3 PLANTS YOU REALLY CAN’T MURDER. I PROMISE.

The funny thing about publishing blog posts is you have NO idea what people are going to latch onto.  For example, I could write a  post about how to fix your own central vac and for some reason everyone gloms onto what kind of candy wrappers I have in my garbage, which then degenerates into a pages long discussion of what’s better, After Eights, Ovation sticks or none of the above because only devil people eat candy.

You people are nuts.  I’m O.K. with that. I suspect you are too.

So when I published my post revealing the new love of my life (my new tulip table) I wasn’t surprised when the comments started reaching into the direction of two things that were completely and totally unrelated to my new tulip table: my midcentury modern lamps and … a plant.  Let it be known right now that I suck at plants.  I’ll fully admit that I rock at vegetable gardening and if asked to, would stand on top of a vegetable garden mountain waving a green flag wearing a broccoli floret bikini.  But indoor plants?  Sometimes I fish dead ones out of garbage bins and bring them home just to save me the trouble of actually killing them.

I don’t do indoor plants. My house is exceptionally dark and  I have in my head for some reason that the minute you bring a plant inside it become self caring.  Like an artificial plant.  Or … a cat.  In my head there’s no need to tend to them, fertilize them, or even water them until they’re little brown twigs surrounded by a carpet of crispy brown leaves. THAT is the exact moment I stare at them perplexed, and think about maybe giving them a little bit of water.   I had to buy a Soda Stream just to make sure I water myself.  Plants have no chance.

But there are a FEW that I’ve discovered over the years that can almost fend for themselves in my dark and arid home.  One of those is the plant seen in my tulip table post … the maidenhair fern.

3 INDOOR PLANTS YOU CANNOT MURDER

1. The Maidenhair Fern

Maidenhair fern is a bright green fern with airy, little leaves.

This pot of them on my table is actually a group of around 6 very small ferns that I planted together in one pot to give the impression of a big plant.

Care:

Maidenhair ferns like the care of a typical fern.  They do NOT need a lot of light and they need humidity.  So placing their pot on a plastic tray with some pebbles and water will keep them happy.  The pebbles and water give them humidity without having them stand in water all the time which would rot their roots. They like to be wet but do NOT like to be overwatered so if you forget the odd watering it’s A Okay.  Also if you leave it too long and forget to water for ages, even a nearly dead Maidenhair fern will eventually start putting out new leaves again even when you think you’ve for sure killed it.

2. Baby’s tear

 

A pretty, pretty, bright green delicate little plant that everyone will say “OH!  I LOVE THAT PLANT!” when they see it, yet no one will know it’s name.  Baby’s tear.  It is Baby’s tear.  And those planters are made out of a few squares of mirror from the dollar store.

Care:

Same as the Maidenhair fern.  Indirect light with surrounding humidity and yeah … watering.

 

3. Staghorn Fern

If you’re a bonafide hipster or hipster trend follower you may recognize the Staghorn fern as the plant de jour of 2010.  Whatever design blog you looked at, no matter what they were talking about, a Staghorn fern was sure to be seen somewhere, often beside a big hunk of Chevron.  The Staghorn fern was soon replaced by wood pallets and more recently Kilim rugs.

Care:

The Staghorn fern likes low to bright indirect light, and loves to dry out between waterings.  That’s what I’m looking for in a plant.

A couple of other tips I’ve figured out for keeping plants alive beyond the first week is to make watering easier. I know.  How difficult is pouring water onto something?  Very difficult apparently since I have to come up with a tip sheet on how to do it.

TIPS TO MAKE SURE YOU WATER YOUR PLANTS.

  1. Put plastic or clay dishes under your plants so you can water them right where they are and don’t have to move them to a sink to water them.
  2. Keep a small, discreet watering can around EVERY area of your house that you have indoor plants.
  3. That watering can I told you about?  After it’s empty, refill it immediately so it’s always ready to just grab and water with.
  4. Use a moisture meter.  I got mine at a garage sale but Amazon, hardware store and garden centres carry them.

Plants.  All I’ve talked about is indoor plants.  So I cannot wait to see what actually gets discussed in the comment section.  My money is on how I like my Soda Stream.

Have a good weekend!

150 Comments

  1. Paula says:

    Lol! I totally get the kill indoor plant thing but I can grow almost anything outside.

    • Karen says:

      It must be like that whole you can’t be pretty and smart at the same time thing. Just kidding. Everybody calm down. ~ karen!

      • Paula says:

        Exactly! My friends can’t understand why I can grow 10 lbs of potatoes in a pot but I manage to kill an indoor aloe vera plant. One of my most famous moves was misting my indoor plants with, what I thought was water but it was diluted vinegar…it didn’t go very well for the plants.

        Incidentally, I try to explain to my daughter what it was like in the late 80’s at my first serious job. The management (white men) always seemed so surprised when I came up with a good idea.

        • Teri says:

          Paula, I honestly laughed long and loud at your “it didn’t go very well for the plants” comment. Great start to my Friday! a good belly laugh. and yes, being smart can startle people… 😉

        • Hi Paula. Actually there is an instance where vinegar and plants go together. Most succulents like a somewhat acidic soil situation so, when watering them, sprinkle a few drops of straight vinegar (I use it for glass, mirrors, stove top: almost everything) or spritz the water with vinegar from a spray bottle, and water as usual.

      • Gaeyl says:

        I love your tulip table by the way. Sansevaria / snake plant or mother in laws tongue a sword like green & yellow striped plant low maintenance low water & light plant . Hard to kill. I believe with much dedication & a flame thrower possibly.

        • Catlover says:

          How about a cat that has decided bursting through the middle of the plant is the most fun ever? Poor plant was dead in three weeks. He completely flattened it.

          • Gaeyl says:

            Sorry I have two friendly felines and acknowledge they decide and there is no changing their minds. Sorry for your plant loss.

        • Andrea says:

          I have actually killed one of these, all by myself, even while thinking I was doing good things for it like repotting it and all that. No dedication and no flamethrower. Taa-daa!

          • Gaeyl says:

            I had one monster plant for twenty years minimal water and benign neglect only water when it starts to droop only repot every ten years it literally outgrew its container. I sold it last time I moved because I couldn’t move the jungle to my smaller space. Give it another try.

  2. Dan says:

    A couple of years ago my wife got me a Japanese Asplenium nidus fern for my office. I named it Steven Seagal.

    Because it’s Hard to Kill.

  3. Stephbo says:

    I like how you automatically answered the “where did you get those pots?” question. You’re good!! The full watering cans nearby is a good idea. Thanks!

  4. Jani says:

    The hubs keeps buying me orchids for every occasion. I cringe inside when I see another one on the counter. I guess he thinks I am the world’s best orchid grower. I finally confessed to the three that just have huge green leaves. I bought silk orchids and clamped them on the dead stick part of the orchid about 6 months ago. He thought they were real.

    • Lisa says:

      I love you Jani. I’m going to do that with my orchard now (and I won’t confess). Love the mirrored pots as well. Karen there is one that you didn’t mention – Mother in Laws tongue – cannot be killed. 🙂

  5. Ella says:

    So I guess a discussion about those orchids that you can buy everywhere that everyone else seems to grow and have bloom incessantly – everyone except me the Orchid Murderer – is out of the question…?

    And I have never seen mirror pieces at the dollar store…which dollar store in ON did you find them in???

    • Auntiepatch says:

      Ella – I had an orchid that wouldn’t flower no matter what I did to it. I finally put it outside and forgot about it until the neighbors started asking me what I did to the orchid to make it flower so beautifully. Neglect! It’s still outside in the San Diego heat and flowers every year! Go figure!

      • Ella says:

        Sadly that won’t work up here in Canuckistan..mine tease me to the point of blossoming and then toss their juicy blossom buds on the floor in haughty defiance. They are like a lover you can never please….

      • Susan Claire says:

        How funny, this happened to me too! A neighbor mistakenly thought I would love to have an orchid for my house. I firmly believe plants belong outside (unless they are in my refrigerator) so I was less than thrilled and just left it on my potting bench. A few months later I was surprised by blooms all over the thing. Must be the San Diego weather, because I don’t recall ever watering the little nuisance even once.

      • Elaine says:

        That’s absolutely right! They seem to respond to the shock of cold air. I had a once-lovely orchid that after 9 months of not blooming, I put outside (mid October) when I lived in Muskoka – the nights were quite cold. I was intending to kill it then I could throw it out without a conscience. After about three days, I felt sorry for it, brought it in and within a week, buds were forming again!

        Many years later, I received valuable info from a guy who owns more than 200 orchids and now, I have blooms all the time. But I’ll leave you dangling (lol!) for now then maybe if Karen ever does a Post on orchids, I’ll step in and be her favorite reader of the month! 😊

    • Katherine says:

      I leave my orchids on the windowsill in my bathroom and almost completely ignore them. I toss a few ice cubes in the pots whenever it occurs to me, which isn’t often. They bloom almost continually and are the easiest plants I’ve ever had. And I’ve killed cacti. Just saying.

    • Mary W says:

      Living in Florida, you can hang the orchid in a tree outside and it grows wonderfully with no care. They use their roots to hold on to the tree branch and get their moisture from the rain and humidity. That is why a special orchid pot is needed. Plastic won’t do. They can get a dunk in water once a week then remove the pot from the water and let them drip dry in their special airy clay pot. The roots can be covered with sphagnum moss to help with humidity but watering them is not good – spray the roots with water is best so the pots stay moist and never use potting soil! I kept about 10 different ones blooming in my bedroom window for years with no problems except no direct sun allowed. They sunburn easily!

  6. Tina says:

    I murder every plant, inside, outside, at someone else’s house, it doesn’t matter. I exist, therefore I murder. Except rhubarb. I wrote in a couple of months ago about my rhubarb root that I dug up last summer, drug clear across country and wanted to know about planting it here…it lived. Yup! I’m that good!

    • Karen says:

      Oh! I’m glad you updated me on the rhubarb! I checked mine yesterday and it’s already big enough to make a couple of pies. ~ karen!

    • Gilly Bean says:

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one! Except I’m pretty sure I’d murder rhubarb too! ….and lilacs.

      • Ella says:

        That’s the only thing I don’t murder too….in fact, now that I have moved, I am going to have to do some snooping around and see if there is a neighbour I can “borrow” some from….

    • ronda says:

      i got a rhubarb shoot from my sister late last summer. didn’t plant it, thought it had died an ignoble death before the winter, and, lo and behold, IT SURVIVED!! saw green leaves poking out of the decripid box, lying on its side on the patio. rhubarb can survive anything it appears!

  7. Kristina says:

    I’ve solved the problem of indoor plants in my house. I have a small garden of them on top of my parrot’s cage. Every time I change his water, I dump the old water (inevitably full of parrot food and poop) into the plants. Of course, I can only use plants that The Professor can safely nibble. But it looks very nice, and he enjoys a little snack when he’s out.

  8. Lynn says:

    Now you see I use to be very good with house plants, that is till we moved here 25 years ago 😒. Since living here I can not or don’t want to recall the number of plants that have ended up in the compost pile. 🙄 Truly not my best luck growing in doors here . I keep trying cause I love plants but I cry when I lose them.

    • Elaine says:

      I usually water on a set day, Friday, for example. Water well, let the water stop draining then return the plant to its pot. IF it’s a succulent (jade tree, rubber plant, etc.) then I let them go about 10 to 14 days. That’s it!

  9. TucsonPatty says:

    Okay, I’ll bite – how *do* you like your soda stream? I really don’t want one, just playing with you. I very recently gave my one large plant (that I did keep alive for about 4 years) to a friend who says she will nurse it back to health and promises not to give it back to me. I eventually kill them all. I love them, but I think I over-water, and they don’t like that much better than dying of thirst! I’m just going to give up, and look at other people’s plants. I used to have lots of ferns, succulents, philodendron, blah blah, but…my thumb is brown, but a pale shade of brown, so it takes a couple of years to kill everything.

    • Karen says:

      Love my soda stream. 😉 And recently watered my maidenhair fern .. so! I’m in good shape. ~ karen!

      • Elaine says:

        Thanks for the Fern info, Karen, and its light requirements! I love the delicate foliage so next time I’m at Metro, I’ll see if they have any Maidenhair ferns. I don’t drive anymore (even though I retain my license) so have to hoof it everywhere, therefore, choice options are pretty limited. 🙁

  10. That guy, again. says:

    Been thinking Tree and Twig could use a mascot.
    See you there for Tomato Days?
    Bring your own broccolli…
    We’ll build the hill.

  11. Deb says:

    Eveery time I see the name Baby’s Tears or see the plant I think of my Grandmother: she thought the name was “Baby Steers”. She must have wondered why, oh why, such a delicate and small plant was named after bulls… made my sister and I chuckle every single time.

  12. Suzanne says:

    LOVE the table!

  13. The thing about indoor plants is: if you underwater, the leaves turn yellow, and if you overwater, the leaves turn yellow. Who should have to deal with that?? I keep making terrariums, though, because I love the concept. When the plants all die inside there, I label it Apocalypse and add a little zombie until I make it over to the nursery to buy some more innocent little green things.

    • Thandi Welman says:

      Lois we were obviously meant to be friends. Apocalypse terrariums sound like the best idea ever.

    • Karen says:

      hahahah. ~ karen!

      • Marianne says:

        Don’t ever put worm castings into the terrarium. I did that my first attempt having hear how good worm poop is for plants. IT IS VERY GOOD! My terrarium, that I was assured would be a civilized planter suitable for a busy career woman who killed things, took off until it was a miniature Jurassic Park. Baby’s Tears and other pushing off the lid and cascading over the sides. And then it was work. I killed it too eventually. I think that the plants were exhausted. I sure was.

        • lol. No worries. I have no idea how to collect/acquire worm poop. And “castings” is such a civilized word for “poop.” One wonders (and by “one” I mean my brain goes off in weird directions) how that came to be.

          • Kim from Milwaukee says:

            Yes, love the word ‘castings’ for poop….but I think I’ll use scat from now on, that way I can say I’m going to scat…..and giggle to myself.

    • karin sorensen says:

      THAT is awesome and hilarious :0B

  14. p.s. Karen, did you notice that I changed my avatar from a flying cat to a real person? lol.

  15. Karen, I have killed all three of those plants you say can’t be killed. And I wrote a book about using indoor plants as decor. As you know. No one worth their salt doesn’t kill a plant now and then. We need to change our attitude about houseplants. I mean it. We think nothing of spending a fair chunk of money on annuals in spring for outdoors, knowing full well when fall comes, they’re gonna croak and turn to mush at the first hard freeze. We’re just fine with that. We buy a bouquet of cut flowers, often spending more than a decent houseplant costs, and how long do THOSE last? Why, oh why, do we think houseplants have to live forever, or even more than six months or a year? (Although some of them certainly can, easily, if you choose the right one.) I mean, geesh, it’s not like they’re a pillow or a table lamp.

    Don’t be so hard on yourselves, people. Houseplants can be fun, and seriously, for no more than most of them cost, you can change it up now and then, even if you DON’T kill them!

    • Sande says:

      HI Kylee,
      I “know” you from the Monarch Watch list serve! And as I remember, you made it to Mexico to see monarchs this winter and you’ve just finished writing a book about monarchs! Woohoo!
      I found Karen’s blog a few years ago when I was searching monarchs and I’ve been a fan ever since.
      Happy spring! 🌾

      • Oh my goodness, HI, SANDE! How very cool! Yes! I did make it to Mexico to see our beloved monarchs. What a wonderful, emotional experience! I cried. The local guide said he witnesses that quite often. And yes, my book just came out last week! I’m so excited and it’s doing well so far. Karen has some fabulous photos of monarchs, doesn’t she? I can’t remember how I found her, but it was several years ago (“the fella” was hanging around) and like you, have been a fan ever since. So nice to “see” you here! 🙂

    • Sue says:

      ThankyouThankyouThankyou!! I love this idea!

    • Karen says:

      Ha! True. I guess for me it stems from my grandmother in Renfrew, Ontario having the same 4 plants on her fireplace mantle alive every year that I went there, one of them vining and winding its way around the room. Ugly as hell, but that thing was alive, lol! ~ karen

    • For some reason, I got an email that you’d responded, Karen, but I’m not seeing it here! So I’m copying and pasting, so I don’t sound silly, responding:

      Karen has replied to your comment on 3 PLANTS YOU REALLY CAN’T MURDER. I PROMISE.

      “Ha! True. I guess for me it stems from my grandmother in Renfrew, Ontario having the same 4 plants on her fireplace mantle alive every year that I went there, one of them vining and winding its way around the room. Ugly as hell, but that thing was alive, lol! ~ karen”

      Now THAT’S a plant that needs euthanized. Yeah, it’s okay sometimes to put them out of your misery. I vowed years ago – NO MORE PLANT HEROICS! Life’s just too darn short for that.

    • Sharon says:

      I agree. When my children were small I decided that you can’t keep both plants and children alive. My kids reached adulthood. Now their on their own, but during that time I concluded that plants need to be treated like cut flowers. Enjoy them for a while, then toss them out. Like kids.

  16. Muff Hackett says:

    I have an Hawarthia (looks like an Aloe Vera, but not) which was given to me by a co-worker. It came in a pretty square glass vase, with decorative sand at the bottom and pebbles surrounding the root ball (which was wrapped in some sort of papery stuff) at the top. Very attractive. Unfortunately it was also very attractive to the students who look after my office at lunch in the school – they were unable to resist lifting the poor thing out of the pot by the leaves and plunking it down on top of the pebbles. I was pretty sure it was a goner, but as a last ditch effort I bought a pretty clay pot with a glass top (looks a bit like a storm lantern) and the plant is much happier and has sprouted several new leaves (or whatever they are called.)

  17. Kelly Mudry says:

    So – are you hanging curtains? I see rod holders, but no curtain rods. I’ve been in a 2 year debate with myself as to curtains or no curtains so am highly attuned to curtain rods

    • Karen says:

      No curtains Kelly. There actually are curtains there right now but they’ve been there for a decade. I’m going to be building interior wood shutters for all the windows. I take the curtains down for the photos because a) they block the light and b) I hate them and can’t wait until I can go curtainless. 🙂 ~ karen!

  18. Valerie says:

    Many indoor plants will die a quick death if the 20-20-20 or whatever fertilizer is used is too strong or concentrated a solution.

  19. Jules McShera says:

    I saw Idris in Ghostbusters the other day. I must say he’s looking a bit rough since you dumped him. Still hot though.

    • Alex says:

      Well, we may be superwomen, but even our time is limited. Idris nurture or house plant nurture??? In life the choices are sometimes tough.

    • Karen says:

      Yeah. He’s still a bit of a wreck over it. He’s a delicate little thing. He’ll get over it soon enough. ~ karen!

  20. Mo says:

    Maidenhair fern it is then. It’s a beauty.

    • Karen says:

      Yup. One of my favourites. Go for it. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Jennifer Lee says:

        I love the look of maidenhair ferns, too, but I did kill one, back in the 70s. And I had it hung over my bathtub, figuring it would be humid there. No luck!

        • Elaine says:

          If you have enough light, no one can possibly kill Asparagus Fern! I promise! Mine grow so fast and need larger pots all the time so I yank them out, root prune with a sharp knife and shove them back in the original pot. I don’t know who is the more stubborn – me or the plant!

  21. Ann says:

    Alas, I have also killed all 3 named plants above. Heck, I almost killed a cast iron plant and a mother in laws tongue plant.

    But now I turned the spot where I used to have a TV into a plant spot and things do so much better there under the plant light and where I can easily water them all at once, instead of going all over the house.

  22. Mitch from Boston says:

    Then there’s the uber-nerd solution: my wife once gave me a small cactus for my office. It is supposed to be watered once a month. So I took a sticky note (one of the little ribbon kinds that are intended as bookmarks) and every time I water it, I write down the date. So if I glance at it once in a while I see right away “oh, I haven’t watered that cactus in two months; I guess I’d better pour a bottle of water on it”. Still going strong. Those cacti are tough.

    Might not work in my living room, though.

  23. Lisa says:

    ZZ plant! This is possibly the best houseplant I’ve ever had. It looks great and needs water very infrequently (I’m talking once a month people). It actually almost lools fake. Someone on a plant site (“plants are thevstrangest people”) referred to it as the “stoner of all plants”. On the downside it’s a slow grower so if you buy one make sure you like the size of it. I got mine at Ikea but have seen them all over the place.

    • Elaine says:

      Oh! I remember seeing them at Terra Nursery on – #5 Highway. I almost bought one; maybe I’ll go back sometime. Thanks for the photo.

  24. Wendy says:

    I have the opposite problem. I have 35 plants in my house, most of which go outside for summer holidays. Some are now so healthy I need a dolly to move them. I keep hoping a few of them will expire in the heat, drought, elements, bugs….. but they all get hauled back in. I know I could leave them out for the killer frost to take care of, but that would be pre-meditated. Can’t do it.

  25. Billy Sharpstick says:

    I’ve had good luck with african violets and other gesneriads. I currently have three of them in the north window sill that are three years old and regularly bloom. They’re sitting in plastic AV pots with a water reservoir and sitting in trays of water. (They’re on a high shelf that the cat vandals can’t reach)

  26. Leslie from Hampton says:

    Karen I too kill all indoor plants except started growing sprouts once you brought that up a while ago. I do pretty well outside though with the veggie garden. I do want to try my hand at sweet potatoes this year as you brought that up a while ago too. You sure seem to have some good ideas that I am latching on to LOL

  27. jaine kunst says:

    My question- how did you keep reflections from showing up on your mirrored planters when you photographed them? In the planter in the foreground, the blurred reflection looks like a marble statue of a nude.

    • Karen says:

      It’s funny you mention that of all things, lol. If you read the post on making the mirrored boxes I actually talk about how hard it was to get a photo without any reflection. Now of course I would just use Photoshop to get rid of any reflection but at the time I didn’t have Photoshop or any clue how to use it. 🙂 ~ karen!

  28. Darlene Meyers says:

    Might I suggest the topic of flour spaghetti or zucchini ?

    Or ice cream vs sorbet?

  29. Shelagh says:

    We are cheap. As cheap as possible. So, one year hubby cut back the geraniums and brought the geraniums inside for the winter. Put them in a cool room with a south western facing window and not only did we not kill them with neglect but they actually bloomed!

    They are blooming now and this I should the end of their second winter! All we did is stick a finger in the dirt and if it felt dry we gave them some water. If a few leaves went brown…ooops…gave the some water.

    You have rhubarb? Enough for pies already? I barely have crocci peeking up!

    And I love my soda stream….in the summer.

  30. Michelle says:

    Soda Stream! Yes! Help!
    Just went to Canadian Tire to ‘refill’ my soda stream canister and it cost TWENTY DOLLARS!! For a can of gas. Soda Stream gift not economical at all
    Unless you oh clever one know if a way to refill gas canister in a cheaper fashion?

    • Karen says:

      There are ways to refill it yourself but I swear to God it involves dry ice, the possibility of death and a Hazmat suit. So … even I will just be getting the cartridge recharged at Canadian Tire. :/ ~ karen!

      • alena says:

        Karen,
        The cartridge is usually cheaper (though not by a whole lot) at Water Depot (but not all Water Depots carry them).
        The price also seem to vary depending on weather and who is the clerk on duty. The last time (a week ago) I paid $24 plus some change.

        It is an disgustingly expensive addiction but I can’t live without my soda water. I have been an addict for probably 10 years by now, if not longer.
        I swear those bubble are more addictive than McFries.

    • Renee Rydzewski says:

      psst – check with a fire extinguisher company – they may be able to do it cheaper. Someone that fills Co2 – I got one for my son, and we can refill his (we own a fire ext company near Chicago) I would certainly not charge someone $20.

  31. Jamieson says:

    Great tips as always. But any ideas about caring for a corn? Not corn plants, and not acorns, but foot corns. Thanks again!

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Call a podiatrist. Or a chiropodist. Whatever.
      Gawd I’ve missed you. Hah!

    • Elaine says:

      Oh gosh – now I’m REALLY laughing!!! This has to be the best blog in existence!! I follow certain lady-like decor blogs but this is way more fun. I’ve had a corn for over 50 blasted years. It can be “quiet” for a few months but if I wear a snugger shoe for even two hours, it seems to jumpstart the thing then I have months of wearing corn cushions until it dies down. You can use the skin-burning removal liquid but a doctor told me it’s the bone that needs to be shaved down. For now, I’ll pass on that.

      • Jan in Waterdown says:

        Alrighty then! Jamieson, you get your toe bone shaved and karen! can video it and then we can all make appropriately rude comments. Sounds like fun eh?

    • Karen says:

      LOL. No. No corn advice beyond my delicious Indian Street Corn recipe. Is that helpful? I think that’s probably helpful. I’ll assume, super-helpful. ~ karen!

  32. Heather B says:

    I love baby’s tears and I cannot tell you how many times I have killed them. They’re all perky one day and *poof* the next day flat as a pancake & they never recover.

  33. Debbie says:

    ZZ plants are the plant that I cannot kill with neglect. We are a general contractor and build animal hospitals. I give these plants to my clients as a grand opening gift because they need very little light, very little water, and very little fertilizer. In my experience, offices who don’t have a plant lover will forever have dead plants…..and who would trust a doctor who’s plants are dead, right? I have 4 or 5 in my house in various sizes. I water them when I remember. Many times I water the ones in the kitchen with the water from steamed or boiled veges (after it has cooled, obviously) and they love that. Slow to grow, ZZ plants can be very expensive if purchased at a nursery. I buy small and grow them myself.
    http://www.guide-to-houseplants.com/zz-plant.html

  34. Jan in Waterdown says:

    OK, going with your theme of digression . . . are you high and dry? Not you personally lol but your street or basement or chickies coop? Was thinking about you last night when I saw the flooding on the news. Hope you’re ok!

  35. shannon says:

    My house is very dark too (tons of windows, but big trees outside) and I have killed all manner of supposedly easy and low-light plants. The ones I’ve had great luck with are snake plants and zz plants (both mentioned by other commenters). I’ve lost a leaf or branch here or there, but I have two of each and they thrive even in my darkest rooms in my house. Also, I water them maybe once every couple of months. The ones I have are floor plants, though; it would be nice to have something small to set on an end table. Maybe I’ll get brave and try one of yours.

    I see the staghorns popping up on blogs again now. Anything to get people to shut up about fiddle leaf figs. 😉

  36. Jenny says:

    We have a little potted cactus that came with our house because the previous owners couldn’t be bothered to take everything with them. It’s really bizarre looking–three splayed out arms that throw out little clusters of pink blossoms and a few leaves. I have no idea what it is because it defies googling.
    It’s over the kitchen sink so every now and then I flick a few drops of water at it, and that’s it. Plants that survive on benign neglect are the plants for me!

  37. Ev Wilcox says:

    About that Soda Stream…. My house plants do ok, and spend the late spring till frost in the fall, out on the enclosed porch or the deck. They are simple, nothing fancy (like me!), which is why they survive. I am thinking of getting a Baby Tears, and the other two, though! My mom absolutely had a green thumb, indoors and out. I think I have a green little finger, or maybe the middle one. Never mind on that one…. My house has limited window space and is dark too. That’s my excuse anyway.

  38. Veronica says:

    You can’t kill a maidenhair fern!? Pah! Amateur!
    The minute mine came in the door from Holland Park, it turned up its nose at the atmosphere in here and gave up the ghost.
    Now, outside, all is well.
    Love your posts – they give me hope.

  39. Patti says:

    hhhhhmmm ….I have killed many ” indestructible” plants in my lifetime too! But my 2 twenty and thirty-five year old ficus trees flourish to the point I have to trim them back because they are scraping the ceiling, pushing their way out of their corners and their pots. I have problems with scale on one and I will summer it outside……washing it off with insecticidal soap a few times. Hopefully they are gone for good now! Careful buying those “cheap” plants….they sometimes come with a bonus! BUGS!

  40. Eileen says:

    Huh…all three of those were lickety-split DEAD once they came into my life.
    Now specializing in cacti and succulents of various types. Did manage to over-love (ie. drown) a couple of those before learning about restraint.

  41. Sherry (BTLover2) says:

    It’s like you’re in my head! I’ve been killing indoor plants my whole life. I am a habitual murderer. So naturally when I saw my hero having the same issue, I tuned it. But what surprised me most was that you listed the Maidenhair Fern as one that’s difficult to off. What does it say about me that I have trouble with these? I love, love, love Maidenhair Ferns but my love isn’t enough.

    I have not totally given up on them, but I’m frustrated. I’ve been nursing my latest MF and it is sprouting up new growth (yay!). My trouble is gauging how much to water. I know it doesn’t want to be dried out, but perhaps I am over-watering? I spritz it daily too. I find them fickle and twatty. I will, however, follow your advice and we shall see.

    PS: Oddly enough, I can keep orchids pretty well.

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Sherry: I assume the letters MF are meaning “Maidenfern Failure” right? Ha! Ok, watering seems to stump a lot of people, either too much, or too little. Just water (well!) over the sink, wait for the pot to stop dripping and put it back in it’s outer pot (if it has one) or on its saucer. Bingo, done! Don’t water again for at least a week, unless you have the plant in an extremely hot place. If it’s succulents you have (jade tree, rubber plant, etc.), let them wait 10 to 14 days. I automatically water every Friday – it eventually becomes a built-in schedule after a bit.

  42. Julie says:

    I find plants enjoy a bit of fertilizer too! I keep a gallon milk jug under my kitchen sink with half strength fertilizer (20-20-20 Plan Prod usually), and water my house plants with it every time. They seem to like it!

  43. Erin says:

    Once summer arrives, all my focus is on outdoor plants. I’ve slowly reduced the collection of indoor plants to succulents, one rosemary plant and a lemon tree. It was hard to admit that my powers were limited.

  44. meredith says:

    I have killed so many maidenhair ferns……I think if you don’t live in a sauna, forget it.

    Also, staghorn ferns gave way to fiddle leaf figs, which gave way to SUCCULENTS, which gave way to Chinese Money Plants (currently making people into millionaires on Ebay). It is exhausting being on-trend with my houseplant decor.

  45. Jennie Lee says:

    Response to Elaine’s suggestion of Asparagus Ferns: Yes, they are very hardy. Unfortunately, they are toxic to cats. I check up on plants to make sure they’re safe for my 18 year old cat, before I buy them. The ASPCA toxic/non toxic plants lists, which you can Google, is VERY helpful!

    • Elaine says:

      Sorry about that Jennie Lee. I no longer have a cat (love them!) so I didn’t stop to check for toxicity. I remember many old motels in Florida used to have Asparagus Ferns growing outside (like a weed down there) and I’m now wondering if any stray or “regular” cats ever sampled them. I hope not! When that fern matures a bit, it develops sharp little spikes on the stem so, hopefully, that dissuades cats from tasting. I always had a few of those ferns in the house along with a cat. Luckily, he never went near it but he did like my Palm tree.

      • Jennie Lee says:

        Most palms are safe. My room-mates and I had cats, years ago, and we had an asparagus fern, on top of the refrigerator, but now that I know, I’d never risk it with my kitty! I don’t know how outdoor cats avoid poisoning; there are so many common plants that are toxic, some more so than others. One that I might mention, since it was recently Easter, is Easter Lilies! They are especially bad. Basically all lilies are deadly to cats! 🙁

  46. Caroline says:

    Spider plants are also very very hard to kill. Mine lived in water, no soil, during college and it survived. It only ever had five leaves at a time but it survived. Once it was on my windowsill for sun and it ended up getting frozen. And it survived that, too. I finally gave it soil a few years after college and ever since then it’s been a lot happier! I wonder why! Ha! This is a cutting from my grandma’s plant, which I think belonged to HER mom, if not someone before that, and many of my aunts, uncles, and cousins also have cuttings from it. They are hardy for sure.

    My girlfriend has the indoor green thumb and patience that I lack and now Ralph is flourishing!

  47. Laurinda says:

    I have a generic ivy (pothos? Maybe) that my husband randomly gave me on valentine’s day, & the only way I’ve managed to not kill it, is I have a weekly alarm reminding me to water it.

    • alena says:

      Hi Laurinda,

      Ivy (Hedera helix) and pothos (Epipremnum) are two different plants. 🙂

      Alena

      • Laurinda says:

        Hi Alena,

        Plant identification was not the point. At all.

        Laurinda

        (Because it’s so easy to google it, I obviously am not interested in what kind of plant it is)

  48. Ann Brookens says:

    WHAT??? Nobody brought up the broccoli floret bikini??? I was SURE someone else would pounce on that! I require a picture as part of your next outdoor-plant post!

    • Ann Brookens says:

      I’m guessing that your readers all have some affinity for house plants, therefore they actually want to talk about house plants. I, on the other hand, live in an apartment with nowhere to put a plant, thus killing any that we actually bring in. Too depressing. A broccoli floret bikini, however, is much more interesting.

  49. Diane says:

    I do fine with tropical plants but have spent the last 15 years torturing and slowly killing a large (6 ft.) cactus that came with the house. Over water, under water, ignore, pamper. No matter what I do, it doesn’t like it.

  50. Elaine says:

    Hi Karen: I received a desperate sounding email from “Angela” begging for my orchid tip. I hope it’s okay with you if I reveal it here … I’ll try to be brief. A friend’s husband (has over 200 of them, wins ribbons at shows and even raises them from seed!) said: when the blooms have all fallen off a stem, do NOT cut the stem down IF it is green. New buds will form on that green stem. If the stem has turned brown, go ahead and cut it back. One particular orchid of mine has been blooming non-stop for 18 months now!! I don’t even bother to fertilize but recently, did replace the bark in the pot. Just lift the orchid out, cut off any dead roots (or not, if you’re scared!) and insert orchid back in pot as you gently add fresh orchid bark. He suggests doing this once a year (mid Winter) is fine. I swear – ever since I stopped cutting back the green stems, my orchids (and my daughter’s) bloom all the time! There you go, Angela! Thank you, Karen, for letting me help Angela.

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