No Green Thumb? 13 Healthy Hard-to-Kill Houseplants


You’ve got a dark apartment, a busy schedule and a seeming inability to water plants with any regularity. Are you just hopelessly black-thumbed, doomed to live a plant-free existence in a home with poor air quality forever? Not if you choose super-hardy, hard-to-kill houseplants that can withstand poor lighting conditions and go for long periods without water. These 13 houseplants are tough as they get, thriving in spite of all kinds of neglect.

Hen and Chicks


(image via: knottyboy)

These adorable little succulents are the perfect plants to place in a sunny window, but other than meeting their high light requirements, ignoring your “hen and chicks” plant could be the best thing you do for it. So named for its curious growing habit, sprouting ‘babies’ around the main plant, Sempervivum only needs to be watered regularly during the spring and summer – the rest of the year, you can water it just once a month! Keep it in well-drained soil made specifically for succulents.

English Ivy


(image via: koishikawagirl)

With its variegated leaves and long trailing vines, English Ivy is a beautiful houseplant that’s also super easy to care for. Place it in a draft-free well-lighted spot in your home and mist it with a spray bottle to keep the soil evenly moist and the leaves free of pesky spider mites, and this plant will be happy for a long time. It even thrives under fluorescent light, making it a great option for the office.

Dracaena Marginata


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Tall and tree-like, spiky Dracaena Marginata plants come in a wide range of colors and sizes, some with dramatic striped leaves in shades of lime green or red. These air-cleaning plants, which are among those found by NASA to clear formaldehyde, only need a medium amount of light, so they can be placed near but not directly in the sunlight of a window. They’ve got low water needs, so you’d really have to neglect them to cause them harm.

Split-Leaf Philodendron


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The Monstera Deliciosa plant – also known as the Split-Leaf Philodendron or the Swiss Cheese Plant – is the kind of houseplant that makes a big impact with minimal work on your end. With characteristic perforations on its broad oversized glossy leaves, this houseplant will grow relatively large as long as it’s kept within eight feet of a bright, sunny window. Water it every 7-10 days and it will reward you with lush growth for years.

Christmas Cactus


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These plants have such long lives, they can be passed down from generation to generation – the very same plant! Despite its name, the Christmas Cactus doesn’t belong to the same family as most of the desert cacti you’re familiar with – but it does bloom around Christmastime. During the spring and summer, water the plant thoroughly and then let the top inch of soil dry out before watering it again – and water it even less frequently in the fall and winter months. For a profusion of holiday blooms, keep it in a sunny draft-free spot during the day and in total darkness in a cool room at night.

Jade Plant


(image via: chefranden)

Like “Hen and chicks”, the Jade Plant is a member of the succulent family and requires very little water, but its fat little leaves protruding from thick stems make it quite an interesting plant to look at. It only needs moderate sunlight – putting it in an east or west facing window is best. You should let the soil dry out completely between waterings – overenthusiastic watering will only kill it!

Chinese Evergreen


(image via: southern living)

Got a warm home and a tendency to forget about watering your plants? The Chinese Evergreen might be just what you need. This tropical plant does need to be kept above 55 degrees Fahrenheit at all times, but that’s not too tough if you’re among the majority who keep their homes climate-controlled year-round. Southern Living calls Chinese Evergreen the easiest houseplant of all, particularly because its low light needs mean it can go just about anywhere in your home and it only needs to be watered when the soil is dry.

Spider Plant


(image via: bsabarnowl)

Total noob at keeping houseplants alive? No problem, if you start with this super-easy, non-fussy hanging plant. The Spider Plant or Chlorophytum comosum grows fast, has attractive striped foliage and sprouts little “babies” that hang down from the basket. It’s pretty laid back about lighting, so place it where it will get a moderate amount but not in direct sun. Allow it to dry out in between waterings.

Peace Lily


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Peace Lily flowers may be simple, but they’re elegant – and easy to keep going for much of the year, as long as you give this houseplant the small amount of attention that it requires. While the Peace Lily is a heavy drinker, it prefers its waterings to be well spaced out so it’s actually a good idea to wait until the plant droops slightly before soaking its soil with water. Keep it in indirect sunlight, and make sure your kids and cats don’t get to it – it is toxic.

ZZ Plant


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Zamioculcas zamiifolia – otherwise known as the ZZ plant – has pretty much everything you can ask for from a house plant. It can handle low light, needs very little water, withstands changes in indoor air conditions and will stay green and glossy even if you forget to care for it for a little while.

African Violet


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The African Violet’s ubiquity in homes across the world doesn’t make it any less of a beautiful plant. The key to keeping them looking picture-perfect? Leave them alone. Once you decide on a spot to keep them in, don’t  move them – they get used to the light levels in that spot and have a tough time adjusting. Don’t water it until the soil feels dry to the touch, don’t get water on the leaves and don’t oversaturate the soil. The easiest way to do this is to pour some water into the plant pot’s saucer and let the roots wick it up from there.

Cast Iron Plant


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Dust? Heat? Cold? Dim lighting? All of these are no problem for the aptly named Cast Iron Plant or ‘Aspidistra Elatior’, native to China and other countries in Asia. It’s tough, with leathery foliage that is nonetheless pleasant to look at, growing upwards to about 24 inches long. You’d literally have to try to kill this plant. But if you want it to look its very best, give it indirect sunlight, a warm room to bask in and keep its soil evenly moist.



(image via: joshua kulpa)

Perhaps the most popular houseplant of all time, Pothos is a total no-brainer to grow. It’s not unusual to see trailing pothos vines stretching from a high-hung pot all the way to the floor. Once the top inch of soil is dry, thoroughly water the Pothos, drenching the entire root ball, and then pour off the extra water. Because they like the same temps we do, they’ll be comfortable in most homes. Just keep them out of direct sunlight.