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The Nine Best Houseplants for Busy People

Gable loves to surround herself with plants year round, and as a former landscaper, she has treated many ornamental plant diseases.

Easy-Care Houseplants — No Green Thumb Required

Some people have the knack for growing the most delicate plants with seemingly no effort. Others have empty pots stacked around their house as a testament to their failed attempts at nurturing greenery.

The plants listed here will survive neglect and sometimes even verbal abuse. Your friends will be "green" with envy. If you love decorating your home with plants but are too busy to play nursemaid to them, check out the following nine hardy houseplants:

  1. Jade Plant
  2. Heart-Shaped Leaf Philodendron
  3. Snake Plant
  4. Christmas Cactus
  5. Wandering Jew
  6. Ficus
  7. Spider Plant
  8. Dieffenbachia, Dumb Cane, Mother-in-Law's Tongue
  9. Cactus

1. Jade Plant

Indigenous to South Africa, this succulent has smooth oval-shaped leaves. The jade plant thrives with minimal watering and fuss.

Overwatering it will cause the leaves to drop off and the stem and roots to rot. A once-a-month drink of H2O should be plenty.

The jade plant will do well in medium- to high-light levels. The leaves may become scorched by too much heat or direct sun exposure, so slowly acclimate the plant if you are moving it outdoors. The jade plant is also tolerant of a light frost.

If the plant becomes top heavy, snip off the top to encourage bottom growth. With the right growing conditions, the plant will bloom in the spring.

Leaves dropped onto the soil may grow roots, rewarding you with new baby jade plants.

The leaves of a philodendron plant

The leaves of a philodendron plant

2. Heart-Shaped Leaf Philodendron

A philodendron is easy to care for, easy to propagate and it thrives on low or medium light. What more can you ask for in a houseplant?

The heart-shaped leaf philodendron is a real beauty. I have seen it vine around an entire room, adding a touch of the outdoors to a home.

This plant thrives with moderate water, but will recover quickly even if the leaves have started to droop—just add water.

Severe neglect of a philodendron will cause leaves to drop, but if there is still life, there is hope. Just snip off the live end of the vine and place it in water. Within a few weeks roots will appear, and the vine can be potted.

If the remains of the plant left in the pot show any life, add water and continue watering as usual. The philodendron may recover and surprise you.

Vert merge snake plant

Vert merge snake plant

3. Snake Plant

The snake plant, or mother-in-law's tongue, is a western Africa native. Its spear- shaped leaves form clumps, and new spears will grow up around the older ones.

Preferring a bi-weekly watering, this plant can survive with much less. It does well in low to high light levels, though it thrives in areas with more light.

The snake plant actually grows better if it is slightly root bound, so there is no need for frequent repotting.

The snake plant is easily propagated from root cuttings. It can be invasive if planted outdoors in a temperate climate.

According to a study done by NASA, this is a good plant for removing indoor air pollutants.

4. Christmas Cactus

Not just for Christmas anymore, these cacti are easy to propagate and grow. The leaves are segmented, and can be snipped off and rooted to create new plants.

A Christmas cactus will grow best with full to moderate light. A prolonged period of low light levels is used to encourage blooming. Start giving the cactus a full 12 hours of dark starting in October, and you should have blossoms in time for the holidays.

Although it is a member of the cactus family, it needs more water than desert cacti. Allow the soil to dry between waterings. The Christmas cactus will drop leaves and flowers if exposed to too much cold, so keep it away from drafts.

Wandering Jew, Zebrina pendula

Wandering Jew, Zebrina pendula

5. Wandering Jew

The wandering Jew, a type of spiderwort, is a favorite hanging plant. Its leaves can be solid green or red or white striped.

This plant's name is supposedly because it is like the Jewish people of the Bible; it is able to "wander" and adapt to various environments and conditions.

The wandering Jew is bushy, with fast growing vines.To keep it from looking stringy, pinch off the ends of branches.

This plant does well with high, indirect light. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings, but be aware leaf drop will occur if the plant gets too dry.

It is very easy to create many new plants. Just snip off sections of a wandering Jew's vining branch and place in water until new roots form, or stick the vines into a pot and partially cover with soil.

6. Ficus

This member of the fig tree family is a popular indoor plant. It grows slowly if it is not repotted too often.

It only needs a moderate amount of water, and will lose leaves if it is over-watered. A once monthly watering is best if the ficus is in a well-draining pot. It is a semi-tropical plant that doesn't require high humidity to thrive.

It does well with bright light, but avoid direct outdoor sunlight unless the tree has been slowly conditioned to it.

Keep it away from doors in the winter as it does not do well with cold drafts, and leaf drop may occur.

A ficus can be propagated with root cuttings or air layering.

7. Spider Plant

Chlorophytum comosum, the spider plant, is named for the long shoots with spider-like "babies" the plant puts off. The leaves will be either solid green or variegated.

It is native to South Africa, and can be used as an outdoor plant in temperate climates. It is very invasive so think hard about where you want to plant it.

It prefers bright light but will tolerate low light levels. It will do well with infrequent watering in the winter, but requires a weekly water in the summer.

The spider plant can be propagated through root cuttings, or by sticking the new "babies" in soil or water until roots form.

The spider plant is also on NASA's list of useful plants for removing indoor air pollution.

Dieffenbachia, Dumb Cane

Dieffenbachia, Dumb Cane

8. Dieffenbachia, Dumb Cane, Mother-in-Law's Tongue

This is a beautiful upright growing plant with broad white or yellow striped leaves. "Dumb cane" prefers moderate light, and the soil should be allowed to dry out between waterings.

If you put the plant outside, do not subject it to direct sunlight.

If the plant is subjected to too much neglect, or even gets broken, just snip the stalk about 6 inches below the lowest leaves and put in a vase of water. Roots should begin to grow within a few weeks, and after two months the dieffenbachia should be ready to pot again.

Diffienbachia can be grown outdoors in a tropical climate.

9. Cactus

If you can kill a cactus, you have a serious brown-thumb and may want to stick to plastic or silk plants! A cactus is a very slow grower, and will rarely need repotting.

Most cactus only need to be watered less than once a month. If you are not sure if it needs to be watered, insert a straw into the soil all the way to the bottom of the pot. If the straw comes out damp, do not water. Water the cactus only if the soil is dry all the way through.

Cacti need a good soil that allows for adequate drainage. It is best to water your cactus from the bottom, if possible.

Rainwater is best for watering a cactus. It contains all the nutrients your cactus will need to thrive.

A cactus needs full sunlight, but be careful when moving it outdoors. It will need to slowly acclimate, or else it will suffer from sunburn.

Hardy Houseplants

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Gable Rhoads (author) from North Dakota on January 25, 2016:

Thanks for reading, janshares. I really need to update it. I've run across a few more plants that are hard to kill.

Janis Leslie Evans from Washington, DC on January 25, 2016:

This hub is right on time, Gable. I just threw away my poinsettias and need a new plant that doesn't need a lot of care. So glad I came across this hub. Very informative and useful. Thanks.

Gable Rhoads (author) from North Dakota on August 21, 2014:

The Examiner, you should do okay with any of these plants.

A spider plant can be a hanging plant once it starts sending out "babies." Until then there wouldn't be much to hang down the sides.

Thank you for stopping by.

The Examiner-1 on August 01, 2014:

I learned quite a bit reading this Gable. When I had just gotten out of high school I had an outdoor flower garden but now I do not have time for that. In this house I had taken care of a few indoor plants that my mother left after she passed. They eventually died off, and they were bamboo. There is not much light in this house. I believe that I read of a couple in here that I could use, the philodendron and the snake plant. I voted this up and pinned it.


By the way, is the spider plant a hanging plant?

Gable Rhoads (author) from North Dakota on March 10, 2013:

Thank you. I will.

snlee from Asia Pacific Regions on March 10, 2013:

There a few other such useful plants. If interest, you can visit this site to find out more :

Gable Rhoads (author) from North Dakota on March 10, 2013:

Thank you for the info, snlee. :)

snlee from Asia Pacific Regions on March 10, 2013:

I also have the snake plant in my house as this plant is capable of reducing pollutants within the house surroundings as according to NASA research.

Gable Rhoads (author) from North Dakota on March 10, 2013:

Thank you, Faith. :)

Faith Reaper from southern USA on March 10, 2013:

Very informative hub for those of us with a "brown" thumb as relates to indoor house plants.

Beautiful imagery.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

Thanks so much, Faith Reaper