In order to make this list, these houseplants had to be simple. By that I mean next to no special lighting or watering requirements and tolerable of a little abuse. Also, to keep it simple, I'll tell you their common name and skip the scientific name here. We'll leave that for the botanists.
I remember as a kid that we'd have to line up a neighbor to water the houseplants when we went on vacation because keeping up with them was a weekly chore. Most everyone likes the look of a real plant in their home, but some of us just need to be free from any real work to get it.
Have no fear. These houseplants will add beauty to your home but work on your schedule. You'll notice I left off the cactus. Unless you have a sunroom I'd skip them. While they look really cool and I do love them, they don't tend to make a room feel cozy the way a green plant can.
My number one houseplant for easy care has to be the snake plant. This plant would be fine if you shut it in a closet for a week. You may have also heard the term mother-in-law's plant or mother-in-law's tongue. That's the same thing.
This is a great looking houseplant and one of the best things about it is the growing habit. You can keep the width of this plant in check because of its upright growing habit so it will sit neatly in a corner of the room. The other great thing is that it requires very little light. I have successfully grown this in my foyer there I have a tiny window near the door as the only natural light in the area. No problem.
To care for this plant, water it only when you feel like it. Too little water is better than too much. Once it's dry as a bone throw some more water in, but not too much. Treat it like a cactus and you'll be fine. Wash the leaves once in a while to make it shine and you're good to go.
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Naturally the Philodendron has to be on the list. If you don't know this houseplant by name I'll bet you know it by appearance. It is the heart-shaped trailing plant that you will find in most any office, mall, store, or home, except yours perhaps.
Like the snake plant, this plant requires very little when it comes to habitat. Anything from low light to plenty of light and the Philodendron will be fine, though from my experience a medium amount of light will make it a little happier.
You will find the typical Philodendron in a store as a rather compact but trailing plant but, beware, it will continue to grow and grow and grow if you let it. When I was a kid I had a neighbor who had a Philodendron in the living room that circled the entire room near the ceiling all the way back to the source. I don't know how long that took, but it was cool.
To keep this plant happy, just water and feed once in a while and avoid over watering. In fact, let the soil get dry between watering and you'll have no worries.
One note on the Philodendron - it is poisonous. That shouldn't concern you much unless you have very small children or pets who might like to eat it. If so, reconsider or put it up high where it is safe from being eaten.
Unlike a cactus, the jade plant looks like a plant and has rubbery looking "leaves" that are green and very clean looking. In fact, I bet if you've seen this plant around you've reached out and touched the leaves out of curiosity.
To keep this plant happy all you need to do is offer it plenty of light without extreme heat and water it when you feel like it. You can over water, but it's pretty hard to underwater this guy.
The shape and texture of the jade plant is a nice addition to most any room. If you have this around for several years, it can get quite big, so go ahead and get used to it.
Cast Iron Plant
The name says it all. This plant can take some neglect and really will wear like iron.
The cast iron plant is a slow grower that will fill a small space with green. If you get a small one it works on a table. Larger ones can sit on the floor, but this won't get big quick so get a size you like. I like these of medium size in a pot on the ground.
The best thing about the cast iron plant is that it is native to full shade, so it won't ask for much more in your house, although it doesn't mind some indirect light. In fact, a sunny window might be a bad idea for this plant.
For water, it just needs water once in a while once it dries out, so you won't have to stress out about marking this on your calendar.
Ah, the peace lily. You know, the one that sends up those little white cupped "flowers" that last for what seems like weeks. This is another popular plant in an office setting.
The peace lily likes to be watered a bit more routinely but it will tell you right away when it's thirsty which makes it a good plant in my book. If you forget for too long the plant's leaves will droop when it's time for water. Sure, it would be better to get to it before that, but it won't die.
My sister had a peace lily growing in a clear vase with a beta fish swimming around under it for years. Apparently this is rather common and it did look really decorative. The lily grew with no soil whatsoever. Instead the roots just hung in the water and the fish swam around keeping the bowl clean. If you go this route, all you need is to add a little fish food once in a while and you're set.
Now You're Ready
Well, there you have it. Pick one, or more, and add a little nature to your home. But before you do, here are just a couple of tips:
- Don't Over Water - For most houseplants, too much water is worse than not enough. Make sure that water can drain out the bottom of your pot and that you don't water too often. Root rot can get to these plants if you water too much.
- Feed - I know I said you can't kill these plants but you want them to look nice don't you? Just give them a little plant fertilizer once a month or so and they will be much happier with the rest of the neglect they get from you.
- Remember Toxicity - Many tropical looking houseplants are poisonous, either mildly or more. If you have kids or critters that would make a houseplant their lunch, consider the site carefully.
- Wash Their Faces - Imagine if you didn't take a shower for a month at a time. Yikes. Any houseplant will look better and be healthier if you give the leaves a quick wash once in a while.
Good luck! Now you know 5 different foolproof houseplants that won't die.