Long-lasting, Easy Care Plants for Black Thumbs

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

I have yet to have a long term relationship with any green, living, photosynthesizing thing, and even cut flowers seem to begin wilting the moment I put them in a vase. But I think my reputation as plant killer gives me a little credit in the easy-to-maintain arena — if I can keep it alive for more than a month, so can you!

Like many of you, I swoon over the idea of a natural home filled with those lush greens that account for so much of a home’s appeal. So despite — or maybe because o f— a ridiculous list of failed attempts at maintaining a little green in my home, I’ve found myself going back to some fail-safe options. And by fail-safe I mean that we can co-habitate for at least a month before the poor plant meets its doom. For someone who is used to tossing vases full of wilted flowers after a few days I consider a month-long fling with a plant a serious feat.

Curly Willow. For a cut branch, these sculptural beauties last forever — mine have been going strong for 2 months. And the best part is that they continue to change each day, going from bare branch to green and leafy in a matter of weeks — with little to no maintenance after the first watering. This time of year they can be ordered through your local florist or sometimes found at your local grocery store.

Moss. Even if I didn’t also share a name with this bryophyte, I would feel a certain loyalty to it. It makes an unexpected centerpiece or addition to a bathroom when placed in a shallow bowl, and I’ve found it to be the closest thing to long-term love. My current moss terrarium — made out of a little-used cheese dome — has been in my life since November. November as in 5 months ago. Some types can be ordered through your local florist, or you can raid a mossy patch in your backyard like I did. Place a layer of broken gravel-sized charcoal in a shallow bowl, cover it with a thin layer of soil, then clumps of moss. I mist mine with water every couple weeks if it is under a dome, and otherwise once a week if it is in open air. It should not be saturated, just slightly wet to the touch.

Potted Grass. It’s sleek and a little quirky, it looks great gracing a modern table or window ledge, and you can pick your variety to suit your home, which means you can grow it with great sucess even if you get very little natural light. Check out my detailed growing instructions: How To Grow Grass Indoors.

Air plants. As sad as I was to learn that these exotic plant aren’t completely maintenance free, they are pretty close. Soak them in water once a week for about an hour and mist occasionally if they are in a super sunny spot.

Phalaenopsis Orchids. With my reputation, I was wary the first time I invited this flowering beauty home, but after having had several good — month long or longer— flings with Phalaenopsis Orchids I’ve added them to my safety list. You can find them at most grocery stores and big box home centers as well as just about any florist shop. They don’t require (or thrive in) direct sunlight and require relatively infrequent watering. Moisten the soil once a week or less since soil should never be wet, and you’ll be good to go. My florist told me that you can judge an orchid’s health on its leaf color. If the leaves are bright green than it’s doing fine, but if the leaves are a very dark green than it needs more light exposure.

I will also add that cut and forced branches are other go to plant staples. They usually last for at least a month with little other than water an a little indirect sunlight. Although you’re likely to find enough flowering branches in bloom by this time of year, you can still check out my post on How To Force Branches To Flower for easy instructions.

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