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3 Ways to Save Water When Getting Ready For Spring

5 Top Houseplants for First Timers

By Justin Hancock, Costa Farms Horticulturist
Photographs courtesy of Costa Farms

Here are five indoor plants practically anyone can grow. They’re perfect for gifting, if you’ve not had success with indoor plants in the past, or just want to add more easy-care varieties to your collection.

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1. Snake Plant (Dracaena)

Snake plant (also called Sanseveria, mother-in-law’s tongue, or sword lily) is usually my first recommendation for anyone’s first plant. It will survive practically anywhere, from next to a big, bright window to a windowless cubicle at the office. It’s also incredibly forgiving about water, and can often go a few weeks without, if it has to. 

What to watch for: Overwatering is the most common cause of snake plant unhappiness in the home. Let the top half or so of the potting mix dry between waterings.

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2. Raven® ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas)

Raven® ZZ shows off thick, almost rubber-like leaves that store water, making this plant a champ at surviving if it’s forgotten for a couple of weeks. Thick, potato-like rhizomes store water, allowing the plant to rebound, even if it completely defoliates. The ability to tolerate low light sweetens the deal. 

What to watch for: Too much water. It would rather be too dry than too wet and can suffer root rot if the potting mix stays excessively moist or saturated for extended periods. 

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3. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

A lush, leafy family of houseplants, Chinese evergreens offer a look for practically anyone, and an easy-growing nature that allows them to survive practically anywhere. Classic varieties have dark green leaves variegated with silver, and newer varieties up the ante with bold shades of red, pink, purple, chartreuse, cream, and white. It holds up surprisingly well if it’s forgotten for a week or two, doesn’t mind low light, and looks great even in low-humidity conditions. 

What to watch for: Keep it warm. Chinese evergreens don’t love temperatures lower than about 55F. (Happily, most of us don’t like to keep our homes that cool, either!)

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4. Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea)

You might not think a plant native to the sunny deserts of Mexico would be an easy-care houseplant, but ponytail palm is full of surprises. It prefers bright light, but survives in medium to low-light spots. And like the other plants on this list, it has tricks up its sleeve (or in this case trunk) to store water when it’s dry, so you can forget it for weeks at a time and it will still live. 

What to watch for: Overwatering, particularly if it’s grown in low-light conditions. Like most plants, the less light it gets, the less water it typically uses. 

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5. Global Green Pothos (Epipremnum)

Pothos is one of the trendiest houseplants around, and happily, also one of the easiest. I love that it looks just as good trailing from a basket as it does climbing a totem. This makes it perfect for decorating your home or office. It holds up well in low light, low humidity, and can go a couple of weeks without watering if it needs to. Plus, the green-on-green variegated foliage looks great on its own or paired with other plants. 

What to watch for: Wet soil is the fastest way to do in a pothos. Happily, if it starts to get too dry, it will start to wilt, letting you know it’s time to water. If it stays wetter than it wants to be, you’ll typically see leaves go yellow and drop prematurely. 


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