Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Guide to Low-Maintenance Houseplants

Savvy indoor gardeners know themselves and their limitations. Do you forget to water and feed your houseplants? Can you only offer low-light conditions? Is your indoor air dry? If this sounds like you and your home environment, low maintenance houseplants are your best choice.
The following plants tend to do well in most situations, and they are generally easy to find at nurseries and home supply stores. Keep in mind that though they can withstand abuse, they all prefer a little TLC when time permits. And all plants, even cactus, need some water to survive.
Aglaonema (Chinese evergreen): This slow-growing tropical is grown for its graceful, oblong leaves. It is one of the best plants for low-light conditions and will survive on infrequent watering. Chinese evergreen even likes to be somewhat root-bound, so repotting is only necessary every two to three years.
Aspidistra elatior (cast-iron plant): As its common name implies, this houseplant can withstand a great deal of neglect. It is a slow-growing plant with upright, dark-green foliage that takes low light and infrequent watering in stride.
Dieffenbachia (dumbcane): This plant gets its nickname because of the sap in its leaves that can burn the mouth and throat and may even paralyze the vocal chords. It grows in medium light and can tolerate infrequent watering.
Dracaena: All of the dracaenas are low-maintenance plants, with corn plant (D. fragrans `Massangeana’) being one of the most tolerant. Dracaenas grow in low to medium light and low humidity and continue to grow well, even when watering is infrequent.
Epipremnum pinnatum `Aureum’ (pothos): This vining plant with oval, sometimes variegated leaves tolerates a great deal of abuse, including low light, low humidity and sporadic watering.
Ficus elastica: (rubber tree): With its thick, glossy, dark-green to purple leaves, this attractive indoor tree can grow six to 10 feet indoors. It tolerates infrequent watering and some low light conditions, but gets leggy if lighting conditions are too low.
Maranta leuconeura (prayer plant): This is an easy-to-grow compact plant with leaves that fold at night to conserve moisture. It can withstand some neglect, including low moisture and low light, but the leaves may not fold at night if the light is too low.
Philodendron: These durable vines with heart-shaped leaves can grow many feet long. They withstand some abuse, including dim conditions and infrequent watering.
Sansevieria trifasciata (snake plant): This plant is tough like its name suggests. It thrives in dry air and can tolerate temperature swings, infrequent watering and low light. It is an upright succulent that can reach five feet tall in ideal conditions.