Often times people come to us wanting to green their homes, but don’t think they have enough light or discipline to care for plants properly. How happy they are when we point them to our top 5 (virtually) indestructible houseplants!
Not all plants want your love and attention. Some are best when almost ignored and thrown in a corner. Sounds harsh, I know, but it’s the truth. The following houseplants are our most recommended for both low light and low maintenance.
Most people know these as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant, but there are a ton more varieties of Sansevieria which are super cool and interesting looking. Best part is, the care is pretty much the same for all of them: Water just a bit monthly, and keep out of direct sunlight. You’ll want to make sure that the soil is almost completely dry before you water again, and this could be anywhere from 2-6 weeks depending on the temperature and humidity in your house. Bigger plant, more water, but NO deep soaks. They can do no light for a little while (maybe a couple of weeks), but don’t try that forever–you’ll kill them. ‘Cause plants need light, for, you know, photosynthesis.
ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamifolia)
These are beautiful, structural plants that have lush, green, naturally glossy leaves that serve a magical purpose of retaining moisture. They can grow in super low light situations, but the stocks of each frond of leaves tend to get longer and thinner in low light. This causes no issue with health, just an aesthetic consideration to keep in mind. On the other extreme, don’t place them in direct light. They’re semi-vampires by nature. The sun burns their flesh. For best growth and shape, moderate, but not direct, light is best.
ZZ plants hate being overwatered. Don’t soak them, or the root tuber will melt and rot. It’s pretty gross. Heed my warning. Follow the same watering instructions as the Sansevieria and you’ll be good – water every 2-5 weeks, depending on your particular conditions, and let the plant dry out between waterings.
These beautiful lush plants can grow as vines (without tendrils) or pruned back to stay bushy. They look excellent in hanging baskets, or trailing from shelves. They’re good at telling you when they need water, as they will start to look dull and droopy when they really need a drink. It’s best, however, to keep them uniformly moist because the leaves will grow smaller and overall growth will be stunted if not enough water is provided on a regular basis. A little liquid houseplant fertilizer will also help maintain healthy growth as well. Pothos will tolerate low to high light, although golden and variegated varieties will revert to green in very low light conditions, so jade pothos are best for true low light situations. Direct sunlight will burn leaves quickly. Bright light is fine, just make sure your plant is at least 10 inches away from the window so it isn’t receiving direct sunlight.
Philodendron species, as most people know them, look and act similar to a pothos and can grow as vines (without tendrils) or be pruned back to stay bushy. Their vines grow in a zig-zag pattern and look full and wild in hanging baskets. Many people are unaware that the ‘Swiss Cheese Plant’ (also known as a ‘Split Leaf Philodendron’, or ‘Monstera’) is also of the philodendron family and can be cared for the exact same way the hanging basket variety can be. Philodendrons tolerate underwatering better than overwatering, and tend to rot fairly easily if overwatered, so wait until the top of the soil is pretty dry before watering. They like fertilizer as well, and while they don’t like direct sunlight, and do fine in low-light, they do best in bright, indirect light.
Awww the spider plant. They love almost any home. They don’t need much, just water, and every so often maybe a little houseplant food, like Dyna-gro. They can grow bushy and huge, and tolerate any range of light except full-time direct sun. The have long narrow grassy looking leaves, and put out babies that hang from long branch type arms which look like little spiders hanging from their webs, which is how they got their name. You know the ones.
Overall, these plants are super easy-going. They like low-to-average water: let them almost (but not totally) dry out between waterings, and then make sure to water until it drains through the bottom of the pot. Every so often, you can shower the leaves off when they get dusty, or if you’re feeling real fancy and loving, use buttermilk or diluted neem oil and a damp cloth to wipe the leaves off instead of showering them off, and they’ll give you many years of enjoyment.
Spider plants are adaptable to many different light conditions. They prefer a nice bright light, and can even be placed in a window if it is not a hot southern exposure, where plants will burn. On the other hand, these plants also do well in low light, although if the light is super low variegated varieties will revert back to green.
Have more questions? Stop by Fifth Season Gardening and ask any of our staff, and we will be sure to give you any guidance you need to find your perfect houseplants.