Water is essential to plants, but overwatering is also one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Many plants need a lot less than you think, and some can even go for a long-ish period of time before it's time break out the watering can again. If you're looking for some green friends that you can ignore for a bit, try some of these options.
This post came about because I was away from home from mid-January to mid-March this year, and due to some miscommunication (meaning I forgot to ask my neighbor), nobody watered my plants while I was gone. I came back to plants that were completely fine, if a little droopy. Only one plant — my neon pothos — was in bad shape (but is actually now on the mend). Yes, it was winter, but still, it was almost two months! So, I can personally attest to the hardiness of four of these: rubber plant, spider plant, umbrella plant, and a couple of succulents, including a jade plant.
But, a quick disclaimer: Every plant is different and their needs will vary a little depending on their size, the time of year, and house conditions. Get to know your plant and watch for the signs. Limp leaves, or soil that has receded from the edges of the planter, are really good indicators of a thirsty plant. So, once a month might not be best ALL the time but I, and others, have had luck with the following:
With its curly leaves and adorable proportions, the ponytail palm is both cute and pretty low maintenance. It has the ability to store water in its bulbous trunk, so you can usually err on the side of underwatering. Dried out brown leaves, and/or a shriveled trunk signal the need for water. On the flip side, yellow foliage or a mushy trunk likely means you're overwatering.
Ponytail Palm in 6" pot from Amazon; $19.95 plus $9.95 shipping
This plant has a high drought tolerance, so when in doubt, leave it alone. During summer months, it needs more water, and likes to be moister, but during winter months, it can go without for a month or longer. Watch for droopy leaves.
Burgundy Rubber Plant in 8.75-Inch Grower Pot from Amazon; $29.86 with free Prime shipping
Sansevieria is another plant that does well when you almost forget about it. They require very little water, especially in colder times of year. Allow soil to dry between waterings and take extra special care not to overdo it with too much attention.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria) in 8.75 Growers Pot from Amazon; $29.07 with Prime shipping
If you are worried about regular watering, think about aquatic plants instead. This beautiful glass container from The Merry Thought looks like it holds a moss ball and perhaps some Anubias, which Summer Rayne Oakes has in her own home and recommends. She says. "I typically change the water every two weeks but it can survive without changing the water."
Anubias Loose Live Aquatic Fresh Water Plant from Amazon; $8.95 plus free shipping
This houseplant is very forgiving to those who forget to water because its rhizomes store important nutrients, and allow it to go for some time without water. Hanging a spider plant in a bathroom is also good way to neglect it: The humid air will help it along. Brown leaf tips might signal a need for H20, but they can also be the result of fluoride in your tap water. Try distilled or rain water if you aren't sure.
Spider Plant in 1 quart pot from Amazon; $14.70 + $6.98 shipping
Desert dwellers like succulents are able to store water for long periods of time, and their soil likes to stay dry. When you water your jade plants, for example, feel free to give them a soak, but make sure they dry out completely—wait weeks (or even a month) before watering again. They will definitely benefit from less water.
String of Pearls Succulent in 4" Pot from Amazon; $7.49 plus $4.98 shipping
There's a reason we call ZZ plants the pinnacle of low-maintenance houseplants and it's because of its low light and water requirements. Like some of the other plants mentioned here, ZZ plants' bulb-like rhizomes store water during dry periods, which is part of what makes them such resilient houseplants. In fact, the biggest killer of ZZ plants is overwatering so it's best to err on the side of neglect. Proper drainage is also key.
ZZ Indoor Tabletop Plant in 6-Inch Grower Pot from Amazon; $21.54 with Prime Shipping
Cast Iron Plant
Another low maintenance superstar. If you're looking for a plant that tolerates pretty much anything: Low light, low humidity, irregular watering, and temperature fluctuation, the cast-iron plant is a great option for you. Like many houseplants, it would rather be too dry than too wet, so let it dry out completely between waterings.
Green Flame Cast Iron Plant in 6" Pot from Amazon; $17.99 plus $9.59 shipping
Umbrella plants are pretty flexible about their watering schedules, but more tolerant of dry soil than overwatering. They don't like wet feet, so empty the drainage saucer after watering.
Schefflera Indoor Floor Plant in 8.75-Inch Grower Pot from Amazon; $33.58 plus Prime shipping
Tips for Thriving Succulents
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