Houseplants You Can't Kill

Easy Care, Minimal Maintenance Indoor Plants

Christmas Cactus
Christina Schmidhofer / Getty Images

The following 6 houseplants pretty much grow themselves. In fact, your biggest problem may be what to do with all the baby plants they'll produce. All 6 can be grown in the indirect light from a window and like the same indoor temperatures as most people (55 - 75 degrees F.)

As with any houseplant, there is always the threat of insect pests like aphids, scale, spider mites, and whiteflies. But disease-wise the only things you're likely to incur is root rot, from too much watering.

So these 6 indoor plants are also perfect for someone who always forgets to water their plants.

Easy Houseplants

Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra relation) Earned its name by growing under the worst of conditions, even outdoors in the deep shade. Prefers low light. Grows in a clump. Leaves are sword-like, pointed, about 4" wide & 2' long. Occasionally flowers indoors. A variegated version is available with white stripes. (USDA Zones 7 - 9)

Christmas Cactus (Zygocactus or Schlumbergera) A trailing member of the cactus family that produces deep pink / red flowers in early winter. Seems to do its best when ignored. Can handle low light, but you'll get more flowers in bright light. Pruning after blooming with keeping the plant bushy.

You can force your Christmas cactus to bloom in December by keeping it in complete darkness for 12 hours a night, beginning in about mid-October, until buds appear. An even easier method is to subject it to cool temperatures (50 - 55 degrees F.) starting in November.

Just leave it on a windowsill at home while the heat is off because you're at work. (USDA Zones 9 - 11)

Dragon tree (Dracaena marginal) & Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanders) Dracaena has long been the centerpiece of container plantings. Street plantings in towns across America feature 1 spiky dracaena stuck in the center of red blooming geraniums in a half whiskey barrel.

But there is actually a good amount of variety in dracaena and most make excellent easy care houseplants. In particular, Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginal) which resembles a small palm tree and can reach heights of 10 ft. and Lucky Bamboo, which isn't bamboo at all. Both have stems that can be trained to bend or spiral. The stems are topped by clusters of slender arching leaves with narrow purple margins. They grow best in bright light and if allowed to dry out between waterings. Even if allowed to wilt, dracaena will spring back after watering, although the leaf tips may turn brown. Will tolerate low light. Lucky bamboo is often grown in water, but once substantial roots have formed, it is happier planted in soil. (USDA Zones 10 - 11)

Mother-in-law's tongue or Snake plant or Bird-nest plant (Sansevieria) Called Mother-in-law's tongue because of its long, sharp, pointed leaves and because it never leaves. These are long-lived, easy-care houseplants. Very tolerant of low light. Water sparingly or it will rot.

Only 1 or 2 waterings are necessary indoors during the winter, depending on the humidity. Variegated forms need more light and can be more difficult to grow. There is also a dwarf variety, Sansevieria trifasciata 'Hahnii', called Bird's Nest. (USDA Zones 10+)

Pothos (Epipremnum) One of the easiest houseplants to grow; almost impossible to kill. Trailing plants that just keep on growing, 10+ feet. Pruning the plants will keep them fuller at the base and each cutting can be rooted in water to create more plants. Pothos like to dry out between waterings, but if left dry too long, leaves with wilt and eventually dry and fall. Very tolerant of all types of light conditions, even artificial office lights. You can let them trail down or secure them to a support or trellis. There are many variegated and golden varieties available. (USDA Zones 11+)

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum homo sum) Spider plants just keep on giving. You almost never see a spider plant that doesn't have babies attached. Often grown in hanging baskets, spider plants will get 2 to 2 1/2 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet long. Their roots tend to fill a pot, so repotting may be necessary every couple of years. When dangling babies start to form roots, they can be cut off and planted on their own. (USDA Zones 9 - 11)

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