8 Houseplants that Can Survive Urban Apartments, Low Light and Under-Watering

updated Jan 26, 2021
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(Image credit: The Sill)

Ever since a friend recommended that I start following The Sill, a Brooklyn-based plant company, on Instagram, I’ve been hooked. Besides knowing how to curate some seriously good-looking plant porn, they also seem to know a thing or two about caring for monstera, and oxalis, and pothos—and their weekly workshops prove it. So when I wanted to find out the ultimate apartment plants, I turned to The Sill to round up a list of favorites.

According to The Sill, choosing the right plant for your plant-care style and your specific home are two of the most important factors for keeping a houseplant alive. Based on the conditions of your home, along with your aesthetic preferences, you can find your best match for an indoor or outdoor plant. Read on for The Sill’s 8 favorites and who they work best for, then adopt your new plant baby from their online shop, or their store in NYC.

(Image credit: The Sill)

Snake Plant

Top Qualities:

  • Its succulent-like adaptations for surviving droughts make it best for owners who can never remember to water their plants.
  • It can tolerate low levels of light, making it suitable for first-floor apartments.
  • A high conversion rate of carbon dioxide to oxygen and its ability to filter out airborne toxins, such as benzene and formaldehyde, mean it cleans air better better than most plants.

    Buy: Snake Plant, $33
(Image credit: The Sill)

ZZ Plant

Best for: Low-light apartments

Top Qualities:

  • Can survive low light levels, even in a dim apartment.
  • It’s drought-tolerant, thanks to large succulent rhizomes located underneath the surface of the soil that store water for the plant during times of drought (aka, plant neglect).
  • Native to eastern Africa, this plant thrives in a dry, stable environment.
  • Grows horizontally (so it won’t collide with your low ceiling).

    Buy: ZZ Plant, $57
(Image credit: The Sill)


Best for: High shelves or a hanging planter

Top Qualities:

  • This trailing plant looks awesome, especially when perched on a high shelf.
  • It grows quickly, and is easy to propagate by rooting cuttings in water.
  • It prefers medium, indirect light, so you don’t need the sunniest apartment on the block.
  • Only needs to be watered about once a week.

    Buy: Philodendron, $35
(Image credit: The Sill)


Best for: Homes with plant-nibbling pets

Top Qualities:

  • Peperomia is non-toxic, making it a safe bet for apartments with curious pets.
  • With over 1,000 recorded species, there is a huge variety to choose from, with many difference appearances. One favorite is the watermelon peperomia, known for this green-and-white striped leaves.
  • Prefers medium, indirect light, and can be watered about once a week.

    Buy: Peperomia Obtusfolia, $36
(Image credit: The Sill)


Best for: Style seekers

Top Qualities:

  • This lush and leafy plant can make an apartment feel like a jungle. Plus, it’s basically a requirement if you’re going for that whole artful bohemian look.
  • Monstera grows horizontally in an irregular shape, providing a home with instant character.
  • Prefers bright light, so belongs in a spot beside your biggest window.

    Buy: Large Monstera, $200
(Image credit: The Sill)

Bird’s Nest Fern

Best for: Apartments that could use a tropical touch

Top Qualities:

  • There are over 10,000 species of ferns, but this is one of The Sill‘s favorites for its wavy leaves and tropical vibe.
  • Prefers moderate to low indirect light, so it’s great for apartments with minimal sunlight.
  • They’re non-toxic, so safe for Fluffy to chomp on.
  • Note: This fern prefers a humid environment and frequent weekly waterings, so it’s not great for dry apartments or those who are often out of town.

    Buy: Bird’s Nest Fern, $61
(Image credit: The Sill)


Best for: Those who wish their plants could talk

Top Qualities:

  • If you’re one of those helpless plant owners who wishes their plant could clearly communication their needs, consider the begonia. It wilts dramatically when it needs water, so you’ll never have to guess how it’s feeling.
  • Thousands of hybrids have been made, so there is a variety for everyone.
  • With new types being created all the time, begonias are no longer the stuffy, old-timey houseplants you may think it is.
(Image credit: The Sill)


Best for: Doting plant parents

Top Qualities:

  • Hands-on plant parents don’t need to worry about smothering their orchid—it will almost certainly enjoy the extra attention.
  • Most species, including the popular Phalaenopsis, are non-toxic and pet-safe.
  • Most species like bright, indirect light, with a few hours of sun.

    Buy: White Orchid, $98
(Image credit: The Sill)