5 Low-Maintenance Houseplants That Basically Thrive on Neglect

published Aug 11, 2021
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Sometimes, as a houseplant lover and owner, you just don’t have the room, space, or time to care for a fast-growing plant. While these plants might be “easy-going” in terms of their light and water requirements, frequent houseplant repotting can be just as much of a time suck. Some popular houseplants grow out of their pots so quickly it’s almost like magic (looking at you, monstera). And that’s great if you have the room and the time! But if you don’t, these plants can be a hassle.

The good news: There are tons of truly low-maintenance plants that are slow growers and almost thrive on neglect. These are similar plants to those that show up on “easiest houseplants” lists, but they’re also great options for when you’re worried that your plants are going to crowd you out of your home.

This is a non-exhaustive list of recommendations for slow-growers — there are many more out there! If you’re in a nursery or plant shop and are worried about buying a plant that might grow faster than you have time for, ask a sales associate. They’ll be able to give you a scale and timeframe for how quickly the plant grows. 

ZZ Plant

Zamioculcas zamiifolia shows up on all kinds of “best of” plant lists. It doesn’t need a lot of water, or light, and is one of the most slow-growing tropical houseplants on the market. It’s aesthetically appealing (it looks like a waxy cross between a tiny palm and a fern) and only grows to about four feet tall in complete maturity. 

Don’t count on having to repot the zz plant often — likely only every two or three years. 

Snake Plant

Often categorized as a “retro” plant thanks to its popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, the snake plant can survive for long periods of time without water and grows at a very slow pace. You’ll see your plants produce only one or two new leaves per growing season. 

Credit: Kim Lucian

Cast Iron Plant

Aspidistra elatior, or cast iron plant, was a Victorian-era favorite for its ability to thrive in extremely unsavory conditions within middle-class homes that had oil burning lamps (and all the greasy deposits that went along with the new technology). If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere.

Native to China, cast iron plants have deep green leaves that grow upright. They will only reach a height of 28 inches or so during their lifespan.

Dragon Tree

This plant can be found as a younger, smaller plant and also as a larger floor plant that is more mature. Regardless of which size you bring into your home, rest assured that the Dracaena marginata won’t be growing very fast. 

This Madagascar native is slow-growing and drought tolerant. You might notice over time that the plant sheds leaves from the bottom, up, which is just part of the plant’s natural growing pattern. Don’t panic!

Credit: fbithai/Shutterstock

Aglaonema

Also known as the Chinese evergreen, the aglaonema is not only an extremely hardy plant, but it is also slow-growing. The leaves of the Chinese evergreen, depending on the variety, can be anywhere from white to green to red and many variations in between. In light of the recent pink plant trend, aglaonemas have become somewhat of a hot commodity. 

Slow-growing plants tend to have foliage in shades of green, so the Chinese evergreen is perfect for someone who wants a colorful plant but doesn’t want to worry about maintenance.