My Top Five Recommendations for Easy-Care Houseplants
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know that I am a bit plant obsessed. Up until fairly recently, I had about 90 plants in our home.
As we get ready to embark upon our dining room refresh, I took stock of the plants in our home because a large majority of them live in the dining room. With a giant south-facing window, it offers the best sunlight in the entire house.
With this refresh on the horizon, I knew I needed to tame the jungle that was our dining room. Luckily we have a very active plant scene here in Calgary, so I was able to sell many of my plants to willing buyers. It hurt my heart a little to see some of them go, but I had it in my mind that I only wanted to keep plants that were easy to care for, and/or that I felt a strong emotional connection to. I know that sounds weird, but when you spend three plus years nurturing a plant, or bringing it back from the brink of death, you can get a bit attached.
All in all, between selling, giving away, throwing away (I promise, only a few that were truly on their last legs), and combining some plants together, I was able to whittle my collection down to about 50 plants.
Most of the plants I kept fall into the following 5 categories because of their easy care. I got majority of my plants when I was spending A LOT of time at home (ahem, 2020) but lately with a more busy schedule, I’ve had less time to care for them, and it’s shown. I wanted to hold onto plants that would give me some grace if I skipped watering day. I did, however, hold onto one Fiddle Leaf Fig, because I guess I’m a glutton for punishment like that.
Anyways, without further ado, here are my top 5 recommendations for easy-care houseplants - in order!
These beauties will always be the top of my list and hold the most space in my planty heart. Pothos are the leafy, trailing & vining (are those the same thing?) GOATs of the plant world.
They are extremely flexible in their lighting needs in that they can be housed in bright sunlight (such as my south-facing dining room), or minimal lighting conditions (such as my little library nook with one lone window that faces my neighbour’s house). They thrive on neglect in that they can go a few weeks without watering in a pinch, and they’re gracious enough to let you know when they need a drink by going noticeably limp.
I already mentioned that they trail beautifully so they look amazing in a hanging planter or perched on a shelf-ledge. They also can vine upwards (ah, there’s the difference) if you give them something to grab onto. There are a very large variety of leaf shapes & colourings to choose from, so you’ll always be able to find something that suits your decor (though some are easier to find than others).
My Pothos pictured above is a Marble Queen - likely my favourite and one of the easiest to find. Another easy grab is the Golden Pothos which has yellow variegation rather than white. Some of the other varieties I have are Snow Queen, Pearls & Jade, N’Joy, Cebu Blue, Hawaiian, Neon, and Global Green. There’s a few others on my wish list (hello Manjula) and I’m sure dozens more I don’t even know about.
Also - hey, I could go on and on about Pothos - they are the easiest plant to propagate! Just snip a clipping and pop it in my water, or even right back into the soil it green out of to help the pot become more full.
They are said to be toxic to pets, but in my personal experience, pothos haven’t bothered my cat too terribly on the very rare occasion when she sneaks into them. She may throw up if she eats a LOT, but they’re not deadly. That being said, I do keep mine up high out of her reach, mostly because I hate when she leaves bite marks on the leaves.
2. SNAKE PLANTS
Sometimes referred to as “mother in-law’s tongue” because of their sharpness (ahh, patriarchy), I’m sure you’ve seen these plants in many a dentist’s office or hotel lobby. The reason being is that they are so incredibly tolerant to neglect (not that dentists or hotel staff are neglectful… they’re just busy).
Snake Plants can go MONTHS without watering and much like Pothos, they are tolerant to any degree of light (besides no natural light at all). The only reason Pothos edges out the Snake Plant is because the snake plant is very slow growing. They will grow a bit faster if you give them decent sunlight, but still nothing on the Pothos which pushes out new growth like nobody’s business.
Snake Plants, too, come in many many varieties. The one shown above is a Black Coral Sansevieria (the scientific name for snake plants). I have a few others in my home but I won’t list them to show off like I did with my Pothos. I will give an honourable mention, though, to the Whale Fin Sansevieria which grows as one large, wide leaf, like a whale’s tail popping out of the ocean! It’s adorable.
Again, the Snake Plant is listed as toxic to pets by the ASPCA. I don’t think there’s much at all they don’t list as toxic, to be honest, but there are very few that they list as poisonous, none of which are on this list. Snake Plants have a hard exterior unlike the soft leafy vines of a Pothos, and personally my cat has no interest whatsoever in chomping on thick cacti-like leaves.
3 . ZZ PLANTS
No, that isn’t a hideous feature wall, I’m indecisive about paint haha.
Rounding off the typical top 3 is the beloved ZZ Plant. The ZZ grows tall stalks of beautiful waxy leaves and I always think of it as very graceful looking.
I really love ZZ Plants, but the reason they’re in spot number three is simply because of accessibility. Over the last few years, I have seen so many ebbs and flows in the availability of ZZ Plants and in the price - which can sometimes be astronomical (by my standards). Pothos and Snake? Walk into any garden centre at any moment and you’ll be able to snag one cheap, guaranteed.
However, as I say that, at this exact moment in time I saw ZZ Plants at IKEA for $15 last week, and maybe the instability of the ZZ Plant market (what?!) is unique to my location.
Anyways, I digress. The ZZ Plant is awesome because it too can survive in various lighting situations, though I do personally find that they THRIVE with bright light. The ZZ pictured above is a Raven ZZ; it is very unique in that it’s new growth pops up bright green, but slowly turns to black over time. I had my Raven in a fairly low-light room for quite some time with no new growth and no colour change, but as soon as I moved it into the bright sunshine of my dining , it turned completely black and began pumping out stalk after stalk.
In terms of watering needs, the ZZ only needs to be watered when it is completely dry. For me, this is every 2-3 weeks. The ZZ has rhizomes beneath the soil that hold water, so it would probably actually be fine for much longer.
Pet safety wise, the ZZ Plant ranks the same as the first two listed here. Listed as toxic, but really not harmful at all if a nibble happens, in my opinion. I will say that my cat likes to bite this one, because of its leafy goodness, so again, I keep it out of her reach.
That rounds out the top 3 easiest plants as widely regarded by most plant people. I’ve added a bonus 2 to the list below, not because they’re less desirable, but they may just be a touch more needy. But honestly, I care for them the same as I care for my Pothos and they’re thriving.
Probably my current favourite on the list just in terms of aesthetics. Hoya are SO beautiful. They come in hundreds (if not thousands?) of varieties, and they are all unique. The one pictured above - my pride and joy - is a Hoya Carnosa Krimson Queen. She’s very common, but for good reason. She is sometimes called a tricolour because her leaves grow in green, white, and pink!
Some people are very very committed to their Hoya (some call themselves Hoya Heads). While I admire their dedication, I selfishly hope none of them read this, because my knowledge of Hoya is very basic and I’m just relaying my personal experience with them to you. Hoya Heads would scoff at Hoya being called “easy care” because they are imported and often very delicate. Hoya Heads grow them in tents, under artificial light, with humidifiers running. However, all the Hoya that I have (and I have many - for me - I think 9 varieties) have been very easy going and forgiving.
Okay, now that I’m done defending my choice, let me tell you a bit more about Hoya. Hoya do have more specific light requirements than our previous 3 friends, preferring bright indirect (or many can tolerate direct) sunlight. They would prefer to be watered when the topsoil is dry, rather than the soil being dry all the way through - though I have been guilty of letting them dry out and they’ve always been just fine.
As I’ve said, there are so many different types of Hoya out there. Many of them can be very hard to find, which is why the admirable Hoya Heads collect them like Pokémon. The ones that are more common - especially any type of Carnosa - are, in my opinion, very easy to keep alive. They don’t pop up too often in stores, so be sure to snag them when you see them.
And hey - the best news is that Hoya are 100% SAFE for pets and humans! No toxicity whatsoever. My cat doesn’t go for them anyways as they have thicker, non-leafy foliage.
Scindapsus are sometimes mistakenly referred to as Satin Pothos, but that is actually a misnomer. They are from a completely different family, though one can understand the confusion given their similar shape and vining patterns.
Though Scindapsus are not Pothos, they do have somewhat similar care. The difference is that Scindapsus do require more light than Pothos - they love a bright indirect light. For example, the one pictured above lives in my bathroom which has a North-facing window that receives a hefty dose of morning light.
Watering needs are much the same, though, with Scindapsus preferring to dry out between waterings. Rather than wilting when thirsty (like the Pothos), Scindapsus leaves will curl inward when the plant is in need of a good soak.
Like the Pothos, Scindapsus are very easy to propagate. And if you haven’t propagated, you’re missing out.
Again, there are many varieties of Scindapsus. My favourites are the Silver Splash (pictured above) and the Exotica, due to the sheer size of their leaves and their beautiful velvety patterns. The most common is Scindapsus Argyreaus, which is beautiful as well, but I find the leaves get so tiny as the plant grows out. I know that this is because the plant is looking for support, but I’d rather have a plant that vines down than one that climbs up, personally. It’s still a great choice and if you give it lots of light & love, maybe you’ll have better luck than me.
Well - I hope this post was helpful. I’ll be back with another post in the plant series soon - “My Top Five Plant Care Tips”! Stay tuned!
I will share one quick one here because it’s a question I always get. My absolute favourite, no-buts-about-it fertilizer is Plant Vitamins. If you have endured my plant care stories on Instagram before, you’ve seen me rant and rave about it - it has done wonders for many of my slow-growing plants and brought some near-death plants back to life. I’ll never stop shouting from the rooftops how much I love that stuff. If you use my link, you’ll receive 10% off your purchase [Affiliate].
Please comment below if you have any questions or if you learned something new! If you enjoyed this blog, please follow me on Instagram where I share weekly plant content and I have lots of story highlights sharing tips.