Plants do wonders for a room: they add color, texture, and life to a space in a way that no other decorative item can. More than just improving a room’s look, houseplants actually improve the air quality as well by removing certain indoor pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde. Indoor conditions like low light, chilly temperatures, and humidity are less than hospitable to many types of plants, however, leading many of us to believe that houseplants are more trouble than they’re worth. You may think you have an incurably brown thumb, but there are several virtually indestructible plants that are more than up to the challenge. These tough beauties thrive on the worst of conditions and on your benign neglect. So, add a few of these easy-to-care-for houseplants to your interiors and you might just change your mind about what color your thumb is.
Also called ‘Mother-In-Law’s Tongue,’ the snake plant is one of the toughest houseplants you’ll find. It will thrive in any level of light, a wide range of temperatures, and doesn’t require much water at all. In addition, the beautifully variegated sword-like leaves make a striking architectural statement in any room.
Another hard-to-kill option in houseplants is the cast iron plant, so named because it’s virtually indestructible. Low light, humidity, neglect, and temperatures as low as 45 degrees are no match for this lush green beauty. Add a little interest by picking up one of its variegated forms.
If you’re looking for something to fill a corner, look no further than one of the many forms of dracaena. Several varieties grow up to 10 feet in height, and a variety of leaf shapes and variegations mean there’s (at least) one to fit any room. While these prefer light that’s a bit on the brighter side, their humidity, temperature, and watering requirements are extremely flexible.
Brighten up a dark corner with the vivid greens and whites of dieffenbachia, a low-light plant that grows up to six feet tall and whose large leaves create a lush look in any space. Temperature and humidity aren’t a problem for this plant, although you’ll want to keep it evenly moist.
Another non-fussy plant that tolerates a variety of light, humidity, and temperature conditions, pothos can be grown as a tabletop plant, allowed to trail from a basket, or trained up a pole or trellis. Also called ‘Devil’s Ivy,’ the heart-shaped leaves have better variegation when they get a little more light.
Often confused with pothos, philodendron also has heart-shaped leaves, although the shape is a bit more pronounced, and the trailing stems can be trained in much the same way as pothos. Philodendron is even more tolerant of low light and won’t hold a grudge if you let it dry out a bit.
Want to add more color to a room than just a shade of green? Croton offers leaves with pops of gold, pink, and even orange, and asks for little in return. Low light is fine, although the leaves really glow when they catch the sun, and temperature and water conditions are quite flexible as well.
If tropical isn’t quite your thing, there are a few easy houseplants that offer some foliage variety. English Ivy likes bright light and even watering, but its beautiful vines look great trailing or trained into topiaries. Boston ferns, which like medium to bright light, and Kentia palms, which tolerate low light, are two plants that create a distinctly Victorian look and aren’t terribly fussy. Jade plants and kalanchoe are two interesting succulents that like bright light but low levels of water.