Your work is piling up. You haven’t
worked out in weeks. You forgot about those smelly leftovers in the
fridge. You just want to get one thing right this week. Enter the
Yes, even you can take care of a plant. You just have to choose the
right ones! Here are five house plants you’d have to try to kill, so you
can have that win.
Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)
Money trees symbolize luck and prosperity, and I know I could use a
bit of both right now. Depending on how much light the tree is
getting, you should water it every one to two weeks. Between
waterings, the soil should be dry when you stick your finger in to the
first knuckle. You want to water it deeply but infrequently; let the
faucet run until water is streaming out of the pot’s holes. It likes a
mix of direct and indirect sunlight. Rotate 90 degrees every time you
water it so it gets an equal amount of sunlight on all sides.
This sturdy plant is also known as Saint George’s sword, viper's
bowstring hemp and mother-in-law’s tongue (yikes). I knock mine over
or close my window onto it almost on the daily and it has yet to give
up on me. Similar to the money tree, you only need to water it about
every one to two weeks. Root rot can be an issue with snake plants, so
make sure the soil is completely dry between waterings. The snake
plant can withstand drought conditions, so overwatering is much more
of a problem than underwatering. When you do water, water it deeply by
letting the faucet run until water is streaming out of the pot’s
holes. It can tolerate full sun and low light, but indirect sunlight
Also known as golden pothos, this plant is super drought-tolerant. My
roommate jokingly called it “the trash plant” because it’s so hardy. I
once forgot this plant over winter break in my dorm, and when I came
back six weeks later, it was just a little yellow but perked up right
after I watered it. That said, watering it every one to two weeks is a
good schedule. It can survive low light conditions, but filtered
sunlight (like through a sheer curtain or blinds) or bright artificial
light is best.
Also known as Zanzibar Gem, this plant’s waxy leaves make it seem like
it’s made of plastic, so you can surprise people with your real plant
parenting skills. Like the snake plant, the ZZ plant is very drought
tolerant and can survive a few months without water. However, it would
much prefer you water it every one to two weeks. Just make sure the
soil is completely dry before you do. It can tolerate many light
conditions, but bright, indirect sunlight is best. Too much direct
sunlight can scorch the leaves.
Yes, you can grow flowers too! The great thing about the peace lily is
it tells you exactly what it wants (It’s a shame your Tinder match
isn’t the same way.) Your peace lily will get noticeably droopy when
it needs water. But do not fear! Take it to the sink and let the
faucet run over it making sure the water is running through the holes
of the pot. Let it drain until no more water is dripping from the
bottom and you're done! Within hours, it will perk right back up. Keep
it out of direct sunlight but in a well-lit room. However, it’s pretty
tolerant of low light.
Note: While reporting this story I almost killed this plant. Yes, I
can see the irony. I was watering it every 10 days and as I learned
later, that was too frequently. The peace lily droops when it needs
water, but it can also droop when it’s overwatered. Yellowing leaves
can also be a sign of overwatering. After consulting a houseplant
expert (a.k.a. my grandma), I learned that the foolproof way to check
if your lily needs water is to gently pull the plant out of the pot
(Do this outside or over the sink.) and feel the bottom. Is it dry?
Then it’s droopy because it needs water. Is it very wet and are there
possible mold spots? Then you have overwatered it. Remove any moldy or
rotten roots, make sure the pot you’re using is draining correctly and
LEAVE IT ALONE until the bottom is dry again.
In most cases, overwatering is much more dangerous than
underwatering (see my peace lily mishap above).
Setting reminders to water is key.
If you look at your plant and think, “When was the last time I
watered it?” you might be inclined to water it more than it needs.
Most of these plants need to be watered every one to two weeks, so
I like to set a reminder every two weeks where most of them get
watered together. Just make sure to double check the soil to make
sure it’s dry before you water.
Vera is an app
specifically for setting watering reminders and keeping all the
tips and tricks you learned in this article in one place. You can
also just set a reminder on your phone if you’re not ready to go
full plant parent.
If you read this article, followed the advice to a T, and are
still having problems as a new plant parent, do not fear! You can
email the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Plant Information Service with
all your questions, and they respond fairly quickly. Be sure to
include photos, the plant name, location in house/room, date
problem was first observed, age of plant, light exposure, watering
practices and any chemicals/fertilizers applied. Email: