6 Plants These Houseplant Pros Will Never (Ever!) Buy Again

updated Apr 16, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

The houseplant collector community is a tight-knit crew. While we’ve been known to have our dramatic squabbles over proper plant care (looking at you, LECA lovers), most of us are loyal to the core — both to community members and to our plant collections. We are plant parents and we are proud.

However, that doesn’t mean that we love all houseplants. Everyone has different taste based on their experiences and aesthetics. Some love plants like echeveria succulents, while others absolutely despise them; some are die-hard orchid fans while others would rather display a bunch of rocks. Like everything else in this world, the adoration for certain plants ebbs and flows. Most disdain for specific species of houseplants will dissipate over time for plant lovers — but some of it hangs on for a lifetime. 

All that to say: You are 100 percent valid in your malicious feelings towards certain houseplants. You are not alone! Just to prove it, here are a few plants that even experts and long-time collectors won’t touch again. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)

The croton has been sold in flower shops and grocery stores for decades. It’s a tropical plant that is sought out by lovers of color since its leaves are tinged with reds, yellows, and oranges, just like a sunset.

While crotons do wonderfully in southern, tropical climates, these beasts tend to suffer when exposed to any other type of temperature or humidity level. For me — a plant aficionado who has worked in nurseries and written an actual book on the plants — they rarely work out. In my experience, I take this plant home and it will pretend to be happy for a month or so. Then, my croton will most likely throw a fit, drop its leaves, and look completely pitiful until I can figure out how to make it happy. (Sometimes that is never.)

Unfortunately, crotons are typically (and incorrectly!) lauded as easy-to-care-for houseplants. But these plants are picky and if you can’t hone in on the exact right temperature and humidity that they like, they’re unlikely to flourish. Over the years I’ve tried to help multiple people in nursing their ailing crotons, with minimal success. The bottom line is that if you live in a chilly house with low humidity, don’t even try to grow one of these. 

Needless to say, I — a houseplant pro — won’t be buying one again. Ever.  

Credit: KlavdiyaV/Shutterstock

Plumosa Fern (Asparagus plumosus)

The plumosa fern (also known as the asparagus fern) is mostly known as a cheap cut-flower product used by florists. It is also a very popular houseplant. It’s affordable and pretty much available anywhere you can buy tropical plants. But Mandy Lancia, avid houseplant collector and founder of the online magazine “The Glossary,” says that the last thing she’s interested in is purchasing another plumosa fern. 

“These beautiful plants never survive under my care,” says Lancia. “I can’t find the balance of keeping the growing environment moist or humid enough for the plant to survive without getting pests. It just makes a mess.” Even though she has a houseplant collection that numbers in the high 20s, Lancia says she’s not adding another plumosa fern to the mix.

The extra bad news is that when plumosa ferns die, they die slowly. All that soft fern fluff dries and drops all over the place. The microscopic pieces are almost impossible to clean up and are extremely itchy if they get lost in your sleeves or down your shirt. If you tend to under water your plants, this one is definitely not for you. 

Credit: Norrabhudit/Shutterstock

Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe daigremontiana)

This is one plant I’ll never buy again not because I can’t keep it alive — it’s because I can’t kill it. In my opinion, this kalanchoe is immortal. It produces pups along its mature leaves, and then drops them onto the ground below once they get big enough to survive on their own. 

This plant tends to get gangly and unsightly but still continues to thrive. I once worked with a woman who was so desperate to get rid of hers that she put it in her enclosed New England sun porch for the winter, and waited for it to die.  Instead, the little baby pups had started to mature and grow — even over winter! In the end, she gave it away on Craigslist. Clearly, it no longer brought her joy. 

I’ve had these pups tag along in other succulents I’ve bought and brought home. They will grow anywhere, in any soil. They are invincible. I pick them out of the soil and toss them out. For all I know, there’s a mother of thousands colony growing on top of a waste facility somewhere in central Massachusetts. 

If you’re searching for an odd-looking plant you’ll be able to leave behind in your will, this one’s for you. I, on the other hand, have done my time and have no interest in looking at one ever again. 

Credit: Rebekah Zemansky/Shutterstock

String of Bananas (Senecio radicans)

Dangling “string” plants have been trendy for quite some time. Who doesn’t love the elegant strands of a string of pearls or rosary vine? The string of bananas, Senecio radicans, is a relative of the string of pearls, and you can definitely tell by its care requirements. 

In short, the string of bananas are finicky buggers. Just ask professional houseplant collector Emily Drone. Drone, who is also the Children’s Librarian at the Harrisburg, Illinois District Library, got into a mess with one and she’s never been the same since. 

“I bought this bad boy at Lowe’s and I thought ‘if it can thrive at Lowe’s, surely it can thrive with me!” Drone says. “It never thrived since it left Lowe’s. It never seemed to get enough light, even under a grow light all day long.”

Drone did a little troubleshooting, thinking that maybe it wasn’t the light that was the issue, but the watering schedule. It wasn’t.

“It was needier than any succulent I’ve ever had. I let it shrivel,” she says. Two words: Never again.

Credit: Alexis Buryk

ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

ZZ plants are notorious for being unkillable houseplants (unless you overwater, that is). However, they’re not a favorite for everyone. For Lancia, it reminds her of when her well-meaning husband brought one home, only to be met with disaster.

“In all my years working with and collecting houseplants, I’ve never had a ZZ until recently,” Lancia says. “They’ve never been my style, but my husband brought one home last month. Within a few days we had an infestation of fungus gnats. While I’m sure ZZs are a great plant for many, I feel traumatized by ours.”

Once you’ve been bamboozled by an iron-clad houseplant, it’s hard to walk back from that. I’ve personally held rotting ZZ rhizomes in my hands, so I know how it feels.

Credit: light name/Shutterstock

Calathea “White Fusion”

Take a scroll through any online plant store and you’ll find a Calathea “White Fusion.” It’s a highly sought after plant that folks love for it’s bright white variegation and delicate leaves. And, surprise surprise, that’s exactly what it is: delicate. 

The Calathea “White Fusion” has a very intensive care routine that revolves around distilled water and chemical-free soil. It is much more difficult to care for than its other prayer plant family members (other calatheas, marantas, stomanthe, and ctenanthes). Unfortunately, the care instructions don’t always get passed from retailer to customer, which is something that Drone dealt with firsthand.

“I have two plants from the same family that thrived: a red maranta and lemon lime ctenanthe,” Drone says. “So I thought I could handle a ‘White Fusion.’” 

Drone didn’t know how wrong she was.

“It was okay for a couple of months. But after a while it became obvious that the ‘White Fusion’ was not going to thrive. After some research I found out that I should be watering it with distilled water. I didn’t want to be that extra with my plants. I just let it dry up, and I didn’t have any sympathy for it.”

If you’re reading this and you have a “White Fusion” or other plants with extreme variegation, remember that it’s a good rule of thumb to only water with distilled water since they’re more delicate than other plants. If you, like Drone, don’t want to baby your plants with special water, then you should skip these.