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Expert Advice: 10 Best Low-Maintenance Houseplants

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Expert Advice: 10 Best Low-Maintenance Houseplants

December 31, 2019

Nobody needs a needy plant. When we asked landscape designers and gardeners about their favorite houseplants, or the plants they thought were easiest to grow indoors, they were one and the same.

We appreciated seeing our favorite standbys on the experts’ list and loved hearing about new plants we should try next. (For me, that will be the gorgeous purple shamrock below.) From members of our Architect/Designer Directory, here are the experts’ favorite, easiest-to-grow houseplants:

Purple Shamrock

Photograph via Easy to Grow Bulbs.
Above: Photograph via Easy to Grow Bulbs.

Allison Koll at Gunn Landscape Architecture recommends oxalis triangularis, or purple shamrock. She loves its beautiful triangular leaves and deep purple shade, and because it stays alive while her other plants have not. She suggests keeping oxalis in indirect sunlight–its leaves open and close to the sun–and watering every few days or if the soil is dry. It becomes dormant during winter, she says, “So just when it seems like you’ve killed it, it comes back to life.”

A packet of 25 bulbs of Oxalis Triangularis is $10.95 from Easy to Grow Bulbs.

Fiddle Leaf Fig

Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.
Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

Garden designer Leslie Bennett has grown fond of the Fiddle Leaf Fig for its big, beautiful leaves and retro-chic look. They’ve also found that it’s hard to kill. “If things go wrong,” says Bennett, “I just cut mine way back and it comes back beautifully.”

Want your own? See The Fig and I: Tips for Buying and Caring for a Fiddle Leaf Fig.

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

Photograph via houseplant specialist The Sill.
Above: Photograph via houseplant specialist The Sill.

Beth Mullins of Growsgreen Landscape Design is fond of Sansevieria, or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, especially the cylindrica variety. Says Mullins, “They are retro and easy and can handle dark corners with very little water.” For more, see Gardening 101: Sansevieria.

For more information and sources, see A Houseplant You Can’t Kill: Mother-in-Law’s Tongue.

Magic Bells Plant

Photograph by Fiona Gilsenan.
Above: Photograph by Fiona Gilsenan.

Gunn Landscape Architecture senior designer Aaron McIntire recommends Kalanchoe, or Magic Bells Plant, for its striking shapes, color, and texture. He notes that it blooms from late fall into winter, and as a member of the succulent family, it’s resilient and easy to care for. McIntire says, “I like this plant because after it blooms, you only have to cut it back and the process of growth starts again.”

A Magic Bells Kalanchoe Plant is £12.50 from FloraStore.

Staghorn Fern

 Photograph by Erin Boyle.
Photograph by Erin Boyle.

Gunn Landscapes designer Cat Rha recommends Platycerium bifurcatum, or Staghorn Fern, “as a great sculptural centerpiece for mounting onto a wall. I love the idea of using plants as a piece of living art.” She notes that they can be finicky to care for, since they prefer tropical environments–high humidity and indirect sunlight. She suggests soaking them in water once a week and misting in between waterings. Have you ever considered hanging a staghorn fern in your shower?

See Steal This Look: Hooked on Houseplants.

Castiron Plant

Photograph via Ascot Vale Garden Centre.
Above: Photograph via Ascot Vale Garden Centre.

Pedersen Associates in San Francisco recommends Aspidistra elatior, or the castiron plant, for enduring hardiness.

ZZ Plant

Photograph via Real Ornamentals.
Above: Photograph via Real Ornamentals.

Gunn Landscapes horticulturist Lauren Pucciarelli recommends the ZZ plant, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, for its beautiful foliage that is highly resistant to pests and can tolerate low light. However, she warns that “all parts of the plant are toxic so be careful around children and pets.”

A ZZ Plant in a pot is $89.95 from Real Ornamentals.

Chinese Evergreen

Photograph via Eco|Stems.
Above: Photograph via Eco|Stems.

Along with the ZZ plant, Joel Lichtenwalter of Grow Outdoor Design recommends Aglaonema ‘Silver Queen,’ or Chinese evergreen. He says that despite minimal watering, “These are the two plants that have survived at least a decade in medium/low light exposure in my condo in West Hollywood.” Just as easy, he says, is “a centerpiece of three different tillandsias arranged on a metal base on the dining room table.”

A Chinese Evergreen Plant is $20 on Etsy.

Echeveria

Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.
Above: Photograph by Michelle Slatalla.

Pedersen Associates also recommends echeveria–a flowering succulent native to Central America–planted in groups on a sunny windowsill.

We recently discovered just how hardy echeveria is; see Must-Have Bouquet: Needs No Water, Lasts a Month.

Red Rubber Plant

Photograph via Butterfly Blooms Garden Centre.
Above: Photograph via Butterfly Blooms Garden Centre.

Designer Bennett also likes Ficus elastica ‘Burgundy,’ or the red rubber plant. They would love to grow one indoors but admit they’ve only grown them in the garden. (If you’ve grown this at home, we’d love to hear.)

Discover The New “It” Houseplant; our favorite Mini Houseplants for Apartments;, and the houseplants I’m learning to love, in Houseplants for a Hater.

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various houseplants with our Houseplants: A Field Guide.

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