Plucked from a fleet of different-but-the-same greenery, you’re convinced this plant is the one for you, and so you gingerly carry it home with all the pride of a new parent. You purchase the ideal complementary pot. You carve out a sunny nook in your home for it. You might even name it.
Fast-forward a few weeks, though, and the honeymoon phase is over. Your plant baby has entered its rebellious phase, looking all sad and droopy. Despite your best efforts, you can’t get it to cooperate. Sound familiar?
To avoid heartbreak, make your next plant purchase a sure thing. Yes, one day you’ll own that lemon tree, but there are tons of hard-to-kill options to try in the meantime. Think of it as training for your green thumb. We turned to the plant experts to get the inside scoop.
Ideal for people who travel a lot, this plant is drought tolerant and slow growing. “It only needs watering every couple of weeks—sparingly in the winter—and can be left alone to soak up the sunlight,” says Bloomscape’s Joyce Mast.
“This incredible hardy houseplant is sometimes referred to as the ‘cubicle plant’ because of the less-than-ideal conditions it can tolerate,” says The Sill’s Erin Marino. Case in point: One Domino editor has owned more than 30 plants, and the only one she’s never killed is her pothos.
“Any plant can be killed if you don’t know what it needs, but for plants that are relatively forgiving of periods of neglect, this is one of my favorites,” says Folia Collective’s Danae Horst. Also known as Chinese evergreen, this colorful plant (the leaves range from sage to pink) is made for showing off. Stick yours in bright, filtered light, ideally in a corner so the broad leaves can grow to be nice and full.
“This is quite literally an almost indestructible plant!” says Rebecca Bullene of Greenery NYC. “The only thing you need to watch out for is overwatering.” Keep the soil on the dry side to make your ZZ happy. Pro tip: Given how low maintenance it is, it also makes a great hostess gift.
Dreaming of a trailing plant? Pick a philodendron and put it on a floating shelf for maximum visual impact. Marino recommends medium-indirect light and a watering session every one to two weeks.
Otherwise known as the snake plant. “With around 70 different species, they offer a wide range of leaf shapes and colors,” says Horst. “They’re very sculptural plants and look amazing grouped together or paired with loose vining plants.” These guys prefer a drier soil, so be sure to pick a planter with drainage holes.
Another option with an animal name? The spider plant, which according to Mast is one of the most adaptable houseplants—perfect for newbies. Keep it in indirect sunlight and water moderately, treating the leaves to the occasional spritzing when they’re super-dry. “The striping on the leaves will become more prominent with indirect lighting,” she adds.
Also known as the Chinese money or friendship plant, this one likes to dry out between waterings, so treat it like a succulent. “I love this plant for the incredible leaf shape and also because it self-propagates unbelievably fast,” says Bullene. “Buy one plant, and within a few short months you’ll have more growing in the pot that you can share with a friend—thus the name friendship plant!” Psst: It’s also pet friendly.
See more plant guides:
Everything in Our Kit for New Plant Parents Is on Amazon
Is This the Next Monstera? How to Make This Tropical Plant Thrive
This Is the One Mistake You’re Probably Making With Your Plants