As just about anyone who knows me can attest, I have blossomed into a full-fledged plant lady as of late. I started with just one or two that I picked up on a whim at Trader Joe’s, but it’s now quite the collection. I’ve had some ups and downs (there’s a definite learning curve) with keeping them happy, healthy, and, you know, alive, but I’ve learned a lot, and they’re doing well now.
Keeping plants in your house can do more than just make it pretty (or give you a little mood boost), there are actual, very real benefits to having them around. According to reporting from NBC News, research shows that plants really do lift your mood, lower stress, boost productivity and concentration, can clean up your air, and even help you sleep.
But if you’ve never been able to keep a plant alive, you might not be too optimistic about this go-around either. Picking a plant that’s resilient, low-maintenance, and generally easy to care for can help you break your spell of bad luck and find yourself with lush, happy houseplants. Watering your plants correctly, feeding them when need-be, and ensuring they’re getting the light and temperature needed to thrive are all key, but it all starts with selecting the right plant for you — and your pets: always make sure you check that the plants you’re buying aren’t toxic to animals if you’re keeping them somewhere your furry friends can get to them.
1. Aloe Vera
Aloe is a great starter plant for a few reasons. One is, of course, that it can come in handy during those bright and shiny summer months, when you might get a bit more sun on your skin than you’d like. Cutting open aloe leaves exposes the gel that you need for sunburn relief. Beyond that, aloe is very hearty, as Good Housekeeping noted, and only needs to be watered well about once every two weeks — make sure you let the soil dry out between waterings. Also, because it’s a succulent, it thrives in warmer temperatures and some sunshine. But with any succulent, you really need to make sure you’re not overwatering. Don’t love it too much.
2. Snake Plants
I have two different snake plants in my apartment. I’ve had both of these for a while now — they were among the first few that I bought — and they’ve been remarkably resilient. I love their dark green color and striking, sword-like leaves. According to Costa Farms, snake plants do best in bright light, but are OK in lower light as well. Like with aloe, you don’t have to water your snake plant very often (in fact, you don’t want to overwater it) and you should let the top portion of soil dry out between waterings. Plus, you don’t have to prune them.
3. Rubber Plants
Rubber plants work very well indoors, but if you want to keep them small, you might have to do some pruning. Like snake plants, they prefer bright light, but are OK in lower light, according to SF Gate. Watering should take place when the top inch or so of the soil feels dry. I sound like a broken record, but it bears repeating, don’t overwater your plants.
4. Jade Plants
Jade plants are great if you tend to forget to water your plants. Because jade plants are succulents, you again have to worry about overwatering (it’s much less likely that you’ll underwater, though you can if you, you know, never ever water). According to the Iowa State University Extension, jade plants do best in locations where they can receive at least four hours of direct sunlight, so make sure you find the right spot.
5. ZZ Plants
ZZ plants can also be the perfect starter plant for a new houseplant owner. Just make sure that you’re putting it in a space where it only gets indirect light. According to Miracle Gro, direct sunlight can be too harsh and burn the leaves. And, like most of the other plants on this list, you have to be careful not to give them too much water. Overwatering is a more common mistake when caring for ZZ plants than underwatering, per Miracle Gro.
6. Golden Pothos
Pothos might be the actual lowest of low-maintenance plants on this list. As a Good Housekeeping editor wrote, it can survive without light, with sporadic waterings, without feedings, basically, with extremely little care. If you’ve killed a succulent before (hey, I’ve been there too), and your inability to keep a snake plant alive has made you a bit skittish, pothos might be for you.
7. Chinese Evergreen
Similar to pothos, if you’re stressed about even the alleged low-maintenance, low-stress houseplants, a Chinese evergreen could be a good place to start. Per Costa Farms, these plants don’t need natural light to do well — fluorescent lights are just fine. Not only that, but it grows slowly, which means minimal repotting and pruning. Plus, you don’t have to feed it if you don’t want to, and you don’t even have to stick to a regular watering schedule. That’s about as low-maintenance as you can get.
8. Cast Iron Plant
Like you might expect just by hearing the name, cast iron plants are no slouch when it comes to resilience. According to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, cast iron plants do quite well in areas that don’t get a lot of light, which means they can thrive in bathrooms, dark corners, and the like. They don’t need a ton of water, but you should definitely water from time to time.
9. Spider Plants
Per Miracle Gro, spider plants are super simple and very low-maintenance, which means you don’t have to be scared about branching out and trying your hand at caring for one. They get their name from the little “plantlets” that grow off of the leaves, which look like — you guessed it — spiders hanging from webs. Like many other plants, they prefer more light (but not direct sun), but spider plants are okay in lower light as well, which means you don’t have to be too picky about where they live. When you water, which you should do from time to time when the plant starts to lose moisture, you should make sure to avoid the leaves, according to Miracle Gro.
Houseplants can be sort of scary and daunting, but they don’t have to be. Knowing which ones could be the right ones for you to try can set you up for success, rather than failure, and make sure that you don’t end up super disappointed. Once you figure out the lower-maintenance plants, moving on to plants that take more care and attention will be a snap. You’ve got this.