5 (Nearly) Kill-Proof Houseplants

By Kelsey Savage | Updated Jan 4, 2014 1:26 PM

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Hardy Houseplants

Photo: shutterstock.com

Bringing a plant into your home doesn’t just enhance your décor but it will actually help purify the air in your dwelling. Sure we’ve all had that one bad experience with some plant we picked up from the grocery store that quickly turned into a wilting mess. But don’t be intimidated by past failures, here are five nearly kill-proof house plants with care tips from Dr. Neil Mattson, Assistant Professor of Floriculture Extension in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University. Keep in mind that according to Dr. Mattson, “It’s amazing what plants can survive.”

Slideshow: 5 (Nearly) Kill-Proof Houseplants

1. Aloe Vera—Dr. Mattson particularly appreciates the dual purpose of the aloe vera plant—besides being attractive and hands-off, the spikes release a gel that has healing and moisturizing benefits.

Hardy Houseplants - Orchids

Photo: orchidpictures.net

2. Orchids—Although orchids get a rap as being difficult to rebloom, Dr. Mattson insists that the moth orchid, or Phaleonopsis, doesn’t deserve the finicky reputation. “Orchids are hard to mess-up, you just have to be aware of what conditions they require in nature—lots of sunshine and not nearly as much water as most gardeners try to provide,” says Dr. Mattson. Stick to watering just once a week. Trigger another bloom cycle by putting the orchid in a cooler location—around 60 degrees.

3. Spider Plants—Easy to propagate as well as to care for, “spider plants are like a gateway plant,” says Dr. Mattson. Take a cutting, stick it into water, wait for roots, and then plant in soil—it’s incredibly easy to have spider plants on every shelf that’s remotely near a window in your home.

4. African Violets—These quaint undemanding plants brighten up any windowsill with their purple blooms. They respond best to indirect sunlight’s and moist soil. Keep them reblooming by using a specialized fertilizer in all seasons except the winter.

And last but no least…

5. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue — not only offers an elegant structured shape, but it’s actually “hard to kill,” says Dr. Mattson. The architectural spikes can grow up 3-4 feet tall and the plant can handle most interior conditions. They do best in a window that receives semi-to-full sun and needs watering about once a week.

For more on gardening, consider:

Touring a Japanese Garden
Touring Middleton Place, SC
Brooklyn Botanical Garden Tour