House Plants for Those Without Green Thumbs

iStockIf you’ve ever taken home a beautiful houseplant only to watch it decline rapidly, than you know how frustrating it can be.  As with all types of gardening, success is based on choosing the right plant for the right place.  There are a number of house plants that are not only beautiful, but help to reduce indoor air pollution too.  Below is a list of 10 tough houseplants that thrive with a minimum of care.   

Low Light House Plants


The following house plants will tolerate a minimum of light, including locations such as a north-facing window or a shady corner across from windows. 

Epipremnum aureum (Pothos or Devil’s Ivy): Heart shaped leaves emerge green and become variegated with yellow or white with flecks and splashes.  It has trailing stems up to 8' or longer, and is ideal for a hanging basket. All parts of this plant are poisonous, but only if large amounts are ingested.

Sansevieria trifasciata (Snake Plant): It has coarse vertical thick leaves that stand up like swords. The selection "Laurentii", known as "Gold-Banded" or "Gold-Striped", can grow up to 5' tall.

Spathiphyllum wallisii (Peace Lily): This houseplant has dark green leaves that grow up to 3' tall.  The showy part of this plant is the white spathe (a large bract that encloses the actual flowers, which are very tiny). This plant is poisonous; keep away from pets and young children.

Medium Light House Plants

When plants receive bright indirect light for most of the day, locations such as east and north facing windows are the best place for them. 

Dracaena marginata (Dragon Tree): This plant makes a dramatic statement with spear-shaped leaves atop a bare trunk. "Tricolor" has leaves with green and cream stripes and red margins.  It is a slow grower, but it can reach 6' tall. 

 Hedera helix (Ivies): This plant comes in assorted sizes and shapes.  It is easy to train on a topiary form.

Phalaenopsis hybrids (Moth Orchid): This orchid is relatively easy to grow.  Use a special orchid fertilizer on average once a month. Water every 5-12 days depending on your individual environment.

Philodendron scandens (Heart-shaped Philodendron): This easy-to-care-for plant climbs or trails to 4'.

High light

These plants need several hours of direct sun, and bright indirect light for the rest of the day.  Locate plants in front of south- and west-facing windows. 

Beaucarnea recurvata (Ponytail Palm): This succulent is slow-growing and will tolerate periods without water.  It gets its name from the ponytail appearance.


Crassula ovata (Jade Plant): This succulent looks like a miniature tree with thick green leaves that are shaped like spoons.  It grows to 3' tall. 


Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant): This plant has variegated green and white "fountain-like" foliage, ideal for a hanging basket.  In low light, the leaves may lose their variegation. 

Tips to Keep Your House Plants Healthy


  • Watering: As a general rule, water house plants when the soil is dry to the touch.
  • Water thoroughly (saturate the root ball) until water runs out the holes in the bottom of the pot.  After a few minutes empty the saucer.  Don’t let plants stand in water. 
  • Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer once a month with something like 10-10-10 (a plant nutrient blend) during the growing season.  Do not fertilize during the winter months.
  • Repot house plants in early spring.
  • Groom plants on a regular basis to reduce insect and disease problems.
  • Discard dead leaves and wash foliage off with water or a clean damp cloth.

Erica Glasener is a Networx - - writer. Get home and garden ideas like this - - on

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