When I was 8 or 9, I received a bamboo plant in a sweet little ceramic pot with a panda crawling up the side as a gift. It was the first plant I ever owned, and it inspired an enduring love for collecting and cultivating houseplants. From fiddle leaf figs to monsteras to succulents, there’s not a plant I’ve had since that I didn’t love.
In addition to bringing a pop of color and a touch of nature indoors, plants can also help cleanse the air, lower stress and boost performance and focus. There’s no reason not to keep one (or two, or three…) around. While some plants are notorious for being difficult to keep alive (hello, orchids), there are countless other low-maintenance varieties that are perfect for the first-time plant parent.
There are countless low-maintenance varieties that are perfect for the first-time plant parent.
Need ideas? Here are five tried-and-true favorites for beginners:
The ZZ plant (aka the Zamioculcas zamiifolia or Zanzibar Gem) is the definition of a low-maintenance plant. Aside from being able to thrive under most light conditions, it can also handle a couple weeks without water.
Light: ZZ plants do best with medium to bright light, but can also do well in low light environments—including fluorescent-lit offices and windowless bathrooms.
Water: The ZZ plant often needs less, rather than more, water. Watering it one or two weeks apart is sufficient.
There are more than 1,000 species of peperomia (also known as radiator plants), but all of them tend to be slow-growers. Therefore, they don’t require much pruning or maintenance. In addition, their thick leaves give them a high-drought tolerance, making them extra difficult to kill.
Light: These tropical plants prefer medium to bright light but can tolerate low light as well.
Water: Peperomia don’t need frequent waterings. Water them when the top inch of soil has dried out.
With their long, upright leaves, sansevierias have a modern, architectural appeal. Also known as snake plants, sansevierias are one of the absolute easiest houseplants to grow and are perfect for frequent travelers and forgetful waterers.
Light: Sansevierias do best in moderate to bright indirect light, but are also capable of doing well in low light and fluorescent-lit areas.
Water: These plants do not need much water, and, in fact, thrive on neglect. Sansevierias should be watered no more than once or twice per month.
This trailing vine is a perfect choice for plant newbies as it can survive in environments that other plants would find too harsh.
Light: While pothos love bright, indirect light, this plant can also tolerate low light and is a great choice for offices and dorm rooms.
Water: Your pothos should be watered once the top inch of soil has dried out, but it is forgiving and will survive a missed watering here or there.
Philodendrons come in several varieties and are often confused with pothos because of their heart-shaped leaves and vining. Like pothos, philodendrons are also hard to kill and require similar care.
Light: Philodendrons grow faster in medium to bright light, but it can also handle low light well.
Water: Philodendrons do not like to be too wet, and they should be watered when the top inch or two of soil has dried out.