You know how it goes. You see a gorgeous plant at the nursery and just have to bring it home. A few months later, though, it’s drooping, browning, and basically begging for the sweet release of death. Not exactly great for your green thumb confidence. The solution? Low-maintenance houseplants that can thrive on neglect. These beauties don’t need constant pruning, fertilizing or watering to look their best. In fact, too much TLC can actually do more harm than good. If you’re ready to fill your home with lush greenery without turning into a helicopter plant parent, these 10 houseplants are for you. With these hardy specimens, you can achieve an indoor oasis without breaking a sweat. Your lack of a green thumb has finally met its match.
What Does “Thrive on Neglect” Mean for Houseplants?
What does “thrive on neglect” really mean when it comes to houseplants? Basically, it means you can ignore them for a while and they’ll be perfectly happy. These are the plants that don’t need daily monitoring to do well.
- They can go longer between waterings. We’re talking 7-14 days, sometimes more. Let the top inch or so of soil dry out before watering again.
- They do fine in low light. While most houseplants need bright light to thrive, these can tolerate shady spots in your home.
- No need to fertilize frequently. During peak growing season, fertilizing once a month or so is plenty. In fall and winter, you can stop feeding altogether.
- Pruning and repotting are optional. Only prune to shape and repot if the plant is visibly pot bound. Otherwise, you can leave them be for a long time.
In short, choose a spot, give them a drink every now and then, and mostly forget about them. That’s the kind of low-key, minimal care these easygoing houseplants are perfectly suited for. ###
Some plant options that thrive on neglect include: snake plants, Chinese evergreen, cast iron plant, ZZ plant, pothos, and peace lilies. Give one a try and you’ll have an attractive bit of greenery to brighten your space with very little effort required on your part. Now that’s what we call a win-win!
Top 10 Low-Maintenance Houseplants
Some of the easiest houseplants to care for are succulents like jade plants, snake plants, and aloe vera. These plants thrive on neglect and require little maintenance.
The jade plant has thick, waxy leaves that store water, so it only needs moderate watering and lots of light. Water when the top inch of soil is dry and fertilize during the growing season. With the right conditions, a single jade plant can live for decades.
The snake plant, or mother-in-law’s tongue, has stiff, upright leaves and does best when root bound in a small pot. Only water when the top few inches of soil are dry. It can tolerate low light but will grow faster in medium or bright light.
Aloe vera produces long, spiny leaves filled with gel. It requires lots of light and well-drained soil. Water sparingly, allowing the top couple inches of soil to dry out between waterings. The gel from its leaves can be used to soothe minor cuts and burns.
The Chinese evergreen has lush, variegated leaves and does well in low to medium light. Allow the top layer of soil to dry out before watering again. Wipe down the leaves regularly with a damp cloth to remove dust.
With the right conditions, these easy-care houseplants can provide you with years of enjoyment without requiring constant attention. Just place them in a suitable spot, water when the soil is nearly dry, and fertilize during the growing season. Your reward will be an effortless bit of nature’s beauty in your living space.
Tips for Caring for Your Low-Maintenance Plants
To keep your low-maintenance houseplants thriving, follow these simple tips:
The biggest killer of houseplants is overwatering. Only water when the top few inches of soil are dry. Stick your finger in to check—if it feels moist, it probably doesn’t need water yet. When you do water, thoroughly drench the soil until water flows out the drainage holes. Never leave plants sitting in water, as this leads to root rot.
Place in a bright spot
While these plants can tolerate some neglect, they still need light to photosynthesize and grow. Place them near an east- or west-facing window where they’ll get lots of indirect sun during the day. South-facing windows can be too intense, especially in summer. If light is limited in your home, consider using a plant light to supplement.
During the growing season, fertilize every few weeks with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer. Use at 1/2 the recommended strength to avoid fertilizer burn. Fertilizer will encourage new healthy growth and vibrant foliage. In fall and winter, reduce or stop feeding as growth slows down.
Repot if necessary
Only move up one size pot every 2-3 years in spring after the threat of frost has passed. When repotting, choose a container with drainage holes and use a well-draining potting mix. After repotting, don’t fertilize for a few weeks to allow roots to recover.
Inspect for pests
While low-maintenance plants are less susceptible to pests, they can still attract common houseplant pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs. Inspect leaves and stems regularly and treat if necessary using insecticidal soap or neem oil. Quarantine any new plants for a few weeks before placing near other houseplants.
By following these easy tips, you’ll have happy, healthy houseplants that thrive with minimal effort. And when life gets busy, you can rest assured your loyal low-maintenance leafy friends will still be there to greet you, no matter what.
Common Problems to Watch Out for With These Plants
These low-maintenance houseplants can thrive with minimal care, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely problem-free. Keep an eye out for some common issues to catch them early and keep your plants happy.
Too much moisture and not enough drainage can lead to root rot, one of the most common problems for houseplants. The roots suffocate and rot, unable to absorb water and nutrients. You’ll notice the leaves turning yellow or brown and dropping off. Immediately repot the plant in fresh, well-draining soil and only water when the top few inches are dry. For severe cases, you may need to remove rotten roots before repotting.
Even “neglect-friendly” houseplants can fall prey to common pests like aphids, spider mites, mealybugs and scale. Inspect your plants regularly for any signs of infestation such as webbing, honeydew secretions or visible bugs. Treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil and be sure to spray the undersides of leaves. For persistent or severe infestations, you may need to apply a chemical pesticide.
While these houseplants can tolerate some neglect, they still need the proper amount of light to thrive. If your plant is dropping leaves, producing small new growth or becoming leggy, it’s likely not getting enough light. Move it to a spot with more natural light or supplement with a plant light. On the other hand, scorched or sunburned leaves indicate too much direct sun. Provide some shade during the brightest part of the day.
It’s easy to forget about plants that don’t seem to need much care, but allowing the soil to dry out completely can also cause damage. Check the soil moisture at least once a week by sticking your finger an inch or so deep. Water thoroughly when the top few inches become dry. Underwatered plants will have dry, drooping leaves and the pot may feel very light when you pick it up. Provide water right away and your plant should recover within a week or so.
Keeping a close watch for these common problems will help ensure your low-maintenance houseplants continue to thrive with as little care and attention as possible. Providing the right light, water and soil conditions from the start will also minimize issues, allowing you to enjoy your houseplants without worry.
Where to Buy Low-Maintenance Houseplants
Low-maintenance houseplants are readily available from many sources. Before you buy, consider how much light and space you have available for your new plant companions. The good news is you have plenty of options to choose from.
Local Nurseries and Garden Centers
Independent nurseries and garden centers in your area are great places to find healthy, low-maintenance houseplants. The staff usually has extensive plant knowledge and can give advice geared for your specific growing conditions. They may also carry more unique plant varieties versus big box stores.
Large Retail Chains
Major retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart also stock popular, easy-care houseplants like pothos, Chinese evergreen, ZZ plant, and snake plant. While the plants are often affordable, the staff may have less specialized knowledge. However, these stores can be a convenient option if you know exactly what you’re looking for.
In the age of e-commerce, you can easily find and order houseplants from reputable online retailers. Websites like The Sill, Bloomscape and Plant Shoppe specialize in houseplants and ship nationally. They offer a large selection and helpful resources to guide you to plants well-suited for your needs. If you order online, inspect your plant as soon as it arrives to ensure it’s healthy and pest-free before bringing into your home.
Local Plant Swaps and Sales
Check sites like Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor and Craigslist for people selling or trading houseplants in your area. You may find well-cared for plants at lower prices. But use caution buying from unknown individuals and inspect the plant thoroughly before purchasing to avoid pests. Always meet in a public place if picking up from someone locally.
With some searching, you’ll find the perfect low-maintenance companion plants for your home. Choose a reputable source, do some research on plant specifics, and you’ll be enjoying lush greenery in no time without the hassle. The benefits of living with plants far outweigh the small effort required to keep them happy.
So there you have it, 10 houseplants that can handle your tendency to forget about them for days or even weeks at a time. Whether you have a brown thumb or just a busy schedule, these hardy plants will thrive with minimal maintenance. The next time you’re at your local garden center, pick up a few of these easy-going houseplants. You’ll have living greenery to brighten up your space without the guilt of accidentally killing another plant. And when your friends ask how you keep your plants looking so healthy, just shrug your shoulders and tell them your secret is neglect. Who knew being a plant parent could be so simple? With these hard-to-kill houseplants, you’ll feel like a pro in no time.