Easy Houseplants

West Hamlin, WV(Zone 6a)

Could some of the members please tell me the names of some easy houseplants that need very little water and little light? My house is a little dark and I don't have very many windows to sit plants. Thank you.

North Decatur, GA

sanseviera--snake plant. you see them in office buildings. i've watered mine maybe 3 times in the last 8 months. indestructible. pothos is good, but needs more light. it can be grown in water or soil. i sometimes cut mine (make sure to get a couple of leaves and a node) and place them in interesting bottles around the house. i'm sure others will have some suggestions too.

most plants are going to need SOME light, even if it's just a grow light. you might consider getting one. also, consider wicking your plants if you're worried about being able to water them. i'm not an expert on wicking--but if you search the forums here, there are many instructions (especially in the african violets section).

finally, because of your constraints, do not expect to be able to grow any flowering indoor plants, or colorful foliage. but the one's i've suggested a fun looking and definitely perk up a room.

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

You may also do well with heart-leaf Philodendron, Syngoniums, parlor palm, Dracaena sanderiana (sometimes sold in water as lucky bamboo,) Dracaena surculosa, Tradescantia spathacea. Are you able to put plants outside for summer?

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

Chinese Evergreen is another low light house plant. There are several color variations.

Remember that 'low water' means that you still need to deep soak it when you do water, not just spritzle a little water here and there. You may very well be able to go a long time between watering, as long as the house is not so warm that it draws the water out of the leaves (and soil) too fast.

Another way to help reduce the frequency of watering is to use the water retentive gel in the soil. Some potting soil comes with these already mixed in, and it is possible to buy them separately to add to whatever potting soil you have.

A very good way to be sure the plant is thoroughly watered is to plunge the pot into a deep container of water and hold it there until it quits bubbling.

Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

Quote from Diana_K :
Another way to help reduce the frequency of watering is to use the water retentive gel in the soil. Some potting soil comes with these already mixed in, and it is possible to buy them separately to add to whatever potting soil you have.

Hi Diana, good plant suggestion.

I don't like to be argumentative but must disagree with the above quoted words

I would recommend the opposite to anyone who wants to have healthy plants. Retaining water in a pot is a recipe for killing plants via root rot, especially in combination with very low light.

Toots, also take a look at Dieffenbachia. I have a plain green Aglaonema modestum that's spent extended periods in less light than it prefers and just kind of waited until it got a better situation. At some point, there's too little light for any plant to grow, and it's boring to me when nothing happens. Not sure what that point is at your place.

St Petersburg, FL

Lots of good suggestions. As an interior landscaper for many years, I had the opportunity to evaluate the common varieties for their low light adaptibility. In my opinion, the lowest light plants are the sanseveria (snake plant) and aspidistra (cast iron plant), for a slightly larger plant, the Dracaena massangeana (corn plant); after those, the pothos, the agloaonema (Chinese evergreen) (I prefer these to dieffenbachia, because so many people are allergic to to the latter), dracaena janet craig or warneckei, philodendron cordatum, syngonium, pleiomele. Peace lilies and palms are not as low light adaptable as these, but will still live in moderately low light.

The next thing is to define what we mean by low light. You can use photographic light meters, etc, to get scientific and exact, but a simple rule of thumb is that if the light is so low that you can't read a book there, it's too low for a plant. Any plant. If you can sort of read, with difficulty, it's low light, you can try the lowest light plants. If you can read in the light available, we'll call that medium light, and most of the above mentioned plants should grow.

Now, as to watering. "Little light and little water" First I was wondering why you're wanting plants that take little water; do you maybe think that watering plants takes a lot of time? In truth, you can keep almost any plant lovely with 2 minutes of care every other week; most plants take far less time than that. Second, if you have low light, one of the plant requirements will be that you be very conservative in your watering.

You can't let them dry out because in low light their resources are already impaired. You'll need to keep the soil slightly damp to almost dry, and not just on the surface or a couple of inches down -- I'm talking all the way to the bottom of the pot. Use a kebob skewer or wooden dowel to test the soil, push it down then pull it up, like testing a cake. It should feel very slightly damp. Until it feels like that, you don't water, if it takes 2 weeks or 2 months to gain that state. However, in very low light, sanseveria or aspidistra should become completely dry all the way to the bottom of the pot, because these two plants act much like succulents in that their stems and leaves hold onto water, so although the soil is dry, the plant tissues still contain moisture.

When you water, water enough that you get a runoff in the saucer, about 1/4". For most plants, that will mean that the plant has had enough water for a week or 2. The exception is plants in very low light. If you water to the soak point, as some people advise, the soil will stay wet too long, and root rot will likely set in. If you water as I just described, with 1/4" runoff, and the plant is staying damp for more than 3 weeks, when it finally does lose enough moisture for you to water it, put on 1/2 the amount you used before. You shouldn't get any run off, but you should be able to keep plants in very low light. If you truly have very low light.

Hope you'll excuse the long reply, hope there's something here you can use.

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