10 of the most easygoing houseplants

It’s undeniable how much life, movement and energy houseplants bring to an interior, not to mention their excellent air purifying properties. We all want them in our homes but many people are turning to faux plants because they don’t know what plants to get that they won’t end up killing.

There are lots of posts flying around the blogosphere about easy houseplants that are apparently hard to kill. It amuses me when many of these articles list plants like English ivy and fiddle leaf fig. This winter my English ivy bit the dust despite not being totally neglected. So unfortunately for me, it is killable. And I often come across a distressed conversation about fiddle leaf figs dropping leaves, so they definitely aren’t easy. Some articles even list maidenhair ferns – ha! I’ve honestly never come across a bigger diva of a plant. If you’re not misting it every few hours and pretty much serenading it, it’ll probably die on you.

I class a plant as easy only if it can happily survive in a dry centrally-heated home during the dark months of winter with just occasional watering. This post is an actual-experience roundup of reeeeally easygoing plants that have survived a couple of winters in my home with very little care. These plants are content in a range of light conditions. They are also relatively easy and cheap to obtain, so there’s no fear of being much out of pocket if the worst should happen, although with these plants, that can only happen if you drown them. Nothing kills a plant faster than overwatering.

1.  Zamioculcas zamifolia (ZZ plant / Zanzibar Gem)

zz-plant

One of my two ZZ plants

The ZZ plant, for me, is most handsome plant on this list, and the easiest. It’s an upright plant with gorgeous glossy leaves that almost look fake! It’s fine in any light away from direct sunlight – I have one in a corner that gets bright indirect light [image above] and another in a very shady corner. The one in the lighter location gets more growth but the one in shade is still fine, it just grows slower. The ZZ plant likes it very dry: this winter I’ve watered mine just twice. Once would probably have been enough. In the warmer months I water it approximately once every 6-8 weeks… depending on when I remember. This plant is so chilled out it really doesn’t care. Do not water it if the soil is even remotely damp. The only reason not to have it in your home is if you have pets or kids who may try to eat it as it is toxic if ingested.

2.  Aspidistra elatior (Cast Iron plant)

Cast iron plant

@thedesignchaser’s desk holding a large cast iron plant

This magnificent plant can survive conditions that most indoor plants would die in, hence the name Cast Iron plant. It prefers bright indirect light but also grows well in low light areas and is not fussy about regular water either. Keep it away from direct sunlight so you don’t scorch the leaves. Overwatering and repotting too often can cause problems for this plant, so it’s perfect for neglectful indoor gardeners. Just leave it alone for the most part! The bigger it is, the better it looks, but it grows very slowly so if you find one that’s a good size for a good price, snap it up!

3.  Sansevieria (Snake plant or Mother-in-law’s tongue)

Snake plants

@houseplantjournal’s enviable snake plant collection

The snake plant is nicknamed Mother-in-law’s Tongue, because it’s virtually unkillable :-). Well, you can kill it if you overwater it. Snake plants are succulents and like it dry. I tend to water mine approximately monthly in summer and very rarely in winter. Snake plants come in many different varieties as displayed in the image above by Darryl Cheng of @houseplantjournal. They prefer bright indirect light but are content in shady corners too. If you’re keeping yours in a shady spot, you’ll need to water it even less because it is not able to use up excess moisture as much as if it were in brighter location. Remember to water the soil and not the leaves because if water is left in the leaf rosette it can lead to rot. They really don’t like being wet!

4.  Chamaedorea elegans (Parlour palm)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Parlour palm: pretty and delicate-looking but really quite tough!

For such a pretty plant, the parlour palm is remarkably tough and easy to look after. It is happy anywhere away from direct sunlight (although a very dark location is not recommended) and tolerates dry air well. I only water it when the soil feels dry. If you have the inclination to mist plants, this one will enjoy the attention, but I rarely mist mine and it has been absolutely fine.

5.  Philodendron scandens (Heartleaf philodendron)

Philodendron Scandens

@lapalomasuzarte’s trailing heartleaf Philodendron

This easy to keep plant has beautiful deep green heart-shaped leaves that trail down (great for shelves!) or can climb up a moss pole. They’re happy anywhere away from direct sunlight, although could get a bit scraggly in very low light. Pinch out the stems to encourage bushy growth. The soil needs to be left to dry out before watering during winter, but it will appreciate slightly moist soil and monthly feeding during the growing seasons of spring and summer.

6.  Chlorophytum comosum (Spider plant)

Spider plant

A very healthy looking spider plant in the gorgeous home of @artynads

The spider plant can be kept in almost any position away from direct sunlight, except the darkest of corners. If it gets pale and droopy, it definitely needs a drink, so it’s easy to judge when it needs water. It’s a smashing plant for a hanging basket or shelf where the leaves and stems can grow freely.

7.  Haworthia Fasciata / Haworthia Attenuata (Zebra cactus / Zebra plant)

Haworthia-Zebra-Plant

Zebra Haworthia – a striking little succulent. Image from The Plant Recipe Book by Baylor Chapman; photography by Paige Green.

Isn’t this just the cutest little succulent? I love its zebra stripes! It’ll be happy in bright to medium light and is very tolerant to underwatering, but will succumb quickly to rotting if overwatered, so only water when the soil feels dry.

8.  Aloe vera

Aloe Vera houseplant

Aloe vera – low maintenance, gorgeously structured and useful. Image credit: Room for Tuesday

The Aloe vera is also called the First Aid plant because the gel in its leaves is renowned for its healing properties – a great plant to have in the home. Place it in a bright spot out of direct sunlight and water it when the soil feels dry. Easy peasy.

9.  Ceropegia woodii (String of hearts)

Ceropegia Woodii

Ceropegia woodii, or string of hearts. Image credit: Sprout London

This trailing succulent vine has the loveliest little heart shaped leaves, hence the name String of hearts. This charming plant is happy in bright light or medium shade and needs very little care. It hates being overwatered (notice the running theme?) so only water it when the soil feels dry.

10.  Monstera deliciosa (Swiss cheese plant)

Monstera deliciosa

My monstera deliciosa is very happy in my bright living room

The Swiss cheese plant is an absolute stunner but needs a fair bit of space in a room. It’s so popular that much of the current interiors botanical trend is modelled on the gorgeous shape of its leaves. This is a fast growing plant that makes a big impact, and can be pruned to keep it looking tidy. It has aerial roots which I gently push into the soil but you can leave them be if you prefer. I have it in bright indirect light and water it when the soil feels dry, with occasional feeding during growing seasons.

So these are the 10 plants that I find to be low maintenance in my home. If you want to explore even more plants, I have the following on my wishlist which I hear are all easy-care: Rubber plant, Peace lily, Chinese evergreen, Kentia palm, and String of pearls.

A few pointers to keep in mind for happy plants:

  • Plant them in pots with good drainage. About 10 minutes after watering them, if there is any excess water in the saucer or catch pot, discard it. Do not leave them soaking in water.
  • Good appropriate potting soil will really help your plants. I have found IKEA use very heavy soil that stays wet for ages so any plants I buy from there are promptly repotted when I get them home.
  • For many plants, allow the soil to dry before the next watering.
  • As far as possible, keep your plants away from radiators or draughts.
  • Most plants should to be kept away from direct sunlight to avoid scorched leaves.
  • Read up about your plants to understand the care (soil, light, water, plant feed, humidity and repotting) that they need and also to check their toxicity if you have kids or pets. Websites such as www.guide-to-houseplants.com and www.houseplantsexpert.com are great for such information.
  • Finally, even though they tolerate a fair bit of neglect, don’t leave them to gather dust. Show them some love by occasionally wiping down the leaves with a damp cloth or showering them to keep them looking gorgeous.

Pin for later:
10 easygoing hard to kill plants


Follow:

9 Comments

  1. March 15, 2017 / 7:26 pm

    Oh my goodness, this is SUCH a helpful post!! I actually just bought a few new ones and the string of pearls as well as a parlour palm were among them 😉 I actually already have a parlour palm in my bedroom and it held up great throughout the winter months so I wanted another! I will say, however, that my huge ZZ plant is suffering whaaaaa!! because I obviously overwatered it (and let me say, I don’t water it that often but clearly it was too much) and I didn’t know why it was going yellow on me but did a little research so I might end up repotting it because I’m a little afraid it may have rot on the roots sob sob. Fingers crossed I can bring it back to life. Oh and I totally killed a 5 foot tall Kentia palm last year. Yeah, I’m that person. Sigh. xxx

    • March 15, 2017 / 9:15 pm

      Really glad you’ve found this post useful, Kimberly! But sooo sorry to hear about your ZZ plant 🙁. I have no idea how possible it is to save a ZZ plant that has rot, I’m assuming you may need some kind of fungicide for the roots during the repotting. Good luck if you do try to repot it! Also very sorry to hear about your Kentia palm… you need to neglect your plants more!! 🙈 xxx

  2. March 16, 2017 / 2:27 pm

    Again, love this post! And totally agree with all your choices – at least the ones I’ve had experience with. I’ve got a string of hearts, zebra cactus, two snake plants & a parlour palm, and they all put up with low light and my penchant for underwatering (and didn’t succumb to the white mold that a bunch of my other, higher-maintenance house plants died from this winter…waaah).
    Orchids seem to do really well in my house too, especially if they’re in self-watering pots like the ones Lechuza do.
    xx

    • March 16, 2017 / 9:51 pm

      So great to hear that you have some of these plants and find them easy too! And good to know about orchids in self-watering pots, as I love the look of them but always worried they won’t survive long. Thanks Lizzie! xxx

  3. May 16, 2017 / 2:55 pm

    I have a post on my blog showing how the Haworthia grows over time. If you give it exactly what it needs, it flowers and it is quite spectacular and rapid once it does flower. You might find it interesting, link here: http://wp.me/p8wGFJ-cM

    • May 16, 2017 / 8:32 pm

      Thanks so much for letting me know, I’ve had a read of your post. It’s fascinating!

  4. December 5, 2017 / 6:39 pm

    This is by far the most helpful post I’ve ever come across.I like that you wrote based on tried and true experience. Houses in Southeast Asia are designed to be semi-dark as weather is mostly hot and humid, so plants indoors have a rough time. My mother swears by Golden Pothos, which is quite like the Heartleaf Philodendron in this list, and I agree. Very easygoing plant! We have peace lilies too and what I can say about it is it prefers medium indirect light but I have recently moved one indoors, and though I wouldn’t call it easy, it’s not a hard plant to look after either, and I have black thumb! Peace lilies’ leaves droop when it needs a drink so it’s easy to tell. Thanks for writing this post. If there’s a second part to this, I would love to read it.

    • artyhomestudio
      December 6, 2017 / 10:02 am

      Your comment made my day, Annette, thank you! I agree, golden pothos, just like the heartleaf philodendron, is very easygoing and fine in lower light levels. Plants which have a “tell” for when they need a drink are great, aren’t they? My spider plant and string of hearts are like this too. I love that they perk up soon after a watering. Thank you again for your lovely words 🙂 xx

Submit a comment