Growing houseplants can be a challenge for a gardener at any level. Light, humidity, soil moisture and fertility all play parts, and indoor environments are less than ideal. The solution? Choose plants that thrive with little care.
Some of the most forgiving plants include succulents such as Haworthia and firestick plant. Holiday cactus is one of my favorite houseplants. I have several, each with a different-color bloom: white, red and fuchsia. My purple shamrocks and Sansevieria have proven to be tough plants too. Moderate to bright light, infrequent watering and a slow-release fertilizer keeps them happy.
Haworthia is a fleshy succulent, similar to aloe plants. The fun thing about Haworthia is it produces lots of baby plantlets you can repot, or give away to friends.
Firestick plant (Euphorbia tirucalli) looks eye-catching in late winter because the tops of the green, pencil-shape stems (pictured) turn pinkish orange. I’ve kept this novelty in my unheated sunroom for years, but a severe winter two years ago knocked the foliage back. Surprisingly it returned from the roots.
Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) and Christmas cactus (S. bridgesii) are popular gift plants in fall, and you can enjoy them year after year. They bloom well if exposed to cool nights and the shorter days of early autumn. Summer them outdoors in a shady location till they bud, but bring them in before a frost. Pinching the segments once or twice in early summer encourages branching and more blooms. Water them more often than other succulents, particularly if you summer them outside.
Purple oxalis or shamrock is a frequent gift plant, but don’t toss it once St. Patrick’s Day is done. I’ve kept mine in a pot indoors for years, and it seems to thrive on neglect. If I forget watering it dies back a little, but as soon as I water, more of the butterfly-shape leaves grow. It blooms off-and-on all year too, and can survive winters outdoors throughout the South-Central region.
For a vertical statement on an indoor table, try snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata). Many know it as mother-in-law’s tongue. It’s comforting to know the plant doesn’t tolerate overwatering, and the tough, succulent-like leaves are attractive as well as drought-tolerant.
Other houseplants that require a minimum of care include the ponytail palm, pepperomia, lucky bamboo, variegated pothos, airplane plant and crown of thorns.