Plant, And Not Robert
April 12, 2005 12:26 PM   Subscribe

I want to keep plants in my apartment, but I keep killing them. Can anyone recommend hardy species that will resist my black thumb?

I've tried lots of different plants, especially ferns which I like, but all I've managed to grow for any significant amount of time has been Mother-In-Law's Tongue and bamboo. My apartment generally gets into the high seventies, lower eighties and I'm pretty good about watering them regularly, but I'm not perfect.
posted by Vaska to Science & Nature (15 answers total)
 
I had a Sansevieria (Mother-in-Law's tongue) which an ex-girlfriend gave me. I stopped watering it but it refused to die, even after months.

I currently have a pachira (Money Tree) which seems to be fairly hardy. The plant seller at the market specifically recommended it as I have to place my plants over a radiator.
posted by grouse at 12:46 PM on April 12, 2005


This related question might be helpful.
posted by odinsdream at 12:46 PM on April 12, 2005


Well, you can find listings of what plants do well at what temperatures here.

You don't mention the amount of light you get in your place - that might require cross checking your selections from the "high temperature" list against a "low or high light level" list.

If you have problems remembering to water your plants, I recommend that you get self-watering pots - the ones with the reservoir in the bottom and a wick so the plant can suck up the water that it needs. Most of my plants are in these, and I usually only need to water once a week.
posted by orange swan at 12:49 PM on April 12, 2005


Easiest house plant of all times, hands down: Epipremnum aureus (Golden Pothos). Can go a long time without water, revives easily with just a bit of water. Oh, and people tend to let them grow long and gangly, but if you cut them down they will grow more bushy.

I rotate them in the unsunny parts of the house for periods of about 3 months.
posted by furtive at 12:49 PM on April 12, 2005


Orange Swan : Oops, that was a big omission. To answer I get a lot of light for the entire day, fortunately the overhang on the place prevents most direct burning glare so nothing fries.
posted by Vaska at 12:52 PM on April 12, 2005


Spider plant.
posted by scratch at 1:01 PM on April 12, 2005


I had a Sansevieria but I ignored it for months and it finally died. I have managed to keep an aloe alive for a while but only if there's sunshine (just don't overwater it out of guilt). The bathroom is good for Aloe because they just get watered from the ambient humidity. My best success is probably the Pothos. Everything else has died.
posted by matildaben at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2005


I have some kind of cactus (Christmas maybe), and it hasn't dies in two years despite me barely ever watering it.

(That Pothos seems like a perfect match for me.)
posted by smackfu at 1:24 PM on April 12, 2005


I'll second (fourth?) the Pothos. You can find hanging pots of it in your local chain grocery's floral section. It's pretty, grows fast, and it very forgiving.

Incidentally, the most common mistake folks make with their houseplants is over-watering. They need to be watered regularly, but most plants appreciate drying out in between drinks.
posted by Specklet at 1:38 PM on April 12, 2005


I'll second pothos and spider plants, and I've had very good luck with prayer plants. A couple of other threads that may be helpful, too: 1, 2.
posted by taz at 1:45 PM on April 12, 2005


I read somewhere that most plants are killed with kindness = overwatering. Green thumb people usually have a black finger from checking to see if the soil is damp at an inch-down level. If the plant really needs water, try something like Oxygen Plus, a mild fertilizer that helps prevent drowning. The pot still needs a drain hole.
Christmas cactus and aloe plants survive because they are cactuses/succulents. They store moisture - thus the squishy stuff in the aloe is available when it is sliced open and applied to soothe a burn.
posted by Cranberry at 3:49 PM on April 12, 2005


I fifth the pothos. I've killed everything else, but I can fill my office and apartment with pothos. They survive over-watering, under-watering, literally no light for days, and more.

Also good for cheapskates like me, as the thing is endlessly self-perpetuating. You can snap off a couple of sprigs, stick 'em in a vase of water, and wait for roots to grow. Before the roots get outrageously long and tangled, stick them in a pot of soil. Voila...more pothos.
posted by desuetude at 4:15 PM on April 12, 2005


I almost killed a pothos once.. no water, no sun.. weeks (months?) .. it made an amazing recovery. I wonder if it's considered an invasive species. There is always that, kudzo or garlic mustard are hardy.
posted by stbalbach at 9:36 PM on April 12, 2005


Self watering pots.
Peace lily. Things are hard to kill and have "excellent warning properties", they fall over if they need water and perk up in a few hours when you catch them. Florists call them closet plants, because they aren't fussy about light either. They even bloom, and aren't especially prone to bugs.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 4:43 AM on April 13, 2005


I'm fairly infamous among those that know me for killing plants, and it is a reputation that is well deserved, I've even managed to kill several cactuses. I have yet to kill my spider plant though, so I'd go with one of them.
posted by chill at 4:45 AM on April 13, 2005


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