Some houseplants pretty much grow themselves. In fact, your biggest problem may be what to do with all the baby plants they’ll produce. Almost all the indoor plants shown here can be grown in the indirect light from a window and like the same indoor temperatures as most people (55 – 75 degrees F.) A few will require a bit more pampering, but nothing extreme.
As with any houseplant, there is always the threat of insect pests like aphids, scale, spider mites, and whiteflies. But disease-wise the only thing you’re likely to incur is root rot, from too much watering. So the following indoor plants are also perfect for someone who always forgets to water their plant
Aloe (Aloe vera)
The sap from aloe vera plants is used as a skin moisturizer and to heal minor cuts and ease sunburn. While it is a very useful plant, it’s also attractive. As a succulent, it needs little water, but it does prefer bright, but indirect sunlight, especially in cooler temperatures. An aloe plant will grow for years in the same container. If you do decide to use the leaves, don’t remove more than a third of the plant, at one time.
Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra relation)
The cast iron plant earned its name by surviving under the worst of conditions, even outdoors in the deep shade. It prefers low light. The leaves are sword-like, pointed, and about 4 inches wide and 2 ft. long. The cast iron plant grows in a clump and will occasionally flower indoors. A variegated version is available with white stripes and ‘Milky Way’ is studded with white dots.
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutated)
The Chinese evergreen plant is extremely forgiving and can adapt to most room conditions, although it does not like drafts or prolonged temperatures below 60 F. It prefers low or indirect sunlight. Allow the soil to remain dry for a few days, before re-watering. Most varieties have some type of variegated leaf, making them all the more attractive.
Christmas Cactus (Zygocactus or Schlumbergera)
The Christmas Cactus is a trailing member of the cactus family that produces deep pink or red flowers in early winter. This is the type of plant that seems to do its best when ignored. It can handle low light, but you’ll get more flowers in bright light. Pruning after blooming will keep the plant bushy and full.
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. Leave it in the dark 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 while you are at work. You should see flower buds forming in weeks.
Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
The variegated leaves of Dumb Cane can be extremely attractive and it is not a particularly difficult plant to grow. It does like the temperature on the warm side, so avoid placing it near windows and drafts. Use caution when growing this plant around pets and children. It gets its name from the milky sap it exudes. The sap can be a skin irritant and, if ingested, it can cause a temporary inability to speak.
Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
With its thick, glossy leaves, the Jade plant is one of the most popular plants for indoors. To grow lush and healthy, Jade needs plenty of sunlight, so pick your brightest room to place it in. The tricky part about growing jade plants is getting the water requirements right. Too much water will cause their roots to rot. Too little water will result in them dropping their leaves. Allow the soil to completely dry out, before giving them more water, but don’t let them sit thirsty for too long.
Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sandersl)
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 a good amount of variety in the genre of dracaena and most make excellent easy-care houseplants.
Two great choices are Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginal), which resembles a small palm tree and can reach heights of 10 ft., and Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanders), 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. Lucky bamboo is often grown in water, but once substantial roots have formed, it is much happier planted in soil. Even if allowed to wilt, dracaena will spring back after watering, although the leaf tips may turn brown. Dracaena will tolerate low light.
Mother-in-law’s tongue, aka Snake plant (Sansevieria)
It’s called Mother-in-law’s tongue because of its long, sharp, pointed leaves and because it lasts so long. These are long-lived, easy-care houseplants. Mother-in-law’s Tongue is tolerant of low light. Water sparingly or it will rot. Only one or two 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.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
The flowers of the peace lily are its most striking feature. The white flowers are the long, thin white pannicle that is surrounded by a white leaf-like structure called a spathe. The spathe starts bright white, but fades to yellow or green, as it ages. While the peace lily prefers warm, humid conditions, it can be made comfortable in your home, as long as you do not put in near drafts or in rooms that remain unheated for long periods.
Pothos is one of the easiest houseplants to grow and almost impossible to kill. These are trailing plants that just keep on growing, 10 ft. or more. Pruning the plants will keep them fuller at the base and each cutting can be rooted in water to create more plants. Pothos plants like to dry out between waterings, but if left dry too long, leaves with wilt and eventually dry and fall. They are very tolerant of all types of light conditions, even artificial office lights. You can let them trail down or secure them to support or trellis. There are many variegated and golden varieties available.
Prayer plant (Maranta)
The Maranta species contains plants with some of the most colorful leaves you could ask for. Although not picky about growing conditions, you will have the best luck if you can give it a sunny spot, with consistently warm temperatures. Prayer plants can also attract indoor pests, so keep a close watch on yours and catch any problems before they have a chance to explode. Periodically washing the leaves will help keep them hydrated as well as washing off pests.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum homo sum)
Spider plants just keep on giving. You rarely 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.