Low-Maintenance Houseplants That Will Live Even When You're Away
These tough indoor plant varieties can fend for themselves for days, sometimes weeks, at a time.
There comes a time when you plan on being away from home for longer than a weekend and won't be packing your houseplants into your suitcase and taking them along with you. This means your plant children need to be able to survive on their own for some time without being watered or tended to each day. These plants undoubtedly need to be hardy, fuss-free, and not require a ton of water. Luckily, there are some green candidates out there that can handle periodic neglect and still be alive and kicking when you get back.
What all these plants have in common is that they don't appreciate constant wet soil, which can lead to root rot, but instead like to dry out between waterings—the perfect scenario for your vacation plans. Also, while you're away, they can all withstand a temporary low-light spot that will help slow the evaporation of moisture. Before you leave, remember to give all your houseplants a complete soaking to saturate the soil (a bathtub is the perfect place to do this activity). And when you return, repeat the long soaking process. It's also a good idea to lightly sponge off your plants' leaves with water to remove any accumulated dust, pollutants, and possible bugs.
Whether you're a green thumb or not, here are the top six sturdy, indoor plants that will be self-sufficient while you're away. Bonus: They can also survive those stretches when you are at home but may be forgetful that you actually have houseplants.
ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia)
This plant might just come in at number one for being the toughest houseplant ever, but not many people know about it. With attractive waxy leaves and underground tubers, ZZ plant stores available water in its tubers and can survive for months before craving more. Grow this unsung hero in low light for best growth.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata)
Also known as mother-in-law's tongue or ribbon plant, the snake plant is a tough survivor. Boasting stiff, waxy, upright blades that come in several variegated forms, this modern-looking plant thrives on being ignored and pot bound. Place snake plant in moderate to bright light. Bonus: This plant works the night shift (other plants work during the day), taking in carbon dioxide and other noxious chemicals in household air and releasing fresh oxygen.
Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior)
As the common name suggests, this broad, dark green-leafed plant is tough. In fact, it acquired its name because it was the only plant that survived in dimly lit Victorian homes and could tolerate coal fireplace fumes. This slow grower, eventually reaching two feet, can also be content in bright light and can withstand extreme temperature changes. It also isn't picky about regular water.
Aloe Vera (Aloe Vera)
Aloe is a succulent known for its plump leaves, which contain healing gel used for burns and minor cuts. As a succulent, this indoor/outdoor plant likes quick draining soil and to dry out in between drinks. It also appreciates being placed in bright, indirect light—think, a kitchen window.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
This resilient, extremely easy to grow plant grows in clumps of slender cascading blades and produces baby "pups" that can be replanted to make more plants. Place this houseplant in bright, indirect light and water thoroughly when the soil is completely dry.
Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
Chinese evergreens, known as Aglaonema, These slow growers do best in like moderate room temperatures, and do well with some humidity, making them great indoor plants. They need water when the top inch of the soil is dry, so this plant will do best when you leave for a shorter amount of time.