Houseplants That Thrive on Neglect

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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)

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    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)
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