Not everyone was born with a green thumb. There are dozens of people who would die to have space filled with houseplants but can’t seem to find the right one that would stay long enough for them to start building their indoor garden. In this article you will get to know plants that are almost impossible to kill, the possible reason your plants die in the first place, and if plants are truly immortal.
There are plants available in the market that is fit for beginners. They are resilient, drought tolerant, and quite forgiving in spite of neglect. Plants like the Jade plant, Snake plant, Aloe vera, Philodendron, and Spider plant are just some examples of hard to kill plants you can choose from.
Hard-To-Kill Plants and How to Care for Them
If you are a beginner or a serial plant killer, here are ten low-maintenance plants that would be ideal for you. These plants do not need a lot of your effort and time. Some are very tolerant to neglect and would survive a long time without any special attention.
Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
Basically under the succulent family, these plants are able to store water and moisture in its fleshy leaves. People often keep these plants at the office desks or on their shelves at home since it is easy to care for.
These plants contain saponin, an antimicrobial agent, that is great in healing burns and cuts. It is also known to be lucky in feng shui, said to attract good fortune when placed in the right spot.
Succulents, in general, are quite easy to maintain since they do not require too much attention especially when it comes to watering. Other plants would need to be watered every day, but when you have a tight schedule, this is not something you would have time for. Here are some tips that may come in handy if you have purchased a Jade plant for your home:
Jade plants can withstand full sunlight and are also resilient to indoor lighting. The only difference you would see in a Jade plant that has access to at least 4 hours of full sunlight, versus ones in office cubicles is height. Those kept away from full sun tend to stay short, while outdoor Jades will be able to reach their optimal height.
One thing you need to know about succulents is that they do not need a lot of water. Too much water can cause their roots to rot and would eventually kill your plant. You would only need to water your Jade plant when the soil is dry to the touch.
Jade plants do best within 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If they are exposed to much more sunlight, they are able to manage through higher temperatures.
Fertilizers are not really required, but you can apply plant fertilizers once every six months or so. It is vital that you do not apply fertilizer to your plant if the soil is dry, this will cause damage to your roots and eventually kill your plant. It is best to choose a balanced water-soluble mix that will promote its growth.
Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis)
People have been growing aloe vera for centuries and is has been quite popular back in 1750 BC as depicted through Sumerian documentation.
This plant has been noted for its medicinal purposes and has been harvested for a variety of uses like soothing gels, shampoos, herbal remedies, and more. These plants are so efficient that you do not need to process them commercially to use them.
Similar to the Jade plant, the Aloe Vera is also a succulent. They do best in dry conditions and would not need your undivided attention in order to grow. You can practically place them anywhere, and with just the bare minimum, they will survive.
Like all succulents, the aloe vera does not like to be overwatered, in fact, it is advisable to completely dry out the soil before watering your plant. Once completely dried, you may proceed with watering it but be sure to completely drench the soil. In line with this, it is vital that your pot has a drain for the water to flow out and prevent it from over-soaking your roots. One of the main reason aloe plants die is because they are watered too often.
The key ingredient of caring for aloe veras within your home is proper lighting. In its natural habitat, the aloe vera can sit in full sun. Indoors, any space that is brightly lit would be ideal for your plant.
These plants are quite resilient and can withstand temperatures between 30 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but they grow best in between 55- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. It would not be necessary for you to create the same ambient temperature, instead expose your plant to direct sunlight, every now and then.
Aloe vera plants do not necessarily need to be fertilized, but you may add fertilizer if you would like to. Fertilizing should be done only once a year. Be sure to add it when the plant is actively growing, ideally during springtime. You can opt to use a phosphorus-heavy liquid fertilizer and dilute it in water.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria spp.)
The snake plant is highly resistant to neglected. If there were awards given out, this plant would definitely be a sure winner. Being as resilient and tolerant as it is, it has been a favorite, especially among beginners. The care plan for the snake plant is pretty straightforward and exact. This makes them the perfect houseplants for starter gardens or serial plant killers. There are of different varieties of snake plants available in the market. You would just need to choose the one that suits the aesthetics of your home.
A study conducted in 1989 by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was able to prove that houseplants like the snake plant are able of cleaning the air indoors. It is great at absorbing toxins like formaldehyde, and benzene.
It is literally hard to kill a snake plant. These plants are accustomed to harsh and extreme temperatures but can fully adapt to indoor environments well.
Although not a succulent, the snake plant doesn’t need daily watering. During active growth, you must wait for the soil to be completely dry before watering again. During dormant phases or cold seasons like winter, monthly watering would be ideal.
As forgiving as the snake plant is, it is able to soak in full sunlight even in the deserts of Africa. Indoors, a good amount of steady sunlight would definitely be great. They also thrive in low-lit conditions. So, if your home isn’t as bright, the snake plant would be your best option.
This plant loves warm weather. Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit can be deadly to your plant. Which is why it is important to keep your snake plant away from cold drafts especially during winter. The ideal temperature range would fall in between 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Feeding your snake plant is optional. Like we have mentioned, this plant is absolutely hassle free and would be ideal for people who don’t really have the time to fuss about the nitty gritty details. But in case you would like to provide your snake plant with fertilizer, choose a mild cactus fertilizer and apply only during growing season. Dilute the solution before using and avoid using fertilizers at all during winter.
Philodendrons are one of the most common plants you can find in indoor spaces. The reason for this is that they are quite resilient and easily adapt to various conditions. By just observing your plant you would be able to tell what it needs and how to help it. Even inexperienced gardeners are able care for these plants with no problem.
The philodendron, like the snake plant, has also been included in the study conducted by NASA in 1989. It has been proven to effectively remove formaldehyde from the air even in high concentrations.
Like most plants, the philodendron would need three basic things: sunlight, water, and fertilizer. In order to keep it healthy and happy, here is what you can do:
Routine watering is necessary for philodendrons, but in indoor environments, you would not need to do this on a daily basis. Keep a standard watering schedule and base this on the soil’s moisture level. This plant loves moist soil, but will not tolerate sitting in water. Too much water or no water will cause it’s leaves to droop.
The ideal location for your philodendron would be by the window. You can place your pot on the window sill where the sun’s light indirectly hits the foliage. It is important not to fully expose your plant to sunlight since the heat would cause the leaves to burn. You can tell if your plant is not getting enough sun, the stems become long and leggy. If this is the case, allow your plant to soak in more light than usual.
Due to its resilient nature, the philodendron can survive within 55 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but ideally, they should be kept within 65 to 75 degrees.
If you plan to give your plant fertilizer, the ideal feed would be foliage fertilizer packed with macro-nutrients to promote more leaf growth. You may provide your plant with fertilizer once every eight weeks. If you notice that your plant has small pale leaves, this is a sign that there are not enough nutrients in the soil that would allow your philodendron to reach its optimal growth.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
This plant is popularly known in gardening circles as one of the most adaptable and the easiest to maintain. It can survive in practically any condition and is the least likely to get a disease. There is a wide range of varieties to choose from, and all are quite resilient.
Spider plants are quite efficient as air purifiers. They are able to clean the air by absorbing carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and xylene. These plants were also part of the NASA study in 1989 and have been proven effective against a variety of other air toxins.
The spider plant is the ultimate beginner plant. If you have absolutely no knowledge in gardening and are probably not as invested in taking care of plants, this would be your best choice. They tolerate abuse and are quite forgiving to those who are not caring in particular. Ideally, to keep your spider plant healthy:
Just like most indoor plants, spider plants are prone to root rot when left in very soggy soil. It is better to completely dry out the soil before watering your plant again. They can withstand neglect, but not overwatering.
They can adapt to any lighting condition, but they will flourish in indirect sunlight. Keep them in a bright space and rotate them once in a while to expose them fully.
Though they are quite resilient to temperature and humidity, they enjoy cooler climates. Ideally, they would prefer to be within 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using fertilizers for spider plants are absolutely unnecessary.
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
In nature, rubber plants can grow up to 50 feet in height and are not really difficult to care for. It is important to start with a young rubber plant, rather than a seedling.
Also, part of the 1989 NASA Study, the rubber plant was noted to be the most efficient carbon dioxide to oxygen conversion rate. Their large leaves are capable of breaking down chemicals and rendering them into something harmless.
It is not as fussy in terms of care, but would require a balance of elements to grow optimally indoors.
Since the rubber plant prefers a perfect balance, your watering routine would vary in between seasons. They like moist soil, but do not want to be sitting in water. During growing seasons like spring and summer you would need to water your plant to maintain the moisture in the soil. At dormant seasons, especially during winter, it is vital that you water as needed only. Too much watering will cause the leaves to yellow and fall off.
As part of its watering routine you would need to spritz the leave with water and wipe the leaves every now and then with a soft cloth. When they continuously collect dust, their leave will not be as efficiently in absorbing light to perform photosynthesis.
These plants are more accustomed to bright spaces, especially when they originate from tropical countries. Experts would recommend placing them by the window with sheer curtains and light drapes. They love the light, but would be stressed with the heat.
In its natural habitat, rubber plants thrive in shady tropical areas. They prefer spaces that are within 65 degree to 80 degrees fahrenheit. It is important to try and maintain a particular temperature within your space. Constantly changing ambient temperature would stress out your rubber plant.
An equal ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium mix is ideal to use for rubber plants. It is only supposed to be used during active growing seasons. Administration of the fertilizers should be in moderation, approximately three to four weeks at a time.
Additional Care Tips
- In addition to the specific care tips we have provided for each plant mentioned, here are some generalized advice you may want to consider when you do plant to invest in plants for your home.
- The common cause of plant death is overwatering. Whenever you are in doubt, touch the soil of your plant and check whether it really needs to be watered. Most plants would prefer a moist soil, and not a wet one.
- Providing your plants with water, light, and food is key to its survival. Should you be gone for a vacation, it would be best to leave your plants with someone who is capable of caring for them in your absence.
- Plants with variegated leaves like the spider plant would need more light compared to the ones that are purely green. It is best to keep them near the window for optimal light absorption.
- Pruning your plants is not required, but it promotes a lusher growth. Same goes with flowering plants. Removing dead flowers from the plant would promote a new bud and eventually encourage your plant to keep on blooming.
- If your space is dark, investing in a grow light can be quite beneficial. These devices are able to provide your plant with the specific spectrum of light needed. The red spectrum promotes flowering, blue spectrum promotes lush foliage, whereas green and yellow are completely reabsorbed by the plant.
- If you have pets and small children at home, your plants should be kept away from their reach. Aside from the possibility of poisoning, since some plants are toxic, the stress your plants may experience from constant touching, tugging, and possibly urination can cause your plant to die sooner than expected.
- There is a big difference between gardening soil and potting soil. It would be best to use potting soil for your indoor garden versus gardening soil. Gardening soil is often packed with all sorts of organic and inorganic material that may actually cause harm to your plant since it is indoors.
- Rotate your plants every now and then. Plants have the tendency to lean towards the light. If you do not rotate them, they will look lopsided. Rotating them allows and equal distribution of light.
- Always water your plant with water that is kept in room temperature. Cold water and hot water will cause damage to your plant’s roots.
- Some plants are sensitive to salts that the use of tap water would not be ideal due to the chemicals present in the water along with the salt that may trap the flow of water.
Why Do My Plants Die?
If you are a newbie gardener, it would be quite frustrating to see your plants die in spite of the love and care you put in. The fact of the matter is, plants depend on you to provide them with the right amount of their basic needs. As we know the basic needs of the plants, depend on the factors that are vital to photosynthesis, such as; light, water, and soil.
In order for you to understand why your plants are deteriorating, you would need to know what you are doing wrong. Here are some possible reasons your plants may be dying:
Excessive Watering or Under Watering
The first thing you must always do before buying a plant is to know how to care for them. A good example of this would be the cactus, people who are unaware of the cactus’ watering requirements may end up over watering them. We know that plants that soak in water will die due to possible root rot or fungus.
Not watering plants will also be an issue. Although there are drought tolerant plants, this does not mean you can completely deprive them of water. Remember, in order for the plant to completely go through photosynthesis, it would need water, light, and macronutrients from the soil.
Poor Soil and Drainage
In relation to the watering, knowing the ideal type of soil for you plant is equally as important. Most plants would prefer a moist soil but not a wet one. Soil that is able to hold moisture without completely soaking the plant’s roots would be ideal.
It is also vital that you use the proper soil for your plant to avoid any bacterial or fungal issues. Most new gardeners make the mistake of using gardening soil as opposed to potting soil, this can open up a series of issues especially when your indoor garden is growing.
Choose a good pot for your plants that has holes underneath that would allow excess water to pass through. Traditional clay pots would be ideal to use since the heat absorbed by the pots during the day would help evaporate the excess water in your soil.
Insufficient or Excessive Sunlight
Light, in general, is the most important part of photosynthesis, without it, plants will not be able to make their food. In reality, there is no such thing as excessive light, but when it comes to sunlight, that is a different story. Sunlight also involves heat, and this is what plants cannot tolerate. Extreme heat would dehydrate your plants and burn its leaves. It is always best to provide your houseplant with sufficient indirect sunlight for at least 4 to 8 hours.
If in the event your home does not have enough bright space to accommodate your plants you can invest in grow lights that would help with your plant’s growth in terms of foliage and flowering.
Pest or Diseases
Bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic diseases often stem from neglect. If you don’t pay close attention, the next thing you know is that your plant would be inflicted with some sort of illness that is quite contagious to other plants.
If you have noticed any signs or symptoms of plant disease, it is best to separate the plant that is infected and treat it separately to avoid contamination. In the event the plant has contracted a viral disease, the only option would be to throw it away. Otherwise, there is a wide range of medication and remedies you can buy or make at home.
Too Much Fertilizers
The purpose of plant fertilizer is to provide the plant with nutrients that are seemingly missing from the soil. If fertilizers are used in excess, the salt molecules from the fertilizers will destroy the roots which would eventually kill the plant.
Aside from the points mentioned, there could be a number of things that could’ve caused your plant’s demise. There are times when your plant has already lived its life and it’s actually time for it to die, but because were are not fully aware of their life cycle, we would not be able to identify this. Which is why it is highly important that you buy your plants from a reputable source.
Can Houseplants Live Forever?
Botanists have said that there is no specific lifespan for indoor plants, but theoretically speaking plants can live forever, given that they well taken care of and are in ideal living conditions. Some plants thrive in indoor conditions despite being accustomed to extreme climates.
Then there are others that just need a bit of love and care to last longer than they are supposed to. In fact, records show that the oldest living plant is at least 240 years of age and is growing in its pot since 1775 in the conservatory at London Kew Gardens. There are stories of families passing on plants as their heirlooms.
It all boils down to choosing the right plant to fit your lifestyle, and researching their primary needs in order for you make sure that they grow well within your space.