Who doesn’t love a cute little plant hanging out around their house? Houseplants help to purify the air and liven up our spaces. However, keeping them alive and healthy can sometimes be a struggle.
If you tend to accidentally kill your houseplants, here are some tips to keep your greenery alive and happy through winter and beyond.
What Plants Should I Buy for My Home?
Justin Hancock, a horticulturist with the Miami-based house and garden plant producer Costa Farms, suggested these five plants that can withstand even the blackest of thumbs.
1. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema sp.)
Hancock says the Chinese evergreen is one of his favorite houseplants. “It is incredibly tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions. You can grow it in high, medium or low light. It tolerates drafts and dry air. It thrives with regular watering, but is forgiving enough to go without water for a couple of weeks when necessary. And it’s beautiful!” The plant has a nice variation of dark green coloring with bits of silver and comes in a variety of leaf shapes “from long and narrow to wide and oval.”
2. Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
The ponytail palm’s thick trunk is topped by a tuft of grassy leaves like a ponytail — thus the name! Even though this plant is known as the ponytail palm, “it’s not closely related to palms, but instead, it’s allied with agave or dracaena. It loves a high-light spot, but tolerates medium and low light fairly well,” Hancock says. “The fat trunk stores water, so it doesn’t bat an eye if you don’t water it as often as you think you should. It’s best watered once every seven to 10 days or so.”
3. Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
“This is the most indestructible houseplant I’ve personally encountered,” Hancock says. “Like the Chinese evergreen, you can grow it from low to high light—I define low light, by the way, as enough light to comfortably read a book or a magazine most of the day without having to turn on extra lighting, keep it cool or warm, let it get blasted by air from a heating/cooling vent and water it practically anytime you want—but at least once every two weeks or so is best.” The plant has sword-like leaves that have led people to giving it another common name: “mother-in-law’s tongue.” Maybe don’t give this one to your mother-in-law as a gift …
4. Super Atom Philodendron
“Philodendron ‘Super Atom’ is a newer variety that stays compact and has ruffled leaves that almost look like miniature elephant ears,” Hancock says. “Unlike the more common old-school philodendrons, this houseplant isn’t a vine. Rather, it’s a tidy plant to enjoy on desks and tabletops.” The plant can sit in low, medium or high light and only needs to be watered once a week or two for best results.
5. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
The ZZ plant is a relative newcomer to the houseplant world, says Hancock. From Africa, the plant has thick, rubbery leaves that let it store moisture when it gets dry, so it can power through missed waterings in your house. You can place it in low, medium or high light and water every couple of weeks.
“Because of its durability, it’s great to have around the office or enjoy its air-purifying powers in your bedroom. It grows beautifully with the snake plant and the two make a great pairing if you want a chic combination of plants that survive practically any care, except overwatering.”
Why Do My Succulent and Cactus Plants Keep Dying?
I don’t know about you, but I personally have never been able to keep a succulent alive in my home for more than two months. I thought that they were supposed to be easy! They are very trendy and are known for being easy to grow, so why I haven’t I had success with them?
“Everyone says cacti and succulents are so easy, but the trick with these guys is that they need bright light to thrive. If you put them in a low-light spot, you’re not going to have much success,” Hancock says.
That makes a lot of sense to me now. I guess my plants didn’t enjoy living in a dark apartment. To the window sill they go!
“That’s really the key behind success with any plants,” Hancock added. “If you have growing conditions they like or tolerate, they’ll be pretty easy to grow; if you don’t, they’ll be demanding divas. The great thing about the plants above is that they have a really wide range of conditions they tolerate, so pretty much anyone can enjoy success.”
You don’t have to be a plant expert or have a “green thumb” to have beautiful plants in your home. Try these five amazing plants and place your succulents and cacti in direct sunlight for a lush indoor garden to keep your living spaces lively through all the seasons.
Julia West is a Search Marketing Analyst for Builders Digital Experience. She was previously a content intern and now contributes articles as a freelance writer on a variety of topics about homebuilding, real estate and home and garden.