Fool-Proof Houseplants

As BBG’s Native Flora Garden curator, Uli Lorimer works hard to nurture plants in the great outdoors, yet he is also an expert at choosing plants that thrive in much less ideal conditions—a New York City apartment. Here is his go-to list of interesting and "indestructible" houseplants that even the blackest thumb would be hard pressed to kill.

Plants for dry low-light areas

Zamioculcas zamiifolia

Photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

Zamioculcas zamiifolia (ZZ plant)

  • Tolerates low light conditions
  • Very drought tolerant
  • Does not like to be kept wet or in standing water
  • Member of the Arum family although it resembles Cycads, evolutionary dinosaurs in the plant world
  • It grows slowly like most houseplants in low light conditions
Sansevieria cylindrica

Photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

Sansevieria cylindrica (African Spear)

  • Very drought tolerant; during winter months can be watered once month; every two weeks during the growing season
  • Grows in a fan shape, its cylindrical leaves give it an unusual shape and texture
  • Tolerates being root bound
  • Native to Angola
  • If ever there was a bulletproof plant, this is it!
Alocasia lauterbachiana

Photo courtesy of Agri-Starts Inc.

Alocasia lauterbachiana (baroque sword, alocasia)

  • Dull green to purple leaves with burgundy undersides
  • Thin leaved and upright in habit
  • Low light tolerant
  • Great focal point for container arrangements
  • Prefers even moisture but will tolerate periods of drought

Plants for dry sunny areas

Euphorbia milii

Photo courtesy of Alison Weeks.

Euphorbia milii (dwarf apache, crown of thorns)

  • Great choice for small spaces as it only grows to be 12–24 inches tall
  • Flowers freely through out the year
  • Very drought tolerant
  • Native to Madagascar

Photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

Haworthia sp.

  • Endemic to South Africa
  • Small and compact, an excellent choice for sunny windowsill
  • Needs to be watered only once a month
  • There are many different species that have beautiful spiral or geometric rosettes
  • Thrives on neglect

For more information and ideas on indoor gardening, visit BBG's Indoor Gardening Article Index.

BBG Staff

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