Don’t let these loose leaf figs fool you. Not all houseplants require a natural green thumb and extensive gardening expertise. These hardy indoor species can survive and even thrive despite severe neglect.
“Buy something that enjoys living the way you do,” advises Gwenn Fried, head of the horticultural therapy program at NYU Langone. When working in a dark room, try low-light options like pothos, prayer plants, and dracaena. If too many rays have shriveled your plants in the past, go for sun lovers like yucca, jade, and ponytail palm. Chinese peace lilies and evergreens can handle the well-intentioned overwatering. If you’re the set-it-and-forget-it type, the ZZ plant, kalanchoe, and philodendrons might be faster.
Get more plant inspiration and care tips from horticultural experts below, but if you’re looking for true maintenance-free foliage, check out the best artificial plants you can buy. Their plastic sheets will never turn brown no matter how hard you try.
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Calling All Black Thumbs: This trailing vine has earned the nickname “devil’s ivy” for its ability to withstand near-black conditions as well as under and over-watering.
“If you’re more of a waterer, a great plant is a Chinese evergreen,” says Fried. Aglaonema can withstand excess H2O, and it is available in a spectrum of colors, including green, pink, white, and red.
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This fluffy plant tolerates a lot more abuse than other ferns – thanks to the fact that it’s technically not a fern. Asparagus setaceus adapts to both bright spots and dark corners. Keep the soil moist and it will thrive.
Chinese currency factory
Pilea peperomioides grows best in a shady location (or winter window sill) with weekly watering, depending on The little book of indoor plants and other green spaces. Bonus: you can replant the branches that grow at the base of the stem and give them as gifts.
You can keep the potting soil in the shed for this one. Tillandsia grows without dirt. “You just need to soak them in water for about two or three hours every 10 days or so,” says Tovah Martin, expert gardener and author of The indestructible houseplant.
What’s better than a spider plant? Many spider plants. The fast-growing shoots produce little “babies” that you can repot for more greenery elsewhere. Stick to well-lit areas and don’t forget about weekly watering.
Lily of peace
If you tend to overwater, try Spathiphyllum. Peace lilies can “almost grow in an aquarium,” says Fried. With enough light, they will also produce their spike-shaped flowers throughout the year.
With its preference for indirect light, aloe would love a place on your desk or bedside table. Give it a good soak every week or two for optimal growth.
Save space on your windowsill and store this low-light variety in an unloved nook. Pet owners, please note: Dracaena marginata is toxic to dogs and cats, so keep animals away.
“Prayer plants” produce foliage pretty enough to outperform a bouquet, and you don’t need a botany degree to maintain one. For best display, keep the plant moist (not soaked) and avoid bright light.
Rubber trees can grow over 100 feet tall in their native Asia, but regular pruning will keep the ornamental variety in check. A potted rubber tree tolerates bright direct light, but place it in a slightly more shaded area and it will thank you for it. Water when the soil is dry – about every week or so.
Like pineapple, bromeliad belongs to the bromeliad family. This plant “lasts a long time,” says Sharon Nejman, senior horticulturist at the Chicago Botanic Garden. “It produces puppies or side shoots that will replace the original plant.” Her favorite temperature is around 70 degrees, “which makes her comfortable around the house,” she says. Keep it away from cold drafts.
Kalanchoe “takes very little care,” says Nejman. This water-retaining succulent produces colorful, bell-shaped flowers and is resistant to dry climates and temperature variations. It’s even fine with winter weather at 45 degrees, she adds.
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Officially called the Beaucarnea recurvata, the slow-growing ponytail palm likes to bask in a sunny window. Do not spray the Mexican native with too much water because “its stems are working out of its reserves,” says Nejman.
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Native to countries in tropical Asia, the phalaenopsis orchid prefers dimly lit and more humid climates, but is easier to live with than the showy flowers suggest. “Most orchids are pretty forgiving,” says Nejman. “If they’re lucky, I water them every week or week and a half.”
There is a lot to love about philodendrons. Their name literally comes from the Greek words philo- (which means “love”) and dendron (which means “tree”). Most types can withstand dark corners as well as sparse watering. “They like to be on the dry side,” says Nejman, so don’t fill the watering can more than once a week.
Crown of thorns
Yes, this plant can produce biters, but it’s not really difficult. The succulent shrub can go without water for a week or more and it still produces beautiful flowers “all year round,” according to Nejman.
If you’re more of the leave-and-forget type, anything in the cactus family will do, says Fried. Sold as a Thanksgiving or Christmas cactus, this species produces segmented leaves and white, pink, red, or purple flowers.
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Officially named Zamioculcas zamiifolia, the ZZ plant is native to East Africa. Called “the king of the indestructible plants,” the species tolerates the dangerous trio of plant killers: drought, low light and very low humidity.
One of the many sansevierias, the snake plant is difficult to kill. “These can go a month without water,” says Nejman. The leaves are generally stiff, pointed and thorny.
This evergreen shrub, also known as an umbrella tree, can grow 15 feet outdoors, but under the watchful eye of a forgetful gardener, it will grow more slowly indoors. Like many plants, it can be mildly poisonous.
Place this beauty near a curtained window, protecting the new leaves from additional sunlight. With filtered light, the showy plant is a happy camper.
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