Calling All Recovering Brown Thumbs!
Ever feel like you're totally cursed when it comes to houseplants? If your fingers are more Grim Reaper than green, it's time to do yourself a favor and bring out the big guns of the house plant world. Check out these plants that are hard to kill... which can outlast almost anything, including your own touch!
No time to water or give any attention to your plants? No worries! Behold your plant soulmate -- aloe vera. This bold and quirky spiky succulent gets extra brownie points for its air-cleaning properties (it clears formaldehyde and benzene, frequent byproducts of chemical-based cleaners) and is also pretty handy to have around the house as its sap can be used for healing burns (including sunburn) and cuts. If you have a spot with medium to bright light, aloe vera is an excellent, hard-to-kill houseplant.
One of the easiest and most adaptable houseplants to have around (and as durable as can be), the spider plant is magnificent with its long, arching stems. Those stems eventually bud into small white flowers and transform into baby spider plants. If you are houseplant challenged, this one is a good choice because of its desire for minimal water and a fuss-free attitude to lighting. And, if you're a pet owner, spider plants are nontoxic.
These are sometimes known as the friendship tree, lucky plant, or money tree. No matter what name you use, if it means they won't die on you, then yes, jade plants are definitely your lucky friends. This is a low-maintenance plant if ever there was one, requiring not much in the way of anything. Jade plants can go on for decades with the right amount of care (read: neglect) because they hold so much moisture in their leaves. All you need are a bright spot, some good cactus and succulent mix, and infrequent (or no) fertilizing, and your jade plant will just happily do its thing.
What is an orchid doing on this list?! Is it at all possible to have a beautiful, fragrant orchid in the house when missing the green-thumb gene? In the case of Phalaenopsis orchids, it's entirely possible. Phalaenopsis orchids need minimal fuss and grow well in average indoor conditions. They'll bloom more profusely in brighter light, but will tolerate low light just fine. And this is one plant you definitely don't want to overwater, so if you're forgetful about watering, this might be the perfect plant for you!
Pothos are custom made for sometimes-forgetful houseplant caregivers. They prefer having their soil dry out almost completely between waterings, they're not especially heavy feeders, and they're just as happy in low light as in brighter conditions. Just remember to water them every couple of weeks and they'll provide you with plenty of lush, green growth.
If you have pets, it's important to keep in mind that pothos is toxic to both dogs and cats.
Much like its namesake - your mother-in-law's tongue - the otherwise known snake plant (or sansevieria) is very difficult to kill off. If you are currently in brown-thumb recovery, this is a good plant to dip your toe back into the world of houseplants. If the name alone and its bold architectural lines are not enough to tempt you, then perhaps the fact that they are not fussy about the amount of light, moisture, or temperature bestowed on them, will be. It's truly the perfect lazy or time-starved person's plant. Neglect was never so rewarding.
The godfather of indestructible plants, there's a reason why the ZZ plant (also known as the eternity plant) has been a firm favorite in malls and office blocks - it can take literally months and months of neglect! All a ZZ plant needs to survive is a healthy dose of being ignored. It only needs to be watered every two to three weeks, is happiest when it's rootbound, grows slowly, and will survive just fine in just about any conditions in your home. It is toxic to dogs and cats, however, so if you choose to bring this unkillable houseplant home, just make sure to grow it in an area away from your pets.
Incredibly, so easy is the air plant that it does not even require soil because yes, you guessed it - it quite literally lives on air! They are nearly self-sufficient, since they get all the water and nutrients they need through their leaves, and can be grown basically anywhere - in a glass vase, in a shell, on top of some rocks...now THAT is our kind of plant. Extra bonus: with over 500 species, you're bound to find one with the look you desire. To water them, you can either mist the leaves every once in a while, or give the entire plant a weekly dunk in some room-temperature water. That's all the maintenance they require!
Cast Iron Plant
Cast iron plants truly live up to their name. If you're sure you can't keep a houseplant alive to save your life, this is the one you should bring home with you. The alternate nickname for this plant is "bar room plant" owing to its happiness even in very dim conditions, and how little care it actually needs. The cast iron plant thrives on neglect; just water it every ten days or so and it'll be happy. You don't even need to worry about fertilizing, and it'll be just fine. Another bonus? Cast iron plant is a safe plant for pets.
If you're looking for a tough plant that produces oodles of pretty flowers, then the kalanchoe has your name on it. Native to arid lands, this succulent produces a plethora of adorable bell-shaped pink flowers, and can make the brownest thumbs amongst us look like plant geniuses. It will tolerate poor light, dry air, and drought, and in return, will perk up any windowsill.
Hmmm what's that? Your brown thumb is beginning to turn ever-so-slightly green under the guidance of these plants!
Lucky bamboo is so easy to grow, it doesn't even need soil. Some pebbles and water, and this hard to kill houseplant will grow just fine. They're really not picky about light, except that they really aren't happy in bright, hot sunlight. Low light conditions will work just fine, and they can even grow with nothing more than lamp light if you don't have a window available, making them a good option for interior rooms or areas that don't have great lighting. Just top off the water as it evaporates; you don't even need to worry about fertilizing lucky bamboo.
The Right Plant Makes All the Difference
There is a houseplant out there for you, whether all you have is a dim corner or a blazing hot window, and no matter how busy your life is. Start with one (or more!) of the plants in this list, and you'll soon find that brown thumb of yours is starting to turn a bit greener.