Are your orchids withering? Have your gardenias perished?
You may not be a natural when it comes to raising happy, healthy indoor plants, but it’s possible your shortcomings could be conquered by simply selecting the right plants.
It’s true, many houseplants are finicky when it comes to temperature, light levels, soil mixtures and fertilization. If you weren’t born with a green thumb, or if your life is too hectic to be bothered with routine pruning and watering, those are not the plants for you. Instead, consider adding one — or more — of these low-maintenance plants to your interior spaces:
Cast-iron plant (aspidistra elatior)
As its common name indicates, this is one super-tough houseplant. It can withstand low light, extreme temperatures and irregular watering. Its long, dark green leaves grow directly out of the soil, and its flowers are small and unremarkable.
The cast-iron plant grows slowly, so be sure to purchase a plant that is large enough for the space in which you intend to use it. The plant grows to a maximum height of about 3 feet.
Snake plant (sansevieria trifasciata ‘laurentii’)
The snake plant and its close cousin, mother-in-law’s tongue, has stiff, sword-shaped leaves that grow up to 4 feet tall. The snake plant has green-banded leaves; mother-in-law’s tongue leaves have a yellow border.
Mother Nature Network praises these succulents for their ability to filter formaldehyde from the air. The nearly indestructible plants can withstand virtually any light conditions, from dark to bright, and require only semi-regular watering.
Heart-leaf philodendron (philodendron scandens oxycardium)
Not surprising, this plant, sometimes known as sweetheart plant, does have heart-shaped leaves. It thrives in either low or bright light and prefers temperatures of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s no need for frequent watering; in fact, soil should dry out between waterings.
Long philodendron stems can trail from a pot or hanging basket, or climb a moss pole or trellis within its container. If you prefer to manage its growth, you can pinch off stems directly above leaf nodes (the spot where the leaf attaches to the stem). Pinching off stems will create a fuller, bushier plant.
Zeezee plant (zamioculcas zamiifolia)
Also known as the ZZ plant or the eternity plant, this succulent has shiny foliage and stems. It does well in dimly lit rooms, doesn’t require any special soil mix and — thanks to a big underground tuber where water is stored — it can go weeks without watering. The zeezee plant is susceptible to very few disease and insect problems.
This easy-going plant grows up to 3 feet tall but be warned: it grows very slowly. Its thick leafstalks are so durable it almost looks like it’s made of plastic.
Rubber plant (ficus elastica)
Known for its glossy, leathery leaves, the rubber plant is easy to grow and does well in a variety of conditions. If they’re given the space to do so, they can grow 6 to 10 feet tall; they can be pruned to reduce their size.
Rubber plants grow best with the morning light from an east window but are adaptable to low light. They do well in warm to average room temperatures and prefer humid conditions, but tolerate the dry air common in homes and offices.