The Best Indoor Plants for Your Black Thumb

Plants that defy your neglect and clean the air too!
Mother-in-law's tongue plant
Surachet Thasamet/Shutterstock.com

Best indoor plants for the watering-can-challenged. 'Nuff said.

Pothos

(Scindapsus spp)

This classic trailing plant can grow in a variety of light conditions and seems to grow long tendrils of leaves regardless of whether you water it or not. Some friends in my university years had one that trailed back and forth across the ceiling on little hooks to make you feel like you were in the jungle. I have even seen it wrapped up the banister of a stairwell. If a tendril gets too long, cut it off and pot it to make a new pothos plant for a friend. Pothos is an air purifier. It removes formaldehyde from your home.

Mother-in-Law's Tongue

(Sansevieria spp)

This cool plant looks almost like someone took a long stiff tropical leaf and stuck it half way into the soil. It prefers good access to light but only requires infrequent watering. Let the soil dry out half to three quarters of the way down the pot between waterings. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue also filters formaldehyde from the air.

Wood Sorrel or False Shamrock

 (Oxalis triangularis)

The green variety of this plant is often found as a common weed in backyards across Canada, but a purple variety is brought into the home as a colourful houseplant. I often add a few sprigs of the weedy version to my salad - you can do the same with the purple variety. It has a refreshing lemony burst of flavour. If you happen to neglect it to the point where it dies back to its roots, don’t worry – the bulbs hold a lot of water and energy and, in fact, it even likes a dormant rest period every year. So wait a couple of weeks before you start watering it again and it will likely just bounce right back. Another cool thing about false shamrock is that the leaves open in the light and close up in the dark (this is called photonasty if you want to impress your friends or kids).

Rubber Plant

(Ficus elastica)

You’ve probably seen this one before. It has nice big glossy dark green leaves (some varieties have red or other accents of colour) and grows into a small tree if you keep putting it in larger pots. It likes bright light but not direct sun and can happily tolerate an intermittent watering schedule.

Spider Plant

(Chlorophytum comosum)

 This classic 1950s houseplant is still going strong. Maybe because it too can so easily be propagated and passed along to your friends. Little baby spider plants start drooping off of it and simply need to be snipped off and re-potted. Spider plant is an air cleanser as well. It sucks benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene out of the air. Hopefully your grandmother still has a macramé hanging pot holder somewhere you can use to cradle your retro-chic spider plant!

*Originally published February 13, 2016

Image credits: Olga Kovalenko, Plus69, Blanscape, Tamara Kulikova, Tamara Kulikova, Sascha Preussner / Shutterstock.com