Learning how to care for houseplants can be very rewarding. And it’s impossible to be unhappy when you’re surrounded by plants, even if you’re just cleaning out your inbox or joining your third Zoom meeting of the morning.
One of my favorite ways to add more interest and dimension to a space is by adding houseplants. I love decorating with plants—they are always a timeless choice that won’t go out of style like some other things might.
But What if I Can’t Keep a Plant Alive?
I often hear people say that they are plant killers. And guess what? I used to say that, too. In reality, no one is born with a green thumb. You cultivate a green thumb by starting small, trial and error, and building your confidence.
If you’re a beginner at taking care of houseplants or simply want to add a few low-maitenance plants to your home, here are five plants I’d recommend.
1. Snake plants
“Snake plant” is the common name for dracaena trifasciata (previously sansevieria trifasciata). It comes from West Africa and is actually succulent. The plant’s thick, upright leaves are shaped like swords.
Snake plants come in a number of different varieties. All of them are excellent choices for a variety of rooms in your home or office because they can tolerate lower light levels. They also don’t need a lot of humidity and are not highly susceptible to pests.
And if you’re someone who forgets to water your plants, don’t worry. Snake plants are incredibly drought tolerant and generally need water only every 1-2 weeks in the spring and summer. Even less in the fall and winter.
2. ZZ plants
ZZ plants, aka Zamioculcas zamiifolia, are native to eastern Africa and sprout thick stems with glossy green leaves. The stems emerge from rhizomes under the soil that look kind of like potatoes, so don’t be alarmed the first time you repot the plant!
They are slow growers that do well in a variety of different environments. Much like snake plants, ZZ plants are very drought tolerant. That’s because they store water in those potato-like rhizomes. I water mine every 1-2 weeks in the spring and summer—less when it’s colder out.
I’m always discovering cool new varieties of ZZ plants, too. One of the most popular types is the “raven” variety. It’s named after its leaves, which emerge neon green and slowly fade to nearly black. And the care for a raven ZZ is just as easy as a regular ZZ.
3. Pothos plants
“Pothos” can be used to refer to a lot of different plants—but the most common types you’ll find are golden pothos, jade pothos, and marble queen pothos. These are generally grown as trailing plants and look great on top of tall shelves or hanging from the ceiling.
The scientific name is Epipremnum aureum. And while it is native to French Polynesia, pothos plants have been naturalized around the world.
They prefer well-draining soil and bright, indirect light. However, they can usually tolerate lower light levels—they just might grow slower. Water your pothos when the top few inches of soil dry out.
4. Heart-leaf philodendron
At first glance, you might think that the heart-leaf philodendron—or philodendron headeraceum—is a pothos. They have a lot of similarities, and it’s true that they are closely related. But they are different plants.
Durable and tolerant of your plant misgivings, heart-leaf philodendrons are the perfect plants to help cultivate your green thumb. They are native to Central and South America and are usually grown as trailing plants.
Heart-leaf philodendrons can survive in lower light conditions but will grow best in bright, indirect light. Make sure to water your plant only when the top few inches of soil dry out.
5. Monstera deliciosa
Monstera deliciosa, otherwise known as the “swiss cheese plant,” might not be able to withstand the neglect that something like a snake plant can. But you can keep your monstera deliciosa happy with just a few steps.
Native to Central and South America, this plant enjoys bright, indirect light. As the plant matures, its leaves will develop gorgeous splits and holes called “fenestrations.”
These leaves have an undeniably tropical feel to them. To care for these houseplants. make sure not to overwater this plant, though—check the top several inches of soil to make sure they are dry before watering this plant again.
Brittany Goldwyn Merth
Brittany Goldwyn Merth is the creative entrepreneur behind the DIY home and garden brand by Brittany Goldwyn, as well as Let's Craft Instead, a website about all things crafty. She is a Frederick native with a never-ending list of hobbies who loves houseplants, cats, and thrifting. Her goal is to inspire you with ways to infuse creativity into your everyday life.