Updated: Jun 20, 2021
Before I share with you my choices for 7 pretty incredible, hard to kill plants, I'd like to share a story that you may relate to.
Part 1: My perfect vision, easily executed
Many moons ago when I first moved out on my own, like many people, I had grand visions fueled by magazine articles of all the fabulous flora that would fill my bookshelves, corners, and sunny windowsills. Pretty much, it was going to look something like this:
Enter stage 1of my indoor plant journey. I couldn't wait to get my indoor 'garden' growing. I would stand high on my live greenery pedestal and point in distain at all faux greenery. It hurt my designer eyes. Why would anyone substitute a fake when you could have real thing? My first purchase was a lovely green variegated ivy whose job was going to be sitting on top of my white Ikea shelves and daintily spill down one side. It did a beautiful job- for about a month until I noticed it was infested with mites. In fact it was so infested that by the time I caught on, I'm not sure there was any saving it. So rather than resembling the pictures above, my little plant family looked more like this:
Clearly, I was purchasing the plants from the wrong place, or they came to me diseased, or they were inherintly flawed in some way. There are many tales of woe for my other little foliage friends that I brought home and valiantly pledged to take care of, but more often than not, they ended up in the same place for one reason or another- the garbage can.
Part 2: Reality isn't always easy
After a few years of denial, I began my route to acceptance of 'it's not you, it's me'. I also came to the realization that if I wanted something green, it was infinitely better to have a 'faux' something that looked alive and thriving rather than to have a half dead plant that looked like it was holding on for dear life and losing. Besides, I reasoned in my newly enlightened state, faux plants had come a long, LONG way. In this day and age there some faux plants that could fool even the keenest eye, plus the maintenance is an occasional dusting- sign me up! This began part 2 of my indoor plant journey: my 'no live plants' phase. I had grown tired of trying- and losing , plus by that time I had other four other little humans vying for my attention and mental and physical energy so making my surroundings as simple and low maintenance as possible was a no brainer. I jumped on the faux plant train and there was no looking back- or so I thought!
Part 3: Back to the beginning; but better
A few years into recovery of my 'live plant trauma', there was one particular corner in my living room that needed something- and I thought a tall plant would fit the bill perfectly. Initially, I looked at the faux greenery trees. The ones that I wanted to purchase and looked the most realistic were way beyond my budget. It was at that point that I decided I might need to dip my toes back into the waters of live greenery again if I was going to execute my design vision in my living room. I entered my local nursery with trepidation- I did not want to repeat my mistakes from years before. To my surprise, not only did I discover that the large tree type plants, while still not cheap, were a fraction of the cost of the faux ones, there was a whole host of newer, low maintenance plants that hadn't been options during my first go around. Finally, part 3 of my indoor plant journery began: coming full circle to embracing a live plant again (but this time still appreciating the merit of faux ones). Here are some of the plants I have been able to successfully grow, or placed in client's homes that have successfully grown.
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There are some great specimens to choose from, but the first I will highlight is the ZZ (Zamioculcus Zamiifolia) plant. I have 4 amazing kids and I always look for plants/flowers to grow to represent them and I grow the ZZ plant is for my kid Zach. It's a native of East Africa and has beautiful waxy, oval shaped dark green leaves. It is perfectly happy in low light areas, phenomenoly easy to grow and is appropriate for any type of decor.
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Fiddle leaf fig- these are hugely popular right now. One quick search on Pinterest and it is easy to see why designers love them. They are native to west and central Africa, they love bright (not direct) sunlight and a warm, humid environment. You are good to go with water, occasional feedings, and rotating every couple months to keep growth balanced. They go with any style from modern to traditional.
For how-to care see here
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Cactus are super easy to go to plants that do well in a contemporary or transitional setting. They can be grown for their architectural interest. We all know they are drought resistant, but some may not know that they are uber easy to propagate. Many- though not all, have spines so they should be handled carefully. Interested in starting an indoor cactus garden? Check out this article for the top, easy to grow varieties.
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Succulents. Slow growing- like cactus but have fleshy leaves and no areoles (the rounded, usually raised areas where spines, flowers, buds or roots grow) like cacti do. Super hardy, loves sun, come in many varieties and colors and can be used in any décor. Not to be confused with cactus. All cactus are succulents, not all succulents are cactus. They can go long periods without water because it is stored in their fleshy leaves, though when potted outside can dry out more quickly.
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The Monstera plant loves humid environments like bathrooms. It is large leafed with a 'swiss cheese like' appearance and definitely feels exotic. It does well in transitional or modern settings and has a fabulous tropical feel. It likes bright, filtered light, has vareigated varieties, and can grow very big.
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Pothos is a vining plant that is super hardy. It doesn't need a ton of light, it does great in any environment from traditional to modern and comes in a variety of color choices. Mantel, bookshelf or hanging plant works well with this star performer. I have one that I was given when my twins were born 20 years ago and though I have repotted and cut it back, I (embarrassingly) have rarely fed it, yet it still thrives and I have even used clippings to start new ones as well.
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Snake plant, otherwise known as 'mother-in-law's tongue' (hmmm- I'm leaving that one alone!) is a super low maintenance plant that definitely fits well with modern and sometimes transitional décor. It's prized for it's air purifying abilities and ease of care. There are solid and variegated varieties to choose from, doesn't grow overly large, and does well in both bright areas and dark corners. It thrives on neglect. Too much attention and it will let you down. So if you're looking for a modern looking, air purifying, hard to kill plant- you've found it.
They say with age comes wisdom. I can say that through my trial and error journey with greenery in the home I have found a happy balance with both live and faux plants. Part of my wisdom is knowing that I don't have an overly green thumb, and rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater, instead I learned I could chose 'babies' that would tolerate my neglect and thrive anyway. I still prefer real over fake when it can be done but I also freely and wholly embrace the fact that there are times where faux is not only desirable, it's necessary. If you were to walk through my house today, you would see representatives of both camps, and I will look you square in the eye and tell you that I wouldn't change a thing!
Hopefully, if you've given up on live plants because your thumb is as black as they come, this post will inspire you to try at least one of these. Who knows where it could lead you? Before you know it you just may have a glorious, thriving indoor garden. If not that, at least 1living green plant!
Your turn! What color is your thumb? Are there any plants you have tried and been super successful with? Please share in comments. I'm always on the lookout for new specimens!