8 Houseplants That Are So Low-Maintenance They May as Well Be Fake

updated May 22, 2020
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If you’re one of the unlucky few who isn’t blessed with a green thumb (*raises both hands*), that doesn’t mean you’re doomed forever to a house devoid of leafy green friends. There are actually quite a few plants out there that are the definition of low maintenance. The key is not only selecting a hardy plant that’s okay with irregular watering, but also picking one that’s just right for the conditions in your home.

“The main thing to consider for choosing any plant is the light in your space,” says Melissa Lowrie, the Senior Green Goods Buyer at Terrain, the gardening sister brand to Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. “Low-maintenance plants run the gamut for light requirements, so try to think about whether the spot you’re hoping to place it in receives direct or indirect light. Also try to think about when it gets light: is it just in the morning or for most of the day?”

And don’t forget to consider your plant’s roommates! “If you have a pet, you want to make sure the plant is not toxic if they nibble it,” says Tara Nolan, co-owner of gardening site Savvy Gardening. “I also look a new plant and its soil over carefully at the store to make sure there are no signs of pests or diseases before bringing it home. I don’t want to introduce pests to my other houseplants!”

So what type of low-maintenance plant should you actually buy? Check out our picks for houseplants that are so easygoing you’d almost swear they were plastic.

1. ZZ Plant

With glossy, wax-like leaves, ZZ plants might seem fake, especially given their minimal maintenance, but they’re very much alive and can even grow pretty quickly. “ZZ plants are among the easiest plants in that they require very little light and are very tolerant of limited watering, so they’re great for darker rooms and busy folks who might sometimes forget to water regularly,” says Lowrie.

Buy: ZZ Plant in Jute Pot, $78 at Terrain

2. Snake plant

The low-maintenance sanseveria, which also goes by the names “snake plant” and “mother-in-law’s tongue” for its long, sharp leaves, has similar light and water requirements as ZZ plants—that is, minimal on both counts. “They’re very forgiving and still put out a shocking amount of growth in lower light situations,” says Lowrie.

Buy: Snake Plant in Metal Pot, $68 at Terrain

Credit: Shutterstock

3. Ponytail palm

The slow-growing ponytail palm is a fun and funky little plant that’s ideal for those who have very busy schedules, or those who are prone to forgetting to water their plants. “It only needs watering every couple of weeks,” says Joyce Mast, the official “plant mom” of online plant retailer Bloomscape. “Its bulb-like trunk stores water.”

Buy: Ponytail Palm, $65 at Bloomscape

Credit: Nadezhda Nesterova / Shutterstock

4. Christmas Cactus

Given that most cacti are native to harsh environments, it stands to reason that they can handle the casual environment of your apartment—and a little neglect. Just make sure your cactus gets plenty of sunlight. And take note that not all cacti are of the desert-dwelling, super pokey kind. Take the humidity-loving Christmas cactus, for instance, which has a leafier appearance with white, pink, or red flowers but is still easy to care for. “My Christmas cactus is a solid example of a hardy houseplant that has survived the odd bout of neglect,” says Nolan.

Buy: Christmas Cactus, $58 at The Sill

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

5. Heartleaf Philodendron

As you might’ve guessed from its name, the heartleaf philodendron has heart-shaped leaves along its trailing vines. It’s pretty hardy in that it can tolerate low light, the occasional drought when you forget to water it, and even low-quality soil. In essence, it’s great for those with black thumbs!

Buy: Philodendron Heartleaf, $35 at Bloomscape

Credit: Anna Spaller

6. Pothos

Part of the philodendron genus, pothos plants are hardy trailing vines that thrive in indoor environments. “Pothos are pretty easy in that they are difficult to kill and can handle various light conditions,” says Lowrie. “In their natural habitat, many of these plants are part of the jungle or forest understory, where they receive some ambient or dappled light through the canopy above.”

Buy: Marble Queen Pothos, $56 at The Sill

7. Tillandsia

Tillandsia is a genus of plants that have very, very small root systems, meaning they can pretty much cling onto anything and grow there—that’s why they’re also known as air plants. In the house, they’re often showcased in creative settings, whether that’s glass votives or hanging baskets. “I consider air plants to be low-maintenance because they don’t require soil or repotting, even though they do need regular watering,” says Nolan. Simply soak your tillandsia in water for a few hours every week or two.

Buy: Assorted Air Plants, $15 for four at Home Depot

Credit: Steve Bower/Shutterstock

8. Dracaena Warneckii

Trust us, it’s easier to take care of a dracaena warneckii than it is to spell its name. This large striped succulent can adapt to essentially any kind of light, not to mention it actually does best when you forget to water it. And according to a NASA study, the plant is highly efficient when it comes to removing toxins from the air.

Buy: Dracaena Warneckii, $195 at Bloomscape

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: 8 Houseplants So Low Maintenance They’re Basically Fake