8 Houseplants That Can Survive Your Neglect

Forgetful plant parents should have no problem with these tough varieties.

November 15, 2016

There are plenty of good reasons to grow houseplants—they add beauty to any room, filter pollutants from the air, and have been shown to promote feelings of calmness, which studies say can improve concentration and memory. But all of these benefits go out the window if your houseplant is a wilted skeleton of brown, droopy leaves.  

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Many plants are tricky to grow inside, because they have particular requirements for light, water, and humidity, which can be an insurmountable obstacle for those of us who have brown thumbs or tend to be absentminded about watering. Luckily, there are still options for even the most neglectful of plant parents. Here are eight plants that will be forgiving no matter how much you ignore them.

spider plant
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Spider Plants

If you’re new to the world of houseplants, a spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is a great place to start. In addition to being one of the best plants for purifying indoor air, the Missouri Botanical Garden dubs it the least fussy indoor plant, because it can hang out in bright light or shade, dry or humid air, and even survives when you forget to water it. As a bonus, spider plants reproduce quickly, developing tiny baby plantlets on the tips of long, trailing stems.

aloe vera

Speaking from personal experience, aloe (Aloe vera) will survive any abuse you throw at it. It prefers bright light from an east or south window, but it will put up with more filtered light if it must. It does best when soil is kept slightly moist, but the plant is forgiving if you're remiss on your watering schedule. It can also transition to outdoor living during the summer.

peace lily
Peace Lily

Th peace lily (Spathiphyllum species) is probably the easiest indoor flowering plant you’ll ever grow. Mine is continually neglected and still blooms regularly. It does well in low to moderate light, and even puts up with a dim corner. It needs lightly moist soil at all times, but if you accidentally let it dry out completely, it will still rejuvenate quickly after a healthy drink. 

Related: 10 Houseplants You Hardly Ever Have To Water

Piyathida Srikoom/shutterstock

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) lives up to its reputation for being super simple to grow. Although it prefers moderate to bright light, it can tolerate fluorescent light, too, making it a great choice for the office. According to The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual by Barbara Pleasant, the only way you can go seriously wrong with your pothos is by overwatering. You should allow soil to completely dry out before watering again, which should be no problem for the forgetful. A word of caution: Pothos is poisonous to mammals if ingested, so don’t grow it if you have pets or children in the house (and while you're at it, skip these 10 other toxic plants.)

chinese evergreen
Chinese Evergreen

Pleasant calls Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema commutatum) one of the most carefree foliage plants because it tolerates low light better than most others. It can also put up with the dry air of winter, though it appreciates a gentle misting every now and then when you think of it. Lightly moist soil works here, too.  

jade plant
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Jade Plant

Jade (Crassula argentea) looks like a mini tree, which makes it unique among succulents. It likes filtered sunlight daily, and little water. Soil should be almost dry between waterings, especially in winter. 

Related: 6 Very Cool Ways To Decorate With Succulents

ponytail palm
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Ponytail Palm

Not actually a palm at all, ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is really a semi-succulent that stores water in its bulbous trunk. Overwatering is a mistake, especially in winter, but forgetting to water for long stretches of time serves it just right. In fact, Pleasant says that a moderate soak in midwinter may be all the water it needs from November to March. Ponytail palm likes bright light, but can do with low light in winter as long as it's able to soak up the sun during the summer. 

snake plants
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Snake Plant

Snake plant (Sanseveria trifasciata) has a deserved reputation for being indestructible. If you ignore it except to occasionally dump a little water in the pot, you should be good to go. It likes part shade, and if the soil becomes nearly dry in between watering, that’s no biggie. 

Related: 5 Houseplants That Thrive In Dark Rooms