Gardening Houseplants Light Needs of Plants Watering

Houseplants That Thrive on Neglect

The snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’) is one tough plant! Photo: http://www.quora.com

Question: My 82-year-old mother forgets to take care of her houseplants, yet she loves them. Could you to suggest some varieties of plants that she could keep despite the lack of care?

Carole Cloutier

Answer: There are many houseplants that can tolerate irregular watering. Many succulents, for example, will put up with underwatering, although good drainage is still going to be vital, as they’re not nearly as capable of putting up with overwatering. The other flaw of succulents is that most require very bright light and that isn’t available in every home setting.

Here therefore are some plants that tolerate both over and under watering while being able to survive on only moderate light.

  • African milk tree (Euphorbia trigona)
  • Aspidistra or cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)
  • Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema spp.)
  • Clivia (Clivia miniata)

    20180118a amazon.com
    The crassula (Crassula ovata) will put up with just about any abuse as long as it gets at least medium light. Photo: amazon.com
  • Crassula or jade plant (Crassula ovata)
  • Dieffenbachia or dumbcane (Dieffenbachiaspp.)
  • Dracaena or dragon tree (Dracaenaspp.)
  • Haworthia (Haworthia spp.)
  • Hoya or wax plant (Hoya carnosa);
  • Madagascar palm (Pachypodium lamerei)
  • Medicinal aloe (Aloe vera)
  • Mistletoe cactus (Rhipsalis spp.)
  • Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum, syn. P. scandens oxycardium)
  • Ponytail palm or elephant’s foot (Beaucarnea recurvata):
  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Snake plant or Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata);
  • Spineless yucca (Yucca elephantipes)
  • ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. After studies at the University of Toronto and Laval University where he obtained his B.A. in modern languages in 1978, he succeeded in combining his language skills with his passion for gardening in a novel career as a garden writer and lecturer. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He is a regular contributor to and horticultural consultant for Fleurs, Plantes, Jardins garden magazine and has written for many other garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening, Rebecca’s Garden and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 50 other titles in English and French. He can be seen in Quebec on French-language television and was notably a regular collaborator for 7 years on the TV shows Fleurs et Jardins and Salut Bonjour Weekend. He is the President of the Garden Writers Association Foundation and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. An avid proponent of garden tourism, he has lead garden tours throughout Canada and to the gardens of over 30 countries over the last 30 years. He presently resides in Quebec City, Quebec.

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