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5 Houseplants You Can't Kill (Hopefully)

5 houseplants that are impossible to kill (hopefully) - Annie Dornan Smith

Happy Houseplant Appreciation Day!

Being a fancy person with a book about house plants, I couldn’t let this most holy of holidays pass by unacknowledged now, could I? Houseplants, as well as the most perfectly aesthetic contribution to your your life, clean the air, provide a source of living thing in times when our living spaces are increasingly congrete-jungly, they’re a cheap and beautiful splash of colour, and they’re so rewarding to see grow and flourish under your care. Like a puppy but with less responsibilty. If you’ve always wanted to add some plant life to your life but have got The Fear, I’m here to put your mind at ease with my top picks for Houseplants you can’t kill. Hopefully.

First tho, some top tips to remember:

- Plants need water to live, obviously, but water does not = ALL GIVING LIFE. They can have too much, and often this is how people kill them. I know you’re just trying to love them, but please, give them some space.

- Plants die sometimes. It’s ok. I kill plants too, though I try not to make a habit of it.

- Buy them cheap if you’re a beginner - I’m looking at Homebase. IKEA, the supermarket. Great spots to pick up cute, cheap plants, with less off the remorse if you do accidentally murder one.

- Google them once you get them home. If it exists, somebody probably wrote a care guide for it somewhere. Even just knowing what area of the world your plant came from (rainforest = warm and humid, desert = hot and dry) can help you get an idea for how you should be looking after your plants. If you don’t know what kind of plant you bought, stick it on instagram, someone is bound to tell you.

- Pick up a guidebook. Whoa, what a perfect opportunity to plug this wonderful book I heard about called House Jungle. (it’s mine) It’s a great little coffee table book for beginners, but also, if you’re looking for a more comprehensive guide that will help you diagnose droopy leaves or bugs or anything else, try out one of those old-school plant care guides like this glorious tome - available for the princely sum of 1p.


Ok, let’s crack on with the details…

sansivieria plant sitting on my desk

  1. Sansivieria

Until recently mine lived on top of my fridge, in the near-constant twilight of my kitchen. These Mother-In-Law’s-Tongue plants are very stubborn about remaining on the earth. I water mine whenever I remember it exists up there, and it’s still very much kicking, and frankly, flourishing up there.

illustration of a cheese plant in a standing planter - by Annie Dornan Smith

2. Cheese Plant

The houseplant we all know and love! Deals great with low light thanks to those big beautiful swiss-cheese leaves. Ideally it should remain quite well watered, but make sure you let the top few inches of soil dry out before watering again. If it starts to grow big tendrils on it’s stem (aerial roots) - these could be a sign it’s hunting for more water. I just poke them down into the soil and make sure to keep it well watered. Signs of over-watering are yellow or brown patches on the leaves.

aloe vera on the bedside table


3. Aloe Vera

Pretty enough to look great in your house and grow faster than cacti, which makes them a bit more um, interesting. They’re still as reulctant to die though. Err on the side of under-watering them, unless you notice their leaves (which are actually their stems, but whatevs) looking red, brown or sunken - in which case, increase your watering.

pothos in a hanging planter

4. Pothos

I love my Pothos! I grew it from a cutting of stem that had one leaf on it - so if that doesn’t articulate how determined these guys are, I don’t know what will. They are trailing/climbing plants that look wicked in plant hangers (that’s a win for the instagram feed) and they grow like crazy. They also sprout little aerial root nodes all over their stems, so if you do ever find it’s doomed with no hope of saving, you can just take a cutting from the end of the stem and start-over. I water mine once a week/once a fortnight in summer and barely at all in winter, except if we’re running the heating a lot.


illustration of an aechmea plant

5. Aechmea

This rainforest guy is living it’s best life in my bathroom (never mind the spot where I accidentally cooked him with a candle a bit. Sorry man.) I water it probably once a month (or basically whenever it looks a bit crispy) but mostly it just loves soaking up all the humidity from the shower. It doesn’t need much light and will probably never need repotting, but make sure to go easy on the watering as these plants have small, shallow roots which can easily get swamped.