help needed from green thumbs

This is our garden.

This is what our garden looked like 2 1/2 years ago shortly after planting.

There was a time I worked in the garden each day. The kids helped – a little bit. We had strawberries, spinach, onions, lettuce, potatoes, etc. We even grew tomatoes. I don’t like tomatoes, but if you have a garden there is some kind of law around these parts that to be a garden there must be tomatoes in it.

Last year we tried to plant a few things, but FireCracker ended up spending all of April in the hospital so that kind of put a damper on the gardening.

This year I didn’t even try. I could blame it on travel plans, but really it was just too much work. I like the idea of a garden. I like the food coming out of my garden. But to really have a successful garden you must work at it. Your garden is really only as good as what you invest in it.

I’ve had NOTHING to invest in our garden and it clearly shows.

Except one lone vegetable that randomly sprouted up and creeped its way across the ground.

If you ignore it, they will grow. (If you build it, they will come – such a great movie)

I have plans to try the garden out again next spring, but until then I am going to try houseplants. Here is the thing – I really like houseplants. I have bought and planted so many over the years. But, eventually they all die. I just want to water them every few days and that’s it.

I am pretty great at growing beans in jars and sweet potatoe vines in cups.

I am not good at growing actual plants, but I know so many of you are. So today, I would like some advice. If any of these plants require a bunch of attention or fertilizing every week – it just won’t happen so I will need to find a better home for them.

So…all you with green thumbs….here are 5 plants the boys and I potted. Any tips for how to keep them alive? They are numbered so you can give plant specific advice. It is highly likely I’ve already done something wrong in potting them, so be gentle with me in your advice. Also, these are all small pots.

Do any of you have any suggestions for easy to grow indoor plants? And I mean EASY…as in just give it sunlight and water. If not, I will be covering my home and studio in sweet potatoes and beans.

~ tutorial post for the fabric covered pots can be found by clicking here

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  • Danielle - In a word… cactus or non prickly succulents (thick & fleshy…so many but Jade is one). They like to be ignored. Truly. The only trick is to not over water, they like to be dry. Plant in the right soil with some pebbles at the bottom of your pot for drainage, give a water & ignore for weeks on end. Done. The fun thing is that these plants have so many shades & textures to play around with.

  • A Robinson - I can not help you with the above plants though I can tell you that I DO NOT have a green thumb and I have managed to keep ‘spider plants’ alive for many years. I water them every 10 days or so, never fertilize, and don’t change the dirt or pots. Good luck on your project!

  • Chris - Pothos is my favorite – it can hang or sit on a plant stand or table. I water it about once a week and that is it. No fertilizer, no fuss. I have left if for 2 – 3 weeks while on vacation and it survived. Also, you can multiply it very quickly with clippings too. Just cut off a few inches and stick it right in the dirt.

  • Tonya - I am not great at the gardening thing either and I had trouble with house plants. Even the “just water and give sun” kind. Simply because I would forget to even water the poor things. I found an “aqua globe” at my local pharmacy and figured what the heck….and it actually works. And their pretty. I’ve seen homemade watering devices that use the same concept and I’m sure you could craft up a beautiful one! But in case you like shiney colored glass….
    http://www.amazon.com/Aqua-Globes-Glass-Plant-Watering/dp/B0018KJWSW

  • Stacy Hutchens - Well look at this… I’m finally coming out of lurkdom to comment on plants of all things! I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and thinking, “I should really start commenting so I don’t feel like such a creepster, but what would I say??” Ha!

    Anyway, I have also just started cultivating my green thumb with house plants, and my favorite has been the Golden Pothos. I had to do some google searching to learn the name, because I got mine from my mom. They grow like crazy, are very hard to kill, don’t require much light, are really good air purifiers, and are super easy to propagate. I sometimes water as infrequently as once a month, and they don’t seem to notice at all. Aloe vera is also really easy to grow and is actually happiest the less often you water it or fuss over it.

  • Amanda W - #1 is a really good plant to hang. I bought one at IKEA with a hanging pit and have yet to kill it. You do have to make the effort to fertilize your house plants because they deplete their soils nutrients just like any other plant. That’s why you shouldn’t plant the same plants in the same place in your garden every year ;). The other plants look fine and will only get bigger as they grow. You make want to move a few to bigger pots later on or they will become root bound and die. The last one is really the one I’m concerned about.

    Good luck!

  • Kathryn - So, #1 (looks like a peace lily) and # 3 (asparagus fern) should survive very well. The Lily can even tolerate low light. Asaparagus Ferns can get a little thorny-ish as they mature so watch that with little one. #2 I’ve personally never had any success with ferns, other than a bird’s eye fern, not sure if its my light conditions or my watering. Succulents in small dishes are super easy and nicely sculptural. Good luck!

  • Jamie - {I will be checking back later because I have a lot to learn about indoor plants also!}
    I have another random plant question to throw out there- I am a FREAK when It comes to bugs, of any kind. I worry that bugs will somehow get into my house plants (and especially the one that I very soon have to bring inside from outdoors for the winter. Do I REALLY have something to worry about? Does anyone else notice bugs because of indoor plants? If so, is there anything to prevent them from living on my plants?
    Thanks! Looking forward to reading the comment section today!

  • Juliann - I’d suggest philodendron (#1 may be one). I am terrible even with indoor plants and I haven’t killed my philodendron yet. I don’t know anything else about plants; I recognize your other ones, they are pretty, but I have no idea what they are or what to do with them 😉 BUT, I do know that philodendron plants are easy to grow, VERY forgiving and can tolerate being flooded or very dry 😉 You can even clip a viny arm, soak it in water for a few days and watch roots develop, then you can replant that little viny offshoot and it will grow – a fun way to “split” your plant….

  • Patricia - I think #1 is a variety of philodendron. They literally thrive on neglect. They don’t like direct sunlight but do well with anything else from a nearly unlit corner to a bright sunny room. Put a clipping in a jar of water and it will root.
    #2 Looks like a fern which I’ve heard are fussy but have never worked with myself. You’ll have to let us know how it goes if you keep it!
    I don’t know what #3 & #4 are but they are beautiful. I LOVE #3. I hope someone can tell you what it is!
    #5 looks like a kalanchoe. Bright light, don’t drown it and don’t let it dry all the way out.

    Good luck! You’ll do great!

  • Jen - Good luck with #5…I kill those every time. So I’m hoping others have good advice.

    I don’t have any specific advice…but don’t over water. I tend to take my plants on a drought/flood senario…you know, where you forget to water for weeks then give them cups of water for days in a row to somehow make up for it? Anyway…that’s an awesome recipe for fungal gnats. Little fruit fly looking buggers that live in the soil and like it wet. They’re hard to get rid of. I’ve learned a tip recently that says to put a layer of sand on top of the soil–the sand will dry out quickly and the gnats will think the whole thing is dry and not attempt to set up house in your plants.

    Good luck on your adventure!

  • Emiles - Peace lilies!!!!! They droop when they need watered, it’s the perfect plant! We failed to tell anyone to water ours and left on a 10 day vacation….came back and it was totally laid down, dumped a couple glasses of water on it and BOOM! right back to life. Trust me, I’ve killed cactus and succulents, these puppies don’t die!

    Someone else said this, but #5 is a beast to keep alive, I think it’s my record for quickest death.

  • Leslie - I have happy houseplants that I’ve had for 8-15 years. Everybody gets watered once per week, any dead leaves removed, “haircuts” and miracle grow every 3 months, repotting when they’ve outgrown their homes or their dirt gets “crunchy”. That’s it. I cannot keep succulents as I want them to just be on the same schedule as the green leafy sorts which kills them. And, I have had no luck with #5. GL!

  • Emily - The best plant advice I can give you is to not over water. Check the plants before you water (just stick your finger in the soil). If it’s still moist, then you can skip watering.

  • Kari - I come from a long line of green thumbs…however, sadly, it skipped me. The only type of plant I can keep alive is succulents. Seriously, you just look at them and they grow. You only have to water them when you think about it. I took a clipping of hen and chick and threw it in my flower bed and like three days later I had a whole garden of it.

  • Charlotte - Oh yeah, I used to have a black thumb too. My tip: orchids. There is seriously nothing easier. You just dump the whole pot into water for a few hours every week (or two, honestly) and they thank you with beautiful blossoms.
    What also helped me was that I looked up “sub-irrigation planters” on the web. That taught me that it is very easy to under- or overwater plants as they can’t regulate their own “drinking”. They just keep sucking up water, even if it is too much. Ideally water should come from the bottom of the plant and leave the top inch dry to prevent mold and these tiny black flies. I have installed some homemade sub-irrigation systems (water reservoir at the bottom with access from the top) in my other plants and it’s been much better. You can also find out how much water is perfect by experimenting. When you have the amount that leaves the top inch dry, you can weigh the plant with pot. Then, next time you water, just add the missing amount on the scales. Easy. Not one plant has died since then around here. But I don’t take in plants that won’t recover once they’re looking a bit sad 😉

  • katie - I am curious as to whether #3 is a hoya plant. There are quite a few different types. I have one that my mother in law gave me and I have yet to kill it. Fortunately it likes filtered light, which I have taken to mean almost darkness as the only place I have for our monster is in the far corner of our living room. And I do mean monster. I have it wound around and up and through two bamboo arches that I stuck in the pot that are about 2 1/2 feet high. If I don’t pay attention, I often find myself untangling it from picture frames and whatever else it can crawl up! Kinda creepy actually, until my kids named it. Now it is kind of like a pet. I just have to be vigilant and keep winding it around it’s supports. Some (all?) have the ability to flower and they are supposed to smell amazing. I have yet to have that happen.

  • Megan H - My grandfather was a horticulturist. The only rule he ever had is that the easiest way to kill a plant is with too much water.

    Stick to philodendron (#1), peace lilies, or any succulent (#3 – and anything with thick, fleshy leaves) and you really can’t go wrong. The philodendron and peace lily you literally don’t need to water until you see them starting to wilt – leaves looking saggy and limp. Then soak it and ignore it again. Any level of light is okay, the more light the faster the philodendron will grow, and peace lilies won’t bloom in low light, otherwise they are happy and green. Succulents need water when the leaves are soft rather than firm. Again, soak and ignore. They can tolerate brighter, more direct light. In those teeny pots, you may have to water a bit more often than larger ones.

    Ferns (#2 & #4) are finikier… especially in small pots, they do need to be watered or they will totally dry out. Maybe once a week in lower light, more humid conditions and twice a week in more light or drier conditions. (Watering schedule may change with the seasons or heat vs. air conditioning.) … Mine don’t usually live very long. I buy the little ones like you did that only cost a couple of dollars and treat them like cut flowers – once they are gone, they just get replaced… they still last longer than a cut flower arrangement, but then I don’t feel so guilty about killing them.

    Good luck!!

  • Rebecca - I’m serious when I say this. A Phalaenopsis orchid. I’m serious some people freak at the word orchid. I got one as a gift, and I have it in an east facing window. I give it three ice cubes every Sunday, except for the Sundays I forget to do this. (Now that I think of it….I’ve forgot this past Sunday (again).) It blooms and is really pretty. Its the only house plant I have. And it truly is a happy little house plant.

  • Tonpia - I second the pothos recommendation. It’s the only plant I can say I’ve had “for years” (15!). It has survived 4 moves, 2 toddlers, episodes of neglect, and it still seems to thrive. I’ve never fertilized it, I’ve only repotted when it fell off the shelf and the pot broke, and it lets you know when it needs water. Perfect for a yellow-thumbed person. For real.

  • Ange - The first three plants are for sure in pots that are much too small for them- by the plant size I can tell they need at least a pot 2 maybe even 3 times bigger than that. Another thing I wonder is if when you made the fabric pots, you made sure to leave the drainage hole? If not, that could be part of your problem. But I would say, mostly bigger pots. I have tons of indoor plants and a huge outdoor garden and the only time I use “fertilizer” would be to put some compost on my outdoor garden- the indoor plants I just use some organic potting soil and never bother with fertilizer. That’s the beauty of most house plants- they are so easy. Give them good soil, avoid the chemical fertilizers as it strips the nutrients out of the soil- if you want to fertilize for some reason, use compost. So good soil, enough room to grow in a pot that is about the same size on the base as the width of the plant itself or bigger, and try to avoid direct sunlight. Houseplants are plants that grow in the tropics under trees. Meaning, they love filtered light- light that bounces off things or is indirect. But they are not made for direct sunshine, if they get too much direct sunshine you can give them a sunburn.
    So here’s my short list:
    1) bigger pots
    2) good soil, skip chemical fertilizers
    3) water once a week
    4) make sure they have plenty of soft/filtered light

  • lauren - You probably already know this, but be careful about which plants are toxic for your little kitten (I think he is indoors?) Someone mentioned a peace lily – I’m pretty sure those are toxic (and the list of toxic plants if you google it is quite long – but you can also look at non-toxic plants). Unfortunately cats often like to nibble leaves for some reason.

  • Siew - My mom gave me a money tree plant which looks fancy and exotic but really is very difficult to kill (except we had to move it up on a pedestal because one of our cats loves to chew on the leaves. I water it once a week, neglect it sometimes and sometime even give it liquid plant fertilizer. It just keeps getting taller and taller and taller. That with a peace lily my friend gave me make me look like I have a green thumb.

  • AASpark - #3 is a lipstick plant (At least teh one I have looks just like it). Mine gets afternoon sun and I water once a week sometimes less. Eventually is will get these great “flowers” wither red or pink that look like a lipstick. I love mine and buy one whenever I find it.

  • Sunny - I have a couple of succulents in mini “terrariums” (aka mason jars) and they haven’t died in over a year! Those are great. I also have a bromeliad that I haven’t managed to kill since February…that thing just keeps on ticking no matter how much I forget to water it!

  • mary from tenn - My dads a flower fanatic and the best low maintenance plant he has is a Christmas cactus blooms beautiful at Christmas time and you water close to once a month. I seen a lot of suggestions for orchids. I bought one when i lived at home it was thriving moved to a new house it literally started to die. Brought it back home to my dads and bam instant life. He moved and no issue. It loved the climate and moisture of his home compared to mine. I since he has bought several more and puts a lot of work into it.

  • kristin - LOL! I have no advice, but you could have crawled into my brain to write this post!! I love the *idea* of growing things, but I lose interest way too quickly!!! Good luck – keep us posted!

  • Janine - I do not have a green thumb. My mom does and the gene skipped me. I have pretty much killed every house plant except for the Peace Lily. I actually had to re-pot it this year because it grew so much. All I do is water it maybe twice a week and leave it in a sunny spot. (it is in front of a south facing window). When I replanted it the potting soil had some fertilizer in it which made it grow even faster! Sometimes I have forgotten to water it but the plant reminds you because it gets all droopy and sad looking. It perks right back up after watering.

  • Jessica Peppel - Devil’s ivy (awful name), but very easy to grow. I have three potted in my office (located in a basement). The only sunlight it gets is from the lights in the office. I water only once a week…and guess what? Sometimes I forget. But, it keeps growing and growing and growing. The best part of this plant is that you can cut off part of it, put it in water to root and then plant it in some dirt and all of a sudden you have 2 plants (great for gifts!).

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - A couple of things to consider: eventually your small pots will be too small. Your roots will want to grow a bit or will get all root bound. Some plants do great in tiny spaces, some don’t. Also, try to make sure the plant dries out between waterings. Over watering is just as bad as under watering. ALl that to say, I wouldn’t water daily. A couple of plants that are pretty hardy are the ribbon plant and the cast iron plant.
    Good luck!

  • Rachael - I am not good with plants, either. I have this thought that once we own a house, I will have a garden but I’m not sure I’ll suddenly know where to start! Love your blog! And I think you had every right not to garden this year 🙂

  • Robyn B - I did not read all the comments, so maybe someone already covered this…
    #1 is a pothos plant – super easy and they are VERY hard to kill 🙂 If you forget to water it, it goes all limp…but a little water, and presto, it’s back and all lovely! If you water too much, leaves turn yellow…so hold off on the water. They do well in any light…even minimal light! If you want a full plant, then trim the long vines as they grow, in encourage the plant to sprout more. BAsically, once mine starts to look a bit wilty, I add water. They are not the most interesting plants, but man, they are hardy and I can’t kill them 🙂
    Good luck!

  • Cara Louise - #5 is called Kalanchoe (spelling may not be right…) and I have found it to be pretty indestructible- they come it a bunch of different colorstoo. Another you might want to try is Cyclamen. Mine flowers all the time, wilts when it needs water, and bounces right back- I love a plant that just tells you when to water it!
    love and prayers to all!

  • Kirsten J - Yep, #1 will be tough to kill. #2 might benefit from a spray with a water bottle every few days. #3 should be pretty hardy, #4 needs plenty of light, #5 I think is a greenhouse plant….touchy. Mostly, don’t let them dry out for more than a day or two, but don’t keep their feet constantly wet. Something I do is lift the pot when I know they’re dry, and feel the weight, then give them maybe 4-6 ounces of water and feel te weight again. That way I can tell if they should be thirsty. I love spider plants but my kitties chew on them. My vet says they’re not toxic, but they still throw up (yuck) currently….all plants are shut in my bathroom….*sigh*

    Love those pots!

  • Erin - I grew up in a family of horticulturalists and do fine with plants (especially outside where the Lord will often help with the watering!), but am not one to dote on them. That being said, you should do okay with #1 and #5 which I’ve successfully managed before. 🙂

    #5 is a Kalanchoe which requires a certain set period of light and dark to re-bloom. Keeping the plant alive should not be that difficult (do not over care for it), but don’t be surprised if you don’t often see more flowers. It’s a succulent, found in the desert natively, so just water it once every week to two weeks and put it in a sunny window. These grow fine outside in the summer too, but should not be put in direct light: it’ll burn the leaves.

    #1 is a philodendron and tolerates just about anything. I put mine in my dark entryway and fail to water it except for every 4ish weeks. I am not suggesting such an extreme level of neglect, but it does manage to survive. Depending on your variety, higher levels of light may bring out pretty yellow/white streaks in the leaves. Just let it go. When it gets too long, just trim it back.

    The bigger the pot, the more room your plant will have to grow. Which is also a valid way to inhibit growth. I’m guessing #1 needs to be repotted, soon. (Sorry, super cute pot, though.)

    When re-potting take care to water often in the first few days. In the greenhouse we water every hour until water drips out the bottom for the first 3 hours. I’d be very gentle with it, watering carefully every day for at least a week before we cut back to a “normal” regimen. Don’t be surprised if you lose leaves or flowers upon repotting. It’s a shock to the plant. This is normal. They’ll grow back.

    You may consider a product similar to “Osmocote” it’s a granular, slow-release fertilizer. Just grab the one for indoor plants, put a scoop on your plants, and let them go for 3 months – you won’t have to worry about fertilizing except for 4x/year.

    Good luck!

  • Jenny - I also have struggled to keep plants alive, and the only plant that has survived in my house for three years has actually been a shamrock. It was a gift from my mother-in-law one year around St. Patrick’s Day; they always sell them in our grocery stores in March. I have been shocked at the amount of abuse and neglect this plant takes from me. Also, shamrocks seem to be happiest in bright, direct sunlight – might be just the thing for your studio. They’re leaves open toward the sunlight during the day and fold down at night – it’s really neat. It also sprouts tiny white flowers. Not sure if they can be found anywhere now, but keep your eye out for them in a few months!

  • Abigail C - #4 looks like the fern I have in my living room. I have good news! It has survived serious neglect. Just water it now and then. It’s only ever had indirect sunlight, and it seems to like that just fine (I have to prune it periodically so it doesn’t run all over the place). My other low maintenance plants are bamboo (just add water and indirect sun) and Avocado (sprouted from a pit from the store) which needs a small amount of water often, and the occasional soaking.

  • Claire - I am no expert but I just learned that you usually kill house plants by overwatering. I’ve been watering mine once a week or even less and they’re doing great. Let the soil get a little dry at the top before you water. The website Houseplant411 is helpful too. Good luck!

  • Jenna - I can honestly say that a pothos is seriously the easiest plant to keep alive. When we moved, our plant got forgotten for probably 3 months. When I found it, it looked pretty close to death but just started watering it to see if it would come back…and it did! Plus the leaves are really pretty, I have the marble queen which has variegated leaves.

  • susie - #1 and #3 should do pretty well, just remeber to water it about once or twice a month! Don’t feel bad if you can’t keep the garden, you have a lot going on!

  • Elizabeth - As others have said, your 1 and 3 will probably be ok (1 in particular. You can’t kill 1). 2 and 4 are ferns, which can be pickier, particularly 2. They want to be watered from the bottom or AT LEAST don’t get any water on the leaves. 5 you probably won’t kill, but they need pretty high light to rebloom.

    Another totally indestructible house plant is a Jade Plant and/or Clivia (sometimes called Kaffer Lilly).

  • Kristen - I have had all those plants at one time or another, mostly when I was in college at Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ). We had all of our plants in a window that faced south, so the sunlight was never blazing in on the plants, but gave them enough to survive. If #1 is indeed a Peace Lily, it’s pretty easy to maintain, just water when dry. I read the comment about possibly being toxic to kittens – not sure about that one, we had a cat too and never had any issues. #2 Fern – as most people have stated, ferns are finicky. With the colder weather approaching, you may start to run your heater, it will dry that baby out and turn crispy and you’ll have tons of tiny leaves all over the place. #3: Never had much any luck with that one… It survived, just never really grew. #4: Asparagus Fern! This is one of my favorite plants and it can actually be grown both indoors and out. I have had tremendous success with this plant outside in the Tucson Desert (Southern Arizona) climate. #5: Kalanchloe, cute plant, eventually the flowers will fall off, and you’ll need to trim it back. I’ve kept one of these alive for a long time; however, it never grew much bigger than when I had bought it.

    GOOD LUCK!

  • Ceri - I too have a black thumb but my coworker at work is teaching me how to keep the 4 plants I have on my desk at work alive. And it is working! (Sorry I have no idea what plants you have) She has told me a few things, a few have already been mentioned here. Water, but only if the soil isn’t wet. To help with drainage and your soil from getting too wet put some rocks in the bottom of your pot. Do replant so they do not get root bound. Keep the soil turned by sticking a fork in it to stir it up on the top. If you notice webs on your plants you have bugs. You can put a couple tiny drops of dish soap in a bowl of water and wipe them with a paper towel. (not too much soap!) this will kill the bugs but not your plant. If the bugs are flying toss the plant. (She has made me do this more than once because they will spread) Anything that is brown should be removed. And don’t leave the dead leaves in the pot as compost. (Really I thought that would be a good idea, it’s not) Once a leave has a little brown on it remove it because you don’t want the plant trying to waist nutrients trying to make it grow there when it will not. You can pinch off starts put them in a glass of water to add to the plant to make it fuller or start another one.

  • Stephanie - Ashley – Get yourself a Spider plant. Believe me on this one. They are the strongest things going for an indoor house plant. I water mine thoroughly once a week and keep them near a window. That’s about it. Then they start sprouting their own baby spider plants, and before you know it, the house is full of them. And then you can pot those and give them away as gifts! I love using them for housewarming gifts!
    Best investment. Good luck!

  • Amy at Fig Milkshakes - Your garden looks like mine. Your thoughts in your blog look like my head. 🙂 I agree with everyone that #1 will be the easiest. When I bought mine, the woman I bought it from said she got hers as a wedding gift 12 years ago and still it never died. She joked that if the plant died they would have to divorce.

    If #2 starts getting tempermental, try spritzing it. I did that with mine, and it helped, but it still didn’t live over a year. Mine was big, though and I live in the desert – not sure where you are?

  • Elaine - #1 and #5 should be pretty easy, indirect sunlight, water once or twice a week. Good luck.

  • Lindsay - I am terrible with plants!! I have managed to keep two alive: philodendron and spider plants. Both seem to do great without a lot of fuss and water. Both seem to like some sunlight (not too direct though) and prefer a smaller pot. I have had some that were growing very fast then I moved them into a bigger pot and they stopped growing. I know you want to keep their roots from getting too compact but I think they like it a little cozy.

    Also, philodendron can be poisonous so keep it out of Poppy’s reach.

  • Kimberly B - Don’t feel bad. My garden looks much the same and we only have 2 boys. I too have had great luck with spider plants. Just sunlight & water every 10~14 days and they are happy and beautiful.

  • Dee - #1 will pout when it needs water and then gets happy again. #2 will likely shed more than the kitty & #4 will become prickly. Not so sure about the others. BUT I think you should find a great garden gate (or 3) & let gourds grow all over them for fall craft ideas and the like. Just keep hanging them back over the gate & out of the yard.Paint the gates bright colors. If it stays 112 in the summer with no rain again you will still have those cute gates to look at or use as backdrops! I’m always drawn to those old treasures! Good luck.

  • Samantha - I have had several of #5. I have a a few inside but they always do better outside for me in direct sunlight. I have a few that have grown HUGE and I’ve repotted several times.

  • Kate S. - #1 & #2 both like moist soil. Be sure to water once a week.

    #3 needs only minimal watering. Don’t water it every week unless your weather is very hot and dry; instead, wait until the soil looks and feels dry to the touch, probably once every other week.

    #5 needs a fair amount of sunlight and will quickly outgrow it’s pot. A good rule of thumb to prevent root-bound plants is that they need a pot about as wide as their foliage.

    All potted plants need occasional fertilizer because the watering action and the plants nutritional needs naturally deplete the soil over time. Recommendations vary, but most plants can do very well with fertilizer just 2-3 times per year. just buy a general house plant fertilizer and you’ll be fine.

    If you don’t mind pretty foliage and few blooms, I always recommend the African Violet. People think they’re hard to grow, but they’re not. They don’t need much light or pruning (unless you’re planning to show them professionally, which you are not) and the leaves droop if they need water. They can grow in the same small pots for years without trouble and if by chance they get enough light, they can bloom year round. They do need a specific African Violet fertilizer, but that’s the only special treatment I give mine. There are also miniature varieties that are absolutely adorable–I buy mine from “The Violet Barn” and I have one in almost every room of my house.

  • Stacy - I haven’t read all of the other comments, so it’s likely I am repeating information, but as someone with a recovering black thumb (not quite green yet… maybe yellow?), I do have a few low-maintenance tips:

    – Indirect & bright sunlight, nearly always for indoor plants. If it’s cold and cloudy outside, then direct light will be fine since it won’t be harsh and hot.

    – Under-watering is better than over-watering. Water thoroughly once per week (I like Sunday or Monday morning), but don’t let any plant stand in lots of water. Make sure the pots have a drain hole.

    – Keep out of reach of Poppy. She will absolutely try to eat them if she can get to them. All cats are leaf-chompers, so keep that in mind… Also, if you know what the plants are, do a quick search to find out if they are toxic to cats. Better safe than sorry.

    Now onto the plants themselves…

    #1 – You’re gonna have a hard time killing this one. They survive on serious neglect. Water and light — easy.

    #2 – This looks like a fern, and in almost all cases, ferns like consistently damp soil and HUMIDITY. This means that the BATHROOM (where showers take place) is a great place for this plant. It needs bright indirect light, too, so if you have a bathroom with light and that gets heat from the shower, this one will thrive.

    #3 – no idea

    #4 – Indirect light and water once per week. It’ll grow like a weed if you give it just a little bit of love on Mondays.

    #5 – This is a Kalanchoe, which is in the succulent family. This one will take some care that is beyond just watering and putting in the light. DO NOT OVER-WATER. It needs to dry out between waterings, so you should probably water a little bit on Mondays – or even every other Monday. Well-drained soil is key. Also, when the flowers start to wilt off, pinch them off with your fingers. It’ll get new flowers, but only if you trim off the dead ones.

    Good luck!

  • pinksuedeshoe - My mother is the gardener of all gardeners. And I feel pretty successful to have kept one aloe plant, and one (not prickly) cactus alive for the past 10 years. My secret? Water them three times a year. Like clockwork. And don’t let the cactus get too much sun. Whenever I feel bad for him living his life without much direct sun and put him on the patio or something he gets sunburned and his skin turns purple. Haha! Then I rub some aloe on it. (not really.)

  • Mary - I love house plants too! They just add so much softness and life to a house.

    My suggestions are bigger pots. Ususually want them to be twice the size of plant. And as others said, not to overwater. I have a sage plant that I have killed with water so now I’m trying to bring it back to life by ignoring 🙂

    Good luck!

  • kate - Sorry if I am repeating someone. No expertise in this area, I would just make certain that whatever you choose it is “Poppy” compatible.;)

  • Mikki - im not sure for any of these plants but one easy and fun thing you could do with the kids is to grow avocado plants from the stones if you eat avocadoes at home. You put cocktail sticks into it and stand it in a glass of water so the bottom half of it is submerged. it will grow a root then you put it in dirt and itll make a nice tall houseplant for free 🙂 and if it does die, it doesnt matter too much as you can always try again! i have 2 and theyre really nice and im rubbish with plants usually!! (google can maybe explain better than me, just search ‘grow avocado from stone’ and you’ll find plenty of info!)

  • Amy Renea - ICE and COFFEE.

    Don’t water them. Just throw your ice in when it is leftover in the cup (will water plants slowly) and give them your leftover coffee when you have it. They will love you!

  • sarah - #1 will never die. You can’t kill it. Well don’t water it every day or anything, but general, once a week… even once a month watering and it’ll never die. Promise. Though they don’t like direct light. Pure sunlight (like if you had it in your car with the sun beating in) will make it wilt. So just keep in a low light place.

    #2- ferns love light. They grow on the forest floor… so no direct, harsh light for it either. again, light watering.

    I don’t know about 3 and 4.

    #5- eventually the blooms will come off until next year. keep it watered and maybe through in some fertilizer in the spring

  • Frances Bean - I am totally jealous, I have a terrible brown thumb!I live in a big city now but even when I lived in the suburbs or country I could barely make anything grow!

  • Jenny - I love your blog and read it all the time! I too love the idea of a garden and lots of houseplants, but usually kill them all. Your plant #1 is the only houseplant currently living in my house. We have had it since we got married (20 years ago!) and we named it “Wilt” because I always let it wilt so badly before I remember to water it. I literally just water it when it wilts (about every 2.5 weeks), and Wilt always comes back!

    As far as the garden, try some lettuce (butter is my favorite). I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said to plant a thimble full of lettuce every Monday. I have also had a bit of success with mint. Plant a bit (from a friend’s garden) it in a shady spot next to a leaky spigot.

  • Angela - Bamboo can handle a lot of neglect. I speak from experience.

  • Kathryn - I think you will need bigger pots pretty soon. 🙁 Keep fern #2 pretty moist. You may need to put the asparagus fern #4 up high. It will eventually get long, sharp thorns & produce berries that are poisonous. (Not kill you poisonous, but could make a small child sick.) I concur with the others on the kalanchoe. Good luck!

  • Erica - I know #1 and 2. #1 is a philodendron (not exactly sure I spelled that right.) They can be grown in soil or water. (Back when beta fish in a vase were popular, this was the plant that many people had on top.) My grandma has one, the plant not a fish, that has been alive forever, like over 30 years. She cuts off pieces and roots them to give to other people. They grow pretty fast and are vine-y. You’ll need to make/buy something to support it or find a place where it can trail eventually.

    #2 is a fern of course. They are a little more tricky. They like a window that doesn’t get much sun.

    We live in a dry place and we only water our plants once a week at most.

    I say just enjoy them while they live. Even if you kill them, chances are they’ll last a lot longer than cut flowers!

  • lydia - Don’t use softened water when you’re giving them a drink. Cheers!

  • Mandy - Im not sure what #3 is called, but it looks like one I have started from my Grandma…. her’s has taken over a corner of her living room as its MANY years old… it gets a white flower… anyways, I NEVER water mine… it just sits on the window… I water it when the leaves get little dry spots or the ground looks REALLY dry.. I think its a succulent of sorts 🙂
    Good luck!

  • Annie Page - Green thumb here – first up, small pots are cute, but hard to keep watered and keep the roots from binding themselves (choking them selves to death) Second, clay pots are equally as hard to keep plants hydrated.

    First – and this is just future recommendations: coffee filter at bottom of pot (to cover drainage hole so dirt doesn’t drain and make a mess. Second, rocks on the bottom for drainage and aeration. Third – ice cubes – a couple of ice cubes each day will slowly melt and hydrate your plant. It’s easier than watering and less messy if the dirt is dry and not draining quick. Try not to put the ice up against the stems – but it works great placed around the perimeter. Best of luck – think of all that great oxygen those little fellas will be providing!!!

  • Venusia - For me the best advide is every plant need a specific place. Just look in a book or on the net to find the best place the plant need to be : lot’s of sun, no direct light etc… Seriously, since I got kids my plants haved been negleted a lot, but no one died. Taking care of a plant is like following a recipe for me ! Hope it helps !

  • Tracy a - Love this! I hope the comments are helpful! All I can say is that I have had an aloe plant for at least 2 years, which is amazing considering that I killed a cactus in college! Good luck!

  • Katie - I now some others have mentioned succulents, but I thought it might mean more coming from a SUPER lazy “gardener”. Our garden outdoors is always fun in the beginning and then gets taken over by weeds, heat, and neglect. My houseplants survive because my husband is better at remembering to water. Take it from me, succulents are so easy! And if you break one off and stick it in dirt, it will grow more. Something else that is ridiculously easy is a wandering jew. Mine is this variety; http://home.howstuffworks.com/wandering-jew-plant.htm.

    We started with 2 plants a couple of years ago, and now we have about 6 [after sharing with family] because you just break the stems when they get too long, stick them in dirt, and viola! And they like shade too so indoors works great!

  • BeckyH in MA - Ashley!!! They just released the Wonder Woman design at the Silhouette online store (to use with your Cameo).

    Now you can make Firecracker a tshirt in her size! It’s easy peasy to make a template with the Freezer paper (also called butcher paper).

    http://www.silhouetteonlinestore.com/v2/viewShape.aspx?id=34000

  • Stephanie - You need a peace lily! They are virtually unkillable! We called ours Jesus because if you forgot about it and it got kind of dead looking, just water it and 3 days later it would rise again! Some people call them Lazarus plants also. Really, they are so pretty and so easy but they have to be repotted once a year into a bigger pot.

  • Sherri E. - Tillandsia! Easiest plants EVER! All they need is air and a little water once a month. They don’t even need dirt. Plus, they have different varieties to choose from, many of which have beautiful blooms. The perfect house plant for me. :}

  • Kaytie - People have probably already left you a ton of great tips, but just in case…. pothos/philodendron are nice hardy, viney plants that only need a little sun and watered lightly each week. I also like any type of succulent, if you forget about them for a month you can’t kill them. You might try a jade plant, hen and chicks, snake plant, etc. Good luck, happy house planting! 🙂

  • Emilie - Hi Ashley,
    The plants look great! I don’t comment often but felt compelled on this one in case you didn’t know that so many houseplants are poisonous to cats. I know you have your still young kitten who may or may not (most likely will) be interested in eating them, but it’s worth checking out what you’re putting out there that may be accessible to her. Here’s a good website: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/
    Good luck and happy planting!

  • Caitlin - #2. Ferns can be tricky. It’s easy to let them get too dry. Gots to keep an eye on them, keep the soil moist!

  • chantelle - We love aloe vera at our house. I need a plant that is useful and pretty! We have one foot of snow right now so a little year round green is important here! Aloe is easy as can be and great for cuts, scrapes and burns-esp. the kid ones that you can’t even see-aloe =’s love!

  • Angela A - The best houseplant I have is a zz plant. It has a longer name but that’s what it was called on the tag. It lasted through an office with no windows and me never watering. I put it on the porch now in the summer and bring it in when it starts getting cooler. And don’t beat yourself up over the garden. Even if you had a less busy summer this year, it still would’ve been tough. We had NO rain, at least until all of the summer crops were done. I’m in Oklahoma too and my garden looks like that–grass everywhere. Not looking forward to redigging it.

  • Elizabeth - I don’t know what #1 is called, but I’m pretty sure I have it. We’ve nicknamed ours “wilty”. It gets really droopy when you leave it in the sun/don’t water, but pour some water in that thing and bam in 20 minutes it’s very perky again.
    I’m a plant murderer and I have been able to keep that one alive. It doesn’t like direct sunlight, I scorched the leaves on mine (intense CO sun…) but it’s still happy and alive!

  • Laura - They need less water than you might think! Once a week is great. Those plants with thick leaves need even less water than plants with delicate leaves. I know nothing about fertilizer. Thankfully most plants cost less than cut flowers so if they die they certainly gave as much pleasure for much longer than flowers=no guilt!

  • Elizabeth Highsmith - rosemary is apparently hard to kill-hardly i killed her
    while it’s not a plant an african violet is the only thing i’ve never murdered. mine re-bloomed this year and it was like Christmas delight! and violets mean faithfulness!!

  • Chris - I have an elephant foot palm that I got dirt cheap at IKEA. It requires so little maintenance that I’m surprised I haven’t killed it yet! I keep it in the bathroom so the humidity from showers keeps it moist. I will occasionally dump a cup of water in the pot (like once ever couple of weeks/when I remember) and that’s it. It has survived wonderfully without any dead leaves!

    Good luck! Oh, I hear terrariums are easy, but I always manage to kill mine:). Have fun and enjoy the adventure!

  • Cory - Girl, philodendrons are haaaard to kill. I have had one for 12 years and honestly probably water the thing, mmmmmm, six times a year, if that. Keep them up higher though. Supposedly they do contain toxins in eatin by the kids. Also, Christmas Cactus (cactie?) are cute!

  • Sharon - I can tell you for sure that #1 is a Pothos and it only requires once a week watering and indirect sunlight daily. Obviously not requiring a green thumb, but not ignoring it either. And I’ve even skipped watering and it did fine. 😉

  • Katherine - Number 5’s flowers will likely die off fairly quickly and look dry and tatty, but I’d just say trim them off and just have the leaves. You might not get it to flower again, but green houseplants are good too, :-).
    I think the trick with houseplants is to put them in a bright spot that’s not in direct sun for too much of the day, and not too near a radiator. Only water about half a small glass of water In pots that size (or about as much as would fill those disposable paper cups people have in their bathrooms in the states), once a week. If there’s water left in the bottom of the dish/outer pot it’s sitting in after half an hour, dump that away. I don’t like to use a watering can to water my houseplants, as I find it’s too easy to over water.
    If any leaves start to go brown, just trim them off with scissors.
    I water my house plants on Fridays – its pretty much the only home maintenance routine that I’ve managed to stick to!

  • Jenny - I don’t have any house plant tips, but a good time to salvage your garden is in the fall. Get out there and turn the dirt over, get the weeds out, get the old plants out, get the crud out, and get your soil back to being pure. Then go out and cover it with compost (raked up leaves, grass clippings, a bed of straw…whatever you have lying around.) Then in the spring, you have a lot less work getting your garden ready, and the soil has been able to rest all winter, so you won’t have as many weeds.

  • DeAnne - #1 is the easiest to grow – philodendron family – water weekly, and they grow! # 2 Boston Fern I believe – they like the heat – may be messy inside – they drop leaves which drive me crazy. #4 asparagus fern – so easy to grow, but best outdoors – again, they drop their leaves during the winter & make a mess. But they are so easy to grow outdoors – love the heat of OK and once a week watering and they are great. Don’t know about #s 3 or 5 but they are lovely. Good luck! Aloe plants are easy to grow indoors and you can use them to treat a burn or scratch!! They need light and watering once weekly.

  • Laura@Ms Smartie Pants - I think ferns are super easy, put them in a bathroom and they do great, if not spray them with a water bottle instead of putting water in the dirt. #5 needs some sun, the rest are pretty easy to grow, good luck!

  • Sandy W - #1 is a pothos. They are very hardy. Let it dry out between waterings and will will thrive. I only water mine once every week or two – whenever it starts looking droopy.