A lot of people avoid having houseplants because they just don’t have a skilled green thumb to keep them healthy. Many common houseplants have a pretty strict set of care conditions and can be trickier to manage than a pet.
So for the more casual indoor gardener who wants a bit less responsibility, try a few of these hard-to-kill plants to add some greenery to your home.
1 – Pothos (Epipremnum sp.)
Nothing beats a pothos for an easy houseplant. These plants are a hardy vine with large waxy leaves in a mix of yellow and green variegation. It will trail well past the boundaries of its pot, and works very nicely in a hanging container or on a shelf where there is space to let the vines dangle.
They need sun but not bright direct light, and they will do fine in lower light areas. The leaves just tend to turn more green to compensate. That means a pothos will work just about anywhere. It will do fine if you let the soil dry out between waterings.
So you can basically keep a pothos anyplace and leave it alone for days at a time. As an added benefit, it’s one of those plants famous for cleaning and filtering your indoor air.
2 – Cactus
Now, this isn’t really just one plant but a whole group of different species. Granted, they’re not the most exciting plants to keep and you may go months (or even years) without seeing much growth or changes.
But when it comes to plants that do fine with little attention, you can get much better than a cactus.
Obviously, find them a spot with lots of light, even a hot windowsill that tends to kill other plants would be fine. The soil should be very loose and allow for fast drainage.
You don’t need to water much through the winter but they will need more during the spring when they are growing.
For a particularly colorful variety, look for a Christmas cactus. They grow relatively quickly (for a cactus) and will produce a host of bright red or pink blossoms at least once a year if not more often.
3 – Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
Sometimes called a ballroom plant, the cast iron plant is a kind of lily and produces lots of simple dark green foliage. Not that dramatic but it’s well-known as a plant that requires little care.
If you don’t have a lot of light to offer a houseplant, this is the one to choose. They do fine in low-light areas, and will thrive with inconsistent watering too.
You should plan to give it some space as it can reach up to 2 feet in height after a few years.
4 – Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
This is another option for a hanging basket, as it starts to sprout longer tendrils and “baby” spider plants. They have long grass-like leaves that drape down over the sides of the container once they get long enough.
A sunny window is fine as long as it doesn’t get too hot during the day, and make sure you have a well-draining soil mix. Water them when it dries out with a good soak, and that will be it for days. Spider plants do bloom with small white flowers but it’s the kind of houseplant you enjoy for the foliage.
If you are doing well with your spider plant, you can take the smaller plants that form on the longer stalks and just re-pot them in a new container for no-fuss propagation.
5 – Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
With its fat fleshy leaves, it’s easy to recognize the unique look of a jade plant. Part of the succulent family, they are related to cactus and can hold on to a lot of water in its leaves. That means they are happy to go without water longer than most leafy plants.
Give is a sunny spot and you can let the soil get dry before watering again. Try not to get water on the leaves though, they can be prone to rotting if they constantly get wet.
Some cultures consider the jade plant to be good luck that will bring prosperity to your home.
6 – Aloe (Aloe vera)
Aloe is another succulent that is slow growing and thrives just nicely in somewhat neglectful conditions. They like a lot of sun and you can let the soil dry out before giving them a drink too.
The soil should drain well because their roots will easily rot if left soggy for too long. A few weeks between waterings is usually fine.
People often keep aloe vera plants in the kitchen, so they can trim off a spear and use the gel inside to treat any minor burns. The edges of their spear-like leaves can be sharp or prickly, so you will want to keep your aloe plant away from little children who might grab at it.
Aloe plants will reproduce by budding off smaller plants, which you can leave in place if there is room or gently break off to start a new plant in another container.
7 – Dumbcane (Dieffenbachia sp.)
There are a few different kinds of dumbcane plants, all with varying color patterns to their green, yellow and cream leaves. They have big, wide leaves and will grow several feet high as well as in width. An excellent choice for an empty corner you want to fill up with a big potted plant.
You’ll need bright but indirect light, so it shouldn’t be kept right in a sunny window. Some varieties do better in lower light completely.
Let the soil get dry through the top inch or so and then give it a heavy watering, allowing for drainage. Sandy soil is good for dumbcane plants to prevent root rot.
Don’t get dumbcane plants if you have pets or small children, because the leaves are toxic if chewed. They can be casually handled safely though.
8 – Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema sp.)
If your plants tend to die because you don’t have a lot of light to give them, try a Chinese evergreen. It prefers indirect and lower light, so don’t keep it in a too-bright window. Artificial light is fine, making it a no-hassle option for offices with no windows at all.
Don’t let them get too cold though; they don’t handle chilly temperatures well. For water, you can let the soil dry mostly out before watering.
Some varieties are small enough to stay potted on a shelf or sill, but some will get several feet high and do better in a floor location.
9 – Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
This is another tall plant that works well sitting on the floor, as it can get up to 3 feet high. Also called mother-in-law’s tongue, the snake plant has pointed, upright leaves that are usually dark green or sometimes striped.
A snake plant can produce new plants down around the base, and it can start to get too large for a pot if it’s growing well. Be prepared to split the plant occasionally so it doesn’t outgrow the container. For care, all you need is a decent source of light that’s not too bright and not too shady.
Go ahead and forget to water it sometimes; snake plants prefer dry soil anyway. Like the pothos and spider plant, these are known to help filter toxins from the air and can improve your home’s air quality.
So if you are prone to having a black-thumb when it comes to keeping houseplants, try a few of these ideas to bring some healthy natural elements into your home or office.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.