Easy-Care Houseplants – Natural Home Décor with No Green Thumb Required
It’s easy to admire houseplants. You can imagine how introducing a collection of greenery to your home could add a new dimension of texture, color, and interest to your interior – but don’t forget that plants can be a lot of work.
Many people spend a small fortune on houseplants, purchasing the plants that they like the look of or that they think will complement a particular corner of their homes. What they so often neglect to do is a little research ahead of making their purchase to discover which plants would best suit their homes and their lifestyles. Some plants need to be in direct sunlight at all times, others need to be tucked away in dark corners. Certain plants can be left alone for weeks while their thirstier counterparts need watering twice a day.
If you have a hectic lifestyle – rushing out of the house early to drop the kids off before work and returning late in the evening only able to crash onto the sofa after you’ve put your children to bed – the last thing you’ll have time for is taking care of high-maintenance plants. The Elephant Ear, for example, may have large glossy leaves, but you should stay well clear of it because it needs constant watering for most of the year. And the statement-making Banana Plant requires high humidity and 12 hours of sunlight each day. Instead, opt for plants that require little to no care – which even those of us with the busiest lives should be able to keep alive with minimal effort.
We’ve selected seven of the best houseplants for busy people. Read on to discover the plants that can stand up to less than TLC and thrive.
Houseplants soften the interior décor of a home and are an essential part of the decorating scheme in most households. This family room in the open floor plan of a 5-bedroom, 4.5-bath Craftsman style home plan uses large plants to anchor each side of the couch, providing texture and interest in varying heights to the room décor (House Plan #161-1042).
1. Fascinating Cacti
Cacti are a form of houseplant called succulents. Succulents are often divided into three groups depending on which part of the plant contains the moisture retaining tissue: stem succulents, leafy succulents, and caudiciform succulents. Most cacti fall into the stem succulent group; not surprisingly, they are distinguished from other succulents by cushion-like growths on their stems called areoles from which their characteristic spines, hairs, flowers, and shoots develop.
The perfect houseplant for busy people, cacti require very little TLC. Used to surviving arid climates, they can survive up to four months indoors without watering – perfect for people who tend to travel a lot and need resilient plants that will survive in their absence. When watering, it’s best to water from the bottom and it’s very important that the pot has good drainage. The best thing to do is to pop your cacti in a bath of water once a month and allow them to soak up a small amount of water from below. Keep your cacti in a room with lots of natural light for them to flourish.
Cacti make fascinating decorative houseplants. Their shapes, colors, spines, and hairs make them irresistible, especially to children. And they couldn’t be easier to keep and maintain. Water once a month, and that’s about it! (Photo courtesy Landscaping Chennai.)
2. Easy Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera, like cacti, is a succulent – a leaf succulent. It’s really hard to kill an Aloe Vera plant, as they only need light watering every two to three weeks. If you’ve forgotten how long it’s been since you last watered your plant, try to poke your finger into the potting soil past your second knuckle to determine how damp the soil is. You should feel dampness only near the bottom of your test “poke.” If the soil is too dense to insert your finger, you should know that as a general rule of thumb the top 2 inches of soil should dry out before the plant needs more water.
With its spear-like leaves, quirky shape, and interesting texture, aloe vera makes an interesting addition to a contemporary décor. It’s also a useful ingredient in many homemade remedies, usually involving skincare.
3. Literally Air Plants
These unusual plants may look strange on first sight because they have no roots, instead absorbing water through their tentacle-like leaves. Perfect for people who don’t have the patience for traipsing around their home with a watering can, all that you have to do is gather up your air plants once a week and pop them into the sink, completely submerging them in water for twenty minutes. They thrive with bright indirect sunlight and look stunning either placed on their own on shelves or inside glass terrariums.
Intriguing because they don’t require soil to survive, air plants, also called aerophytes because of their lack of roots, make ideal idiosyncratic decorative additions to the shelves or tables of almost any room. (Photos courtesy, top, Pottery Barn and, bottom, Triad Plant Co.)
4. Ubiquitous Spider Plant
One of the most popular houseplants, the spider plant is also one of the toughest to kill. One of the best plants for removing indoor air pollution, the spider plant is also desirable due to its tendency to produce “babies” that grow from its long shoots. You’ll need to water it once a week in summer if you want a healthy plant that grows at a steady rate, but if you forget to water it, the leaves won’t wither and it can be revived. They prefer bright light but can be just as happy in shady spots.
You’ll often see spider plants in hanging baskets, but they are just as at home in conventional containers like this. They offer a free-form decorative touch and years of enjoyment from their self-propagation (photo courtesy Home Depot).
5. Snake Plant, or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
Called snake plant (sansevieria) because of its long, narrow leaf growth – which also leads to its other informal name – this distinctive plant requires very little care, growing well with extremely moderate watering. During the winter months, it barely needs watering at all, while it prefers a twice-monthly drink in warmer temperatures. Snake plant can survive in rooms with very little light, although it will grow larger if placed in a brighter spot.
With its tall, imposing appearance when grown in a bright environment, the snake plant makes quite an impression where you need vertical accents in your home décor. The plant is very tolerant of "neglect," requiring very little water –about once a month or so – in winter and only about every two weeks during gorwing season (photo courtesy Plants Unlimited Naturally).
6. Cheery Echeveria
Like cacti, succulents such as echeveria require very little watering because they are accustomed to desert conditions where they must store water for long periods of time. They love light, so ensure that they’re placed in a bright space. (They’re a great option for adding interest to a windowsill.) And it’s essential that they are placed in pots that allow for good drainage. Water them only every month or so, checking first that the soil has completely dried out.
Lots of light and little water – those are the ingredients for growing successful echeveria plants in your home. The interesting textures and colors make echeveria ideal for accent decorating throughout the house. Just be sure not to overwater them (photo courtesy The Succulent Source)!
7. Lovely Ivy
Trailing ivy plants are great for placing on higher shelves and allowing their stems to sprawl downwards. You will often see them in kitchens, placed on top of cabinets in the soffit area. Although they do need regular watering, they prefer their soil on the drier side and only need a drink approximately once a week. They do, however, love indirect sunlight and should never be placed in a shady corner.
Ivy plants like golden pathos (top) – also called devil’s ivy because it is hard to kill through neglect – add a cheery pop to a tabletop or, in a hanging basket, to an alcove or bay window area (photo courtesy Traditions Flowers and Gifts). Ivy is the quintessential kitchen houseplant, as seen at bottom in the kitchen of a 3-bedroom, 3-bath Mediterranean style home plan (House Plan #133-1029).
So if you feel that you dont have the time – or the knack – for taking care of a houseplant in your home, don't despair. The plants we've presented here and more will cheer up your home decor with color, texture, and form – and keep on beautifying your interior with little help from you!