Houseplants come in many shapes and sizes and have different needs for their care. For many, part of the joy of owning indoor plants is nurturing them and spending time keeping them looking their best.  However, we must be realistic and recognise that not everyone has the time for heavy-duty plant care - especially once they have built a bit of a collection (owning houseplants can be quite addictive).

What to look for when buying a low maintenance houseplant

At foli8, we offer 80 or so indoor plants, and many of these are classified as “unkillable” - perhaps a misnomer as some people, no matter how strong the plant, seem to be able to kill anything.  These tough and resilient plants have a some features in common:

Plants that are easy to water

Some plants are just easier to water than others, either because they can go for long periods without water (great if you are a little forgetful) or because they are able to tolerate a lot of water (helpful if you like a regular routine) - either way, they make watering your houseplants less of a chore.

One thing is certain, however.  Plants potted in our foli8 coir pot are very easy to water due to its ability to manage the supply of water to the plant’s roots, especially if you water from the bottom up.  This brings water to right where the plant needs it (the root zone) and also makes it difficult for plant pests such as sciarid flies (fungus gnats) to get established - they need the top few centimetres of the soil to be moist in order to lay their eggs.

Easy to clean

One of the characteristics of plants is their ability to attract dust!  In fact, research has shown that plants are actually quite good at removing dust from the air and that they attract more than their fair share of dust to their foliage.  That’s great for helping to keep the air clean, but you will want to be able to get the dust off those leaves with the minimum of fuss.  The best plants for easy cleaning have big glossy leaves that can be wiped clean with a damp cloth (microfibre cloths are great), or dusted with a polyester brush duster.

Fewer pest problems

It is true that some houseplants are attractive to pests, which can be unsightly and even quite damaging.  The most common pests are mealybugs, two-spotted spider mite and sciarid flies.  Our “unkillable” plants are either less troubled by pests, or if they do get them, easier to deal with.

Top 10 houseplants for busy people

Aristaloe aristata “Cosmo Green Pearl” 

This small, compact relative of Aloes is a succulent and full of interest, with its knobbly white dots on its dark green, thick leaves.  It can cope with prolonged spells of no water, and when you do remember to give it a drink, it won’t mind a generous helping.  It is also tolerant of cold conditions as well as really warm spots and is not often troubled with pests.  All it does need is good light.

Echeveria agavoides

Another small succulent with a rosette of fleshy leaves and the occasional colourful flowers.  Just like Aristaloe aristata it thrives on benign neglect - water it occasionally and place it in good light on a windowsill or in a conservatory.  It can cope with low temperatures and is fairly pest resistant.  

Echeveria runyonii

To complete our trio of small succulents, we recommend Echeveria runyonii.  Its leaves are coated in a grey waxy bloom, which acts as a sunscreen in the hot deserts where the plant lives in the wild.  Do not be tempted to polish it off - that will cause damage to the plant and take away its most distinctive feature.  All it needs is good light and a little water when you remember.

Chlorophytum comosum

This is a spider plant. It is very popular with students as it is very easy to look after.  The plant is semi-succulent, so doesn’t need a huge amount of water and can manage with irregular watering too.  It will also survive in a wide range of light conditions (although it prefers good light) and can tolerate cool temperatures.  Its long leaves are very smooth and easy to keep clean with a damp cloth or paper towel, and that should also deal with any pests that might have made the plant their home.

Ficus elastica

The original rubber plant.  It has large, paddle-shaped leaves that are smooth and glossy, and highly variegated in some varieties.  It is happy in fairly low light conditions and is ideal for those that are prone to be over-generous with water.

The foliage is very easy to keep clean and shiny with just a light dusting, and if you do find a mealybug, it is easy to get rid of.

Philodendron “Imperial Green”

Another dark green plant with large leaves that has its origins in the rainforests.  These characteristics suggest a plant that can cope with low light and heavy watering and, like Ficus elastica, it is very easy to keep clean and pest free.  It doesn’t like the cold, however, so keep it in a heated room and away from direct sunlight.

Beaucarnea recurvata

Also known as the Ponytail Palm, this plant often has a very swollen stem base, which acts as a water store.  It can go for weeks without watering without showing any signs of distress (in the wild, big examples can often manage several months).  The long leaves are easy to clean with a cloth or paper towel, and it will tolerate quite low night-time temperatures as well.

Clusia rosea

Another very easy plant to have around the house, just as long as you give it enough light.  It tolerates the occasional missed watering (or even the occasional extra helping) and it does well in warm conditions.  The leaves are large and firm and the whole plant is generally trouble free.  You can prune it to keep it in shape just by cutting out unwanted growth with a sharp knife or good secateurs.

Dracaena fragrans

 

There are several varieties of this tough plant available - we have three on offer (Cintho, Golden Coast and Yellow Coast), which have strikingly patterned striped strappy leaves.  They don’t require much water and do well when the soil dries out between watering, and they are usually pest resistant.  They also do not need much in the way of fertilizer - too much can be damaging.  Dracaena fragrans does like good light.

Yucca elephantipes

A super tough plant that, as long as it has good light, will thrive anywhere.  It is cold tolerant, but also likes warmth.  It needs little in the way of water and fertilizer and is pretty pest free.

Do take care when cleaning the plant, though.  The leaf edges are sharp and the leaf tips can be pointy - mind your eyes when getting close.

 

by: Kenneth Freeman

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