6 Die hard house­plants for brown thumbs

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - GARDEN FEATURES -

Pothos Epiprem­num au­reum

Pothos are easy to grow, very for­giv­ing and pretty. They are called ‘devil’s ivy’ be­cause they are hard to kill. Th­ese vin­ing beau­ties aren’t dainty like English ivy, they are solid leafy vines with waxy, heart-shaped leaves that will thrive in al­most any poor lo­ca­tion you place them. They are of­ten used in of­fices as they will even sur­vive un­der flo­res­cent lights. If you have a cor­ner that needs cheer­ing in a low light area they should be your first choice.

In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing a cheery at­mos­phere they are one of the most ef­fi­cient house­plants for clean­ing the air.

In­doors they can grow up to 10 feet, but have been known to reach lengths of over 40 feet. Pothos look best when they are thick and bushy so a quick trim ev­ery now and then will keep your plant look­ing lush. Don’t throw out the trim­ming, place it in wa­ter to root as th­ese plants are eas­ily prop­a­gated. Pothos will grow hap­pily in wa­ter for quite some time or eas­ily take to trans­plant­ing. Try plac­ing cuttings in a vase in the bath­room!

There are dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties of pothos if you can’t stand the com­mon stock Epiprem­num au­reum. Scin­da­pus pic­tus with its al­li­ga­tor-like sil­ver leaves is pretty and just as hardy. Pick one that suits your fancy, or if you’re still not sure of your abil­i­ties, ask some­one for a cut­ting.

Snake Plant San­se­vieria

For the ab­so­lutely hope­less, the se­rial house­plant killer kind of help­less, there are snake plants. Th­ese plants are im­per­vi­ous to death, peo­ple have tried to kill them and have not suc­ceeded. If you’ve ac­tu­ally man­aged to kill a san­se­vieria you just may need to hang up your gar­den­ing gloves for good.

You’ve prob­a­bly seen snake plants while walk­ing through the mall, in ho­tels or of­fice build­ings. The leaves look like twisted and tough up­right swords and are usu­ally green and var­ie­gated.

Snake plants are al­most am­biva­lent re­gard­ing light. Stick them in a dark cor­ner or in front of a brightly lit win­dow and they will thrive. They are won­der­ful for those who have a ten­dency to for­get to wa­ter as they pre­fer drier con­di­tions. While they will tol­er­ate ne­glect, a well-cared for plant placed in a bright light lo­ca­tion may re­ward you with a tall stalk of white or green­ish heav­ily scented flow­ers.

Dwarf va­ri­eties work well for table­tops while most oth­ers need floor space. Place th­ese plants in a clay or other type of heavy pot to avoid them top­pling over.


Dra­cae­nas are hard not to love. They come in a va­ri­ety of species and heights. Va­ri­eties such as dra­caena ‘Janet Craig’ can grow up to six feet tall. Their strappy leaves are made even more beau­ti­ful by coloured var­ie­ga­tion, usu­ally in reds and yel­lows, of­fer­ing a trop­i­cal feel in terms of decor. Dra­caena dere­men­sis ‘Lemon Lime’ is a show stop­per with its elec­tric yel­low and green striped leaves.

There are six com­mon va­ri­eties of dra­caena most of­ten found at green­houses: marginata (tall, thin plants), sande­ri­ana (lucky bam­boo plant), fra­grans (corn plant), dere­men­sis (green plant, e.g. Janet Craig), draco and cin­ni­bari.

Like our other die hard house­plant op­tions th­ese plants can tol­er­ate low light lev­els and the odd missed wa­ter­ing. They do re­quire a mix of sun and shade, so do not place them in di­rect sun­light.

Lower leaves will yel­low as the plant grows, re­move th­ese, the truck will scar over. Of course another sign of yel­low leaves could be over wa­ter­ing.

Plants can be pruned at any height and two clus­ters of leaves will sprout from near the top where the cane was cut. Canes can be prop­a­gated by plac­ing them in moist soil.

Most peo­ple are un­aware that dra­cae­nas can bloom, but they can, up to three times per year. Their flow­ers emit a heady scent. Th­ese plants do not like be­ing re­pot­ted, once ev­ery three years is prob­a­bly fine. Re­pot­ting and re­lo­cat­ing the plant may stress it out and pre­vent blooming.

San­se­vieria tri­fas­ci­ata mini.

Epiprem­num pin­na­tum.

San­se­vieria tri­fas­ci­ata.

San­se­vieria tri­fas­ci­ata 'Ji­boya'.

Epiprem­num pin­na­tum.

Epiprem­num pin­na­tum 'N' Joy Pothos'.

Dra­caena dere­men­sis. Dra­caena marginata. Dra­caena fra­grans. Dra­caena sande­ri­ana 'Celles'.

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