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Hardy Houseplants: Top 5 Hardy Houseplants for Habitual Houseplant Killers

If you can't keep plants alive, it's okay! Here are the top five plants you can probably forget to water for awhile and they'll still survive.

Not all of us can be blessed with a green thumb. And to be fair, not all plants want to be alive (or so I choose to believe when one of mine dies. We can't all be winners, okay?)

As someone who can occasionally keep a cactus alive, or a fern, I can tell you just which houseplants will learn to thrive even when you forget to water them for a few days...or weeks.

I've put together a list of the top 5 houseplants anyone can take care of. Even if you can barely take care of yourself, you can parent these plants to adulthood and feel damn proud of it!

1. Spider Plants

Spider plants are so hardy and forgiving! True story: When I moved into my boyfriend's house, an old roommate left some spider plants behind. They were pretty much fully dead and after a few weeks of proper watering and care, they sprang back to life and are THRIVING!

Proper watering for a Spider plant looks like this: Even, moderate amounts of water on a fairly regular basis to keep this plant happy and growing. Spider plants don't like to be too wet, or too dry (don't we all) and like adequate amounts of sunlight. These plants do well in a well-lit living room or kitchen. They also seem content in bathrooms that have a window. The moisture and humidity from a shower will help keep these plants moist and lush.

So how much should you be watering this plant anyway? About once a week is all you have to commit to keeping this plant alive. Generally, these plants live about 20 years before completing their life cycle and starting to produce fewer Spider plant babies and new growth. Rumor has it though, some avid gardeners have kept Spider plants alive for more than 50 years! So it really just comes down to how well you nurture this plant through its life. Be prepared to move this from home to home as you progress through your own life.

Much like a pet turtle, this plant may outlive you. Wild, right?

Psssttt... I'll give you an insider watering tip right now. I mist my Spider plants with a spray bottle 3 days a week and they're loving it. Don't overwater them, but keep them slightly wet and happy. Remember, not too wet and not too dry.

While these plants enjoy some sunshine, they don't love hot, direct sunlight. Plants can get sunburns too, ya know! A sunburn on a plant looks like brown spots and overly dry leaves. Keep this plant out of harsh sun rays if you can. If you live in a particularly hot climate, keep this plant indoors. Outdoor environments with high heat temperatures may be too much for your little Spider plant. Keep it safe and keep it inside!

In the event your Spider plant does get sunburned, you can trim off the brown leaves and let it put its energy into growing new, healthy leaves. By cutting the brown parts off, this allows the plant to provide more energy to the new leaves growing and it won't harm the plant any by giving it a little houseplant haircut.

When your Spider plant is really happy and thriving it will start reproducing! No joke, this type of plant makes spider babies. These little off-shoots hang off the plant and can be great for starting a new potted plant somewhere else. Keep your Spider plant babies or transplant them and grow some more, it's up to you! Just know that a Spider plant having Spider plant babies is a good sign.

These plants are willing to come back from the dead and may have nine lives, just like cats. Which, speaking of cats, these plants are mildly hallucinogenic to our feline friends. They won't harm them or make them sick, but they will make your cat go on a 'trip' if you know what I mean.

These are non-toxic to cats and humans, so have no fear if for some reason you get the impulse to chomp on a piece of your plant. Don't get your hopes up though, it won't produce any hallucinogenic effects on you.

2. Cacti

If these plants can survive the vast, dry desert, then they can survive your poor plant care abilities. Cacti rarely need water and can live in most rooms of the house. I've kept cacti outdoors, in a sunny window nook, and in a dusty old bookshelf that got very little sunlight. Guess what? All those cacti lived.

Do you know what biological features make a cactus so durable and able to withstand several weather conditions? Well, there are several but one of those features is areola. Yes, the same spelling of the type of areola that surrounds the nipple on a human body. Don't get ahead of yourself, cacti are not covered in tiny nipples. In plant biology, this term represents the space in-between veins on a leaf. This areola is where the spines grow out of the cactus, keeping it protected. It is hilarious either way though, I know.

A rule of thumb for cacti: The bigger the spines, the hardier the plant. This is because the spines retain moisture, provide shade and protect the cactus from harsher weather conditions. If you're new to raising plant children, get a cactus with some thick AF spines.

Much like a camel, cacti can store water to re-hydrate themselves. Cacti store water in their roots and drink it up when they need it. Pretty neat skill to have. If you forget to water this plant for a day or two...or twelve, this plant will most likely live through it. Desert cacti can keep themselves alive for up to two years without water! I'm not saying you should go that long between watering it, but best believe, this plant can and will live without you if you forget about it every once in awhile. Play it safe and water your cactus once a week, or every other week.

Similar to succulents, cacti have a thick, waxy texture on them to help retain moisture and reflect the sun's rays. This makes them hardy enough to live in most rooms of your house, so place them anywhere you want! Want to put this plant outside? Most hardy cacti can withstand heavy snowfall. Wild, right? So versatile. If you live somewhere that stays sunny in the winter but gets really cold, avoid your cacti getting frostbite and cover it as you go into the winter season.

3. Succulents

Similar to Cacti, succulents are hardy and don't require a rigorous watering schedule. Hens and Chicks is a popular type of succulent to grow, as is Aloe.

Aloe can even be harvested to treat a sunburn or skin irritation and will replenish itself, growing more Aloe leaves over time. In other words, don't feel guilty for clipping some of its juicy, plump leaves. They'll grow back!

One big difference between cacti and succulents, despite their similar qualities, Aloe will not survive well outdoors in harsh winter months. Nor will any other succulent. Anything below 40 degrees will almost certainly kill this plant and it's not recommended to place them in any environment that gets below 50 degrees. These plants are quite literally 'house' plants and should be kept indoors. Preferably in some sunlight.

In general, succulents are hardy and great for beginner gardeners! These plants only need to be watered every 2-3 weeks, or every other week if you have them in direct sunlight. A good rule of thumb for watering succulents is to only water them when the dirt has completely dried. If it doesn't stick to your finger when you press into the dirt, it's ready for some hydration!

4. Calathea

I can vouch on this one that it is in fact a sturdy houseplant. A good friend of mine got one of these when she moved into her new apartment and has not killed it yet! For a point of reference, as this is being written, she's had it for about four months and it's still alive, and quite happy!

A tip she gave me on caring for this plant: Don't water it with water straight from the tap! Fill up a cup and let it sit out for a day or two before watering your plant baby. Also, this hardy little houseplant only needs to be watered every other week to be kept alive. Check the dirt and moisture level weekly though, in the summer months, you may need to water it more as the soil will dry out quicker.

The key to keeping this houseplant happy is to keep the soil moist but not too wet. This plant doesn't like to be soaked. They do, however, love moisture and humidity. Calathea, do well in bathrooms with windows. This provides them with indirect sunlight. Placing them in a darker corner of the house works just as well. This is one plant that's not afraid of the dark. They're just a little bit shady. Pun 100% intended.

5. Pothos

This viney plant will weave and grow its way through your home till you feel like you live in a jungle. This plant has earned a reputation as being the easiest houseplant to keep alive and can handle sunshine or shade as well as inconsistent watering patterns.

If you're trying to be responsible and stick to a watering schedule, this plant likes to be watered every other week. It also likes its soil to dry out completely between being watered. Check the soil before you water it to determine how much water it needs. If a week or two has passed and the soil still sticks to your finger, this plant doesn't need much more to top it off. If the soil falls right off and is light in color, it's time to … SOAK THAT PLANT!


As the cool kids say nowadays, “Pets are the new kids, plants are the new pets, and rocks are the new plants.” So go get yourself a hardy houseplant and treat it like your pet.


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