Some of us have the famed green thumb when it comes to gardening. No matter what they grow and where they grow it, it always comes up beautiful. Well, that’s only true for some of us. For many others, we might as well have a yellow thumb. Every plant we try to grow turns yellow. But that doesn’t mean that we should abandon our burgeoning love of gardening entirely.
Plants can bring some much-needed zen energy, vibrancy, and calmness to our homes. That’s why indoor plants are so popular and have been for centuries. Houseplants can bring a sense of peace and beauty to our homes, one pot at a time. They don’t only make their physical surroundings pretty but have a great impact on our minds as well.
While many have turned to plastic plants instead, they don’t have the same effect. So what are the options? No plants or plastic plants? Well, no. The option is to choose plants that even the worst gardener couldn’t kill. These hardy and beautiful plants will tolerate almost any growing conditions.
You get to have some plants without worrying too much about the gardening aspects. But if you are just a young padawan when it comes to plants, how would you know which plants are the best? Worry not, that’s why we are here. We have made this small guide to pick the best houseplants. And if the guide is not enough, we also have our list of the 10 hard-to-kill indoor plants.
What To Look For In A Houseplant?
There are some essential characteristics that almost every good houseplant shares. These characteristics are what make them suitable to be houseplants in the first place. While more advanced horticulturists can make any plant grow with some effort and time, we yellow thumbs have to set the bar low at first. You can’t jump before you learn to walk, after all.
A good houseplant should be easy to care for. Here are the following characteristics that you are looking for:
Light conditions can affect how much a plant grows. Any good houseplant should be able to survive with just low light or bright indirect light. Since houseplants are not likely to get any direct sunlight on their leaves, they need to be forgiving in terms of lighting conditions. If you have a solarium or an open section of the home, then you can choose some more plants. Otherwise, stick to plants that thrive in low light and bright indirect light. Your houseplants should still be getting some bright indirect sunlight, however. While artificial bright light can be useful for some plants, sunlight is always going to be better. Usually, most plants grow best in bright light conditions.
Plants can tolerate some changes in temperature, but some houseplants are more sensitive than others. The best houseplants that are hard to kill can deal with a bigger range of temperatures. More importantly, they can handle the temperature inside your house. This is especially important for the winter season. In winter, not only is it colder, but the sun is less intense, these things combined can kill many plants. That’s why you need a houseplant that is able to survive the temperatures of winter inside your house.
Just like temperature, humidity can also affect the health of houseplants. Many plants die in winter from the dry air and lack of sunlight. If you live in an area with a particularly harsh winter season, you’ll need to pick your plant accordingly. There are houseplants that can survive dry air, after all. On the other hand, if your house is really humid, then houseplants that prefer dry air will not be in good condition.
Let’s be honest, we all forget to water our houseplants from time to time. That’s why we need plants that can handle a bit of neglect. Hard-to-kill indoor plants can tolerate a missed watering or two without suffering too much for it. Ideally, your plant should be able to survive not just missed watering but a little bit of neglect.
You would not directly neglect it, but amateur gardeners don’t often know what they are doing. There are plants that can die from too much water, for example. Not to mention that it is hard to get in the habit of constantly caring for a plant. Despite our accidental efforts to kill them, plants that stay alive are the best choices for houseplants.
Hard To Kill Indoor Plants
So to sum it up, hard-to-kill plants are those plants that can:
- Tolerate low light or indirect sunlight
- Are easy to grow
- Can survive winter months
- Are low maintenance
- It can grow in many types of soil
- Don’t need constant care
- Don’t need timely watering
Instead of making you look through a botanical dictionary, we’ve made a list of the best plants. Or well, at least the 10 most hard-to-kill indoor plants at any rate. We’ve also added some honorable mentions that couldn’t crack the top 10 for small reasons.
Here are 10 Indoor Plants that are hard to kill
1. Golden Pothos
Pothos is probably the easiest indoor plant to grow. It has many names like Devil’s Ivy and Devil’s Vine. It got these names from its infamous ability to grow even in low light conditions. It is probably the easiest plant to take care of.
You don’t need to do anything special for this plant. Just place it in a pot and place it literally anywhere. The plant will be growing even if there is very low light. While it is best suited for dim indirect light, it can grow even with artificial light.
It is hard to kill this plant even if you were trying. Pothos can handle having too much water and too little water. This plant doesn’t need any special type of soil to grow properly. Quick draining soil can be a good choice, however.
The plant comes in many pretty varieties, including the beautiful golden pothos (our favorite) and the white pothos. Its green leaves are tinged with colored veins, golden and white, for example. The vines can grow up to 30 ft in length, but you can trim them anytime. Keep the plant away from pets, however. They are toxic to animals like cats and dogs.
The plant can even handle winter pretty well, but you do need to give it just a little extra care when temperatures are really cold.
2. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is a plant that is almost impossible to kill. The plant and its green leaves are famous for their many medicinal properties. The gel found within its long green leaves is a common home remedy for many types of problems.
The plant itself is a type of succulent that grows in small clusters without any stem. Its leaves are thick and fleshy, often in green or gray-green in color. The leaves have some white flecks near the edges and have small teeth like serrations at the edge of their blades.
It grows best with bright indirect light. It is great for being kept near bedsides and washrooms. You need to careful of how you water Aloe, however. This plant doesn’t like too much water. Just make sure to only water it once every couple of days and let it drain completely. Use succulent soil for potting it.
While technically, cactus is not a single species of plants but actually a family of 1750 species of plants, most of them make for great indoor plants. Cactus are famous for surviving in the desert. It takes a special talent to kill such a hard-to-kill plant.
Most cactus have a single stem, and instead of leaves, they have thorns. They’re famous for surviving and growing in incredibly harsh environments like deserts, mountains, and your homes! Maybe a little harsh but true.
Since there are so many varieties of cactus, it’s hard to specify how each one looks. They can range from just 0.6 inches to 63 ft in height.
Cactuses (or cacti if we want to be grammatically correct) can handle both winter and extreme summer. Dry weather or humid conditions, a cactus doesn’t mind. They prefer bright indirect light but can survive harsh sunlight as well. They don’t do too bad in low light either.
When you are potting a cactus, you want soil that can hold a little bit of water but still drains easily. Use plenty of drainage holes in the pot. You barely need to water your cactus plant. Watering them twice a month is plenty. Occasionally, they might reward you with beautiful blossoms as well.
4. Peace Lily
Peace Lily is a plant that oozes tranquility. The pretty plant is very easy to take care of the indoor plant. They grow easily and are common choices as first plants for many people. You can see them growing anywhere from 16 inches to 6 ft in height.
While peace lilies can have trouble surviving in the winter months, they are great plants if your home has moderate temperatures and humidity. That’s why they are great to keep indoor as plants. They thrive on indirect light. If your plant stops blooming, then you know that the plant is not getting enough sun.
When getting a pot for the plant, make sure that there is some gravel or pebble at the bottom. This will increase the humidity around the plant. Especially important if your home has a dry atmosphere. The soil in the pot needs to be draining but always kept moist.
Cold and dry weather is what you need to care about when it comes to looking after this plant. Care for them just a little, and you’ll be rewarded with their spade-shaped flowers blooming.
You don’t need to worry about your pets either. True lilies are highly toxic to cats and dogs. But a peace lily is not a true lily. This plant is only mildly toxic to most animals and humans. Nothing that you should allow your pets to chew but not as fatal as true lilies. Not to mention that it can improve air quality in homes as well.
5. Bamboo Palm
A bamboo palm, is it a palm or bamboo or both? Well, it is a hard-to-kill house plant, that’s what! This plant is actually not bamboo, however. The plant is a member of the palm plant genus. Like other family members like the Ponytail Palm, the Bamboo palm is a very low maintenance plant.
It thrives best when it is not in direct sunlight, surprisingly. The plant does prefer warm and humid weather, however. Keep it moist if you live in a dry area.
You don’t need to give the palm a lot of care. The plant can basically grow in any type of soil as long as it is kept moist. They can grow anywhere from a few inches to 12 ft tall, depending on the size of the pot. In terms of water, you can water the plant when the soil starts to look dry. You want to be overwatering your bamboo plant, which can really damage its roots.
6. Jade Plant
Jade Plants represent a lot of good things. They represent good luck, wealth, and prosperity. They’ll also represent your success at growing an indoor plant! Jade Plant is a pretty plant characterized by oval-shaped leaves and hard woody stems.
It is a pretty hard-to-kill plant as well. It is one of the plants on this list that needs direct sunlight. While it can grow without direct sunlight for most of the year, the plant grows best exposed to bright light.
You want to be watering the plant regularly. In fact, it is hard to kill a jade plant by over-watering it. The best practice would be to only give water when the soil starts to dry. Use a good draining kind of soil for this plant.
The plant doesn’t grow too much, so you won’t be needing to repot it often either.
7. Snake Plant
Snake plants often called the mother-in-law’s-tongue (totally no connection there), is a plant that just loves being alive on its own. The snake plant is a really hardy plant that has stiff long green leaves. The leaves are green with yellow striped edges, giving the snake plant its name.
A snake plant does well in dry weather with a lot of indirect light. Watering snake plants is easy as well. You could forget to water it for weeks, and it would still be alive. Give this plant water only when its soil is completely dry. Let the soil water soak and then drain for best effect.
Humid weather or excessively cold weather can hamper the plant, though.
8. Zanzibar Gem
The Zanzibar Gem, scientific name Zamioculcas zamiifolia, is a plant that is often called the gem of indoor plants. The ZZ Plant, as the plant is commonly known, can thrive in any manner of circumstances. The plant can grow even with low humidity, low water, and low light.
The ZZ Plant is not just hard to kill, but it is easy to grow and care for as well. As long as they get water occasionally and a little bit of sunlight, they’ll be growing healthily. Any type of common draining soil is perfect for the plant.
If the ZZ plant is hardy, then why is it not the best choice for novices? Well, it does have a very teensy drawback. Every part of the plant is toxic. Not incredibly toxic, mind you. But you definitely want to keep it out of the reaches of pets and children. Always wash your hands after dealing with the plant as well.
9. Spider Plant
Spider Plant is another very easy to care for plant. A spider plant has leaves of white and green, which have little clumps of plants growing at their ends. You don’t need to give them much to keep them alive.
Keep them away from the direct sun rays, and they should enjoy the ambient sunlight. And make sure that you are watering their pot when the soil starts to run dry. Since these plants don’t have a lot of growth, you won’t need to be potting and re-potting them constantly.
Spider plants enjoy the weather with medium temperatures and humidity. They don’t handle cold or extremely humid weather well.
If you ever want more of them around, they are very easy to propagate as well. Just take the clumps at the end of their leaves and soak them in the dirt below the shoot. They’ll soon start spouting roots.
10. Cast Iron Plant
The Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra eliator) is one of the best choices for an indoor plant. Especially if you have any pets in your home. These plants have a lush, leafy vibrancy to them. They are surprisingly tough too. That’s where the name comes from
Cast Iron Plant does well in soil that drains easily. It doesn’t like any direct sun exposure. Let it set away from any direct rays. During the growing months, you can keep its soil moist. It doesn’t need a lot of water during the winters, however.
These plants are pretty low effort. They can survive the cold as well as low-humidity weather. You’ll be able to see their purple spring blossoms.
These honorable mentions are plants that are also really hard to kill, but they don’t quite make a list because they’re technically not houseplants. If you have some large space available, then these plants mentioned below can spruce up your outdoor area with minimal effort.
1. Chinese Evergreen
The Chinese Evergreen is a large perennial that likes bright solar light and low moisture. It does need large pots, however. If you have space, then this beautiful evergreen will make a welcome addition to your home.
2. Rubber Plant
The rubber plant (Ficus elastica) is the flora through which rubber used to be extracted. It is surprisingly not a tree. A rubber plant can rise up to 60-80 ft in the wild. You’ll need a really big pot or some outdoor space for this one. It is very hardy, but it does need some shade and a lot of moisture in the air to grow properly. Such temperatures recreate the rubber plant locale of tropical forests.
3. Dragon Tree
A Dragon Tree is another one that can’t fit in just a pot. It doesn’t need a lot of care, just some shade and dry soil. Don’t water it too often, or its extensive root system will be damaged.
4. English Ivy
English Ivy is sometimes considered a pest but is great to keep indoors. It does need a lot of shade but tries to pot it in soil which is sure to drain quickly. Its uniquely shaped leaves add to its strange appeal.
These are our choices for the hardest to kill plants that we can grow in our homes. While we have includes what we think are the best choices, maybe you disagree (we see you grumbling Prayer Plant fans). Let us know what you think about our list and whether the Prayer Plant deserves mention.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.