My very first plant was a bird’s nest fern, which is supposedly one of the easier houseplants out there. I beg to differ, however, after killing two in my day! Beautiful yet so incorrigibly finicky, ferns and calatheas are my sworn frenemies. As I’ve started collecting more plants, I realized that I didn’t have to choose, well, pain! Even if you get excellent deals on them, plants add up over time, and it hurts to see plants crisp up in an inevitable death.
Luckily, there are plenty of low-maintenance plants out there that won’t break your heart. (Probably.) My personal favorites are dracaena, pothos, and rubber plants — I’ve had great luck with these babies and highly recommend them to my buddies who are starting out with plants.
In the world of easy plants for beginners, dracaenas are underrated. You’ll almost always find them for under $5 at the grocery store, and they come with leathery, lance-shaped leaves that spike upwards. From lemon-lime to bright red, they often come in bold colors despite not having punchy variegation. I always find myself plopping them mindlessly into my cart at the nursery!
Carewise, dracaenas do not need much. I treat mine like succulents, watering them every 3 weeks to a month, and leaving them in low-light areas of my room. They thrive with sunshine and fertilizer in the spring and summer, though!
Pothos (epipremnum aureum) can be easy-care indoor plants if you don’t helicopter parent them! With a smidge of diluted fertilizer and indirect sunlight, they thrive and let their lovely heart-shaped leaves trail beautifully — I’ve stopped counting how many new leaves my pothos plants unfurl! Bonus point: Pothos are some of the easiest plants to propagate and share with your friends.
Admittedly, I’ve ran into some struggle with my pothos plants, but I chalked those times up to the learning curve that comes with plant parenthood. The watering schedule that I started off with was, let’s say, overzealous. I’d meticulously keep track of when and if I watered my plants rather than just feeling the soil to gauge things. I watered my pothos once a week, which was a hair too often, especially during winter! Water should not touch the soil unless the plant is nearly dried out or if the leaves look limpy — for my marble queen and golden pothos, my watering schedule using looks like a 2-3 week cadence.
Rubber plants (ficus elastica) are my absolute favorites. They’re just so easy to care for, especially if you pop them into well-draining soil. I water my ficus elastica ruby and burgundy maybe every 2-3 weeks and leave them right next to a northeast facing window. My ficus elastica did drop a few leaves and went dormant for a minute, but it grew very happy last summer when I started feeding it liquid fertilizer every week. Even when I propagated a cutting for a friend, it still produced growth on the woody stem where I cut it! I find that the ruby variety maintains its color when you give it sunlight and weekly fertilizing.
Other Factors to Consider When Getting Easy Plants for Beginners
In my experience, well-rooted plants have an easier time adapting to new environments than baby plants or cuttings. I see plants with a stronger root system and more volume as insurance during the adjustment period a plant needs when it enters your home. A few leaves might drop, but you’re still left with a decent amount of foliage.
I should also mention that even easy plants for beginners go through growing pains — that’s part of the fun in caring for plants, after all. As living beings, plants appreciate nurture, too! No matter how steely they are, they’ll still want water and light. And, they’ll probably still need time to get used to moving from a greenhouse to a garden center to your home!
Once you catch the houseplant bug (hopefully not of the mealy variety), it’s impossible to avoid finicky plants. But if you’re looking for an easy fix, it’s out there in your local nursery!