7 Hard-To-Kill Plants For People Who Can’t Keep A Green Thing Alive

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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.

Emma McGowan

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 under watering. 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.

Emma McGowan

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.

1. Pothos

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Pothos is also called devil’s ivy and it’s trailing vine plant that looks as great in a hanging basket as it does in a tabletop pot. With its shiny, waxy leaves and heart nature, it’s an excellent starter plant for people who are concerned about keeping plants alive.

Pothos do well in bright, indirect light but also thrive in lower light conditions. With less light, it’s more likely to grow long, as its leaves reach for the sun. You can also straight up neglect a pothos for weeks, forgetting to water it, and it will still thrive. You don’t even really need to feed it! It’ll be happy for a little boost once or twice a year, but it doesn’t require it the way other plants do. The only caution here is to really be careful not to overwater, because that will lead to your photos drooping its little heads.

2. Philodendron

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Philodendron are very similar to pothos, but their leaves are more heart-shaped and smoother, and they are actually a different plant. However, when it comes to care, philodendron and pothos are basically the same. Philodendron might want a little more light and water than a pothos in order to thrive, but it’s still a low maintenance, high return plant.

3. Monstera Deliciosa

Emma McGowan

There’s some debate in the plant-obsessed community about whether or not monstera deliciosa — which is that adorable Swiss-cheese-lookin' plant you’ve seen all over Instagram — is easy to care for. In my personal experience, monsteras are very hardy, grow quickly, and will bring a lot of joy to your home.

Because monsteras are jungle plants that grow on the floor, they can grow in lower light conditions. However, if you have a really sunny window, your monstera will thrive from more sun. I have a couple of plants and the ones that are close to the window grow so rapidly I can barely keep up — but the ones in darker corners take their time. Your monstera will appreciate regular watering and misting and a shower (like, you should literally put it in the shower for a couple minutes) every month or so.

You shouldn’t repot it until it’s completely root-bound, which usually take a couple of years. If it’s not giving you splits in its leaves, try giving it more light and giving it a shower to leech out the salts.

4. Spider Plant

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Spider plants are one of the best starter plants. I swear these things are impossible to kill. They’re best in a hanging planter, so that the little babies they make — which you can cut off and replant or give to friends — can hang over the edge. Hang your spider plant up and then just let it chill! Water it about once a week but make sure it’s dry between waterings and you should be good to go.

5. Snake Plant

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Snake plants are an excellent choice for the chronic under-waterers among you. This baby is happy if you basically forget about it! They can handle pretty much any light level and they like to get really dry between waterings. Be careful not to overwater, because these babies are prone to root rot.

6. Rubber Plant

Emma McGowan

Rubber plants are great because they look like they’d be finnicky and annoying, but they’re actually super chill! Rubber plants have beautiful shiny leaves that range in color from green to burgundy and even little touches of red. They love bright, indirect light and want to get completely dry between waterings, so just be careful not to over water.

7. Aloe

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Aloe is the only plant on this list that not only looks great and is easy to care for, but also is really useful. Break a leaf off of your aloe plant to treat burns and skin ailments and, if you’re feeling brave, juice it for nutrients!

Keep your aloe in bright, indirect light to prevent it getting leggy and let a solid twice inches — so two knuckles in — dry before watering. (Remember: It’s a succulent, so it doesn’t need as much water as leafy plants need.) In the summer, you probably want to water around every three weeks and in the winter, even less.