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Born to survive


Anyone who hasn’t found it easy to keep houseplants alive can breathe easier as there is now a formal list of plants which seem very difficult to kill.

Houseplants continue to grow in popularity but there are still a swathe of gardeners lacking confidence in their ability to keep plants alive. 

It has all added up to a search for the toughest, born-to-survive houseplants aimed at those who may have accidentally killed a few houseplants in their time and would prefer to develop some confidence about their green fingered ability to keep plants thriving,

There is some good news for this group.

A number of wholesaler growers of plants have linked up to produce a list of the houseplants which are truly the toughest as they are concerned that too many people who want to keep more houseplants are genuinely concerned about getting the right watering, compost and temperature routine.

How did they go about it? Well, of course, by leaving several varieties in a dark closet without water for three weeks. Five plants made it through the challenge still looking fabulous. Others failed badly.

No plant is bulletproof, but these varieties clearly don’t mind low light (or periods without light). 

They’re exceedingly forgiving when you forget to water them, and low humidity doesn’t pose a problem, either. 

Give one of these tough houseplants a try and you may find it nearly impossible to kill.

1. Ponytail Palm

Long, grasslike leaves atop a bare stem give ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) a palm tree-like appearance, although it’s actually a type of succulent. It stores water in its thick trunk, which enables it to go long periods without moisture. However, ponytail palm will do best if you water it whenever the soil feels dry and place it in bright light. It is a tough survivor.

2. Sago Palm

Feathery, dark green leaves on top of a short stem give sago palm (Cycas revolata) a bold texture. Often wider than it is tall, sago palm adds a tropical touch to all kinds of design styles. Grow it in bright to low light and add water only when the soil feels dry to the touch.

3. ZZ Plant

Thanks to its dark green, glossy leaves, you might mistake ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) for a faux plant.  It remains a very popular houseplant. The leathery foliage is not only part of this plant’s beauty, but also contributes to its toughness. The leaves seal in moisture, making the plant very tolerant of dry conditions. It also stores water in its bulb-like roots, and only needs to be watered when the soil feels dry. ZZ plant is a good pick for an office or a home without natural light because it does just fine under fluorescent lights.

4. Snake Plant

Stiff, upright leaves make the snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) a popular choice that goes well with just about any interior design style. Larger snake plants work well as a floor plant in a dim corner. The smaller varieties make stunning accent plants on a tabletop. Snake plant does best in bright light, but still will grow in low light. It’s not demanding when it comes to water, either. Just give it a drink whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

5. Chinese Evergreen

With patterned leaves splashed or speckled with silver, gold, red, or cream, Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema spp.) is at home just about anywhere. Exceptionally tolerant of low light, it will even grow in areas without natural light, such as an interior office. Water Chinese evergreen when the soil is dry to the touch.

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