Too much water, not enough sunlight, needed a bigger pot. Making a plant happy can be tough if you don’t have much experience. There’s scientific proof that bringing the outdoors inside can be beneficial for our mental health, so why does keeping plants alive sometimes feel so stressful?
Whether you’re new to houseplants or have a history as a green reaper, these hardy varieties can withstand moderate neglect and still look great — a perfect combination for boosting your gardening confidence.
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
There’s a reason this beginner-friendly plant is nicknamed “Devil’s Ivy” — it’s really hard to kill. Pothos are known for their ability to thrive in less than desirable conditions, including low-lighting and minimal watering. These quick-growing vines are available in a handful of varieties; while they don’t flower, their leaves are often variegated, providing a pop of color and visual interest for small spaces. Once you have the hang of caring for a pothos, it’s easy to tempt fate with two pothos by simply taking cuttings from the existing plant and placing them in water until they develop roots. Pothos propagate quickly, meaning you’ll have a new plant within weeks.
Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
You can’t overwater lucky bamboo, which makes it a standout selection for gardeners who often commit their plants to a soggy demise. While lucky bamboo can be grown in soil, most are potted in water, where the plants easily thrive with minimal light. And because it isn’t actually bamboo (it’s part of the lily family), you won’t have to worry about repotting it anytime soon; unlike its wild namesake, lucky bamboo is a slow grower. Also, it is inexpensive, so it’s easy to buy multiple stalks to make your own indoor water feature — with some patience, you can even shape the plants into your own design.
Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron cordatum)
Philodendrons are hardy plants perfect for any beginning gardener. They don’t bloom, but their heart-shaped leaves are a happy little reminder that if you care even the smallest bit for these plants, they’ll love you back. Heartleaf philodendrons prefer moderate amounts of water and indirect lighting. Plus, they only require repotting every two or three years (a big benefit if you’re nervous about upgrading your plant companion’s container). It’s easy to find heartleaf philodendrons at nurseries or big box garden stores, and with more than 400 species, you can take advantage of a variety of looks that require minimal care (though, with some attention, these fast-growing plants have plenty of lush foliage and vines to show off).
Arrowhead Plant (Syngonium podophyllum)
These tropical houseplants are aggressive growers that easily bounce back from one (or many) missed waterings. Known for their distinctive arrow-shaped leaves, arrowhead plants combine two plant behaviors in one species — vining and bushing. Younger plants will quickly grow into bushes, while older plants will produce vines that trail outside the pot (if you don’t like the vines, they can be easily snipped and repotted to start a new plant). Arrowhead plants come in several colors, including green, white, pink, and purple, and can withstand life on a shaded patio or balcony in warmer climates.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Commonly known as “mother-in-law’s tongue” or “snake plant,” sansevieria’s nicknames may give it a bad rap, but in reality, they are some of the most forgiving and low-maintenance plants you can care for. Snake plants prefer low light and dry soil, making them a great option for novice gardeners who travel frequently or just forget about watering. And since the plants slow their growth during winter, there are at least three months of the year when you can further reduce fertilizing and watering. Snake plants come in different patterns, have wavy or straight leaf styles, and can grow anywhere between 6 inches to 10 or 12 feet — making it easy to pick one that complements your style. After all, half the fun of keeping any plant alive is letting it spruce up your space.
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