I am a plant killer. I've sadly thrown out scores of withered houseplants and almost resigned myself to a life surrounded by fake plastic plants. In one last attempt for live greenery, though, I put several "hard to kill" plants to the ultimate test: I brought them into my home for a few months. Here are the plants that survived and the ones that didn't.
I purchased as many plants as I could that are known to be low maintenance and cubicle-friendly -- Mother-In-Law's Tongue and Jade Plant -- as well as a few that About.com's Gardening site says are houseplants you can't kill -- Lucky Bamboo, Aloe and Peace Lily. A cactus and three air plants rounded out my subjects.
Easy-Care Plants That DO Die Easily
Let's get the dead plants out of the way. Contrary to popular belief, Mother-In-Law's Tongue (also known as Snake Plant), isn't all that hardy -- or, at least, it was unable to survive extreme neglect. I found myself removing the stiff, dried-out leaves until there was nothing left.
Of the plants that died, however, Mother-In-Law's Tongue was the last to hang on for dear life. The Peace Lily went first and the Lucky Bamboo dried out pretty quickly too (perhaps because it lived in a small vase of water).
You might have better luck with these plants, though.
Four Hard-to-Kill Plants
Some plants are actually thriving despite being under my (lack of) care:
Air Plants: Air plants or epiphytes don't need soil to live on -- they grow on other plants or objects and take their nutrients from the air. Pretty cool, right? I bought three of these 2-inch plants on Etsy for about $US3 a piece and put the in magnetic tins so I could hang these mini terrariums on a metal board above my monitors. You're supposed to mist these guys every now and then; although I haven't in the last two months, they don't look to be suffering.
Cactus: This cactus looked like a lotus leaf when I bought it and then it started growing that weird shoot you see. I'm not sure if that's good or bad (perhaps the cactus is trying to fight its way out of the container), so I'm calling this a qualified survivor.
Aloe Plant: Winner of the hardiest plant award in this experiment is the Aloe. Some of the leaves are yellowing and almost dried out, but overall this plant just keeps growing and growing. It's going to need a bigger pot.
Jade: Finally, there's this Jade bonsai I bought. The bonsai container might not have been the wisest choice if I was going for longevity, but reviews for this plant on Amazon said it was hardy. The plant's doing pretty well, but if you look closely you can see some of the glossy leaves turning yellow and hanging off. I fear it might not last that long.
Don't worry, I promise I'm going to take care of these plants now (as much as I can remember to). If you're like me and have trouble keeping plants alive, these are good ones to try.
What about you? Have any tips or plant suggestions for people who don't have green thumbs? We're all ears in the comments.