The 5 Hardest-to-Kill Houseplants


Some people have thumbs so green that they can plant a dead twig in a pot of soil and watch it grow into a lush plant that's the envy of every neighbor. I am not one of those people. While I have many skills on the domestic front, gardening indoors has never been one of them. With the arrival of warmer weather heralding spring, I've started to daydream of flowers and foliage. In my tiny New York City apartment, I want to bring some nature into my living space and recently started to research houseplants that are easy to grow and maintain indoors. All of the plants highlighted below are non-toxic to dogs and cats as well, an important point for all of us with pets. (See also: Small-Space Gardening)

1. Lucky Bamboo

You may have seen a plant named Lucky Bamboo in a number of stores and nurseries. It consists of a small set of what look like mini-bamboo stalks snuggled together, usually in a decorative pot with tiny stones in place of soil for good drainage. This plant isn't bamboo at all. It is a hearty houseplant with the scientific name Dracaena braunii. It is a snap to grow, nearly impossible to kill, and highly tolerant of indoor environments. In Chinese culture and Feng Shui, Lucky Bamboo is considered just that — lucky. It is also believed to bring peace, harmony, and health to any house where it grows. (See also: Best Plants for Improving Indoor Air Quality)

2. Christmas Cactus

Of all the cactus varieties, the Christmas cactus is one of the most beautiful because of its attractive flowers that come in a variety of colors from bright fuchsia to pale yellow or white. They bloom all year and thrive in indoor settings. Christmas cactuses will be perfectly fine in dim light, although the brighter the light they have, the more they bloom. Like Lucky Bamboo, good drainage is important. It's not quite as drought tolerant as some varieties of cactus, but it needs much less water than most other houseplants.

3. Boston Fern

Many varieties of ferns make excellent houseplants because their need for light is minimal. Boston ferns are the most common of all house ferns. There are a number of different types of Boston ferns that have many variations that affect the colors and shapes of their leaves. All Boston ferns can grow to be quite large. Some get as big as 5-7 feet tall and wide, though most that are grown inside reach about 2-3 feet tall and wide.

4. Dwarf Palm

While palm trees conjure images of Florida and Hawaii beaches for most of us, palms can be grown indoors and lend an exotic, dreamy look to any room. The dwarf palm, also known as the Pygmy Date Palm, is a smaller variety than those on beaches and typically grows to 4-6 feet tall. An average room temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit is perfect for these palms, and they prefer a good mix of sunlight and shade, making them suitable for most homes. (See also: How to Start a Great Container Garden)

5. Jasmine

If ever a plant could literally transport us to an exotic locale, jasmine is it. It's well-suited for an area that gets mixed levels of light, and its gorgeous, fragrant blossoms whisk us to the Far East with their intoxicating scent that we experience the second we step into any room where they are placed. Though many flowering plants only produce blooms once per calendar year, some varieties of jasmine will flower throughout the year. Extraordinarily easy to care for, these plants give us much in return for the little effort they need to stay healthy and strong. (See also: Easiest Plants to Grow)

While I'll always envy people who are born gardeners, my limited gardening abilities and tiny apartment don't limit my opportunity to bring the outdoors into my indoor space. With some careful selections of easy-tomaintain plants that require little care and thrive in areas where light levels aren't always consistent, I'm able to green up my home without any additional burden.

Have you had success growing plants indoors? What are your favorite, easy-to-care-for plants?

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Guest's picture

Haven't tried jasmine, but I've killed off several of the other four. I have also "euthanized" my share of snake plant (mother-in-law's tongue), philodendron and a variety of cacti.