You’re interested in growing plants, but you have the furthest thing from a green thumb. Maybe you’ve been known among friends and relatives to kill plants in the past. Does greenery tend to turn brown the instant you look at it? I’m here to tell you there’s hope.
You’re probably looking for some easy starter plants that aren’t high maintenance. You know, the kind that thrive in a variety of light conditions and don’t need bright light but work in indirect sunlight as well. If you forget to water your plants on a regular basis, aloe vera actually might not mind. What follows is a list of plants that are hardy enough to stand up to a variety of treatments. These are the perfect plants to start your DIY gardening career.
Indoor Plants That Are Hard To Kill
All those listed are houseplants that will do well indoors, whether on your windowsill or under a grow light.
Also known as an “airplane plant” or a chlorophytum, these are very common house plants that come in hanging baskets typically. The spiral plant has long, thin leaves that spread out a bit like a spider’s web. In the fall, a mature plant will show groups of white flowers. After it flowers, small baby plants will appear. These plants can be placed in water or moist potting soil to begin to develop.
As far as care, when the soil feels dry, it’s time to water. Let the plant eat by giving it a fertilizer that dissolves in water once a month during periods of active growth. When you water the plant, do so until a bit of the water goes through the container. Doing this will prevent salts from taking hold in the soil. Less water will be needed in the fall and winter. The plant does best in bright, but indirect sunlight and temperatures between 65°F – 75°F will do just fine. The plant will need to be repotted as it grows.
One cool benefit spider plants provide is that they are among a class of plants that remove toxins from the air, according to a NASA study. Amazon has spider plants as low as $12 as of this writing.
A prayer is a tropical evergreen that’s often grown indoors as a houseplant. The name comes from the fact that the leaves will fold perpendicularly at night to look like hands in prayer. You can allow the soil to drain in the winter months as less water is required when the plant isn’t in an active growth cycle. Soil should be kept moist in the spring and summer and it should be kept in a room that’s humidified. Indirect but bright light is best. Fertilize every two weeks during the growing season.
You’ve heard of a red herring, but it’s no trick to say that this plant is also known as the herringbone for its red, patterned veins. You can buy one for as little as $11.
Peace lilies are houseplants that end up being as much as 6 feet tall and grow best as houseplants in a relatively wide range of temperatures between 60°F – 85°F during the day. The plant, known for its beautiful white flowers, should be kept in soil that’s moist without being soggy. You don’t want any standing water here. Bright, but filtered light will make for a peaceful lily. (See what I did there?)
This is pretty easy to care for, but you may have to add the lily to your dusting regimen every once in a while. The plant’s big, broad leaves will attract dust, which can be wiped away with a damp cloth. Although they shouldn’t need much fertilizer, a liquid fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium will work best if you do feed your plant. Peace lilies are going for just over $20 on Amazon.
This family of plants is appropriate for this list because both of the species sound like the name of something you would try very hard to eradicate. Maybe that’s appropriate, it’s hard to kill these plants.
Snake Plant (Mother-In-Law’s Tongue)
The snake plant tends to be four feet tall in tropical Western Africa, but indoors, it’ll be around two feet high. It has leaves that are shaped like a sword and they have sharp tips like one. When they are under ideal conditions, flowers of a greenish white can appear along with orange berries shortly thereafter in the spring, although this will rarely happen when the plant is indoors. You can plant this in soil and use a clay pot. It should be kept in a location that is partially shaded. You may also see this listed as Viper’s bowstring hemp.
This is so closely related that it’s called the circular snake plant because the leaves grow from a circular rosette in the center of the plant. It needs very little water, so this may be ideal for beginners. You just need to put it in a bright window and let it go.
The common name of this plant is African Spear.
Succulents are the plant family that bring us cacti, which thrive in the desert. If they can survive the desert, odds are that they’ll survive the mistakes of a beginning gardener. Let’s check out a couple of different varieties of succulents.
Aloe vera is probably most known for the gel in its leaves. You can squeeze the gel from the leaf skin and use it as a topical treatment to soothe cuts and burns including from overexposure to the sun. It will be a foot or two high and requires 12 inches of initial space to plant. It may need to be repotted as it matures. It grows best in potting mix or regular potting soil to which perlite or sand is added. When it’s time to water it, be generous, but don’t allow it to sit in standing water. Wait until the potting mix completely dries before watering again.
You can get an aloe vera plant for under $20 . You can put this on a south or westward facing windowsill as these like lots of indirect sunlight.
The Jade plant is another succulent that does well indoors. It’s a popular variety of plant to use in the art of bonsai and has also been used by African tribes for food and medicinal purposes. When this plant is healthy, it has round leaves with a red tint at the edges. As with other succulents, a well-drained cacti mix or potting soil with perlite is suitable for a growth medium. It’s a good idea to repot these every few years because as the roots strengthen, they can become heavy and cause the plant to tip over. You can prune the plant when new growth starts and repot in the same container so that it retains its shape and keeps a thick central trunk.
This is also known as a money, silver dollar or friendship plant. They can be purchased for about $16. It has glossy leaves.
Also called devil’s ivy or variegated philodendron, a golden pothos can be grown in a hanging basket in the home. In nature, it grows as a vine. The golden part of golden pothos comes from the yellow or white coloring that shows up on the leaves and makes them appear almost gold.
Do occasional watering during the growing season from spring to fall allowing the soil to partially dry before watering again. While pothos is easy to grow in any soilless potting mix with indirect light, you should keep it out of reach of animals and children because the plant is poisonous.
Decrease water in the winter and change pots for one the next size up if you see growth decreasing or more water being used.
Madagascar Dragon Trees
Placed in a potting mix that drains well and pruned to a height of 6 feet for growth in the home, the Madagascar Dragon tree is a plant with long thin leaves. These may be a gold-like yellow, green, pink or white and the leaves form a circular pattern around the center. It’ll flower in the wild, but is unlikely to do so in the home. Bright, indirect light is helpful. Use a grow light if you have to. Water when it dries out.
You can get a Madagascar Dragon tree here.
Although the palm is suggestive of a tropical plant, this is actually a succulent. These can grow up to 20 feet tall on the ground, but they will be much smaller and can be kept as houseplants in containers. It does look like a palm tree with leaves that can get up to 6 feet long that grow out of a single trunk rather than branches. It has a wide base suggestive of an elephant’s foot in mature specimens, which leads to the plant’s other name. It should be kept in bright light. Like other succulents, water generously when you do, but allow the soil mix to dry out between waterings. A potting mix with great drainage will work best.
Prices vary widely, but they start around $30.
A fiddle-leaf fig is so named because of the shape of its leaves which are large. In the wild, these can grow up to 39 feet as a tropical tree, but they are commonly grown indoors in containers. They make a good conversation piece in rooms. Soil should be completely dry before being watered and, and they like a lot of light. It’s worth noting that these can be poisonous to animals.
You can pick one of the top four around $25.
This plant has broad green leaves that work well in dense shade, meaning that when put in pots indoors, it’s great for low light. It’s commonly known as a cast-iron plant because of its hardiness. It needs highly organic soil, but the leaves can reach up to two feet tall in clumps. Any sunlight it gets should be indirect because the plant thrives in shade.
These plants start around $30 when you factor in shipping.
Rubber plants are members of the ficus family. In ideal indoor conditions, it can grow as tall as 6 – 10 feet if there’s enough room, although they can be groomed to fit a smaller space. They like the room temperature between 75°F – 80°F during the day. The leaves are glossy and large with a leather texture. These can be variants from green to yellow, maroon to cream.
During the growing season in the summer, use a houseplant fertilizer that dissolves in water every couple of weeks. If the plant is in lower light, fertilize less. The plant does best in bright light but can handle lower light situations.
Prices vary, but these start around $15.
This plant was not named after ZZ Top, although with its broad, glossy green leaves and long chutes, they would probably think it was a sharp-dressed plant. (I’ll be here all week.) It actually stands for Zamioculcas Zamiifolia. I’ll stick with ZZ.
It’s in the same family as a philodendron, which we’ll talk about next, and the piece will lily from earlier. In terms of care, bright light but indirect light is preferred, but very low light is tolerable. The soil should be kept on the dry side, but it can be watered every week or two. Feed the plant once or twice a month during the growing season with diluted fertilizer solution.
You can find ZZ plant online for less than $30.
Philodendrons are very common houseplants. They have many varieties, but most grow from a vine. Some have leaves that are three feet long while others have small heart-shaped leaves. Other leaves are velvet in texture with a pattern and some leaves are red. Instead of having a vine, there are other types which send out leaves from a big region of growth at the bottom of the plant. These leaves tend to be larger.
The plants like indirect light and temperatures between 75°F – 85°F during the day. Soil should be moist, but the plant should never be in standing water. General purpose potting soil works. One thing to know is that this plant generally likes fertilizer, but how often you should do a treatment and what strength will depend on what variant of the plant you have.
There are many options, but these plants start at $11.
You don’t have to be a world-class horticulturist to start growing things and these plants are a good place to start. Let us know what plants you’ve had success with in the comments below!