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I used to be notorious for my brown thumb. Each time I brought a new plant home, Eric would play "guess how long before Jo kills this one."
Years of trial and error have resulted in a kind of survival-of-the-fittest plant situation in our home.
I've found my greatest pitfall has been not adhering to each individual plant baby's light and water requirements, trying to apply a one-size-fits-all approach to all of our plants.
For the houseplants I've managed to keep alive, the key has been:
1. Placing each plant in a location with the right amount of light for that plant. If it doesn't come with instructions, Google it.
2. Watering plants in multiples of weekly intervals, either every one, two or four weeks, depending on their individual moisture requirements. I just can't deal with plants that require watering during the week. Saturday morning is the only time plants get any love around here!
3. Using pots with excellent drainage within decorative planters, making it nearly impossible to over-water (the number one cause of botanical demise in our home!). That, or self-watering planters.
Granted, I'm still no plant whisperer!
Here's a list of eight of the lowest maintenance houseplants in our home, that even I've managed to keep alive using the above three strategies:
This plant's nicknamed 'Devil's Ivy' because it's nearly impossible to kill. It's a very hardy plant that tolerates low light and infrequent watering.
Light: low light to indirect, bright light.
Water: allow soil to dry out between watering to prevent root rot.
I find that in a pot with good drainage, watering these weekly works well, even if the soil's not completely dry by then. They also handle missed waterings like a champ. If I allow two weeks to pass between watering, the leaves get a little droopy, but bounce right back within hours of having a drink.
These are also easily propagated. We started with one plant from which we grew three others, all from single leaf cuttings.
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2. Aloe Vera
Aloe is an attractive succulent that's handy to keep around in case of minor burns.
The gel within the leaves is soothing and promotes burn healing. There's nothing like using a plant medicinally to make you feel like a badass.
Light: indirect to full sun.
Water: allow soil to dry completely between watering. Like cacti, aloe originates in the desert, so it likes to be drier than most plants. I've found over-watering actually causes these to wilt.
We water ours about every two weeks. They're perfect if you travel often.
Speaking of drought-resistant plants...
Light: indirect bright light to full exposure.
Water: these like it really dry. Shocker!
For us, this amounts to monthly watering. I'll confess, I've killed a cactus or two with overzealous watering. It's hard to keep your paws off that watering can for a full month, but, trust me...
4. ZZ Plant
This is our oldest plant, it's almost ten years old and was the first plant Eric and I bought together, as a couple. For a while, this was the only plant I could keep alive!
Light: low to medium. They grow leafier in medium light. Ours is in a fairly dim corner of the kitchen, which explains why it looks a little sparse.
Water: allow to dry completely between waterings. I water ours every two weeks. They can reportedly survive months without being watered! Months! I've unintentionally tested this out and can attest to it.
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5. Snake Plant
These are extremely hardy and survive when both light and water are scarce.
Light: low to full light.
We've had these everywhere from right in front of a window to the darkest corner of our home. What makes them so easy, in my book, is their ability to withstand all light conditions.
Water: allow soil to dry between waterings. I stick my finger in the soil and make sure it feels dry as far as I can reach.
For us, this amounts to monthly watering. It's on the same schedule as our cacti.
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6. Spider Plant