Not only do I not have a green thumb, I have actually killed mint and English Ivy, widely considered to be easy houseplants to grow. This might be a weird confession for someone who has what can only be described as an exuberant garden and a number of healthy houseplants, but this is a situation that has only come about through trial and error. Mostly error.
I know that there are some people for whom a plastic plant is really too big a commitment, but for those like me, there is hope. If you would LIKE to have houseplants but have had very little success feeding and watering anything that doesn’t walk, cry, or meow, I have great news. There are hardy, tolerant plants that will live through your shenanigans.
Easy houseplants do exist!
This is fantastic, because houseplants improve indoor air quality and are also great, budget friendly decor when you are entertaining or just want things to feel special. I love bringing home a bunch of fresh flowers, but for the most impact for my dollar, nothing beats a few beautiful houseplants- and if I keep them healthy between parties, I can really stretch my budget by just getting a few new ones each time. A pot of daffodils for Easter. A large jade plant as the centerpiece for a small dinner party. A collection of small succulents on a tray for a bigger party… they make great party favors too!
I just have to remember that some of them are toxic to kids and pets, and try to make sure I don’t buy any that need more attention than I want to give them. My husband loves growing cacti, but he’s lost a few to fungus, so I would suggest you not go there until you know what you’re getting into. And I had an orchid I adored for it’s incredible bloom, but it needed a better keeper than I.
My experience says you should try anything, and not beat yourself up when you kill them. Figure out what happened, and try again. Maybe try a different type of plant. I’ve killed so many… some I don’t even know their names, but I can walk through the nursery saying, “yep killed one of them. And that. And half a dozen of those. Nope, no more of them for me. Spider plant? Risky.”
My top three, most bulletproof recommendations follow, but let me start with a word of caution.
The one plant that plant-challenged people should never buy
Whatever you do, DO NOT buy a polka dot plant. They look so cute in their tiny pots, with pink spots all over them. Anyone would want one. It’s a trap.
They need water that has been allowed to sit out for 24 hours. If that sounds like no big deal, let me tell you leaves just start falling off at hour 18. What are you going to do about it? Your choices are poison it with water that’s too fresh from the tap, hope it can gain sustenance from your tears, or watch it slowly get uglier.
Also? They come in little pots but they are big plants. So they grow fast, drop a lot of leaves, and get too big for their pots. Not cute. So I guess you can buy these if you just want to use them in place of floral arrangements, but I promise you should cut your losses and throw them out after your party. Or force your guests to accept one before they can go home. This may not be a great hosting strategy, but it’s a good houseplant strategy.
Want more party ideas? Check out my Pain Free Party Ideas.
Read on for my top three easy houseplants for busy families.
Easy Houseplants, 1st place: Pothos
Easily the reigning champion of easy houseplants, Pothos doesn’t care if you grow it in sun or shade, it needs very infrequent watering, and even if you abuse it and forget it until it’s half dead and has a lot of yellow leaves, you can pull the dead stuff off and it will come back.
Easy Houseplants, 2nd place: Jade Plant
Jade plant doesn’t mind shade but will be prettier if you keep it in a sunny spot. It’s a succulent, and also needs infrequent watering, but it’s a bit finickier than Pothos. if you notice wrinkles in any of the leaves, water it and make sure to water it more frequently in future. The wrinkled leaf will probably wither and fall off, but the plant will bounce back.
Easy Housplants, 3rd place: Peace Lily
Peace lily prefers a shady corner. It needs more frequent watering than the other two, although exactly how often depends on your pot. Mine needs water about once a week, and I’ve learned that the secret is to water it really well- like completely soak it before I go to bed, leave it in the tub, and give it another good water in the morning. Then empty any standing water out of the outer pot or saucer once it’s had a chance to drain.
I went away for a couple weeks over the summer and forgot to leave instructions for watering it… when I came home I thought it was a goner. But I cut off all the dead leaves and you’d never know it was on its second life now. Peace lilies bloom periodically, which is a nice bonus.
Want a few more ideas to try? Today has a list of 15 suggestions here. I confess, some of the plants on their list have not survived life with me, so remember my motto: just keep showing up. Sooner or later you’ll find one that you are great at growing.