4 Hard-to-Kill Houseplants Even Brown Thumbs can Grow


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When it comes to indoor gardeners, some have a green thumb, and others think they have brown thumbs. For the latter group, it can be difficult to find houseplants that are both beautiful and hardy enough to withstand less-than-ideal conditions. If you’re in the market for an easy-to-care-for plant that can thrive indoors, here are four options that even brown thumbs can grow.

Hard-to-Kill Houseplants Anyone Can Grow

1. Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera makes a great houseplant—it’s easy to care for, it looks nice, and it has plenty of benefits. If you consider yourself a brown thumb when it comes to indoor gardening. Here are some tips to help you keep your aloe plant healthy and happy.

First and foremost, ensure you are planting your aloe in well-draining soil—aloes can’t tolerate wet feet. If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, be sure to add some rocks or gravel to the bottom. And speaking of soil, the cactus mix is ideal, but any type of light potting mix will do the trick. Just avoid using heavy garden soils as they will hold too much water and cause root rot.

When it comes to watering your aloe plant, the cardinal rule is “less is more”. They are very drought-tolerant plants so err on the side of underwatering rather than overwatering (which can lead to root rot). Allow the top couple inches of soil to dry out completely before watering again. In most cases, this will be every one or two weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). And once every three- or four weeks during fall/winter when growth slows down considerably. Be especially careful not to get water on the leaves as this can cause brown spots or other damage. If possible, water from below by letting water seep into the pot from drainage holes at the base.

Another good tip is to try using filtered or distilled water if possible, as tap water often contains minerals. That can build up over time in soils causing problems for plants like aloes that don’t like having “wet feet.” Finally, refrain from fertilizing your plant too often; once yearly with an all-purpose fertilizer. Diluted by half should suffice unless directed otherwise by suggestions from a nursery familiar with caring for aloes indoors.

2. Boston Fern

Boston Fern

When it comes to houseplants, the Boston fern is about as classic as it gets. These lush, leafy plants have been gracing homes for generations, and their popularity is only increasing—likely because they’re pretty easy to care for. If you’re thinking of adding a Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) to your indoor garden, here’s what you need to know.

Boston ferns thrive in bright, indirect light—meaning they like lots of light but can’t tolerate direct sunlight, which will scorch their delicate leaves. When it comes to temperature, these plants prefer things on the cooler side: 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. If your home tends to be warm, or if you keep your plant in an especially sunny spot, just make sure you keep an eye on its water needs (more on that below).

Beware of drafts. While Boston ferns love humidity and won’t mind if you mist their leaves every now and then (in fact, they appreciate it). They don’t do well in overly dry conditions or exposed to drafts from windows or doors. Keep this in mind when choosing a spot for your plant—a bathroom or kitchen would be ideal since these are typically more humid rooms than the rest of the house.

This brings us to watering: As mentioned above, Boston ferns like things nice and moist but not soggy. The best way to tell if yours needs water is by checking the soil; when it’s dry at about an inch deep, it’s time to give ’em a drink. How often will depend on how quickly your potting mix dries out—if kept in ideal conditions (i.e., not too hot/dry/humid), once a week should suffice. Otherwise, err on the side of underwatering rather than overwatering since soggy soil can lead to rot…not fun!

Like most plants, Boston Ferns need nutrients to grow strong and healthy. Fertilize monthly using 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer during the growing season. Also, although Boston Fern doesn’t usually require repotting very often, you’ll know it’s time when roots start visibly breaking through the potting mix.

Despite being such tough plants, fungus gnats, mealybugs spider mites scale can occasionally become issues. To get rid of pests, try horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, or neem oil products.

3. Pothos


Pothos plants are one of the most popular houseplants for a reason: they’re easy to care for, hard-to-kill houseplants. Even if you have a brown thumb, you can successfully grow pothos plants. Pothos are part of the Araceae family and are native to Southeast Asia. They’re often called devil’s ivy or golden pothos because of their variegated leaves that range in color from yellow to green. Pothos plants can grow quite large—up to 10 feet indoors—so they make great statement pieces in any room. Plus, they’re known for being very resilient, so even if you neglect them a little bit, they will still thrive.

To care for your Pothos plant, start by finding a spot in your home with bright indirect light (too much direct sunlight will cause the leaves to scorch). These plants like humid environments, so if your home is on the drier side. Consider placing your plant on top of a pebble tray or grouping it together with other moisture-loving plants (ferns and philodendrons work well).

Water your Pothos when the soil feels dry at about 1-2 inches below the surface. And be sure to drain any excess water from the saucer after watering, as this could lead to root rot. Fertilize every other month using an all-purpose fertilizer during the spring and summer months. During the fall and winter months cut back on fertilizing altogether as growth slows down during these times.

Pruning is also important for keeping your Pothos plant healthy, as it helps encourage new growth (plus it keeps things tidy looking). Use sharp scissors or gardening shears to snip off any dead leaves or stems near where they connect with the main vine—be sure not to take away more than ⅓ of the total leaf area at one time though! You can also propagate new baby plants from stem cuttings taken from mature plants, which is really fun if you want more greenery around your place without having to spend money buying additional plants outright!

4. Philodendron


Philodendrons are another very popular indoor plant, and it’s easy to see why. They’re tough, they’re beautiful, and they don’t require a lot of care. But if you’re new to growing philodendrons, you might be wondering how to best take care of them. Here’s a brown thumb’s guide to keeping your philodendron healthy and happy.

Watering is probably the most important part of caring for a philodendron. Like the other plants on this list, philodendrons like their soil to be moist but not soggy, so water them when the top inch or so of soil feels dry. If you let the soil get too dry, the leaves will start to droop; if it gets too wet, the roots will start to rot. A good way to water your philodendron is with distilled or purified water. This will help prevent mineral buildup in the potting mix over time.

Fertilizing is another important aspect of caring for philodendrons. Feeding your plant once every two weeks during spring and summer (and every four weeks during fall and winter) with a half-strength solution of all-purpose fertilizer will help keep it looking its best. Just be sure not to use too much fertilizer – too much can burn the roots and leave them discolored or withered.

When it comes to light levels, philodendra prefer bright conditions but can also tolerate lower light situations. They will do best near an east-facing window where they will receive light for several hours each day. However, philodendrons do require protection from direct sunlight as this can scorch their foliage. If you cannot provide bright light, consider growing your philodendron under artificial grow lights. These lights provide a perfect balance of filtered sunlight that these plants crave. Without the harmful effects of direct sun exposure.

The final step in taking care of your philodendron is spotting any problems early on. So they can be quickly addressed before any major damage is done. Some issues you might encounter include brown or yellow leaf spots from too little or too much watering, respectively; mealybugs, which look like some sort of fuzzy white growth on leaves and stems and feed by sucking plant juices; or occasional spider mites, which exhibit themselves as small red or brown dots on the undersides of leaves. Regularly check for pests and address them immediately to avoid long-term damage to your plant.

Hard-to-Kill Houseplants – The Wrap-up

If you’re looking for some low-maintenance, hard-to-kill houseplants the four listed above could be your ticket to a healthy, green indoor garden. These plants are perfect for beginner gardeners or anyone with a brown thumb. These hardy houseplants will thrive with just a little water and some indirect light. So go ahead and give indoor gardening a try – your green thumb is waiting!


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