8 houseplants you can't kill

Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | August 10, 2015

If you have ever nurtured a houseplant only to watch it shrivel up and die, you understand just how frustrating the situation can be. What did you do wrong? Was there too much water? Not enough? Was there enough sunlight? Did you opt for the wrong fertilizer, the wrong pot, or simply breathe the wrong way as you planted it?

Maybe the one thing you didn't take into account was the atmosphere of your house.

Not all plants are created equal. Some will wilt and die in direct sunlight. Others need surprisingly dry soil in order to thrive. Understanding which area of the house to put your prized plants - and which plants to choose in the first place - can make the difference between a droopy mess and thriving greenery.

Plants that need full sunlight

Some plants adore sunlight -- they reach toward it as hard as they can, growing tall and beautiful in the process. If you have large expanses of sunny windowsills, these houseplants will thrive.

  • Hibiscus. These plants needs bright, full sunlight to thrive. They also need a certain fertilizer to produce the loveliest blooms. Watering should be thorough but occasional, to rule out the possibility of root rot.
  • Passion flower. Expect to see thriving red, purple, or blue flowers from this tropical plant, which needs a lot of heat and sunlight - perfect for the sunniest windowsill in the house. All that heat takes a toll, however, which is why the soil must remain moist at all times.

Houseplants that enjoy near-drought conditions

Sometimes, even a little water is almost too much. These are the plants that will forgive you if you forget to water them for a day or two…or a week.

  • Succulents. These little beauties seem to thrive on nothing but air. They actually do need water, but since they store it in their leaves, you should only give them more when the soil is dry. That usually means once a week or even longer.
  • Jade plant. Technically this is a succulent, but it often grows much faster and bigger than most others in the succulent family. Too much water will promptly kill the Jade plant, so let the soil dry out completely between short, thorough waterings.

Plants that prefer dark rooms

Not much sunlight in your house? That's okay. These plants like to cozy up in the shade.

  • Pothos. These popular green leaves grow and grow and grow, as long as they aren't in direct sunlight. Water the plant thoroughly when the top inch of soil gets dry, and keep the temperatures comfortable. Then just leave it alone and watch it thrive.
  • English Ivy. This fun little plant is okay with more direct light, but it also grows in areas you might not expect - such as under fluorescent lights in an office cubicle. When watering, mist it with a spray bottle to keep things moist from day to day.

Houseplants that seem impossible to kill

Want a plant that you can move from one room to another? Need something that will stand up to most situations and still look gorgeous? These plants are survivors determined to never die.

  • Spider plant. If you have a history of killing plants just by looking at them the wrong way, this is the one for you. Spider plants are gorgeous hanging plants that stand up to any type of light, too much water, too little water, no fertilizer…anything, really. It thrives no matter what you do.
  • ZZ plant. This strange little plant seems to thrive when it's somewhat neglected. Not enough water, not enough sunlight? No problem. It's perfect for those who travel a lot and leave their plants to fend for themselves.

These aren't the only plants that you might find thriving even when you ignore them. The rubber tree can grow up to eight feet tall, and all it asks is a sunny spot and a weekly watering. The peace lily is a bit more complicated, but can work with indirect light and the right room temperature (just keep it out of reach of pets and children -- it's toxic to them!). Dragon tree, heartleaf philodendron, snake plant, and aloe are a few others to consider if you are looking for easy, forgiving plants that will give you a green thumb reputation.

Photo credit to Myryah Shea

About the Author

Shannon Lee is a freelance writer and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.