There is abundant research touting all the many benefits of having plants inside your home–they improve the air quality by acting as a filter for toxins, produce oxygen that makes breathing easier, and release moisture, not to mention just look pretty. Research also shows that indoor plants promote better focus and can even improve your health.
And I don’t know about you, but while I love the idea of having houseplants…but it sometimes seems like I just cannot keep them alive. My thumb is browner than brown. Most of the time, there are just too many things going on to spend much time caring for plants.
Thankfully, there are quite a few types of houseplants available that nearly anyone can manage, with very little effort. In fact, some of these plants LOVE to be ignored! Plus, most of these houseplants are much less than $20, so keeping them around (or replacing them) is super inexpensive.
Whether you have a green thumb and you’re looking to add a few more houseplants to your space, or you think you can’t keep a plant alive no matter what, there’s something for everyone on this list of low-maintenance houseplants. We’ve also included their benefits and how to care for each of them.
I promise: every houseplant on this list is low maintenance and almost impossible to kill. Take a look at these easy ways to add a little more green to your home!
A word to the wise: Many houseplants are poisonous or toxic to kids and pets. Please read labels carefully when selecting your plants, and be sure to hang toxic plants out of reach of children and animals.
Pothos are the “classic” houseplant. They have heart-shaped leaves that are deep shades of green or striped with green and yellow. Some climb, while others just crawl along. Pothos is a low-maintenance houseplant. It does well in sun, but also does okay with shade or away from the window. It doesn’t require much care, other than a weekly watering when the soil becomes dry. It’s a great starter plant.
Weekly or bi-weekly watering, when the soil dries out. Keep in a window, but this plant doesn’t need direct sun.
Pothos is a great air-cleaner! It removes formaldehyde and benzene from the air, so it’s great for bedrooms and other spaces where you’d like to breathe a little easier. Pothos also absorbs odors, which is the main reason you often see them at restaurants (besides the fact they’re pretty and easy to maintain)—they can absorb the smells and odors from cooking, as well as smoke. One word of caution about Pothos: they can make pets and kids quite sick if they’re eaten. While they aren’t highly poisonous, they can cause vomiting and GI distress.
2. Aloe Vera
Not only is Aloe Vera a pretty succulent that’s very easy to keep up, but the spiky leaves contain a gel that can be soothing for cuts, sunburns, and other topical applications. These plants have a wonderful Southwestern look, with small spiky (not sharp) edges on each pointed leaf. The leaves tend to be dark green to grey with some red throughout (although they also can be found in light green varieties).
Aloe Vera is a succulent so it needs well-drained, sandy soil. It doesn’t require much in terms of water, and although it likes bright light, it shouldn’t be in direct hot sun all the time. This is another plant where “less is more” in terms of care. If you tend to forget about plants, you might want to give Aloe a try. Set it in a well-lit window and let the soil fully drain before you water it again.
Aloe Vera is soothing to the skin when applied to a sunburn or irritation. Of course, you should always test it first to make sure you don’t have an allergy, but leaves can be broken right off and applied to skin for a soothing fix. Aloe doesn’t have much of a scent and the gel in the leaves dries quickly. People also drink Aloe and use it as a mild laxative, although those claims are unsubstantiated, and it can be considered toxic in large doses.
3. Peace Lily
The Peace Lily is a beautiful plant, often seen in stores around Eastertime. Its large, wide leaves are very showy and it can bloom with gorgeous white or greenish flowers a few times a year. These plants are low maintenance and very popular.
Peace Lilies aren’t sun lovers, so this is a great plant to put in the middle of a room. They’re large, so they can go on the floor or up on a table. They do need regular watering—but just once a week—and they do well in cooler rooms. Keep this one out of direct sun. Remove the flowers once they’ve wilted and cut just the flowers down to the base.
A NASA Clean Air study found that Peace Lilies are one of the top air-cleaning plants, as they remove formaldehyde, benzene, and other household contaminants from the air. They’re also said to remove mold spores and generally keep the air fresh and clean. Again, this plant is another one that can make pets and kids sick if ingested, so keep it out of the reach of your kitties and kiddos.
4. Spider Plant
Spider Plants are very popular, as they grow cute “babies” on long offshoots. You can easily start one of the babies in its own bottle of water, and, before you know it, you’ll have a whole houseful of spider plants. These plants have long light green leaves with a stripe around the edge. They actually do resemble spiders, especially the babies hanging down from the main plant. When very healthy, Spider Plants will grow tiny white flowers.
Spider Plants do well in medium light, and can be hung or placed on a shelf where their offshoots can cascade down beneath them. They should be watered regularly, but allow the soil to dry in between watering.
This is yet another great air cleaner. Spider Plants, in addition to being low-maintenance, are great reproducers, so they’re fun to give as gifts and share with others. Simply cultivate by cutting off a “baby” and placing it in a vase or jar until roots form. After a few weeks, you can transplant the new plant into a pot.
5. Snake Plant
Snake Plants are also known as “mother-in-law’s tongue.” They have tall leaves that are stiff and run straight up and down. They’re a beautiful dark green, and some have yellow around the edges. These plants are classic, so you can use them to create a great retro look, but they also have a great modern vibe to them as well. Spider Plants look really great grouped on the floor or in a window.
Do you forget to water your plants? Then Snake Plants will be great for you! In fact, in the winter, you can get by with only watering them every 3 weeks or so. They do great in light, but also can thrive with indoor lighting or in shaded areas. They make really great office plants, too!
Snake Plants give off oxygen at night, so they make great bedroom plants. Like all plants, they absorb some environmental toxins, but these are particularly good at absorbing nitrogen oxide from fuel-burning appliances. They’re great in areas with not much natural light, so they offer all the benefits of houseplants without the need for a window.
6. Boston Fern
The Boston Fern is a classic with full, frilly leaves. It’s often hung in baskets or placed in stands where the leaves can hang down below as they get quite large. It’s easy to maintain and it grows well in humid areas and weather. It’s the easiest fern to maintain and care for.
Boston Ferns like water and prefer damp (not soaked) soil. They may need to be misted during winter months, if your house gets dry. They also prefer bright, filtered light, so near (but not directly in front of) a window works great for these plants.
The Boston Fern is yet another great air purifier. As much as they like moisture and humidity, they’re also great at giving it right back to the environment, so they act as a natural humidifier! These plants are very safe for children and pets (so if Fluffy nibbles on this plant, it’s okay).
7. Rubber Plant
Rubber Plants are beautiful, with huge glossy leaves that look almost too perfect to be real. They’re often large (2 feet or taller), and can look great on the floor as a room divider. These plants have dark leaves with a reddish tint. They have a woodsy stem and look almost like a miniature tree.
Rubber Plants need sunlight and should be placed in a warm spot that’s not damp and doesn’t get drafty. These plants need regular water, but the soil can dry out between watering without negative effects on the plant. They require very little additional care.
This plant gives off a high oxygen level, and like all the plants listed here, it absorbs environmental toxins. Rubber Plants are from the Ficus genus and, of the most common Ficus plants, they’re the best at removing air toxins from their environment. They also remove and filter ammonia from the air, as well as formaldehyde.
Popular, eye-catching and fun, cacti are some of the top picks for houseplants—they always seem to be everyone’s favorite. You can group small cacti together in a pot for a cut diorama display or you can go for large, tall cacti that can really make a statement in a room. They don’t require much care and they look great in groupings. They also don’t require huge pots or a lot of room, plus, they’re often left alone by curious pets and children.
Most cacti simply need a window, well-drained sandy soil, and a monthly watering. (That’s right: monthly!) If your cactus looks a little shriveled, you may need to water more often, but be aware that, if over-watered, they can become ill, so use caution. There are many different shapes and sizes available, and they play well together, so you can group several cacti in one pot for a great look.
Cacti and succulents don’t have the air purifying power of the more tropical houseplants, but they still offer great benefits in terms of being low-maintenance, offering green and character to a room and environment, and creating a great feel to your décor. They’re low maintenance and easy going, and they’re a great pick for a starter plant, especially if you’re nervous about your ability to care for something higher maintenance.
All plants can benefit your home by bringing a little green indoors, especially during the winter months, and brightening your spirits. There’s something about a room with houseplants that makes it feel more upbeat and cheerful, no matter how many or what type they are.
So pick something low maintenance off this list, especially if you’ve been hesitant to care for plants in the past. Give a new houseplant a try and see what you discover about it. You just might find you really enjoy caring for plants and you have a green thumb after all.