Plants are very in right now. Instagram is packed with cute little pileas, leafy monsteras, and more “plant moms” than you can shake a leaf at. Hardware stores overflow with pothos and snake plants and philodendron. Plants: They’re inescapable. But, unlike many other home decorating trends, plants are living things that need constant love and care. So if you know yourself to be a plant killer, then you might be reluctant to jump on the bandwagon, no matter how green your Instagram feed is. Lucky for you, there are great plants out there that are perfect, even for plant killers.
Before I get into which plants you plant killers should adopt, let’s talk about some of the common ways people kill plants. Plants need three major things: Water, soil, and light. If you mess up any of those three, your plant babies will suffer. Probably the number one plant mistake is overwatering. While every species of plants has its own preferences — and I’ll get into the specific requirements of the plant killer-proof ones, below — a good rule of thumb is to not water until the first inch of soil is bone dry.
And, lucky for you, there’s a super easy way to gauge that! Just stick your finger into the plant up to your first knuckle. When you pull it out, it should have dust on it. If it’s at all moist, let the plant sit another day or two before watering.
Make sure your plant has drainage — usually in the form of a little hole at the bottom — and if there’s water sitting in the saucer under your plant after you water it, dump it out. The last thing your plant wants is to be sitting there with wet feet. That’s a recipe for root rot, which is very hard to reverse.
Another way people kill plants is by underwatering. If you’ve accidentally dried out a leafy green or two in your day, set a reminder on your phone or your calendar to water your plants weekly. That’s usually a good schedule and will ensure that you don’t leave them thirsty. (Of course, still make sure to check that the soil is truly dry before watering.)
Plants can also be picky buggers when it comes to the type of light they need. While some will thrive in the shadows — think anything that naturally lives on the floor of a jungle or forest, for example — most plants need “bright, indirect light.” That means they get a decent amount of sunlight all day but the sun is never directly on their leaves. (Or, at the very least, it’s only on them for a few minutes.) Think a nice big window with a sheer curtain for the best conditions.
And, finally, soil! First, don’t just dig up dirt from outside. I know, I know — it’s free. But outdoor soil has all kinds of pests and other icky things that your delicate houseplant will not like. Also, when you buy soil for your houseplants, it’s stocked full of nutrients that will help your plant baby flourish.
As your plant grows, however, it will suck the nutrients out. You can replenish them by giving your plants “food” in the form of fertilizer. In the spring and summer, try for twice a month. (I have a calendar reminder set for the first and fifteenth of every month.) And in winter, taper down to once per month. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer, because over fertilizing can cause your plants to turn brown at the edges.
So do you feel prepared to take on another green friend? Here are seven plants that are great for plant killers.