By Joanne Clark
Sales of houseplants have been rising for years, with more and more people turning their hands to a brand-new hobby – indoor gardening. The Royal Horticultural Society reported that in 2019, sales in the latter half of the year had increased by 60% in comparison to 2018. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, interest in houseplants increased with some attributing their purchases to how the plants made them feel – less stressed in an otherwise stressful time.
The Royal Horticultural Society states that growing houseplants can have positive effects, both psychological and physical. As well as a possible shift in mood and more productivity in office settings, houseplants can also create better air quality and reduce air pollution, as revealed in a study by the University of Birmingham. With this in mind, here are some of the easiest houseplants to own:
Originating from North and South America, the great thing about Cacti is that there are a variety of types you can grow. There are approximately 2,000 species, although not all are suitable for indoor living. Some look similar and others look vastly different. Cacti are flowering plants, but some bloom more easily than others.
Due to the range of Cacti, you can grow and how low maintenance they can be in comparison to other plants, it makes a great choice for a houseplant. Used to growing in arid climates, it is important to note that during the summer months, you only need to water them at around two-week intervals. Some can last months without watering – such as the Barrel Cactus – but it is helpful to know the type of Cactus you’re growing to know it’s exact needs, such as the amount of water and light needed to sustain them.
Similar to Cacti, there are many varieties of succulents, mainly from deserts but also from other climates around the world. One of the most famous is Aloe vera, a largely low maintenance plant that can grow up to 60cm tall. As it’s used to dry climates, it doesn’t require much watering and can do well in both bright and low-light spots. Known as a medicinal plant, you can cut away a leaf in order to use the sap.
If the plant does well, it can also grow new plants, which you can then repot and grow on. In the summer months, allowing for good weather, you can also put your Aloe outside. Although Aloe vera is the most well-known species, there are many others, including Aloe aristata.
In addition to Aloes, Echeverias can often be another versatile succulent, as they can withstand being ignored if you forget to water them. Echeveria purposorum can be a great houseplant, as it doesn’t need much light and only needs to be watered once the soil is dry. It can flower during the summer months, producing red, orange, and yellow flowers. Echeveria elegans is also a great plant to cultivate, as they can be blue-green, silver or have reddish tips.
A houseplant that requires absolutely zero soil, air plants are aptly named due to their ability to grow basically anywhere but in the ground. Otherwise known as Tillandsia, these plants can be easy to take care of as long as you remember to take care of them. In order to do this, they can be watered by submerging them in liquid for up to 20 minutes, waiting for them to dry and then returning them to a place in your home that is well ventilated, with an indirect light source.
As with all plants, different types require different care, so it’s important to research what kind of air plant you have and what it needs.
The snake plant, otherwise known by its species name ‘Dracaena’, is known for being incredibly easy to care for as it can basically survive being ignored. Native to West Africa, these plants don’t need a great deal of water and although they prefer bright spots, it’s important that you don’t leave it in direct sunlight as this can be a bit much for them.
Much like Echeverias, you only need to water these when the soil is dry, approximately every two weeks in the summer and every two months in the winter. There are different varieties of snake plant, from large thin foliage to shorter, rounder prongs. As mentioned previously, these plants can contribute to purifying the air in your home.
This plant, originally found in Central and Southern Africa, is notoriously easy to look after due to its indifference to its surroundings. Although it copes better in bright spots, it will also be happy in shadier areas. Like other plants in this list, it needs less water in the colder months, with more watering needed in the warmer months as these plants prefer slightly moist soil conditions. Spider plants – also known as Chlorophytum comosum - can grow quickly and look quite dramatic due to their flowing, wild foliage.
Pothos, native to areas in the South Pacific, is known by the botanical name Epipremnum aureum. But it is also known by the name ‘Devil’s Ivy’ due to being almost impossible to kill – even if placed in darkness.
A tropical vine, it can grow up to 40 feet when mature and can survive in any light conditions, although prefers bright light. Similar to other plants in this list, watering should take place once the soil has dried out. There are different types of Pothos, including but not limited to Golden Pothos (green foliage with yellow splashes of colour); Neon Pothos (as the name suggests, this has bright yellow-green foliage) and Marble Queen Pothos (like Golden Pothos, but with white variegation instead of yellow). In addition to its colourful, trailing foliage, it is also an air-purifying plant.
Monstera deliciosa, otherwise known as the Swiss Cheese plant, is an extremely popular houseplant. Some variegated versions – featuring green foliage with white or yellow splashes of colour throughout - fetch up to hundreds of pounds due to their rarity and unique appearance.
Originally found in the tropical climate of Central America, this houseplant’s reputation as low maintenance is a topic of debate. While some believe it’s easy to care for, others disagree due to some of the problems that the plant can develop – such a brown or yellowing leaves, or pest infestations.
At this point, it is important to note that everyone has a different experience with caring for houseplants. Moist soil with adequate drainage is important when taking care of this plant, watering frequently every week or so. Place in a bright spot, but not in direct sunlight as this can damage the leaves. Watering should slow down during the colder months but be aware that Monsteras can grow significantly over time so it’s best to ensure that you have the space for one before you purchase.
The Maranta plant, which originates from areas in the Caribbean and South America, is also known as the Prayer Plant. This name comes from the way the leaves of the plant close together at night, opening and lying flat the next morning. Maranta fascinator is a particular variety of the Maranta genus, with green leaves, a yellow band down the middle and pink veins.
Whether or not this is an easy plant to care for is also contested – some say they are hard to maintain. Others, however, state that they are easier to care for due to their comparisons with a slightly similar looking plant – Calathea. Although this may be the case, Marantas do require specific elements to sustain their growth. This includes sufficient drainage in the soil, in a warm place with partial or full shade. You can also mist the leaves with water to create a more humid environment, much like the climate in which they are originally found.
Although in the warmer months, it is important that the soil is consistently moist, this changes when the weather becomes colder where watering can be reduced. As the plant dies back, placing the plant in a spot where it will receive a good amount of sunlight will encourage the production of leaves. In addition to its interesting foliage, Marantas can also bloom, producing small white and pink flowers.
As with all houseplants, including those in this list, it’s vital to note that plants have differing care instructions. Whether it comes down to soil types, how much light a plant needs or how often it needs to be watered, it’s important to know exactly what your plant needs in order to care for it in the best way. Low maintenance plants can, however, give you the little boost you may need to begin your houseplant collection.