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7 Houseplants Anyone Can Keep Alive

Three houseplants sitting on a table in front of a sunny window.
Clickmanis/Shutterstock

You don’t have to have a green thumb to enjoy a house full of plants. These picks can thrive even if you’re just beginning your houseplant adventure.

My mom had the proverbial green thumb and could keep any plant alive and thriving. Growing up, we had indoor plants and many outdoor gardens and flowerbeds. Somehow, the green thumb skipped me. It’s a struggle for me just to keep most plants alive.

However, I’ve found a few that thrive (or at least survive) under my care.

If you need plants that won’t die if you forget about them for a week and will bounce back with a little love, these are some excellent options.

Aloe Vera

Aloe is an extremely easy plant to grow and cultivate. It’s hardy and hails from a harsh climate, so it’s very difficult (but not impossible) to kill off. The key to keeping an aloe plant alive is not overwatering it.

Aloe vera plants like dry soil, so you only have to give them a good soak about every two weeks or so. They thrive in just a little bit of sunlight, but they don’t do well in full sun.

For the best results, keep them in a room with ample natural light, but not in a window that receives direct sunlight.

Jade

A small jade plant in a blue pot sitting on a windowsill.
Mr. Kosal/Shutterstock

You’ll find more than a few succulents on this list because they’re some of the easiest plants to grow and propagate (which means to grow more plants from an original plant). Aloe vera is a succulent, as is jade. Although it’s often included in succulent collections, jade might not even be listed on the container.

While they don’t need a lot of water, they do require more than aloe vera. If the soil is dry on top, give it some water, but don’t oversaturate it. Too much water can cause root rot.

Also unlike aloe, jade plants need to be in direct sunlight.

Hen and Chicks

Green and purple "hen and chicks" succulents.
Perlphoto/Shutterstock

This succulent was one of my mom’s favorites. It can flourish indoors and out. The plant grows many offshoots (the “chicks”), which can be separated from the original plant (the “hen”). You can then transplant those to their own pots. If you like to gift plants, a hen and chicks will provide endless presents for everyone in your life.

This plant does need a lot of drainage. It often grows in rocky areas and doesn’t sit in stagnant water. People plant them in old boots and other fun DIY planters. Just make sure you put some rocks in under the soil (and make sure it drains well).

Hen and chicks plants can thrive both in direct sunlight and shadier areas. They need more water when they’re first propagated. Once they’re established, though, water them whenever the soil looks dry on top, the same as you would a jade plant.

Lucky Bamboo

A lucky bamboo plant on a wooden shelf, along with other decorations.
New Africa/Shutterstock

Lucky bamboo isn’t actually bamboo, although it resembles it. It’s more closely related to asparagus. It acquired the “lucky” reference because it’s frequently gifted in cultures in which it’s believed the placement of plants in a home can bring you good luck.

The real luck, though, is how easy it is to take care of. Short of pure and extended neglect, you’ll be hard-pressed to kill a lucky bamboo. When you first purchase one, it’ll come from a pot of water or in a vase filled with water. It can grow in water alone or planted in soil, although I’ve yet to see one for sale in soil.

With the water method, you don’t have to do anything but replace the water as it evaporates. However, you might also want to do a complete water change every other month. You’ll also need to upgrade the container when the plant’s roots outgrow the one it’s in.

If you plant one in soil, it’s best to water it no more than once a week (overwatering will make the leaves start to yellow). If your lucky bamboo doesn’t seem to be growing much, move it to a sunny window. While these usually do fine in low light, lack of sun can stunt their growth.

African Violet

An African violet in bloom, sitting beside other houseplants.
O_Lypa/Shutterstock

African violets are easy for some people, but one of the most challenging plants for others. I’ve had fantastic luck with mine, even after transplanting it into what I thought might be too small of a container.

What I like most about this plant is it will bloom in low light, although it’s recommended you keep your African violet in bright, indirect light.

It’s suggested that you fertilize your African violets (I don’t). As far as watering, just keep the soil lightly moist. Once a week should work fine unless it looks particularly dry sooner than that.

Spider Plant

Two spider plants in hanging pots.
Izz Hazel/Shutterstock

Spider plants look really neat. This plant got its name from the offshoots that grow off the main leaves of the plants and dangle down like spider legs. Spider plants need a little more love and care than some of the others on this list if you want it to grow those “legs,” though.

I’ve had my two spider plants for over a year, and they’ve yet to sprout any legs, although they’re thriving in all other aspects. However, mine also aren’t in bright (indirect) sunlight, and I was overwatering them.

If you give them some light and let them dry out between waterings, you might get lucky. These also do well as hanging plants.

English Ivy

English ivy in a hanging pot.
Myimagine/Shutterstock

Plants come and go. They can live a long time, but bug infestations or even damage during moves can lead to their demise. Ivy, though, has always been one of my favorites because it seems like it never stops growing.

While there are different varieties, English ivy is what you’ll most commonly find potted and for sale. These plants prefer sunlight, but will still grow in limited natural light. Unfortunately, lower light might affect their growth. Ivy likes drier soil, so don’t water it too often.


All houseplants require some degree of attention, but these strong species will give you a chance to cultivate a green thumb with a gentle learning curve!

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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