I almost do not want to post this for fear of jinxing it but at the same time I want to prove the notion that indoor plants are high maintenance is wrong. These green beauties have managed to survive in our home for years with very little maintenance and at times complete negligence.
The oldest plant I have at home is the Chinese evergreen which we bought in early 2005 (I think from Home Depot) just after we moved into our townhome.
It has stayed in the same pot all these years. I know, it’s time I changed at least the soil but now I’m too afraid to mess with it. The plant has waxy variegated green and grey leaves. The sap contains an irritant so it is generally advised to keep the plant away from kids and pets. From my personal experience, this is not a big issue if your kids/pets are not into plucking the leaves off plants. Mine were very good about this. On a side note, I didn’t have much luck with the other two plants that we bought at the same time, a palm and a corn plant.
The next one is the most interesting plant that I have ever had, the Maranta or the prayer plant.
It has a variegated green leaves with dark pink/red stripes. At dusk and all through night this plant folds its leaves in a prayer position (hence the name) and opens it only in the morning. Here it is at night with the folded leaves.
It seems this praying habit is because of two light-sensitive pigments in the plant: one which is sensitive to red light raises the leaves and the other which is sensitive to blue light lowers them. I saw this one at my dad’s friend’s house in upstate NY in 2005 and was in awe. I took a clipping, came home, and planted it in a pot. After a fussy few months she was off to a great life. Though got to remind you, she is still fussy when it comes to watering. During some dry spells (3 week long vacations or just plain forgetfulness) she does shed quite a few leaves and looks scraggeddy before I have to nurse her back to health with monitored watering.
An ubiquitous plant in our home is the pothos. The first time I tried my hand at growing pothos (10 yrs ago) was an utter failure. I do not remember what happened but it kinda seems strange as this one is basically indestructible. On the second try B got a cutting from his office 8 or 9 yrs ago and it has survived since. Now I have 3 pots of pothos at home and one in the office (in water), all from the cuttings of the original one. You’ve seen one of these draping our Buddha in the living room pics. (FYI – the Buddha is no longer in that spot, you can follow his journeys around the house here.)
There is another one in the kitchen on the counter.
And another in the breakfast area on a plant stand. The pot is my Halloween Candy Cauldron.
I bought this ‘friendship plant’ from Home Depot in Feb. It has apple green quilted leaves with deep bronze veins. The texture of the leaves is simply amazing.
On the side table in the living room is a Janet Craig Dracaena, from IKEA, a member of our family for over 4 yrs.
Another IKEA plant is the Peperomia obtusifolia or the variegated Baby Rubber Plant. I’ve had this guy for the last 1 year and yes it is still in the same IKEA pot.
I also have the luckiest plant of all in my foyer niche, the lucky bamboo.
Again the plant has been in the family for the last 7 yrs and it has indeed proven to be lucky for us. 🙂
The underlying issue with indoor plants is watering. The golden rule is to water them only if the soil is dry to touch. And when you water do not go overboard, just a cup is fine for medium sized planters. Fertilize once a year in the warmer months. Do you know after a few years you can divide your house plants?
Some other plants that I’ve grown to love over the years are the fiddle leaf fig, spider plant, and Paperwhites. Do you have indoor plants in your home?
How do you keep the plants looking so clean? All your plants have a waxed, rich look :). Very neat pictures indeed.
I generally clean the leaves with soap water, once in a while for the kind of dust on them but it still wouldn’t come close I guess.
It doesn’t get that dusty inside the house here like in India. You can wipe the leaves with a wet tissue/cloth once in a while.
Thanks for the article.I was waiting for one on plants:)Any tips on how to revive my orchid plant.I think we watered it too much:(
Thanks Garima. I haven’t ventured into orchids as they do need a bit more care. Every time I walk by a live orchid in any store I stop for 5-10 mins pick it up and mutter how pretty they are and how great they will look in the home. Then I keep it back with a sad face. 🙁 I do this so often that it has become a habit now. Did it last weekend at Home Depot too. 🙂
I found this link on Google (actually there are a lot of similar links). Hope this helps. http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-rescue-overwatered-orchids.html
Nice plants Vidya, We have lots of plants in my house too, my rule is almost one plant in each room of the house. I feel they just add life to any room.
Thanks Sree. I love live plants too. B has stopped me from buying any more until I find a place to keep them. I’m not a big fan of plant stands so I run out of places to keep them. Do you have any ideas?
Nice post….I also have a lucky bamboo which is my daughter’s age…some how managed to bring it with me during the move. Also brought some branches of pothos and kept it in water till the roots came. I planted in a pot last week and then remembered our neighbour in India who used to have it in their patio. So i moved mine to the Shady patio last week and its looking good and happy. After seeing your pothos on the Buddha statue i got inspired and placed a small garden Buddha in the pot…he he…will post the pic for u…Thanks for such wonderful posts Vidya Sukumaran…
One of the branches of our lucky bamboo broke during the move but I just put it back in the vase and it grew. Ya, pothos will do well outside in FL. I used to keep it out in the summer in NJ but stopped after bug issues once I bring them inside in fall. Great idea about the Buddha. Thanks Kalyani.
Great post, Vidya. I am also always on the lookout for some resilient indoor plants. At present, we have several pots of Pothos, one Dracaena (that have survived over the years) and a new Jade pot. Previously, Jade, rubber and Coleus didn’t last too long. I am so tempted to get Maranta and friendship plant and will be careful as to not kill them by overwatering. My miniature palm shed all of its fronds a few months back but is now growing new ones, that makes me happy. How do you grow pothos in water? I tried once but it died. Please share.
On a separate note, I went to a TJMaxx/HomeDepot store yesterday and they have the most fabulous collection of Indian embroidered silk cushions, benches and more…just thought of sharing with you as I know you are also a fan of HD 🙂
Sorry, I meant HomeGoods and not Home Depot..
Thanks Amu. I want to buy a jade plant too. I’ve also killed quite a few but mostly during the apartment (drafty windows) and town home (little direct sunlight) days. On the pothos, you just drop it in a clear vase (helps light get to the roots). That is it. Just fill up the water to 3/4 of the container and refill to compensate for evaporation. They thrive in office cubes under all that fluorescent light. I have mine in a gold fish bowl.
Ya, I saw those pillows and benches at Home Goods too during my weekend trek. Loved the colorful poufs the most. Our local HG had tons of mirror and brass kind furniture. I got an awesome mirror for the foyer. Will share soon.
By the way saw an 8 ft (at least) tall fiddle leaf fig at Home Depot last week. Was gorgeous except for the price, $100. 🙂
Thanks for the pothos tip, Vidya. I just got a new jade and am trying to ignore it as much as possible so that it lives this time 🙂
I was really itching to grab those cushions but my husband is not a big fan of too many cushions on the couch. Yeah, the poufs were awesome too. Would be looking forward to your mirror post.
Wow…tall fiddle fig is another favorite of mine but you are right, the price tag is a bit too much. A cheap alternative is a tall fan palm and our local Sam’s club was selling those for about $20. I am also planning to get a bonsai sometime soon.
Just read that it was recently found that the dumb cane plant is dangerous.Just thought I’d share the info.Dieffenbachia ( /ˌdiːfɨnˈbækiə/) is a genus of tropical plants in the Family Araceae noted for their patterned leaves. Members of this genus are popular as houseplants because of their tolerance for shade. The common name is “dumb cane” due to its poisoning effect on the throat due to raphides.
Yup, that one is poisonous. It is a very common house plant in India (both inside and outside). We had at least 3 in our home when growing up. Again, the problem with all these poisonous plant arises only if someone plucks the leaves or breaks the steam and somehow swallows the sap or eats the seeds. So definitely would not recommend such plants in households with small kids or pets. That is one reason B is not letting me keep an oleander (I love that plant to death). Though we planned to keep it in our side yard, a lot of the neighborhood kids (many small ones) are always running around in that area. So we’ve decided to wait a few more yrs.
Thank you soo much. I have 5 plants all from IKEA and I really hope they live long. Any advices ?
Water them only when the soil is dry to touch. And make sure to follow their sunlight requirements. I never used to pay much attention to the latter but I think I might have killed a fern recently ‘coz it was getting too much sunlight! Good luck with your plants.
Thanks so much for these ideas on fail safe plants! I love to use plants in my decorating – I’m going to look for these little beauties! ox
Vidya Sukumaran says
Thank U! Do let me know how it goes.
I have killed my lucky bamboo! I do not have a green thumb. I have had luck with the pothos, and I will need to try the prayer plant.
Vidya Sukumaran says
These should be easier than the lucky bamboo. Lucky bamboo can be fickle at times, I have killed at least two over the years.
Olivia Godfrey says
Great post, thanks! I am glad to hear that my prayer plant is tough…I got one from my grandma’s funeral and am always worried about killing it haha so cool to hear how it got it’s name too, that is so neat! Also, great advice with the lucky bamboo. I have had them several times and always end up killing them. I’m thinking I over watered. Maybe I’ll have to try again now!
Vidya Sukumaran says
🙂 Do let me know how it goes Olivia.
Hi..just found this article and love the information. ..we have tried live plants but always end up with dirt nats…any suggestions? I told my husband he waters too much and that causes them?
Thanks for any suggestions
Thanks Christine. Usually gnats in indoor plants are caused by over watering. You could start with a good potting mix and water only when the soil is dry to touch. I found this article pretty helpful on how to get rid of them once you have them. Hope it helps.
I love your blog! I have many of the same plants as you do. I find it interesting how you killed your fist pothos, sp plant. I was just telling my husband how much I would like to have a praying hands but I’ve killed 2 of them previously. hopefully it will be my time to have One thrive.
S. Michael Davis says
Prayer plants don’t like to sit in water. When everyone likes them. they will help you water them with out you even knowing. Ours sat in a nice bucket no one could see the water level, all the leaves were falling off. I now have ten leaves left and it is coming out of it now. I put small rocks in the bottom of the bucket then put the planter back in. It likes this much better. I wasn’t willing to give it up. I figure if haft to survive after my husband passed way it must to.
Karen B Stone says
Another very durable plant that tolerates lots of neglect is the sanseveria, also known as a snake plant or mother-in-laws tongue. I have many that have grown from a small, 3-leaved plant that was given to my mother when I was born–1947! When it gets pot-bound it blooms. It can be repotted every few years with no special care. The leaves get so tall and heavy, I frequently use a dowel rod to support them. You can use string but I usually braid some thick, colorful yarn to tie them to the dowel. They love being outdoors in the summer (I live in Zone 6). No matter how much I abuse it. it just won’t die. I’ve given away many of the “babies”. including to my granddaughter who is thrilled with her “Great-grandma” plant.
Teresa Mucha says
My house is rather on the darkest site. What plants love to survive in the darker place?
I love flowers, but for some unknown reason to me plants don’t like me or I am doing something wrong. Please help me.
Teresa Mucha from CT
Maria Sancheze says
I myself bought a prayer plant the biggest and most beautiful one ive ever seen a month latet it totally died was watered well taken care of what happened
That’s sad Maria. Most likely culprit was too much watering. They really do not like wet feet.