The popularity of houseplants in American homes comes and goes. Although many people feel that houseplants require time-consuming upkeep, busy millennials want them. In fact, 37% of millennials own plants. They lean toward varieties that are low maintenance to fit their lifestyle of moving between smaller apartments.
Indoor cactus and succulent sales have risen 64% since 2012, giving people a greater variety of houseplant options that can be cared for quickly without a heavy demand for constant watering.
If you’re not into cacti and succulents, there are other options that do well in our Sonoran Desert homes. In general, look for plants with smaller, narrow, or waxy leaves. The following plants are not only low maintenance, but they are also on the pet-safe list:
AIR PLANT (Tillandsia)
Air plants get the majority of their nutrients from the air around them. Soak new plants for 15 minutes, then allow to dry completely hanging upside down. You’ll want to ensure there is no water trapped between the leaves. Water according to the weather. Mist and soak more often when hot and dry and less when cold and dark. They do love bright, indirect sunlight and need good air circulation.
Bromeliads bring an exotic touch to the home and a sense of the tropics. They require medium to bright light when used indoors. They do great in shallow pots and can even thrive in low soil mediums like orchid bark, or without soil like air plants. The leaves grow to form a natural “cup” where the water is applied.
HOLIDAY CACTUS (Schlumbergera)
Evergreen boughs, poinsettia, and holiday cactus are the plants of the holiday season. Holiday cactus is the longest living of them and give a larger blooming of flowers year after year. It is in the same plant family as our giant saguaros! For blooming, they require cool night temperatures and plenty of hours of darkness. You may want to move them to your garage or an outdoor shed for a few weeks leading up to the holidays until they bloom. Then move them indoors away from direct sunlight. They like shady areas.
If you want orchids to bloom, be sure they get plenty of bright, indirect light. Orchids will die if the roots don’t get enough air. For this reason, they should be planted in a pot with exceptionally good drainage. Water just as they are drying out by running a large amount of water over the bark until it pours out of the drainage hole.
PONYTAIL PALM (Beaucarnea recurvata)
These long-living plants thrive on neglect. They are easy to grow so long as you don’t overwater them. In their native environment in eastern Mexico, they can grow up to 30 feet high but are rarely over 4 feet when grown indoors. Use a fast-draining soil in a pot with a drainage hole (clay pots are best). Give them plenty of bright, indirect sunlight, keep the soil fairly dry, and keep away from cold windows in the winter.
WANDERING JEW (Tradescantia zebrina)
This plant requires bright, indirect sunlight. The soil needs to be slightly moist, but don’t water directly into the crown since it will cause rot. Be sure it doesn’t get too dry in the winter. Misting can help maintain necessary moisture in between waterings. These are short-lived plants but can be prolonged by pinching back any vining tendrils.
SPIDER PLANT (Chlorophytum comosum)
The spider plant is one of the most adaptable and easiest to grow, thriving in a wide range of conditions with few problems. They tolerate plenty of abuse. The soil needs to drain well, and they should be watered without allowing them to get soggy. They prefer to dry out a bit between waterings. They like bright, indirect sunlight and cooler temperatures, so keep them away from air vents during the winter. They reproduce with “spiderettes” which can be clipped and placed in another pot of soil.
TRUE YUCCA (Yucca gigantea)
These plants are striking and low maintenance, the perfect combination for houseplants. They thrive in a partly shaded location that receives bright, indirect sunlight. Place in soil that is heavy enough to hold the plant upright and that retains water well without getting soggy. They like to be root-bound in small pots.
Think about adding houseplants to your home to increase oxygen and purify the air. When you bring nature indoors, it promotes an increased sense of well-being. Don’t let past failures with humid-loving plants prevent you from beautifying your living space with low-maintenance plants.