I love having plants at home. They soothe, they decorate, they add life. But only… if I don’t kill them… I have a little problem: I murder plants… Not all, but my stats are about 3 out of 5. Under my kitchen sink, there’s a nice collection of empty pots of all the plants I’ve killed. Sometimes I feel like a psychopath – a serial killer who keeps the memories of his victims. In reality, I tell myself that I keep these pots, because the day will come when my plants will be so big that I will be able to replant them in several pots. But let’s be honest, when my plants survive, they don’t grow too much… Some of them don’t even grow at all… I think the “survivors” who are watching the massacre in my apartment must say to others : “Okay, guys, don’t move, okay? Our strategy works! As long as we stay still, we stay alive.”
Having a green hand – a real mystery
I don’t know if many of you have a similar problem—“plantslaughter”. Personally, I am surrounded by people who have real green hands – they live in the jungle. In my family, there are only self-proclaimed gardeners. There is even a “Frankenstein” tree in my parents’ garden. My father implanted on our walnut the stump of a cherry tree struck by lightning. Now we have a tree on which grow nuts and cherries (on a trunk saved and well implanted in the other). And what about me? Well, I can kill a cactus! And not just one, oh no, I’ve already killed a whole collection. When I ask my friends: “How do you? How do you know when to water your plants?” Everyone answers me vagely : “you feel when it’s time.” Sorry, I can’t feel anything. I don’t speak the telepathic language of green plants.
My discovery of indestructible plants
After years of experience and “killing” I can share with you a list of plants that have survived everything. I’m going to introduce you to plants that I’ve never been able to kill, and believe me, the attempts have been very elaborate. One day, I left my plants for a month, in the middle of the summer. I still had good intentions. I gave the keys to my apartment to a friend who swore to water them – something he never did. And my plants still survived that. So, in all conscience, I can say that I present to you a list of really indestructible plants!
Without further delay, here is a list of plants that survive under all conditions :
1) I will start my list with theDracaena.
I have two varieties of Dracaena : marginata and Dracaena warnecki. It was my first plant in this apartment. Sometimes I forgot to water it, sometimes I poured too much water. She forgave me everything. If you want to have beautiful leaves, you must mist them regularly. In my appartement the Dracaena is placed near the window, but this winter it must have been cold and it lost a lot of leaves. So, if your plant loses its leaves in winter (more than usual), this is the sign that it should be moved to a slightly warmer place. Apart from that, this plant resists everything. Moreover, NASA considers it one of the best air purifiers for our interiors. Draceana absorbs trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, xylene and benzene. (Ok, I admit that I do not know how harmful these substances are, but it is always better to have clean air in your home).
2) Moon flower (Spathiphyllum) – I call it “the masochistic plant”
When I bought them (I have two at home), they had beautiful white flowers and I wanted to do everything to make the flowers come back every year. I did my research on how to take care of them and it’s ultimately very simple: it’s a plant that likes to be abused. We water it when the leaves start to wilt, but don’t wait too long. As soon as you notice that they fall slightly, it is time to add water. You should also mist the leaves regularly, because it likes moisture, but be careful, hard water can harm it and give it white spots. Another amazing thing: don’t hesitate to remove the damaged leaves – go ahead and rip them off. In fact, the more abused the plant, the better it grows… and blooms. To be honest, I am very surprised, the two plants have bloomed in my house already two years in a row. In addition, they grow so well that we can divide them and replant them in two pots to put them in different rooms. I never did it, because as I said, the plants don’t grow in my house. But if you do it, do not hesitate and cut the roots with scissors during replanting. I told you: it is a “masochistic” plant. Ah, in addition, it is a plant that also purifies the air of various toxins. NASA has shown that this plant absorbs formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, trichloroethane and carbon monoxide.
3) Chlorophytum (called in France spider plant or hairy plant).
It’s another indestructible plant. It survived my move during which it was severely damaged. She survived the “drought” month when my dear friend forgot to water my plants. I water it as soon as the ground dries well on the surface. I do not water it much (it is suspended and the excess water flows directly on the ground). To prevent the leaves from turning brown and drying on the tips, spray them regularly. I do this once a week. Mine had a short period of great weakening. I thought I’d lose it too, but I added a little fertilizer (dried coffee grounds) and it was back in shape. Again, it’s one of NASA’s favorite plants that purifies our air from benzene, toluene, xylene and formaldehyde. It also absorbs carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
4) cactus and succulent plants…
… my experience evolves. These plants have taught me to control myself – I find it hard to resist the urge to water them. But I learned to let the earth dry. I currently have a few living cacti (!) and even two that gave me beautiful flowers at the end of winter! In winter, you really have to leave them without water. Don’t crack. I bought a Sansevière (the one with the delicate stems) from IKEA. I noticed that I have a lot of success with the plants bought at IKEA. I think that supermarket plants are perhaps used to having a less «personal» approach than florists one. Once I killed a beautiful wide-leaved sansevieria. One day, I watered it too much (I did not check if the ground was dry enough and I added a few extra drops of water and this small mistake was fatal). So, for cacti and succulent plants, really let the soil dry deeply. Water very gently and pour the water on the edge of the pot, never in the leaves. If the water falls into a saucer, it must be emptied fairly quickly. And in winter – really – no water at all. At worst, you can water them once/twice a month, but do it really gently. Remember, we pretend that we are in the desert.
5) climbing ivy (hedere helix)…
… ok, here I am divided, because I almost killed him. He was in critical condition. The resuscitation took me 3 months and he barely regained his form – so he is a survivor, but still under observation. This plant is a bit dangerous, because you can’t let it dry out. Therefore, it should be watered regularly, but be careful, you need a deep saucer in which the excess water will settle and you must empty it so that the roots do not stay wet. Ah, and you need to moisten the leaves with a sprayer. Of course – as usual – I forgot to water it … let’s say… for a little while. The leaves became very brown and half of them fell, dead …
Ivy is also one of the plants studied by NASA that removes benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, trichloroethylene and carbon monoxide from our air. In addition, it is able to eliminate 60% of the mold from the air. If you have allergic people at home, it is an ally to consider.
6) House palm (Chamaedorea elegans) – very easy to maintain.
For this plant, I tried a new approach, I water it as little as possible. In fact, it is easier to kill a plant by watering it too much than to leave it slightly dry. I water it every 7 to 10 days. I’m waiting for the soil to dry, but the signal to add water comes from the leaves. As soon as they start to fold inside, this is the sign that we need to water it. In addition, it is another favorite NASA plant in the air purification department.
- the plants mentioned above survive the forgetting of watering more easily than the excessive watering (even the ivy)
- It is good to spray the leaves once a week.
- If you have hard water, try collecting rain water for watering and maintenance (the plants will be grateful).
- As soon as the plant starts to have brown spots on the leaves, check on the Internet what it is trying to “communicate”. This can be a lack of moisture or excessive watering.
- When the roots are visible – on the surface or at the bottom of the pot – it is time to replant the plant. Some plants can be replanted in spring and fall, others only in spring. So, not to make a mistake, you can always do it in the spring.
This post is also available in: French