I Keep 2 House Plants Alive and Kill the Rest

House Plants

We’re hearing and reading everywhere that house plants are having their day, and I’m all in – as long as they’re growing in someone ELSE’s house. I have a strict tough-love policy for indoor plants, which only two species have been tough enough to survive long-term.

I can’t really explain my aversion to fussing with indoor plants. After all, outdoors I grow potted annuals that I happily water every day it doesn’t rain. But the idea of wiping some tropical plant’s leaves every day to prevent some infestation or other is ludicrous to me!

So I’ll stick with the two apparently fool-proof house plants I’ve kept alive for 20-30 years now (I’ve lost track) by watering every two weeks, and that’s it. No wiping of leaves, no feeding, no repotting.

One is a Hoya of some type or other. It’s hanging in my living room right now (top photo) but will spend the summer under a skylight in my porch, where it still only needs bi-weekly watering and even blooms! And the bloom is super-fragrant.

My other unkillable house plant is the lowly Philodendron, which I’d consider trading for an artificial one if I could find one that didn’t look cheesy. My two are surviving in the inauspicious location above – at ceiling level – and in my previous homes, it’s been in spots with even less light.

Yet look how healthy they are!

Lately, my house plant situation was complicated by this gorgeous succulent-filled pot I was given at Christmas (by someone who doesn’t use the Internet and won’t see this post). My cat Harry was happy to pose with it after rejecting it as something to eat.

Two and a half months later, it’s almost time for hospice care. With nowhere sunny enough to put the damn thing and just one small off-center drain hole, I knew the plants were doomed and even considered regifting the pot to a better, sunnier home.

I chose instead to reframe my thinking. I see these plants now as lovely but fleeting, like cut flowers. My guilt over killing them is gone.

Readers, you probably know more about these plants than I do, so do you think they could have been saved?

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7 thoughts on “I Keep 2 House Plants Alive and Kill the Rest

  1. I’m an avid outdoor gardener, and a “don’t want to be bothered too much” indoor plant gardener. Can it be saved? Well, you could try I suppose. In my gardens, inside and out, if they aren’t doing well they come out!
    I have had a Ficus Benjamin tree for over 30 years. It grows too big, I prune….now I have 4 of them! It started out variegated, and now some of the branches have solid green leaves. I love these plants because I can leave them alone, sometimes on their own for a month if we happen to be on a long trip. So, keep those plants that do well, and I promise I won’t tell if you toss the culprit!

  2. Very nice Hoya! Our houseplants, all 50+ of them live indoors during the winter and vacation outdoors until fall. I couldn’t imagine being in a house without them for a long cold winter.

  3. Lovely pictures and good point about house plants 🌱 ! Philodendrons are probably my favorite. I once had one that grew multiple long vines, totaling 15+ feet long.

  4. If you’re willing to experiment… Try calathea rufibarba. I’ve got one in my bathroom it looks like the day I bought it only slightly grown. No wilted leaves or any such nonsense. Plus I wait until it’s waterwell pot dries then put on more water. That’s it. As for the succulents… Take it outside!

  5. Succulents take some work in a dish. Probably was salvageable but they love to be crowded giving the spill-out impression of botanic love handles. Others stem out looking kind of gangly but again, that is their nature. Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

    (tried posting a moment ago but couldn’t see it had so please delete if this is a duplicate)

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