of every stalk. For more blooms, allow space for the arms to drape down (such as in a hanging planter or on a stand). The blossoms are often red, but can be many other shades such as pink, purple, white, and more.
Orchids are widely popular and sought after, as they produce gorgeous flowers in beautifully exotic colors. That being said, even a pure white orchid is just stunning. Years ago, I considered an orchid plant something I was not likely to have, as I assumed I would kill it. However, to my surprise, the orchid my husband gave me many years ago is still living! It has even bloomed again, despite being somewhat neglected. I remember to water it, but not weekly (which is best). It has been pretty happy on the side of our large tub, near a window. Since they originally come from the tropical regions of Asia and Australia, this makes sense. Orchid plants make long, arching stalks that can produce MANY blooms over a long period of time. I have read that you can get as many as 20 blooms per stalk, although mine has not been THAT happy. It has, however, grown a second stalk and flowered. The bottom line is that orchids are beautiful and you definitely CAN have one and keep it alive!
I just love the look of the Fiddle Leaf Fig tree. It makes a fabulous focal point in a room, particularly when it has the ability to grow fairly tall. Fiddle Leaf Fig trees have very large, “fiddle” shaped leaves that are strong and glossy. These plants can grow up to ten feet tall indoors, when given the right conditions. However, I love the way it looks even smaller. Originally from the tropics of Africa, the Fiddle Leaf Fig prefers warm and moist climates, which is a little different than the drier air in most homes. However, it is forgiving and can live even in less-than-ideal conditions (such as less humidity), but it should be kept out of a particularly drafty area (such as very near an air vent). The FLF prefers bright conditions, but indirect sunlight. Since it will begin to lean toward the source, rotating it every few days is advised if your lighting is not evenly surrounding the plant. Leaves should be dusted with a moist cloth, which keeps them glossy as well as aiding in the plant’s process of photosynthesis. Brown leaves should be trimmed off. Keep in mind that the FLF is toxic to cats and dogs, so plan accordingly.
The Monstera plant is actually a vine, also known as Monstera Swiss Cheese Vine for the interesting and attractive holes that form as the leaves mature. New leaves start out as smaller, heart-shaped dark leaves and then begin to form holes and splits over time. This vine is native to the rainforest, where the holes allow for sunlight to seep through the canopy. This exotic tropical plant is tolerant, however, if you forget to water it, which makes it ideal for those of us who are still growing in our gardening ability. Monstera loves indirect sunlight, but will even be happy with florescent or other lights.
Mass Cane or Corn Plant also goes by many other names including Dragon Tree, Striped Dragon Palm, Cornstalk Tree, and more. This is the only plant I included in this post that was not one that my horticulturalist sister specifically mentioned to me. However, this particular plant is one that I have had in my home for many years and it has done very well. Actually, I mention in an earlier post that this plant’s partner plant (I had bought two) was finally killed due to our cat continually using it as a litter box. However, I still have one that is alive and well, despite being moved to another state and neglected along the way. Even now, I really need to put some more soil in it, and I’d like to put some rocks in it as well. Truth be told, I had stones around my original two trees, but removed them because my one-year-old (at the time) kept putting them in his mouth. I figured a little dirt in his mouth was better than rocks, right? It was once I removed the rocks that the cat claimed it. I guess the demise of my tree could have been avoided with some stones, so feel free to take note if you have a cat but do not have a little tike at your house. This plant prefers bright to moderate lighting, but it should be indirect, as sunlight can burn the leaves. If light is too low, the leaves become slender rather than broad. Mass Cane prefers humid conditions, and the tips of the leaves often become brown with the dry indoor air. This did happen to mine, and I would just trim them with sheers in a v-shape and they looked much better. Another thing to note is that this plant is particularly sensitive to flouridated water, which I find interesting. You may want to water with water that has gone through a flouride filter. Luckily, our family uses a flouride filter for our drinking water, so this is easy for us to do. Apparently, NASA even has tested and found that this plant filters and purifies the air.
I hope this post helps you as much as my sister’s ideas helped me and gave me a direction to go. Her suggestions sent me digging and learning, researching and making plans. The cuttings she gave me took the guesswork out of deciding which plants to try next and where to source them. I hope you decide to add your first, or your next indoor plant(s) to your home! Please comment with your thoughts, ideas, or plans below!