I think most of us would agree that quarantine has forced us to pick up new hobbies, particularly those we can do in the comfort of our own home. About two months into the pandemic, I realized that drinking wine on my couch didn’t count (though I think it should on some days, am I right?) and eventually decided to find some better, productive alternatives to fill my time. I turned to variety of things such as coloring, hiking, knitting, baking and kombucha making, but nothing has given me quite as much comfort as my expanded love for plant care.
If you know me, you know that I’ve always loved plants and gardening. I started my collection about two years ago and have gradually grown it year over year. However, quarantine has turned this love into a borderline obsession. I’m a crazy plant lady, as they say, and I fully embrace it. But hey, it’s a healthy obsession, right? I mean, the oxygen in my apartment is top-notch.
In all seriousness though, growing and taking care of my plant collection has become one of my biggest stress relievers. Watering, pruning and learning more about each of my plants is my go-to activity when I need to just get away from everything else in the world. I actually think it’s what’s keeping me sane from the depressing lack of live music during this time. That’s a whole other discussion for another day, though.
People often ask me: “How do you keep so many plants alive?”; “What are the best plants to get for a beginner?”; “Which ones are you favorite?”; “Will you ever STOP getting more plants?” Though the answer to that last question is a hard no, I’ll be addressing many of the others here at Shuffle Online, so get ready!
To kick things off, I’m sharing the most resilient, non-killable plants for anyone out there who is a self-proclaimed plant killer. I know what you’re thinking, “But Leigh, I seriously kill EVERY plant. There’s no hope for me.” There is always hope, young grasshopper. You just have to observe and listen.
Before I get into the details of each of these beauties, I’d like to share the two most important things when it comes to plant care: good drainage and a moisture meter. The biggest culprit for plant murders is surprisingly overwatering more so than underwatering. Most plants can handle a couple missed waterings, but if you water them too much then they’ll be a goner.
Good drainage requires a pot that has plenty of holes at the bottom and soil that isn’t too dense. When you water a plant, the water should ideally drain out of the bottom after your done. If you don’t want to move your plants for waterings, you can purchase plant saucers to catch the water after it drains. Just never, ever, EVER let a lot of water sit inside the bottom of your pot! We’ll get to this later.
Some folks prefer the finger trick to check for moisture, but I’ve grown to love my moisture meter. I found myself doubting my own judgement of the soil’s moisture, and the meter ensures I know exactly how much or how little water is left in my plants’ soil. Plus, it makes it really easy to do a quick check of your plants to see if they need to be watered or not!
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s chat plant types.
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Pothos is one of the most difficult houseplants to kill and is also called Devil’s Ivy for just that reason! In fact, I’ve had mine for so long that I can’t even remember where and when I got it. There are different variations of pothos (golden, neon, Jessenia, Manjula, Pearls & Jade and Cebu Blue), all of which require very little maintenance. They love bright, indirect light indoors but can also tolerate low light. I love placing mine on shelves or hanging them from a curtain rod with a cute macramé holder. They are one of the best plants to get if you’re looking for that delicate waterfall aesthetic. Another great thing is that they are super easy to propagate. What’s propagating, you say? It’s the process of growing a new plant from cuttings of another. All it requires is sticking the plant cuttings (preferably long in stem-length) into water and providing plenty of bright, indirect light until roots begin to form on the stems. Once the roots form, you’re ready to pot and let it thrive!
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
The first houseplant I ever owned was a peace lily. Though I sadly and unintentionally drowned it, I learned my lesson and replaced it with another, which I’ve successfully kept alive for over three years! Though peace lilies love medium, indirect light, they too can endure lower light conditions. However, if you want your peace lily to bloom (yes, they produce flowers!), I’d highly recommend sticking yours near a sunny window. When it comes to watering, I typically just wait until I see the leaves slightly drooping; that always tells me it’s time for a good watering. Most times, I’ll just stick it the sink and give it a good shower with the faucet until I start to see water drain out the bottom of the pot. Just be sure to not water too much, as these guys are prone to root rot, which can very quickly kill it. If you’re not familiar with the term “root rot,” no problem! It’s simply a disease in which the roots of a plant rot and decay from too much water. As I said before, good drainage and a moisture meter are key to keeping houseplants alive!
ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas)
I just purchased my first ZZ plant a few weeks ago, so I’ll admit I’m no pro. However, this has been one of the easiest plants to acclimate to my apartment! If you’re into houseplants or interior decorating, you’ve likely seen them all over the internet. ZZ plants have become one of the trendiest, Instagram-worthy plants around town, and I totally understand why, now that I have one. Beautiful and easy to care for, this plant is a no-brainer for any plant newbie or killer. I have mine in a spot with very low light, rarely water it, and it’s doing it’s own thing just fine. Now that I think about it, I’ve only watered it twice since getting it, given its soil traps moisture for so long. I’d also like to note that this plant holds up incredibly well to being shipped in the mail. The only downside is that they are incredibly toxic (more so than other houseplants), so I’d recommend putting it high up on a shelf and out of reach from fur babies or children.
Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
This is another plant I’ve just recently adopted, and I’m in love. Chinese evergreens are known to be one of the best plants for beginners because it can tolerate any sort of conditions indoors, low to high sunlight. Though the one I purchased was larger in size and sits in a floor planter, smaller variations can be a perfect desk or shelf plant. They are said to be slow growing, so there’s no need to worry about it eventually taking over your space, unlike some other plants that I’ll chat more about in a future article. Similar to peace lilies, they too can bloom flowers if provided enough sunlight and nutrients. I currently have mine sitting under a grow light (mostly for the other surrounding plants) and it’s living it’s best, beautiful life. Primary varieties of Chinese evergreens include Calypso, Cecilia, Emerald Beauty, Golden Bay (which I own!), Maria, Nicole, Queen Juliana, Red Gold (which I also own in a much smaller size), Romeo, Silver Bay and Silver Queen. I absolutely love the light green hues and designs on their leaves.
Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata)
Talk about another trendy plant! Snake plants (or also called mother-in-law’s tongue) are all the rage right now and super easy to take care of. I have two different ones because I love them so much. They actually don’t like much water (somewhat similar to a succulent), so feel free to skip this one when doing your weekly watering rounds. As for light, they do prefer bright, indirect sun, but they’re fairly tough and can handle medium light as well. Common variations include Golden Hahnii, Cylindrical, Twist, Rhino Grass and White (which I own). One thing I have noticed is that they are incredibly slow growing. I’ve had my largest one for over two years now and it’s barely grown at all. If you get one and it doesn’t grow much, just know this isn’t an indicator for overall health. I also have yet to successfully propagate a snake plant because the stems can easily rot in moisture. I’ll get it one of these days!
Cane Plant (Dracaena fragrans)
Last but not least, we have dracaena. There are so many different variations of dracaena, but the one I have is often called a cane plant. Dracaena do well with low light and little water — basically the opposite of what you’ve been told to give every other plant, right? And fun fact: The word dracaena comes from from the word “drakaina”, which is Greek for female dragon. Many people mistake them for a palm, but they’re more related to lilies. I’ve had mine since I moved to Austin about four years ago, and I’ve never had any issues with it! It’s actually grown double in height, so be sure you put yours in a spot where it has plenty of space to stretch vertically. Though the tips of the leaves may turn a little brown and crispy some times, I typically just prune these spots with scissors, in the shape of a “V.” I also can’t tell you how many times my cats have knocked down this poor plant and it’s still kicking as if nothing has happened! Cane plants are truly one of the most resilient, and also very easy to propagate as well.
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Leigh is a native Texan gone temporary New Yorker and now proud Austinite. Passions include but are not limited to music (both as a spectator and dabbler), traveling & cultural adventures, film & television, true crime, design (of the fashion, interior, and graphic sorts), and photographing & writing about all the aforementioned. Self-acclaimed coffee connoisseur & wino, cat aficionado, book worm, and nature junkie.