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Houseplant Killer – Qu’est que c’est?

A concerned black thumb writes in:“O.k. I kill every plant within a five mile radius.  Can you suggest a plant that I can have, that isn’t butt ugly, that I won’t kill?”

Let’s talk about easy care plants – both indoor and outdoor, shall we?

I must confess.  I have a pretty serious aversion to houseplants.  When I say “aversion to” you might want to read that as “killer of”.  Maybe it has something to do with the indelible childhood memory of having a macramé plant hanger positioned directly over my seat at the dinner table.  I think I’m still getting over the fact that I had to share my personal space with a dangling philodendron.

All baggage aside, there are definitely some plants out there for those of us who are houseplant challenged.  (Let me just say that I don’t think it’s a statement of your ability as a gardener if you can’t keep a houseplant alive.  After all – they say Einstein couldn’t do simple math…).  It’s a matter of finding the right combination.  My husband’s technique is Survival of the Fittest.  He buys 5 different plants and whichever one lives, he goes back and buys more of the survivor.

I found a few articles that will get you on your way.  The first is from the October 2005 issue of Real Simple Magazine (which I love, BTW).  They list several options for plant killers of all kinds.  I like this article because it has photos to go with it.

The second is an article lists some additional plants, some of which fall outside the category of “butt ugly” as you said.

On my own, I have managed to keep alive an orchid that was near death when I found it.  I placed it in my kitchen near a south-west facing window and it has really taken off.  Someday I might fertilize it and see if it blooms, but for now, I water it once a week over the sink and I’m content to see that it has new roots and leaves shooting out in all directions.  You might give that a go as well.

Another recent success I’ve had is a red anthurium.   Watered once a week, it seems to be unchanging in it’s status.  Click below to see a picture.

Red Anthurium

If you want to try some plants in containers outdoors, here are a couple of recommendations:

Texas Ranger Plant





Michigan Bulb Company has some options as well: Daylilies and Buddleia.

You may want to try a few of these, utilizing the Survival of the Fittest theory, and report back your findings.

Whatever plants you choose to try, you might consider using plastic pots or self watering containers rather than terra cotta (ceramic).  Ceramic pots tend to be more porous so the soil dries out more quickly.  If, however, you’re an over-waterer, then by all means, use ceramic.  There are some good self watering pots out there that increase your odds of survival.  Click on the link to see more about these.

Self Watering Pots
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Thanks for writing in, and good luck.

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