Expert Approved: 10 of the Hardest to Kill House Plants + Planter Roundup

admin on February 27, 2019
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image source | design by nate berkus & jeremiah brent | plant design by rachael freitas

Written by Arlyn Hernandez

Plants. In the PG-censored words of Emily Henderson “What could people need to know? They’re so **bleeping** easy.” Let me rewind for a second, to give you some context. Picture this: All of team EHD, up in the mountains for a staff retreat in early January. The fireplaces are roaring, the soup is flowing, and we’re spit-firing off ideas for our editorial calendar for the first two quarters of 2019. I bring up the fact that I think the craving for plants has replaced the yearning for children for millennials and Gen Z (only sort of kidding), the rest of the team hoops and hollers in agreement, proclaiming that YES, INDEED we should be doing regular plant content. Enter Emily’s comment. She was pretty dumbfounded that we all collectively were SO excited about the potential to write more about plants, not understanding why we would…who would care? Um, everyone Emily, everyone (back me up here…please?).

You guys may or may not know that I used to be the Design Editor at Apartment Therapy, but—sorry Maxwell if this is insider information—every.single.reader was OBSESSED with plants, so I had to imagine that such interest was pretty universal. I can go into a much larger philosophical/societal hypothesis on why I think that young people care so dang much about indoor greenery these days (we’re happy to own something, no backyards, putting off families+student debt, etc.) but instead, I’m going to focus in on what everyone on our team wanted to know more about…what plants can’t I kill easily?

Somehow, we’re all obsessed with plants, but no one seems to be able to claim a green thumb or keep anything alive for extended periods of time. Anyone else around here feel that way? Though, I will say, I’m pretty proud because I’ve kept a fiddle leaf fig tree (that I bought for $30 at Costco!!!!) alive for seven months and find it pretty easy actually…just keep in diffused bright sun, water when the top inch or so of dirt feels dry (or the leaves start getting a little droopy…that tree is expressive and tells you what it needs pretty clearly). Anyhow, I digress. Emily might have plants all figured out, but we didn’t, so I reached out to an dedicated expert for some help. Rachael Freitas of UPCOUNTRY Plant + Design came to the rescue with lots of great tips for any plant newbies as well as 10 house plant varieties to consider if you’re thumb isn’t exactly a verdant shade of green.


I’m going to let Rachael take it from here:

First things first, you gotta master the basics of keeping a plant thriving (then we’ll get into the plants to actually buy). Here are three things to commit to memory (or just write it down…or Pin this article for reference!):

Don’t repot ‘em!

Sounds counter-intuitive to most, but the best way to keep your interior plants alive and well is to keep them in the plastic nursery grow pot they come in, rather than repotting them in your decorative container. When you purchase a plant, also purchase a plant liner. Most nurseries carry them, so just ask for the right size for your plants. From there, choose a cool decorative pot that is a bit bigger so the liner and plant can fit inside. (General rule of thumb: a 6” plant should go in an 8” decorative pot, an 8” plant in a 10” pot, etc. Plus, many really stylish pots rarely have drainage holes or look good with a saucer under them.)

The reason for this is plants want to be able to drain. When you repot them into a decorative pot with no drainage holes, it doesn’t take long for that plant to drown. Additionally, houseplants enjoy the cozy environment their nursery grow pot provides. Keep the roots protected by leaving it in its original home. When the plant starts looking sad, you can repot into a larger nursery pot (also available at most nurseries). But most interior plants can thrive for years in their original container.

Use distilled or filtered water.

Surprise surprise—the fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals added to tap water may be killing your plant. So give them the fighting chance they need by using clean water. Also, water slooooowly. Really allow the water to soak into the roots. Don’t dump water in quickly – it will rush straight past the roots and out the drainage holes.

Pay attention to their environmental cues.

Since plants are living things, they often indicate what they need. See a plant reaching for a window? Rotate it and let all sides get their turn in the sun. Is your plant getting dry and brittle? Move it away from any heat and air sources. Yellow, wilting leaves, and brown tips generally mean it’s waterlogged, so steady that liberal watering hand. Most houseplants like to dry out a bit between waterings. By starting with hardier plants, you can learn their cues as you grow in your green knowledge…before diving into a fiddle leaf fig, let’s say. 🙂

Overall, I’ve seen far more plants die due to too much love rather than not enough. So, while constant touch and water may feel like you’re taking care of your new addition, it may be doing the opposite. Watch your plant before you make any changes.

Now! Onto the plants!

These are my top 10 plants for beginners, mainly because they can hang with a bit of neglect and handle varied light conditions. One quick note: in terms of being pet safe, there are two noted here (but be sure to double check on the ASPCA website). A good course of action for pet owners is to gravitate toward hanging plants that are hung away from where a pet may reach. Okay, let’s get to it:

Hope this gets you started on your path to a thriving indoor jungle of your own!

And because your new plant babies that will absolutely thrive under your care and need a more permanent place to call home, we rounded up some of our favorite pots and planters right now in different sizes and price points.

Emily Henderson Indoor Plants Planters Low

Small: Stoneware Planter With Stand | Medium: Dyp White Two-Tone Planter | Large: Geared Planter

Emily Henderson Indoor Plants Planters Medium

Small: Whitney Planter | Medium: Lupa White Planter | Large: Ceramic Sevilla Outdoor Planter

Emily Henderson Indoor Plants Planters High

Small: Eleva Planter | Medium: Wood Base Planter | Large: Rough Cast Extra Large Brass Planter

Let us know if you have any questions, what plant varieties have worked for you indoors, any awesome sources for plants or pots…sharing is caring!

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