Written by Kelsey W.
Do you forget to water your garden? Is your home a dark and inhospitable place for light-seeking houseplants? Are you a certified, card-carrying plant killer? Some of us don’t have green thumbs and seem completely incapable of keeping a plant alive for more than a few weeks.
If you’re someone who feels like you can’t keep a plant alive no matter what you do, maybe all it takes is the right plant. There are some excellent and beautiful varieties out there that will recover from just about anything, whether it’s a month of no watering or placement on a dark shelf.
Consider the following hardy plants for your next foray into plant parenthood.
The philodendron plant is a hardy and exceptionally forgiving plant that doesn’t care at all where you place it. You can probably grow a philodendron in the deepest, darkest place in your home, and it won’t mind the dim light at all. Not only can you forget to water philodendrons, but they can sit in moist soil for months and not fare poorly.
They might not grow as fast as they might if you water them properly, but they’re almost impossible to kill. In the wild, philodendron plants live in the rainforest, and they don’t get a lot of sunlight. In fact, they often don’t get any direct sunlight. That’s why they’re the perfect plant when you can’t find a sunny window.
One of the coolest features of a philodendron is that they’ll grow into vines around your entire house if you let them. However, they’re easy to prune, and you can cut them back at just about any time of the year. You don’t have to wait for a particular season. If you notice a vine getting a little too crazy, just snip the end.
Snake plants are a popular feature for greenery in busy office buildings because you can forget about them for a few weeks, and they won’t even start to wilt. A snake plant has long, tall leaves that shoot up into the air in a thick bunch. Snake plants are yellow and green, so they’re an excellent option when you want to add some non-green color to your home.
One of the cool features of snake plants is that they actually filter the air for you when you place them inside. They’re not too keen on freezing temperatures, so if you’re near a mountainous area or it gets into the low 40s or below at night, make sure you bring your snake plant inside. They’re also not huge fans of direct sunlight, so place your snake plant in anywhere but in a really sunny window.
Snake plants prefer that their soil dries out before you rewater them, so put a reminder on your phone to check the plant on a weekly basis. If you put the plant in a humid room like a bathroom, you might not even have to water it weekly. Snake plants often do fine with two weeks between each watering.
If you want a plant that will grow as large as a small tree inside your home, a rubber plant is an excellent option. Not only do they fare well outside in pots in Southern California, but they’re also capable of growing into a beautiful large house plant in a big pot. Their leaves are smooth and wide, and this clean-looking plant is an ideal choice for midcentury modern homes or minimalist environments.
If you want to grow your rubber plant inside, select a small plant that you can nurture inside until it grows larger. Rubber plants adapt to and get used to wherever it is you place them in your home, and the best time to acclimatize them to your house is when they’re no bigger than three feet tall.
When you bring a rubber plant home, make sure to find a bright area of your home for it. You can grow them in pots outside indefinitely in an area that gets a substantial amount of sunlight. They’re also quite at home under a bright window that gets some direct sunlight each day. You can water a rubber plant every one to two weeks.
Known informally as ZZ plants, Zamioculcas zamiifolia is a low-light houseplant that’s ideal for homes where you just don’t get a lot of sunlight. Do you live in an apartment or condo where your windows are blocked most of the day by the next-door building? Your ZZ plant won’t care and will enjoy your dark abode just fine.
The only drawback to the ZZ plant is that they’re toxic to animals and humans and can cause skin irritation if you’re not careful. However, you shouldn’t need to interact with the plant so often that you risk any skin irritation. If anything, ZZ plants love being ignored, and they can get angry if you water them too often.
Try to avoid watering your ZZ plant unless the soil is completely dry. If you ever see the plant’s leaves start to turn yellow, that’s a sign you’re giving it too much attention. You shouldn’t need to water them more than once a week in hot weather, and you can practically forget they exist in the winter.
A pothos plant looks a lot like a philodendron with its vine-like appearance, but the leaves grow in a slightly different manner than the philodendron plant. Like a philodendron, though, a pothos plant is a perfect starter plant for anyone without a lot of knowledge of caring for plants. They’ll also stand up well to experienced plant killers because you can over-water or under-water them, and they probably won’t die.
Like the ZZ plant, pothos is toxic to pets and people, so avoid putting them in your home if you have particularly curious cats or your dogs enjoy knocking the plants down to feast on them on a regular basis. You can hang pothos from the ceiling in a hanging pot to keep them out of the way of pets and kids.
Some pothos plants are variegated, which means their leaves are multiple colors. Although pothos can grow in low-light situations, the variegated types do like some sunlight. Try to place a variegated pothos near a window, or you risk losing the cool multicolored look of the leaves.
If the thought of digging into a pot and replanting your houseplants sounds terrifying, you might try a spider plant. Spider plants can adapt to almost anywhere in your home, and they actually like being pot-pound, which means their roots are crowded in their pot.
For most plants, becoming pot-bound is a killer, but spider plants don’t seem to mind at all. However, despite their love of being pot-bound, they don’t like sitting in soggy soil. Watering them infrequently is better than over-watering them.
Like most houseplants, you can water your spider plant about once a week. If the soil is still moist, leave it another few days before giving it a drink. If you’re worried about watering it too much, put the plant near a window but outside of direct sunlight. The plant should dry out easily over the course of a week. You can even pinch off the little offshoot “spiderettes” and create new spider plants out of the cuttings.
If you have a sunny window that gets at least four to six hours of sunlight every day, you might try a cactus. Southern California is a cactus paradise, and you’ll find virtually every shape imaginable for your home. The best part about cactuses is that you can ignore them for months in some seasons, and they’ll live despite the neglect.
However, if you treat your cactuses well and water them at least once a month and fertilize them a few times in the spring, you’ll actually get flowers from most of your cactuses. You’ll see flowers in every color of the rainbow, from red to yellow to orange. Like spider plants, cactuses usually don’t care if they’re too big for their pots.
You can leave cactuses like barrel cactuses in small pots, and they’ll just remain close to the same size for many years. You can successfully grow cactuses on windowsills with nothing more than tiny pots and sporadic watering. In the wild, some cactuses can live for up to two years without water due to their special skin and thick stems.
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