Good Plant for Apartment
May 18, 2014 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Any suggestions for a good apartment plant? Minimal light and minimal fuss preferred.

I'm moving into a new place and its in the middle of the industrial district here in Seattle. My current place has plants growing freely outside all the windows and I want to keep a bit of that green-feeling in the new place. There is one south facing 2nd floor window. I was thinking a fern, because those seem to do well in this climate. I know nothing about plants.

Any suggestions for a hardy plant that doesn't need a lot of sun? I was thinking 'fern' but that is not very specific.
posted by kittensofthenight to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Fern sounds great - pick some up from your local nursery and ask lots of questions!
posted by oceanjesse at 11:40 AM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pothos vine
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 11:45 AM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have had Spathiphyllum, Pothos, and Zamioculcas thrive for many years in a series of window-deficient apartments under my benign neglect.
posted by pemberkins at 11:50 AM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: South-facing often has decent light if you're putting the plant right at the windowsill. Aglaonema or "Chinese Evergreen" are some of the least fussy plants I own. The farther away from dark green you go, leaf-color-wise, the more light they need.

I'm also a big fan of Spaths for low fuss - they're quite dramatic in the wilting if you don't water them on schedule, but they perk right back up as long as you water them immediately thereafter and if you keep to their schedule they don't wilt at all.

With ferns, my favorite is the "E.T. Fern" or "Frog's Foot Fern" (Polypodium formosanum 'Cristatum') though it's hard to find, and I'm a big fan of the other footed ferns like Rabbit's Foot or Blue Hare. With Rabbit's Foot specifically you have to keep the humidity up.

Although a ZZ plant would non-observably languish for years, I hate to recommend it as it'd like more light than that. But if you want a non-observably languishing plant that needs minimal watering, ZZ or Sansevieria would both work.
posted by vegartanipla at 11:53 AM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Mother-in-laws tongue (or snake plant) is the greatest minimal fuss and low light plant ever.

It has a kind of modernist architectural vibe.
posted by nanook at 11:57 AM on May 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks! I think I will go for a fern and a snake plant. I love the footed fern. Would it work to have a footed fern on the window sill (window mostly closed) and the snake plant in a larger pot on the floor?
posted by kittensofthenight at 12:00 PM on May 18, 2014

Oxalis aka wood sorrel, often labeled as shamrock in supermarkets. I've had one for four years and although it looks sad when I forget to water it for a week... or so... it apparently cannot be killed and blooms happily a couple of times per year.
posted by notquitemaryann at 12:05 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

You still might consider a trailing philodendron, one of which I've had for years, deals with light issues well, and is very hardy. I just pinch off the leggy bits periodically. I also have an oxalis, but mine seems to be more sensitive than the philodendron.
posted by gudrun at 12:07 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I cam in to recommend peace lily (spathyphyllum) and heartily nth it as a good large plant with a lot of "presence" that can tolerate quite low light levels and lots of neglect. Despite its being a tropical plant, I've got one that got blown off a plant stand on my porch one fall and was discovered in the shrubberies sometime in January, looking dead as a doornail, but after a few weeks of watering it miraculously began to send up new growth. It eventually returned to a full, glossy state of health and lives happily in a basement bathroom with essentially no natural light, surviving off what it gets from the overhead fixture--it even periodically sends up spathes!
posted by drlith at 12:24 PM on May 18, 2014

Best answer: I'm a huge fan of sweet potato vines, sprouted in jars. Free (if you have old sweet potatoes), hardy, easy to replace if they die, and you can have a whole windowsill full of them in a medley of jars. The plant equivalent of the macaroni necklace...may not suit your personal style, but really, what have you got to lose?
posted by hairy terrarium at 12:24 PM on May 18, 2014

Best answer: Yes, that should work. Don't let the footed fern's soil dry out too much, but also don't overwater or it'll be fungus gnat heaven. Know that the snake plant (Sansevieria) will be non-observably languishing as they are native to South Africa and when grown in or acclimated can take full sun. But you can just buy a new one every so often (I'd think every two years?) and it's not like they're rare or anything. Though my favorite Sans are slightly rarer: the Sansevieria masoniana and the natural version of the Sansevieria cylindrica (Aesthetically, the braided ones just don't do it for me).
posted by vegartanipla at 12:36 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Aspidistra plant (Aspidistra elatior) used to be famous for growing in very poor conditions, including polluted air and low light.
posted by Azara at 1:01 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'll second the ZZ plant. I keep mine in low light and forget to water it for weeks at a time and it has been going for years, and still looks good. I've had all the other plants on this list and non have fared as well.
posted by Requiax at 2:21 PM on May 18, 2014

Best answer: In, or near my South-facing windows in Seattle are happily growing: jade, rosemary, lavender, watchchain plant, lucky bamboo, prayer plant, a couple different dracaena plants, varied succulents, begonias, and a handful of things I don't know the names for. None of them require much care aside from watering when they look like they need it.
posted by Jawn at 2:36 PM on May 18, 2014

I find African violets do very well indoors. I had a bunch in an east facing window that flourished for years and survived a twelve hour drive to a new home where they continued to flourish in indirect light. They were then savaged by a bored cat and the only one that survived is (seven years later) flourishing in an east facing alley window. The plant prefers western or southern exposure, but mine have done fine with the exact opposite. I like them because so few low fuss indoor plants flower, but the violet does.
posted by crush-onastick at 3:05 PM on May 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can recommend Aspidistras, especially the variegated varieties. I once didn't water mine for a couple of months, and they did just fine. Looked a bit shrivelled and crinkly, but still nice and green with minimal die-back.
posted by Solomon at 3:16 PM on May 18, 2014

Best answer: You can get not just the green feeling but actually purify the air with one of these 15 House Plants You Can Use As Air Purifiers

The Snake Plant/Mother-in-law's tongue shows up on that list both as a plant that is good at purifying the air and will grow basically anywhere.
posted by VTX at 3:52 PM on May 18, 2014

Pothos and Jade are favorites of mine. Both are fine with little/no direct light and honestly just pretty hard to kill.

I'm growing basil in my window as well, it doesn't get much direct light there but I set it outside periodically to let it sunbathe. I'd still consider that "low maintenance" and plus I get fresh basil!
posted by lisp witch at 4:19 PM on May 18, 2014

Best answer: Golden pothos don't need much light, and they're fresh air plants, too. Or a moss ball. I have a moss ball and it's an adorable desk pet.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 5:07 PM on May 18, 2014

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