One of the biggest challenges facing the amateur gardener is finding some really great houseplants. And even when you have chosen the houseplants you want you may find they are simply not hardy enough to withstand your beginning gardening attempts. Many frustrated gardeners have been known to ask: Are there any common houseplants that you can’t kill at least not without malice on your part? The good news is that there are plenty! These common houseplants will grow in indirect light, don’t mind normal household temperatures and humidity levels, and “are perfect for someone who always forgets to water their plants.” It is important to keep in mind that as with any houseplant, there is always the threat of insect pests like aphids, scale, spider mites and whiteflies. But disease-wise the only things you are most likely to incur are root rot, from too much watering. You may find that your biggest problem with these plants is what to do with all the baby plants they will produce. In other words these five common houseplants are a brown thumb’s delight!
1. Cast Iron Plant (known as Aspidistra elatior). This plant has earned its name by growing under the worst of conditions, even outdoors in deep shade. The Cast Iron plant prefers low lights. It grows in a clump and the leaves are sword-like, pointed, about 4″ wide & 2′ long. This plant does occasionally flowers indoors. A variegated version is available with white stripes. (Best grown in USDA Zones 7 – 9)
2. Christmas cactus (known as Zygocactus or Schlumbergera). This plant is a trailing member of the cactus family that produces deep pink / red flowers in early winter. The Christmas cactus seems to do its best when ignored. It can handle low light, but you will get more flowers in bright light. If you prune after blooming the plant will stay bushy. Keep in mind that you can force your Christmas cactus to bloom in December by keeping it in complete darkness for twelve hours a night, beginning in about mid-October, until buds appear. Or to use an even easier method just subject it to cool temperatures (50 – 55 degrees F.) starting in November. You can simply leave it on a windowsill at home while the heat is off, while you are at work. (Best grown in USDA Zones 9 – 11)
3. Dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) & Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderian). This plant has long been the centerpiece of container plantings. In particular, Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) which resembles a small palm tree and can reach heights of ten ft. and Lucky Bamboo, which isn’t bamboo at all. These grow best in bright light and if they are allowed to dry out between watering. Even if the plant is allowed to wilt, Dracaena will spring back after watering, although the leaf tips may turn brown. Both types of this plant will tolerate low light. Lucky bamboo is often grown in water, but once substantial roots have formed, it is happier planted in soil. (Best grown in USDA Zones 10 – 11)
4. Mother-in-law’s tongue or Snake plant or Bird’s-nest plant (Sansevieria) This plant is called Mother-in-law’s tongue because of its long, sharp, pointed leaves and because it never leaves. These are very long-lived, easy care houseplants. All varieties are very tolerant of low light. Be sure that you water sparingly or it will rot. Only one or two watering are necessary indoors during the winter, and this is depending on the humidity. Variegated forms may need more light and can be more difficult to grow. (Best grown in USDA Zones 10+)
5. Pothos (Epipremnum) This is one of the easiest houseplants to grow and is almost impossible to kill. The Pothos is a trailing plant that just keeps on growing sometimes up to ten plus feet. Pruning the plants can keep them fuller at the base and each cutting can be rooted in water to create more plants. Keep in mind that Pothos like to dry out between watering, but if left dry too long, leaves will wilt and eventually dry and fall. This plant is very tolerant of all types of light conditions, even artificial office lights. (Best grown in USDA Zones 11+)