The hardest house plants to kill

Many jump at the idea of owning plants before doing the research necessary to take proper care of their green babies. Here's a list of the plants that don't need as much upkeep

During the pandemic, plants became a saving grace for many, as they offered both an escape from reality as well as a gentle hobby to help people focus on the positive, whilst decorating their homes.

Unfortunately, many jumped into plant parenthood with little context, not knowing which houseplants are easy to care for, and which can be a waste of time (and money) for beginners who are getting to grips with their green fingers.

To help us succeed on our journey, Elin Harryson, in-house expert at Planta, the Swedish plant care app, shared a few species of plants for beginners to bring home, as well as their key care needs, so that we can better connect with our inner-botanist and help our greenery thrive in no time.

Cast iron plants

Aspidistra elatior, more commonly referred to as the Cast iron plant, is an ideal choice for new plant parents who are just starting to curate their collection of greenery. Cast iron plants are able to thrive in low levels of light, have low-maintenance watering needs, and are overall quite hardy and robust.

To help these plants thrive, be sure to place them in a well-draining pot and soil mix, so its roots don’t get soggy, as it’s difficult to help plants bounce back from root rot.

Aside from their elegant, long, dark leaves, another pro of the cast iron is that they’re one of the few species of robust houseplants that are also non-toxic, making it a worry free choice for those with curious kids and inquisitive pets.

If you’re lucky, you might be rewarded with their unique flowers that will appear from the soil of the plant, too!

Pothos

Pothos, also known as Devils Ivy, landed Planta’s top spot for most popular houseplant of the year in 2021.

Part of pothos’ appeal stems from its versatility: they can hang from pots and be neatly manicured or run wild. They’re also nearly impossible to kill, making them the go-to option for rookie plant collectors wanting an easy-to-care-for but impressive houseplant.

Pothos can grow up to 10 feet long and can be trained to grow horizontally or vertically. While they prefer bright light, they tolerate all types of light conditions—even artificial office lights.

Pothos are also one of the easiest plants to propagate and turn into a brand new houseplant by simply taking a cutting and placing it in a glass of water until it grows roots.

Be aware that Pothos are toxic and shouldn’t be touched more than necessary, as the calcium oxalate poison contained within their leaves and stems are comparable to small glass shards that can pierce the skin which cause irritation when touched or ingested.

Snake plants

There are tons of  species and varieties of Snake plants, however Dracaena trifasciata (formerly known as Sansevieria trifasciata) which is more commonly referred to as “mother-in-law’s tongue” are the most popular species of Snake plant globally.

Ranking in at second place on Planta’s top plants of 2021, Snake plants can often maintain their attractive look even after weeks of neglect - which is why they’re exceptionally popular with offices, rookie plant parents, and the like.

Snake plants are a popular choice for house plant decor due to their long, sturdy leaves, and love of full sunlight. They require little watering as well, which makes them low maintenance. If your Snake plant is thriving, be sure to check out other types of Snake plants, as well: Star Green and Starlight varieties are quite stunning, and have similar care needs, too.

ZZ plant

The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), is native to Eastern Africa, a semi-arid area that can be prone to drought.

Given their natural habitat, ZZ plants are able to survive with little water, meaning that the running theme of death defying plants, like forgetting to water them on occasion, will not cause your ZZ plant’s health to implode.

Light and dark conditions don’t have a huge impact on ZZ plants, and they should thrive as long as they’re not overwatered or exposed to too much direct sunlight. ZZ plants' easy care routine and attractive foliage contributes to their place at number nine on Planta’s top 20 plants of 2021 global.

Mammillaria

Naturally, cacti are one of the best plant families for beginners to start looking after as they require little water, and lots of natural light. Some cacti are easier to care for than others, however, collecting plants from the Mammillaria species (the largest genus in the Cactaceae family) is a great place to start.

Like the majority of the cacti family, Mammillaria needs light and warm temperatures, and rooms with west, south, or east facing windows can offer a balanced environment for these prickly plants.

Placing Mammillaria on a windowsill during the colder months can also help encourage it to bloom during the following growing season. Be sure to plant Mammillaria in pots with holes and well-draining soil to ensure they don’t drown.

Interestingly, most cacti come from nurseries in peat-based soil which doesn’t fare well in our homes, so don’t shy away from getting out a pair of sturdy gloves and replanting them in a pumice or grit-based soil to help them thrive.

As is the case with most cacti, be conscious of Mammillaria’s watering schedule, as over-watering causes more harm than good.

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