Friday, February 12, 2010

Death-Proof Plants

Houseplants really add something to a home: they bring nature indoors, they clean the air, and they prove that you’re the sort of mature adult who can keep something alive for more than a few days. But what if you’re the kind of gardener who makes ferns shrivel in fear at the sight of you? What if you’re able to kill a pet rock (or Tamagotchi. Or Furby. Or Zhu Zhu Hamster. Depends on which generation you’re in!)? Have no fear – there are plants out there that are black-thumb resistant. Here are a few you should check out.

Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (aka Snake Plant) (Sansevieria)
Not exactly the kindest name for a plant, but it sure creates a mental image, doesn’t it? Mother-In-Law’s tongue is so named because it’s long, sharp-pointed, and refuses to leave. It does best in medium light, but really only requires low light, as well as very little watering.

Japanese Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
This plant’s got a much more optimistic name. Peace lily also requires little sunlight, and needs to be watered about once a week. Not only does it have big, green, glossy leaves, but it also blooms beautiful white lilies that last for months.

Pothos (Epipremnum)
This ivylike plant is super-popular and super-tough. It’ll grow and grow and grow, necessitating a lil’ trim now and again. It doesn’t require much water (in fact, let the soil dry out between waterings), and it can survive in just about any light – even those nasty overhead fluorescents in the office.

Cacti and succulents
These desert plants come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, thorny or smooth – the choice is up to you! But despite their different outward appearances, caring for these plants is generally the same: they like as much light as you can give ‘em, and only a sparing amount of water.

If you still worry about becoming a houseplant serial killer, here are a few tools to keep your little green ones thriving:

- Days Ago timer: stick this timer on your plant’s pot and reset it every time you water; it counts the days until you push the button again. Overwatering is actually one of the most common ways to kill a plant, so with this timer you can see at a glance if it’s due for another spritzing.

- Aqua Globes self-waterers: if you’re so absent-minded you can’t even remember to water in the first place, or if you travel, try this self-waterer. Fill the glass bulb with water, then push it upside-down into the soil. The soil slowly absorbs the water right at the plant’s roots.

Now, with the right plants and the right tools, you’ll be able to say you’re growing something that is NOT a crop on FarmVille on Facebook!

Information and images from: Plant Care, Gardening, Nursery Associates, and Aqua Globes, and How Many Days Ago?