There’s a myriad of benefits in keeping houseplants; they provide us with life-giving oxygen, they purify the air, they look wonderful, and caring for them and watching them grow can be a very satisfying and grounding experience.
Premature plant death!
Sadly, though, it can be fairly common for houseplants to meet their death just a few short weeks after they have been gifted to their new owner, or after they’ve been purchased from a supermarket. Quite a few friends have told me that they simply can’t keep plants alive and have given up trying. Perhaps a plant’s journey from nursery to point of sale was traumatic, or maybe it has been on the shady (or too sunny) supermarket shelf for too long, or it could be that it hasn’t been re-potted, or even that it’s been potted on too soon. Over-watering and under-watering can also be reasons for brown leaves and saggy stems.
But don’t worry! There are many houseplants that will thrive and flourish for just about anyone, whether you’re a seasoned green-fingered gardener or you’re taking your first foray into the world of ferns. If you’re nervous about bringing some verdant companions into your home, don’t be; there’s a plant for everyone, and once you know the right type to buy, you’ll be enjoying their lush greenery all year round.
Here’s a list of 7 easy-care plants that pretty much no-one can kill:
These plants are all low-maintenance and joyful to look at. They’ll bring the outdoors in, add calm to your home space, and you’ll appreciate the connection to nature while finding them therapeutic to care for.
Jade money or money plant (Crassula ovata)
Jade plants, also known as money plants, are succulents with green and oval fleshy leaves. They are considered lucky in some cultures and are often given as housewarming presents (see also their other name as the dollar plant!). They have lovely stems akin to tree trunks, which look very cute on a small plant. They need sandy soil, and positions in bright, direct sunlight (not when they are very young as the leaves can get scorched), ideally in south-facing rooms, but to be honest I find them very hardy almost anywhere. Be wary when watering them – over-watering a succulent can be fatal. Wait until the top inch or so layer of soil is dry, then add water. Water more frequently in their spring/summer growth season, and reduce to once a month through the winter.
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis)
Famed for their healing properties, these pale green succulents have long, triangular shaped leaves with attractive white spots. Like jade plants, they need sandy soil (grab yourself some cactus potting soil mix) and direct sunlight to thrive. Water only roughly every three weeks, even less during the winter. Aloe vera is one pf the most widely used medicinal plants in the world, and can treat the following ailments:
- Minor burns
It can also assist in lowering blood pressure when taken as a liquid, can ease indigestion, can be used as an alternative to mouthwash, and is a natural laxative. You can buy it as a gel or as a drink, but the beauty of having a plant in your home is that you can simply break off a leaf and squeeze out the healing juice. You should also remove the babies that sprout around the main plant, allowing the main plant enough room to continue to grow.
Orchids (various Latin names depending on variety)
About five months ago, I bought my first ever orchid in a supermarket because I felt sorry for it. Sitting lonely and drooping in the reduced section, I wanted to revive it and restore it to its former glory. I did my research, purchased some orchid moss online, and readied myself for repotting and then potential failure. It seems however that bringing an orchid back from the brink of death is a relatively achievable feat. I did pretty much nothing bar provide it with some supportive sticks and water it about once a fortnight, only when the pot felt light. It sits happily in its bark/soil mix and produced beautiful blooms which lasted well over a month. If you decide an orchid might be right for your home, then after the blooms have fallen, prune the stem to just above a visible joint (called the node) after the blooms have fallen. Hopefully this will encourage another stem to grow. Most orchids like a humid atmosphere, so benefit from being misted with water spray.
Mother in laws tongue (Dracaena trifasciata)
A hardy, easy-care plant that can also live outside in warmer climates, Mother-in-law’s tongue is also known as viper’s bowstring hemp, Saint George’s sword, or snake plant. It has beautiful dark, triangular spiked leaves, with paler green on the edges of the leaves and a slightly mottled coloured effect on the main body of the leaf. It can tolerate low light levels but is perfectly happy in bright sunlight too. I sometimes move mine from its bright space on the table to the floor, where it sits slightly shaded by a bookcase. It absorbs toxins in the air such as nitrogen oxide, improving air quality. Water it only around once a month – keep the soil nice and dry as it’s another succulent and can suffer root rot if over-watered.
Swiss cheese plant (Monstera Deliciosa)
The Swiss cheese plant, so-called because of the holes in its lovely lush leaves, is a cracker for beginner plant parents. In its native home of the tropics of North and South America, it can reach heights of up to 70 feet! But it’s perfectly happy as a somewhat smaller resident of a home in Europe too. Due to it naturally being sheltered by the other layers of foliage in the jungle, it prefers indirect sunlight, or sunlight filtered behind a curtain. It prefers humidity, but will easily adapt to dryer indoor conditions. It’s a good idea to mist the leaves regularly with a spray, and again, do not over-water. You can also provide your growing monstera with a stake, which it will climb. Watching the pale green baby leaves gradually unfurl is a wonderfully satisfying thing.
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
The spider plant, also known as the airplane plant, St Bernard’s lily, spider ivy, ribbon plant and hen and chickens (!) is one of the most adaptable, easiest to grow houseplants. I have quite a few around the house and the ‘mother-plant’ is as bushy as Crusty the Clown at the moment. Spiders plants produce beautiful little white flowers, and suffer from very few problems, other than occasional brown leaf tips. They need well-drained soil (so it doesn’t matter if you forget to water them for at least a week) and bright, indirect sunlight. It’s also a good idea to prune them occasionally, cutting back the babies (real name spiderettes!) they produce in spring to the base.
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
The peace lily is a beautiful, very popular evergreen plant. Its natural habitat is on the floor of lush tropical jungles, so if you can replicate the dappled sunlight and humid conditions in your home, then great! If not however, it’s adaptable and will be happy in consistent conditions. Don’t over-water; just check on it once a week to see if the soil on top has dried, and like other houseplants, occasionally spray the leaves and flowers, which will bloom in enough light. They need a well-drained soil and ideally should be repotted once a year. Because they are tropical plants, they should be kept away from any draughts.
Love every plant!
Houseplants can have imperfections and this only contributes to their beauty in my opinion. I have a huge and twisted aloe vera that is almost corkscrew-shaped in its form. They also vary according to where they are placed in the house; I have probably five jade plants in my home, all from one mother plant that was given to me years ago. The ones on south-facing window sills have a delightful reddish tinge to the edges of their succulent leaves, and the north-facing plants are a rich dark green hue.
Some of the plants in this list are great for presents – take a leaf or two from your jade plant, a cutting from your spider plant, or a baby from your aloe vera, pot them in pretty pots and spread the joy of low-maintenance plant love.
Claire King is a copywriter and translator based in York, the UK. When she’s not reading, writing, or doodling ads, you’ll find her practising Pilates or enjoying some top-notch comedy!