You may think there’s a reason you’re not a gardener: namely, you’ve been known to kill houseplants. Over-watered, under-watered, it doesn’t matter. The plants come into your home, sense their fate and just give up.
At least that’s the story you tell. Well, that excuse just won’t play this time because there are houseplants you can’t kill, even if you tried.
Let’s begin by answering the question: Why would you even want houseplants? For starters, they add style to your home. Low-maintenance houseplants bring a welcome pop of green to your décor with spiky or trailing leaves, or can add a bit of oomph near the windows.
Houseplants clean the air — always a bonus. And who knows? It could be like couples who get a dog before they have a baby. Try out a few houseplants this year and you’ll move up to containers on the patio next spring, and a vegetable garden in the backyard the summer after that.
Before you bring any of these easy-to-care-for plants home, take stock of your living space and note the best placement for houseplants. Good light is crucial — choose a location that gets either morning or afternoon sun.
Afternoon sun can be intense, so be prepared to experiment once you bring your plants home by placing the pots at varying distances from the window.
To avoid over-watering, coordinate with other members of your household and decide who shall be the Keeper of the Plants and responsible for watering.
HOUSEPLANTS THAT CAN TOLERATE A BIT OF UNINTENTIONAL NEGLECT:
1. Succulents and air plants. Let’s say it here: Air plant is a bit of a misnomer. They truly do need a misting of water every couple of weeks. Plant succulents in a well-draining potting mix like Miracle-Gro Cactus Palm and Citrus Soil and find a dry, sunny location in your home. Let them be, checking for moisture every week or so.
2. Sanseveria (aka mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant) will soak up sunshine and tolerate infrequent watering. The glossy, spiky leaves add interest to any room.
3. Philodendron (also called pothos). This climbing vine is green and easy, with variegated leaves. Put it in a spot with good light, and let the soil dry out before watering. The leaves will become limp when they need water and perk up after a drink.
4. Jade plant (aka lucky plant), a succulent, just needs weekly watering in the warm months, and every other week through the winter. Have a room with lots of sunlight? Put the jade plant there and it will thrive.
5. Aloe. Dazzle your friends with aloe’s healing properties. Aloe likes light, but not direct light. A north or south-facing kitchen window is a convenient home for your aloe plant. Water only when the soil dries out.
BASIC TLC FOR HOUSEPLANTS:
- Find the right light in your home. This will take some experimentation, so start with the sunniest room and work from there. Look daily for signs of stress such as wilted or yellowing leaves.
- Make sure plants are in properly sized, well-draining containers with quality potting mix. A root-bound plant will not thrive in any conditions.
- If over-watering is a temptation, put a base of gravel in the pot saucer; that’s your overflow container. It’s especially helpful when you have too many gardeners tending the plants.
- Get in the habit of observing your houseplants every few days. Touch the soil to determine if watering is needed. Every so often, wipe down the leaves with a damp cloth to keep them glossy. Look for signs of pests and ill health and treat immediately.