House Plants for a Brown Thumb

As much as I long to be a legit plant person and fill my home with so many lush ferns and flowers that the term “jungalow” would actually be appropriate, the truth is, I’ve always had a bit of a brown thumb. Inevitably, I would purchase a new plant with such enthusiasm and a belief that “this time would be different,” and yet within days, the sad plant would be withered from either a lack of nutrients or simply a lack of skill on my part. I wanted to change.

I blamed myself for allowing plant after plant to die on my watch, but soon I discovered that I was simply buying the wrong plants for my lifestyle and my home. After all, trying to make a shade-plant thrive in the sun is pointless. And selecting greenery that requires lots of space, or attention is always going to fail in my home. I neither have the time or the patience for a plant that demands lots of TLC.

Upon coming to this realization, I have successfully kept the following species of houseplants alive both in my apartment in Los Angeles and my current home in New York. They are as resilient as they are lovely. If you have a brown thumb like me, I cannot emphasize these plants enough for satisfying your greenery wants without having to suffer regular dead plant woes.

Snake Plants or Mother-in-Law Tongue

Overlooking this plant’s creepy name, I think it’s truly lovely. The gentle curves of its large leaves stretching towards the sky reminds me of a sort of underwater sea plant, suspended in motion. You see this plant used in a lot of mid-century modern interiors as it has a very clean, yet sort of retro aesthetic (and it looks great in a bullet planter.)

Sturdy is the word that comes to mind with this plant. Its strong leaves are thick so they won’t wither easily. What’s more, this is the kind of plant that seems to manage fine without much sunlight and very little water. In fact, it prefers its soil a bit dry, so overwatering would actually be more detrimental.

I’ve had several of these plants on my desks at work and literally have forgotten to water them for weeks at a time and still they don’t die. They are under fluorescent lights in these spaces as well and yet, they carry-on. If you’re really struggling to keep plants in your home, this is the plant for you. It’s by far the easiest plant I’ve ever cared for and since they last so long, they are very economical too!

Heartleaf Philodendron

This is probably the most common houseplant on the market. You see them all the time at nurseries and plant shops. Obviously, this is a gorgeous plant that works well in hanging planters or draped over high shelves. While it’s not as easy to care for as a snake plant, heartleaf philodendrons are also very resilient and are fairly easy to revive if they’ve been neglected (speaking from experience here.)

They tolerate low-light well, but I’ve kept one in the window of my apartment and it seems to thrive in the sunlight as well. They need regular watering, but again, they can go several days without it and still soldier on. In cases where I’ve waited too long between waterings and leaves begin to droop or go brown, some simple pruning and clearing of the dead leaves, coupled with a well-needed drink of water can bring a philodendron back from the brink.

These pretty plants can last forever with minimal care and the variation of leaf colors can add a pretty green pop to any indoor space.

Air Plants

These bad boys are the cutest sort of novelty plants that you can display in so many ways. When I was first introduced to air plants I thought they seemed rather strange, but now I love their versatility and inherently modern look.

No need for a pot, no need for soil, all these cool plants need is a spritzing of water once a week to saturate their leaves and tiny roots. I will admit that I have let a fair share of air plants dry out over the years, but the ones I’ve maintained last for a good long while.

These plants vary quite a bit in size, shape, and price. Be sure to examine them before purchasing at a plant shop to ensure they are well hydrated before you take them home. Any dry tips are a giveaway that the plant may not last long regardless of how well you take care of it.

If you have any successful tips for caring for other species of plants that are easy to maintain, let me know! I am always on the lookout for new plants I can actually handle!

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