Have you ever resisted the urge to buy a plant because you felt it would be safer at the store than around a herbicidal maniac like yourself? If so, don't be discouraged. Many people label themselves brown thumbs after being plagued by one failed gardening attempt after the other, but that's because they just haven't met the right plant. We visited Costa Farms in Miami, FL, where we were introduced to a program called Plants of Steel. These foolproof flora are easy to care for and some even thrive on neglect, so if you're too busy to bother with finicky flowers, check out our list of downright difficult-to-kill plants after the jump.
ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
Sorry for using morbidity to illustrate our point, but the ZZ plant is so hardy, it will most likely outlive you. This cockroach of the plant world thrives in almost all conditions and few pests or diseases could bring it down. The ZZ is especially perfect for urbanites who live in low-light apartments since it likes the shade.
You’ve probably seen Sansevieria plants around a lot since they’re a favorite because they’re so easy to care for. While its nicknames are not so nice (it’s often called snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue), this plant couldn’t be more of a pleasure to grow, especially if you’re lazy. They don’t need much light and can thrive in a wide range of temperatures. They like warmth and dry air; will accept a little sun or a lot; and are not even fussy about the amount of moisture in the soil. Called many nicknames by gardeners, including snake plant and mother-in-law’s tongue, Sansevierias are favored for its ability to grow in low-light situations. The durable snake plant will tolerate benign neglect in a wide range of temperatures.
Despite its rather fussy appearance, the Ponytail Palm is one of the most low-maintenance plants you could buy. Since it’s used to being grown in arid conditions, this palm can survive long dry spells so you don’t have to worry much if you forget to water it before you head off for a holiday. The only thing to keep in mind that the Ponytail Palm is pretty slow-growing so don’t expect it to shoot up rapidly in size like some other plants might.
Aglaonemas or Chinese Evergreens are some of the most widely used and durable tropical plants. They were cultivated for many years in China before they made their way to Europe, but nowadays they are ubiquitous in office and interior settings. They can thrive in low-light and are also good for cleaning the air and ridding it of toxins like toluene and xylene.
Pothos is a hardy plant that can survive in lower light and colder temperatures, making it great for city living. There are many types of pothos but the Golden Pothos is one of the most popular varieties and you can recognize it by its golden heart-shaped leaves.
Schefflera are great “investment plants” because they’re easy to take care of and will last a really long time. Just make sure you keep the leaves free of dust by wiping them off from time to time. They’re also known to soak up nasty toxins like benzene, formaldehyde and toluene so they’re good for households where there’s a smoker.