The Street Where I Live

British by birth, New Yorker by nature.

Five Indestructible House Plants

Home and DesignAlexandra kingComment
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So now that you've had a good look around our apartment (thanks for stopping by, you babes!)  you'll have noticed that I have a little bit of a thing for plants. Isaac will laugh like a drain at the casual nature of the previous sentence and argue instead that it's more like a pathological mania (ever long-suffering, he has carried home many a giant plant in the course of our relationship-exhibit A). I can't help it though. I grew up with a mother who considered no room complete without something green, and it's a habit I've inherited, as well as a sort of in-built sense of what plants need, and an ever-present and rather maternal yen to keep my growing (literally) collection happy.

A few sweet readers with self-professed black thumbs asked where they might be going wrong, so I thought I'd share a list of five of the most patient and hardy house plants I know. But first, here's a piece of advice- the biggest mistake I've noticed people make with houseplants is when they view them as mere ornaments, which of course they are, really. But that's a problem. Because, and I know this sounds a little loopy (crazy plant lady alert) in order to have a happy plant-filled home, you should view them more like pets. Yep. In order for house plants to thrive, they truly need a domestic pet level of commitment, and an environment that absolutely works for their needs, which of course vary wildly by species and size. Buying a plant that requires full sun, lots of humidity and daily watering is not going to work for you if you live in a basement and take a bunch of vacations. It's the equivalent of buying a hamster and then expecting it to live happily in a fish tank- certain death shall certainly ensue, despite everyone's best intentions (poor hamster!). But the good new is that for every finicky Persian cat of a plant that needs daily grooming and a velvet pillow to stay content, there's a dependable and darling tortoise who's happy with salad scraps and a cardboard box for napping. The five plants below certainly fall into that latter category and are also inexpensive, garden store staples (I'll also have a post in the coming weeks with some more finicky and pricey girls for you to adopt, should you dare).

1) ZZ Plant

 

zz plant

Good old ZZ plants (these are the deep green guys in the main picture that I have in my bedroom) are Herculean in their toughness. They do need some light, though will absolutely tolerate very low sun, drafts, abject disregard etc. They are practically indestructible. A sure fire-way to kill a ZZ though? Over watering. I water mine, very lightly, literally once a month. If that. They absolutely thrive on neglect. Just leave these babes alone, and they'll be happy as clams.

2) Peace Lily

A Peace Lily is the only plant I've had repeated success with in rooms that have absolutely no light-zero, nada, nothing. These plants are native to rainforests, where they grow right on the ground, beneath the forest canopy. Therefore, they like things to be dark and damp (they LOVE bathrooms- everytime you take a shower, you're giving your Peace Lily a spa experience). As much as you shouldn't water the ZZ, you should do the direct opposite for the thirsty PL. Lots of water, once a week. And under no circumstance should you put these sun-shy plants in a window. A side note: Peace Lilies are some of the best air purifiers in the biz (NASA astronauts take them to space)

3) Sanseveria

Sanseveria or Snake Plants are so gorgeous and sculptural. You can see mine here, which I've had for four years! Their care routine is basically the exact same as the ZZ. Overall, Snake plants are pretty easy going, but the more light the better. Again, like the ZZ,  a sure fire way to kill a snake plant is to over-water it (one of my girlfriends recently called me to tell me her snake plant had rotted from overwatering-"I just loved it too much!" she said, to which I replied "darling, you should see it more as waterboarding". As you can tell I am VERY bossy about this).

4) Pothos

pothos

 

Pothos plants are the BEST. Mainly because they grow so fast, and the higher you hang them, the snakier they get. These are the plants I have hanging by the leather chair in my bedroom (photo here). Pothos like to be kept lightly damp and in medium light. Water once a week, and they'll reward you beautifully. They are also terribly compliant and just want to please, so will put with a lot of crap, even (deep breath) over-watering and low-light. Because they like to grow downwards, Pothos do wonderfully in hangers.

5) Bird of Paradise

bird of paradise

The Bird of Paradise is a great pick if you're looking for something big (and, with proper care, they'll reward you with lots of extra growth, too). They also love light and are perfect by a window. Birds of Paradise like their soil to be a little moist, so, like the Pothos, I advise a weekly water.

And hey, you guys, don't feel bad if you lose a house plant or five on your journey to green fingers. When it happens to me, and it still occasionally does, I just figure that 15 bucks of flowers would have lasted only a few days, and therefore a month or two of plant is a fab deal. So bonne chance my fellow plant nerds! May your apartment jungles grow wild and free.

P.S

A genius tip for knowing when you need to water and my take on the biggest plant diva of all, the Fiddle Leaf Fig