25 Hard to Kill Plants to Spice Up Your House
The fickle fiddle leaf fig does not have to need a green thumb or extensive gardening skills to thrive in the house; these hardy indoor species can survive and even thrive even with neglect.
Gwenn Fried, manager of the NYU Langone horticulture therapy program, advises you to buy plants that like to live like you do. For a dark room, consider low-light options like the pothos, the prayer plant, and the dracaena. If too many rays has shriveled your plants in the past, opt for sun lovers like yucca, jade, and ponytail palm. Peace lilies and Chinese evergreen can handle the well-meaning over-waterer. If you’re the set-it-and-forget-it type, ZZ plant, kalanchoe, and philodendrons might be more your speed.
Calling all black thumbs: Devil’s ivy has been nicknamed “devil’s ivy” for its ability to thrive in nearly pitch-black conditions, as well as under- and over-watering.
For those who prefer to water, a Chinese evergreen like Aglaonema can withstand high levels of water. It comes in a spectrum of colors, including green, pink, white, and red.
The jade plant’s leaves hold considerable water, so it can often survive more than a month without any attention. When they do receive water, they will rehydrate and grow, according to Neil Mattson, an associate professor in the department of horticulture at Cornell University. If you want it to grow well, place it in a sunny window (either a south or west facing one) and water when the soil feels dry.
It’s a fluffy plant that can withstand more abuse than other ferns because it’s not technically a fern. Asparagus setaceus thrives in bright spots and darker areas. Keep the soil moist and it’ll thrive.
Chinese Money Plant
The plant grows best in a shady spot or in the winter window sill with weekly watering. Bonus: The new shoots that grow from the base of the stem can be replanted and given as gifts.
For a happy yucca, all it needs is sun, sun, and yet more sun. If possible, plant the plant in soil deep enough to balance its woody stems and water sparingly.
For this one, you can store the potting soil in the shed since Tillandsias flourish in water without soil. “Just soak them in water a couple of hours every few days,” says Tovah Martin, author of The Indestructible Houseplant.
Multiple spider plants are better than one spider plant. They produce “babies” that you can re-pot elsewhere. Choose a well-lit spot and remember to water weekly.
Those who tend to overwater may benefit from Spathiphyllum. Peace lilies grow almost like fish in a tank. They produce their spade-shaped flowers year-round with enough light.
A spot on your desk or bedside table will be perfect for this plant, which prefers indirect light. Give it a good soak every week or two for optimal growth.
It can be hung from mantels or shelves; it is also excellent for topiaries (or stadium walls, as at Wrigley Field). Cascade, Domino, and Irish Lace are recommended potted variety selections by the Chicago Botanic Garden.
The Dracaena marginata is toxic to both dogs and cats, so keep animals away from this plant. Save some space on your windowsill by tucking it away in an unloved corner.
‘Prayer plants’ boast foliage so elegant it can outshine the finest bouquet, and they require little maintenance. Keep them moist (not drenched) and away from bright light for the best display.
Rubber trees in Asia can reach up to 100 feet in height, but regular pruning will keep them in tip-top shape. A potted rubber tree can take direct sunlight, but try placing it in somewhat more shaded conditions. Water whenever the soil feels dry.
Bromeliads belong to the bromeliaceae family, which includes the pineapple. Sharon Nejman, Senior Horticulturist at the Chicago Botanic Garden, says this plant lasts a long time. As part of its lifecycle, it will produce side shoots that will replace the original plant. Its preferred temperature is around 70 degrees, which makes it home-friendly. Apart from cold drafts, keep it away from direct sun exposure.
It grows bell-shaped flowers, resists drought and temperature swings, and even survives cooler winter temperatures, says Nejman. Kalanchoes “take little care,” she says. They grow in dry climates and tolerate temperature swings.
Known as Beaucarnea recurvata, the slow-growing ponytail palm enjoys a sunny window. Avoid overdosing with water because its “stems borrow water from its reserves,” says Nejman.
Native to tropical Asian countries, the phalaenopsis orchid prefers low light and humid climates; however, it’s much easier to care for than the showy blossoms suggest. If they’re lucky, I water them every week or week and a half.
Philodendrons are full of reasons to love them. Their names originate from the Greek words philo- (meaning “love”) and dendron (meaning “tree”). Almost all types can tolerate dark corners and sparse watering, as long as you don’t fill the watering can more than twice a week. They prefer being dry so only sprinkle them once or twice a week.
Crown of Thorns
While the succulent plant can produce prickers, it’s not picky. The succulent shrub can live without water for several weeks and still produce lovely blooms.
Whether you want to have something in your garden forever or just want a small arrangement for a few days, cacti are great choices. Sold as Thanksgiving or Christmas cacti, they feature segmented leaves and pink, red, or purple flowers.
Zamioculcas zamiifolia, officially known as ZZ plants, is indigenous to East Africa. Called the “king of the indestructible plants,” it tolerates low light, drought, and greatly reduced humidity.
One of numerous sansevieria family members, snake plants are hard to kill. They can live for months without drinking. Their leaves are usually stiff, sharp, and spikey.
It is a fast-growing evergreen shrub and can grow up to 15 feet outside, but it can grow very slowly inside under the watchful eye of a forgetful gardener. Because of its mild toxicity, it is often grown indoors.
It’s best to place this beauty next to a curtained window to protect new leaves from extra sun. Coupled with filtered light, the showy plant thrives.