Plants For Dummies: Best Unkillable Outdoor and Indoor Plants
Are you looking to get your garden or indoor jungle started with hardy, low-care, virtually unkillable indoor and outdoor plants? These low-maintenance plants for both indoor and outdoor settings genuinely thrive on neglect, and so are great options for beginner gardeners.
Best Unkillable Indoor Plants
If you want to get the most out of this selection, provide a well-lit spot, water when the plants dry out and give an occasional liquid feed when the weather is warm. Always keep indoor plants out of draughts and away from hot or cold blasts from heaters or air-conditioners. Each of these are excellent indoor plants for beginners.
This indoor plant is not only low maintenance, lush and green - it also flowers. You might know it as a peace lily. Give it a brightly lit spot indoors with regular water and it will produce attractive white flowers. Allow the potting mix to dry out slightly between watering. If you leave it too long, the plant will let you know. If it gets too dry, it wilts, but a quick drink or dunking the pot in water will revive it. Read more on how to care for your Spathiphyllum here.
With its tall, rigid, succulent leaves, sansevieria, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant, is another one that is easy to care for as it does thrive on neglect. Leave it to dry out between waterings and keep it in a brightly lit spot. It can also flower and will produce highly fragrant white flowers when it is really happy. If you like the ordinary form with its yellow and grey-green variegated leaves, look out for some of the interesting variations that are available including varieties with interestingly patterned and shaped foliage. Read more about sansevieria here.
Note: This is one to keep indoors in a container, especially in northern parts of the country, as it can become an environmental weed if allowed to multiply.
With its prettily patterned leaves, aglaonema looks as if it is harder to care for than it is. Keep it out of direct light and water it when the potting mix is dry. Occasionally dust or wash the leaves. There are many colourful variations available so, if this plant thrives in your home, you can add to your collection.
There are many different types of dracaena and all are easy-going houseplants. The happy plant (Dracaena massangeana) adds height to any indoor plant collection and has boldly striped green and gold leaves. While it likes its potting mix to dry out, from time to time give this plant a water spray, especially if the air is very dry. Read more on how to care for your dracaena here.
Pothos (scindapsus, epipremnum)
Also known as devil’s ivy, these plants have heart-shaped, usually green or variegated gold and green leaves. They can be trained to climb upwards or hang down from a pot on a shelf or in a hanging basket. They do well in bright but indirect light. Water when dry and keep leaves free of dust. Read more on how to care for your pothos here.
Also known as Zanzibar Gem, this lush, leafy plant is a good survivor as it has a tuberous root that enables it to survive even long dry periods. While it will cope with low light, it is best in bright, indirect light. Water occasionally and keep those magnificent green leaves clean of dust.
Best Unkillable Outdoor Plants
These plants are very low care. Generally, water when times are extra hot and dry, and fertilise once a year if you remember.
Also known as sacred bamboo, this plant has tall canes of leafy growth and thrives in narrow spaces where it is hard to get other shrubs to grow. It does flower and form colourful berries, and in autumn its leaves can take on a red tinge adding to its garden interest. There are also forms selected for their good autumn colour and more bushy shape. Give nandina full or part sun and water when dry.
This native plant, widely known as bottlebrush, is another survivor. Even with little care it will produce bottlebrush-shaped flowers that are usually red but also available in white, pink and mauve. The birds, bees and other beneficial insects love this plant. Plants range from low shrubs to tall shrubs or even trees. All can be clipped or left to grow as the plant wants. Callistemon can tolerate wet or dry soils in full sun or part shade. Flowering is better in full sun and with reliable watering.
Another name for this super-tough flowering evergreen shrub is Indian hawthorn. It can be grown as a potted plant on an exposed balcony or as an evergreen hedge or feature shrub in the garden. There are named varieties with white and pink flowers. Grow in sun or part shade and prune to shape if wanted. Water when dry and prune to shape or after flowering. Read more on how to care for your rhaphiolepis here.
Clumping and hedging bamboo is fast-growing, attractive and low-maintenance. Steer well away from running bamboo, however, as these vigorous growers need too much control to keep them out of trouble. If bamboo gets too dry it will drop its leaves – a big hint it needs to be watered. Read more on how to grow bamboo here.
These tough, leafy perennials produce long stems of blue or white flowers held high above their green, leafy growth through summer. To ensure your agapanthus is as low-maintenance as possible, select sterile forms that don’t set seed. Otherwise, cut back the flower stems once they’ve finished their show and before they set seed, or pick the flowers to use as cut flowers indoors. Read more on how to care for agapanthus here.
Succulents (for example aloe, crassula, sedum and more)
There are so many succulents to grow in gardens or containers it is hard not to amass a huge collection. All are very easy to grow, and most get by on minimal care. In cold winter areas select forms that are frost tolerant. Most need free drainage and full sun, and many grow readily from a leaf or stem cutting. Read more on how to grow succulents here.