Perfect Houseplants for People with a Black Thumb

If it seems like you have a black thumb, fear not. These plants will survive, and even thrive, under the most challenging conditions you have inside your home. By Kat Velayo-Greenberg

Houseplants won't die indoors
The monstera and other houseplants can survive indoors.

Live greenery puts the perfect finishing touch on your home, giving your space some much-needed polish. Houseplants not only add a pop of color, but they also have multiple benefits such as reducing stress and improving indoor air quality.

But how many of us have spent lavishly on plants—hoping to create an indoor garden paradise—only to end up with a bunch of sad, brown husks? If it seems like you have a black thumb, fear not. There are plants that will survive and even thrive, under the most neglectful plant owners.

Raising healthy plants is all about providing the right combination of light and water. Here are some starter plants that do well in less-than-ideal conditions, where other plants fail to thrive.


Pothos plants are a trailing vine with heart-shaped leaves in green or variegated with white and yellow streaks.


Sunlight: These plants do best in moderate light conditions but can tolerate even low light indoors. Low light may cause their leaves to have more green if you started with a multi-colored variety, but they will be healthy. And too much direct sunlight can cause their leaves to turn yellow.

Water: Pothos dislike overwatering and do best when their soil dries out between watering. Depending on the size of the container, this can mean watering anywhere between once a week to every 10 days. If the leaves turn brown or wilt, it needs water more often. If the leaves turn pale, you may be overwatering.

Mother in Law’s Tongue/Snake Plant

These varieties of Sansevieria trifasciata feature leaves with the appearance of stiff, upright spikes with green banding. Mother in Law’s Tongue will feature a yellow border.

Snake Plant

Sunlight: Sansevieria can adapt to almost any lighting condition, whether it’s bright light, or very dim corners of your house. They do prefer indirect sunlight with a little direct sun.

Water: This is the kind of plant that does best when forgotten and watered only sporadically. Let the soil dry out between waterings. Watering needs could be anywhere from once every two weeks to once a month; overwatering will kill it. Planting in a loose, sandy potting mix will help to avoid letting the roots sit in water.

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The trailing vine variety of this plant can look very similar to Pothos, except with a dominant green color. One upright variety is Split-Leaf Philodendron or Monstera, which is very popular on style blogs.


Sunlight: Because these plants are native to tropical rainforests, they prefer dappled, spotty sunlight—as if they were underneath the rainforest canopy. They can handle low light, but should not get too much bright, direct sunlight.

Water: Philodendrons have similar watering needs as Pothos. Make sure they are potted in well-aerated and well-draining soil and let the soil dry about halfway down before watering again.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera plants are a succulent with a famous benefit—the juice from their leaves helps heal burns and soothe skin. The leaves are spiky, green stalks that grow from a center hub.


Sunlight: Aloe plants actually like bright, indirect sunlight, so next to a bright window is best. They can even do well in direct light on a balcony, but need to adjust if they started indoors. Help the plant by moving it to a slightly brighter spot once a week until you have it in the desired spot. If the lighting conditions are too low, the plant will go dormant and stop growing.

Water: Because Aloe is a succulent, it’s best to err on the side of underwatering. Make sure it’s planted in a well-draining, sandy soil and water every three weeks to once a month. Let the soil dry to around 2 inches deep before watering.

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Air Plants

Air plants (Tillandsia) are a favorite of the Instagram age. These unusual plants look like tiny, spiky succulents and are commonly displayed with their roots naked.

Air Plant

Sunlight: Bright, indirect sunlight is preferred by indoor air plants.

Water: Air plants are named that because they can grow and survive without soil. They just need to be dunked in water for a couple of hours every one to two weeks. After soaking, lay them out on a towel to air dry completely before putting them back in their container. They need to be in a spot where they can dry within four hours because If there is too much moisture left on them, the roots may rot. Make sure you have them displayed in open containers, not enclosed terrariums, as they need air circulation to be happy.

While all these plants are easy to care for and easy to forget, take note to keep them out of reach of pets and small children. All of the above plants, except for air plants, are toxic to pets and humans and cause unpleasant symptoms if eaten.

To pick up some new plant babies for your home, head to Cedarhills Garden Center in QC for an expansive selection of healthy plants and gardening supplies. You can also try ordering from Plant Parenthood to get live plants and accessories delivered to your home. Most hardware stores will also carry a limited selection of plants and supplies.


Can’t wait to have your own home where you can unleash your gardening or decorating skills? Visit to start your journey.