Unkillable Plants: 6 Low-Light, Low-Maintenance Plants That Anyone Can Keep Alive
By Dana Guth
House plants are all the rage these days, but did you know that in addition to making your home beautiful and cozy, they actually contribute to your overall well-being? A study conducted by HortScience on the effect plants have on people yielded some pretty fascinating results. Over the course of 4 weeks over 400 cardiac and pulmonary patients were put into two different waiting rooms in the Røros Rehabilitation Center in Norway. One waiting room had a few scraggly plants and the other waiting room was full of 28 lush and vibrant plants. The group that got to wait with the lush green plants felt happier, healthier, with a greater overall sense of well-being. Pretty cool, huh?
So you too want a greener life, but can’t help but murder every plant you bring home? You and your black thumb aren’t alone. With hyper-busy schedules that most often take place indoors, most of us don’t have the time, energy, or mental space to think about plant care.
Don’t fear—or confine yourself to cacti. There are plenty of house plants that are easy to care for and actually flourish, despite lack of sunlight and less than optimal conditions. Here we list the six house plants are hardy enough to withstand your (well-intentioned) neglect:
1. Tillandsia: Air plants, or epiphytes, are so low maintenance they don’t even need a pot. They obtain their nutrients from the air without roots, so they’re free to sit right on your table or desk as artistic decor. They actually do really well with artifical (fluorescent) light, and they can get by with a with a root soak in water about every 2 weeks. Bonus points if you live down South, because the Tillandsia loves humidity.
2. Aloe: This plant will truly surprise and delight you with its ability to thrive. The soil in an aloe pot should be allowed to completely dry out between waters, meaning you can go up to 2-3 weeks without feeding it. And as you probably know, aloe itself is a botanical blessing. Growing your own aloe gives you constant access to the gel’s wound-healing powers, without a cut of store-bought preservatives.
3. Jade: This succulent stores water in its leaves to prepare for dry spells, i.e. those times when you forget your poor jade exists. It also requires less watering in the winter months and you can let the soil go completely dry in between watering. Jade goes dormant if it isn’t fed, and then grows again when watered. It also reproduces quickly and easily when its leaves are re-planted. Ideal!
4. Snake Plant: Also called “Mother-In-Law’s Tongue,” this plant is inexpensive, adaptable to various light conditions, and prefers drier soil (read: less frequent watering). Similar to the jade plant, it too requires less watering in the winter months. The snake plant improves the air quality of any room it's in, making it a reliable investment.
5. Cast Iron Plant: One of the most durable members of the lily family, this plant’s thick and hardy green leaves earn its namesake. (It’s officially named “aspidistra,” or “ballroom plant”.) Cast irons grow slowly, but will survive extreme conditions and even years of infrequent attention.
6. ZZ Plant: The ZZ is tough enough to survive some pretty unfriendly environments, which is why you’ll always see it in airports and strip malls—it won’t mind the cold temperatures, sterile air, bright lights, low lights, or a lack of TLC. No wonder the ZZ plant is known for living a long, long life.
You can also head over to your local nursery and ask for suggestions for low-maintenance plants. Before you go, be sure to check and see where in your home you'd like to put the plant and what kind of light that area gets, and remember, you don't necessarily need natural light! That way you can find the plants that match your environment and your abilities and soon enough you'll be reaping the happy rewards of having a plant-friendly home!