Houseplants Literally Anyone Can Keep Alive
Hi, I'm Madison, and I am a serial plant killer.
Last year I was given a beautiful Fiddle Leaf Fig tree (which is obviously amazing and expensive) and I totally effed it up. I was so afraid of overwatering it because that is a thing I do. I tend to love TOO much, or not at all. So, I either drown my plants or let them dry out and die. So, if you're like me and have two black thumbs then this article could be helpful.
Of course, there are lots of plants that are hard to kill that are not...that cute? All plants are good plants, don't get me wrong, but I'm going to recommend some cuties that will add a little addition of style to your space.
The Rubber Plant
I can personally attest that this plant is pretty easy to keep alive. I just noticed the other weekend that I'm coming up to my 1-year anniversary with my rubber plant, and that is BY FAR, the longest, most committed relationship I've ever had with a plant. I basically let this baby dry out and starve to death, and yet it still blooms for me. I think he could probably be a lot bigger than he is now, but I'd like it on the record that I have kept a plant in relatively good health for about a year, except for burning one of the leaves on a candle, but that candle went wild and I'm not about to take responsibility for that.
I won't give you my tips, as you can see they are both hazardous and neglectful, however, I will tell you what the experts say about these plants:
- Bright, but indirect light and doesn't like to be too hot.
- If the leaves are turning yellow - you're watering it too much.
- During the growing season (the spring/early summer) you want to keep the soil most
- It's a good idea to wipe the leaves so that the sunlight can get right in there and keep the plant healthy, instead of being blocked by dust. Fun florist tip is apparently to use mayo to clean the leaves! Sounds gross, but I bet it keeps them nice and shiny. I'll try it this weekend and probably not let you know if we're being honest.
- During the dormant season, if the leaves begin to droop but not fall off, gradually increase water until they are perky and you should be good to go.
- If your plant is growing like a wild thing, remember that eventually, you are going to have to re-pot that bad boy, even if you think the pot he's in is super cutie.
The ZZ plant
I love this plant because it has a very cool name, but also because it can survive with very limited light (helllooooo basement suite/office/house with hardly any light). This is the second plant that I will have had for almost a year - as I purchased it at the same time as my beloved rubber plant. I have also, let this thing go to the pits, and still, it persists.
I first learned about this plant when a co-worker brought one in for his desk and the thing managed to bloooooom in a room with no natural light, and actually low-level artificial light as well. That baby THRIVED, and people were barely taking care of it. If you're like me and have a kiss of death over the green things in your life, you may have met your match.
Here is what the experts say:
- This baby grows well in low OR bright light conditions (read: it's v low maintenance)
- Keep the top of the soil moist, but don't over water. A good way to know if it needs more water is if the top layer has dried.
- Best practice is to re-pot the ZZ plant once a year, especially in the first 3-5 years you have it (LOL! 3 to 5 years. That's hilarious.)
- During the main growing season (April - August) you want to feed it with a diluted, balanced liquid fertilizer once per month.
The Snake Plant
This plant's real name is apparently Mother-In-Law's tongue and from got the nick-name Snake Plant, which I find both hilarious and awful. I actually didn't know that fact until I started to delve into some very hardcore research for you guys (you're SO welcome) with this very factual and formal greenery themed blog post. So, we all learned something today!
I love this plant because it was the first plant that taught me that I could love and nurture something. That's a big lesson for that tiny plant! I first got this plant when I read somewhere that it helps to purify the air and also works well in low-light. I got it for the bathroom because in our old place, the bathroom wasn't my faaaavourite room, but we made it work and a little greenery went a long way. These plants are apparently toxic to pets, but if you have a pet who doesn't eat your plants (like my cat) I think you should be fine. I had this plant with our cat for almost 2 years (I didn't know it was a no-no when I purchased it) and while she enjoyed digging in the soil of the planter, she didn't ever try to eat it and didn't seem bothered to be around it.
Enough about me, here is what the experts say:
- The best case scenario for these babies is indirect light, HOWEVER, there is one currently thriving in my natural-windowless office, and also one in my window-less bathroom so while I am no expert I'd take this one with caution.
- Your best bet with these babies is to let the soil dry between waterings. During the winter, reduce the watering to once monthly and err on the side of underwatering, as it does better to be starved than to be drowned (sounds like my kind of plant!).
- This plant prefers a warmer temperature and will suffer if it hits below 10-degree celsius on the regular.
- If you want to fertilize it, use a mild cactus fertilizer during the growing months, but do not fertilize during the winter.
The Boston Fern
I think the world needs more ferns. I currently have a fake one in my kitchen (holla IKEA!) but I am hoping to be brave enough this year, to try my hand at a real fern. I don't have a personal story about it, except for that our prop stylist brought it to a photoshoot for a lookbook and we used it in almost every photo we could. It was SO beautiful and added so much to each room. These plants are nice because they aren't aggressive but they do make a statement.
- In their natural habitat, these ferns will be provided small amounts of sunshine under trees, shaded. The best light conditions to provide is indirect sunlight, although a small amount of sunlight will help to encourage growth.
- You want to keep the soil moist at all times for this Boston baby, so it is a bit more high maintenance than the others, but it shouldn't be too hard to keep an eye on since it won't be in direct sunlight.
- Peat moss potting soil mixes are best suited with perlite added combined with all-purpose soil. The soil needs to be able to retain some water but also have the ability to drain fairly well. Too much peat moss and the water can become clogged and too much perlite with all-purpose will drain too quickly. These tips are from the experts, clearly not me.
- Fun tip: Add one or two tablespoons of Epsom salts to a gallon of water and use every six months to improve that little guys colour (much greener, apparently.
The Fake Plant
If all of these plants still sound way too complicated and irritatingly high-maintenance for you, I'm going to recommend my favourite kind of houseplant that is sure to please from a distance. The fake plant. This plant can be found anywhere from Michael's to Wayfair to Amazon to Urban Barn to IKEA to World Market. One of my FAVOURITE couple bloggers (shout out to Chris Loves Julia) have an AMAZING house, in particular, their living room is a great inspiration of mine and they have the most beautiful Fiddle Leaf Fig tree, and guess what friends? It's friggin fake. So, don't feel discouraged if real plants are not for you. Sometimes I tell myself I'm bad at plant care because I'm trying to care for the other things around me (my husband, my cat, myself?) so sometimes a fake plant is the way to go!