I love plants. A lot. My postage stamp sized flat has them in abundance – there were 12 last time I counted, and I keep buying more. I’ve even got four plants on my desk at work. Surrounding myself with plants makes me feel healthy and happy, they’re a real mood booster, but keeping them alive is a whole other story.
Having moved about a lot I’ve lived in a basement flat that was cold with almost no natural light, a roof conversation that was hotter than the sun with too much light, and lots in between. I’ve had a few plants that have survived the journey, but I’ve lost some along the way. I’m extremely emotionally invested in my plants, probably more than I should be, so when they die it’s fair to say I go into mourning for some time. To help prevent more heartbreak, I’ve come to learn which plants are hard to kill and can survive in most conditions.
In no particular order, let’s dive into it.
1. Mother-in-law’s tongue
Less commonly referred to as a variegated snake plant, this sassily named number is one of my favourites. It looks fantastic, and trust me it is basically impossible to kill. You’ll be able to find this plant in most florists or garden centres as it’s becoming increasingly popular.
It likes having a nice bright spot with some direct sunlight, but put it in the shade and it won’t complain. Only water it when the soil on top has gone very dry. It’s also a real slow grower, so you won’t have to repot it for years.
2. Aloe vera
Everyone remembers aloe vera for that time they burnt themselves and someone produced a cutting of one to rub on it. The health benefits don’t stop here however. Aloe vera’s medicinal uses know no bounds, from protecting against UV light to helping promote healthy gums and even relieving constipation, aloe vera is a real miracle worker. It’s also very easy to take care of and looks great in the home.
Aloe vera likes to be kept in dry, coarse soil with plenty of drainage. Water if extremely infrequently and ensure it’s not left standing in water. It doesn’t mind a lot of sunlight, but it will start to burn if it received too much.
3. Cast iron plant
Also known as Aspidistra, this plant has picked up it’s more common nickname of the cast iron plant for good reason. A beautiful looking and vibrant green plant that was a real favourite of the Victorians, the aspidistra’s extremely tolerant nature makes it perfect for the cooler, more shady parts of your home. The cast iron plant can be a little hard to find in shops, so you may have to spend some time searching for one.
Avoid direct sunlight and only water occasionally. If you have a shady spot in your home it will be perfectly happy there. The cast iron plant grows very slowly so don’t expect it to be sprouting often.
The plant of a generation, millenials are obsessed with cacti (I am 100% guilty of this), and great news, they’re one of the easiest plants to look after. Cacti come in more shapes and sizes than you take shake a stick at, so there’s plenty of choice depending on what you want.
Common misconception – cacti love being kept in harsh, extremely dry conditions. Sure, you don’t want to overwater a cactus, but while they can survive in very dry conditions, like all plants they do like being watered semi-regularly. Light wise they’re flexible, sun or shade, you name it they’ll live in it.
5. Peace lily
An extremely popular plant for homes and offices, you’ll probably have spotted a few peace lilies around. Peace lilies not only brighten rooms with their deep green foliage and white flowers, but they’re terrific air purifiers too!
While a peace lily will flourish and produce lots of flowers in medium light conditions, it will also be perfectly happy in low light. Be careful not to overwater this plant as it’s much happier being underwatered. Top tip: with its large leaves the peace lily tends to gather a lot of dust, be sure to wipe it down with a slightly damp piece of kitchen roll every few months to prevent the dust from blocking sunlight.
6. Spider plant
Everyone is probably familiar with this household staple. We all know somebody who has a house full of spider plants and they’re always trying to give people cuttings of them – if you don’t know this person it’s probably you.
These speedy growers will flourish in direct light, but they can get really thirsty. In a bright room over summer they will need watering several times a week. They can also survive in cold, damp, low-light rooms. They won’t grow very quickly, if at all, in these conditions, but they’ll survive. Check the colour of the leaves to make sure the plant is still healthy and happy, you’re looking for vibrant green, if they turn a pale green/yellow they may need moving to a new spot.