Houseplants That Tolerate Adverse Conditions

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Houseplants are beautiful and can add a touch of nature to your home at all times of the year. But not all plants are adaptable to the low light and low humidity conditions in our home or office interiors. Every fall, I bring in plants I grow on my front porch during the summer. By the end of February, they are looking pretty sad and barely hanging on. Luckily this year, we have had a warm fall and I just had to bring them inside at the end of November, reducing the time they will spend in my low light conditions this winter.

The best way to avoid problems with houseplants is to select ones that are almost indestructible. Below is a short list of some of the toughest plants for indoor conditions.

Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) -This plant earned its reputation for toughness during the Victorian Era. It became popular because it was able to survive cold, dimly lit rooms and the fumes of coal gas. It is a slow grower with long dark green or green and white striped leaves.

As with most variegated plants the variegated form requires more light (medium to bright) to maintain its variegation.

‘Janet Craig’ Dracena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’) – All members of the Dracaena genus have a great tolerance of low light and low humidity, but ‘Janet Craig’ is absolutely the toughest. Its decorative dark green, strap-like leaves are 12-18 inches long and 2-3 inches wide and will fill the need for dark foliage in all interiors.

Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron scandens oxycardium) – This plant will survive for long periods under very low light conditions. Because of this, you can find it growing in almost any office, and it’s often planted in a jar of water or in a dish garden. Some potting soil and a pot with a hole in the bottom to ensure good drainage would be better, but the fact that Heartleaf Philodendron does well even with adverse root environments tells you just how tough it is.

Devil’s Ivy (Epiprenum aureum) – This plant looks a lot like Heartleaf Philodendron and, in fact, is often called “Philodendron”. To further confuse matters, it is also called “Pothos”. Whatever you may call it, it is easy to grow. Like the Heartleaf Philodendron, it will also tolerate growing in water. The best variety of Devil’s Ivy is ‘Marblequeen’. The leaves of this variety are variegated and again the variegation is more intense in bright light.

Snake Plant (Sanseveria sp) – This plant may be the toughest of all. It can tolerate low light and low humidity. The leaves of this plant are thick and leathery, making it capable of withstanding occasional dry periods. There are two common forms of Snake Plant – one that makes a compact rosette of leaves and one that makes a tall erect plant. There are varieties with silvery horizontal leaf bands, entirely green leaves, or bright yellow leaf margins.

Remember, all plants require light, but these plants are the best when it comes to surviving with low light and very little care.