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Failsafe Houseplants

Not everyone can claim to have the magic touch when it comes to looking after houseplants, but that doesn’t mean that they have to forgo having greenery in their lives. Fortunately there are some indoor plants that positively thrive on neglect, will tolerate tap water, don’t demand feeding and are not terribly fussy where they go in the home. So if there is a serial plant killer in the family, there is hope with the following:

Chinese Money Plant Pilea peperomioides

A perfectly sized plant for small spaces such as a desk or side table, this petite plant with its glossy, round leaves can also be added into hanging baskets. It’s believed to bring good luck, money and fortune to whoever owns it.

Temperature: Warm. 15-18°C.

Watering: Water when the top of the compost has dried out. Don’t let the plant stand in water.

Light: Bright or indirect light, but away from direct sunlight.

Tip: Yellowing leaves is a sign of overwatering, let the plant dry out and it will pick up.

Snake Plant Sansevieria trifasciata

This is a great houseplant for shadier areas in the house, but they will be just as happy in a lighter spot. A plant for a true beginner it is almost indestructible. It is also an excellent plant for purifying air.

Temperature: Warm/hot. 15-24°C.

Watering: It’s better to underwater rather than overwater, once a month will suffice during winter, every couple of weeks in spring and summer.

Light: Semi-shade to indirect light.

Cast Iron Plant Aspidistra elatior

Living up to its name, it would be a very determined person who caused the demise of this Victorian classic. Unlike other large leaved plants, this one is quite happy in a shady corner where other houseplants would suffer.

Temperature: Cool. 7-13°C.

Watering: Keep compost on the dry side, it will survive if underwatered, every 2-3 weeks is sufficient.

Light: Shady, but not in total darkness. Protect from direct sun.

Aloe vera

Fleshy with serrated edges Aloe likes a dry atmosphere so is ideal for a centrally heated home. Undemanding and tougher than it looks, its leaves can be used to treat minor cuts and burns.

Temperature: Warm. 12-18°C.

Watering: Keep compost moist, but not waterlogged. Use tepid water if possible.

Light: Bright to semi-shade but out of direct sun.

ZZ Plant Zamioculcas zamiifolia

This plant has upright, dark green rubbery leaves and will grow almost anywhere. Popular for planting schemes in office and shopping malls because of its indestructibility it is also suitable for growing in the home.

Temperature: Warm/hot. 15-24°C.

Watering: Only when compost has almost dried out, don’t over water.

Light: Indirect light, will tolerate some shade.


Su Whale is a florist and freelance writer with over twenty-five years' experience in the floristry industry. She is the author and publisher of three best-selling books: Cut Flowers, 4th edition (2020) Cut Foliage, 2nd Edition, (2021) and Houseplants (2019), all bookshelf essentials for the professional florist.


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