By now you’ve gotten the message: adding plants to your indoor environment at home and work provides multiple benefits to your physical and mental health. Study after study confirms plants clean your indoor air of toxins, raising humidity to healthier levels, increase the oxygen levels, buffer noise, calm your nerves and help you focus. And this is just for starters.
“But Jim,” you say, “I have a black thumb. I’m a plant killer. I can’t grow ANYTHING. What can I do?”
You can always hire a professional and leave it to us (hint). But there are some plants nearly impossible to kill. They grow in less than ideal conditions, and they tolerate some abuse. You can’t grow anything in a dark closet, and you can’t expect a plant to thrive if you’re going to dump out your cold coffee into it day after day. (And don’t even ask what other stuff our horticulture techs find in office plants. Ewww).
But many plants can generally stand up to neglect, poor lighting, and drafts. Here is a list of our favorites at Good Earth Plant Company. Many of them are on NASA’s top list of plants effective at cleaning the air.
Sansevieria: Also called snake plants or (not MY name!) mother-in-law’s tongue. Sansevierias are pretty close to bullet proof. They don’t need a lot of light or water. You can water them before going on vacation for two weeks and they’ll be OK. They have attractive varigated color leaves in a tall, spear shape. Sansevierias release oxygen at night so they are a great choice for a cool, dark bedroom.
ZZ Plant – Not only is this a cool looking plant with its zig zag leaves, it can cope with a lot of neglect. This plant can adapt to varied lifestyles and indoor conditions. Its leaves can store an impressive amount of water. It won’t die if you forget to water it before an impromptu weekend trip. It is really the perfect starter plant for anyone because it won’t give up on you.
Pothos: The leaves of the Pothos plant grow in vines that trail over the edge of a pot. They are popular choices for a shelf, high ledge, or in a hanger. (Remember macramé in the 70s? It’s coming back!) It grows like a weed. It is forgiving of nearly all types of light, temperatures, and watering. Don’t drown it, and it should survive.
When it starts to grow, you can snip off a few cuttings and place in room temperature water. The roots will begin to grow in the water and then if you want to you can plant them in soil.
Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior) – This plant got its name for a reason. It’s super tough and hard to kill. It is a native to the island of Taiwan and southern Japan. There are hundreds of variations. This plant has been popular since the Victorian Era. Even when indoor lighting was rare, they could survive. So if you’ve got a dark corner to fill, choose a Cast Iron Plant, don’t overwater it, and your cast iron plant will happily grow for years with very little care.
Orchids – Yes really! They need very little care and will flourish in nearly any spot with minimal watering. They will bloom repeatedly and the flowers will last weeks, even months. They come in dozens of variations, there’s something for everyone to love. Perfect for an office desk or countertop.
Spider Plants: Spider Plants (Chlorophytum) are easy to grow and propagate. When well cared for they are spectacular looking with their long runners developing new baby spider plantlets from small flowers. You can leave the baby plants attached to the main plant, and it will turn into a cascade of green and white stripes.
Aloe Vera: Aloes come in lots of varieties – the Aloe Vera is just one of them. It grows best with lots of sunlight, so if you’ve got the full sun coming in a window, give it a try. It may turn orange or reddish brown, but that is part of its charm. It can go without a lot of water. It’s efficient at cleaning the air of harmful chemicals. If the air is excessively toxic, the leaves will show brown spots.
Zebra Plant – Succulents in general can be a good choice for people who struggle growing indoor plants. The Zebra Plant gets its name from the horizontal stripes on its leaves. Zebra plants don’t grow too big or too fast. They are tidy, contained and a perfect addition to any small space. Zebra plants grow with just a moderate amount of sunlight and water. Another great choice for an office desk.
Bromeliads – We love bromeliads at Good Earth Plant Company and use them in many of our clients’ offices. If you are looking for a colorful, low light, easy care tropical plant, bromeliads are perfect for you. Bromeliads grow their best in low light conditions, and they come in tons of different colors. They are also one of the best flowering houseplants for low light, and they are really easy to grow.
The single greatest mistake most people make is OVERWATERING. Not underwatering. Plants need water just like people, but they can also drown just like people if their roots can’t breathe. Don’t love your plants to death. Give them a little light, a little protection, and a little water and give them a chance.
If you really, truly can’t grow indoor plants, try today’s replica plants. The quality is better than ever and they confer a lot of the same benefits. They don’t clean the air but they do improve your mental health and provide the important biophilic connection to nature all human beings need.
Good Earth Plant Company is always standing by and ready to come to your rescue. We know how to keep indoor plants thriving in any environment under any conditions. We’ve been doing it for 40 years and we’re ready for any challenge. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – our green thumbs are ready to go to work.