Top 5 Easiest Houseplants for Plant-Slaughtering Black Thumbs
Before embarking on my life as an full-time artist (and now blogger as well), I spent over a decade as a floral designer and event planner with ample experience caring for scores of plants (and admittedly, slaughtering a few). Through all the trial and error, I’ve come up with my list of the Top 5 Easiest Houseplants for Plant-Slaughtering Black Thumbs. (with an extra bonus 10 list at the end)…
Before we get to the list, a few happy-plant notes. All plants, no matter how easy, need some care. Here’s a few simple plant-care tips: There are 3 main things to remember: Light, Water & Drainage. First, read the care tag on your new plant. It will tell you how the plant likes its water, and whether it likes low, medium or bright light. Sunny window? Get a bright-light plant. Dimly lit basement? Get a low-light plant. Watering. The #1 cause of premature plant-death is under- or over-watering. In general, the easiest way to tell if your plant needs to be watered is to get dirty. Stick your finger in it, a good couple inches down. If you feel moisture, don’t water. If it feels dry, water it. You’ll want to check most plants twice a week, especially in dry climates. Write it down on your calendar so you’ll remember. (That’s what I’d do) This brings us to Drainage. Plants don’t like sopping wet feet. There needs to be a layer of drainage material on the bottom under the soil in addition to drainage holes in the pot. It can be a layer of small rocks, pieces of broke pottery, or the industry standard, perlite (a small white volcanic rock). Drainage is a must if you want a happy healthy plant. Keep them looking good by removing yellowed or dead leaves with scissors, rotate your plant occasionally for even growth, and if you want a Gold Star for plant care, fertilize according to the plant’s care tag instructions. Lastly, the temperature needs to be between 60-85. Keeping houseplants outside in the winter is a no-no.
So without further ado, here is the Top Five List, in order of easiest to ever so slightly challenging:
1. Lucky Bamboo & Curly Willow. OK, these are not your typical potted plants, but it doesn’t get much easier than this. Just keep either the lucky bamboo or curly willow in a container of water (a nice vase or bowl) no dirt needed. Change out the water every week or so, that’s it. The willow branches will want a bit more light, but both are pretty forgiving when it comes to amount of light. (I’ve had lucky bamboo in my very low light bathroom for over 6 months now and it’s just fine) You can find both at your local florist, and sometimes at the grocery store floral section. Just make sure the curly willow branches are not dried out. Once in water they will quickly start to grow roots and leaves. I’ve also shoved these into a pot with moist soil and they grow just as well.
2. Snake Plant (or Mother-in-law’s tongue) This plant is nearly indestructible. It has a cool, almost architectural look, and even helps clean the air. This plant can live in almost any light (I’ve seen them live in a windowless office under florescent lights) They like soil on the dry side with excellent drainage (you will still need to actually water it at least once a week)
3. Jade Plant & Aloe Vera (and most succulents). As with most succulents, they store water, so are quite forgiving (though again, you will have to actually water them) They like bright light and excellent drainage. (TOXIC to pets)
4. Cast-Iron Plant (Aspidistra). As the name suggests, this one is tough. It does well in low light with evenly moist (not wet!) soil, so you’ll probably need to water twice a week, but always check the soil first.
5. Peace Lily. This is one of my favorites. A full, pretty, fast growing plant with large white flowers (if you fertilize a couple times a year) and a good air cleaner. Does well in low light and likes even moisture. If you miss a watering you’ll know it soon, as the leaves will start to droop.
BONUS 10 LIST: These plants are are all on the easy-care list as well, though use caution as some of them are poisonous to pets and children. Pothos & philodendron (pretty, any light, dryish soil, Poisonous), Spider Plant (med-bright light, even moisture), Dieffenbachia & Chinese Evergreen (low-med light, even moisture, Poisonous), Dracaena (med-bright light, on the drier side, Poisonous) Ponytail Palm (bright light, easy on water), Grape Ivy (pretty, hanging, even soil med-bright light). Anthurium (bright pretty, long-lasting flowers, med light, even moisture), and Tradescantia/Wandering Jew (one of my favorites: very pretty, hanging, med-bright light, even moist soil)
I’ll be happy to answer any plant questions you have, just write them in the comment section below.
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