Which Large Indoor Plants Are Hardest to Kill?


Which Large Indoor Plants Are Hardest to Kill? Indoorplantsforbeginners.com

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You’re trying to get better at caring for houseplants, which is why you decided to start an indoor garden. For now, you’d like some houseplants that are hard to kill so you won’t have to feel bad if you forget to water them for a few days. You’d also like your hard-to-kill houseplants to be on the bigger side as well. Which large indoor plants should you focus on?

Which large indoor plants are hardest to kill? The following list of large indoor plant species are some of the hardest to kill:

  • Philodendron
  • Parlor palm
  • Cast iron plant
  • Peace lily
  • Umbrella tree
  • ZZ plant
  • Ponytail palm
  • Rubber plant
  • Snake plant
  • Chinese evergreen
  • Dragon tree
  • Aloe vera
  • Spider plant
  • Money tree
  • Yucca

Sure, the usual suspects are here, but there are also some plant species on this list that I don’t discuss as frequently here on Indoor Plants for Beginners. Keep reading for what makes each of these plants so durable, be that tolerance for poor light, water, temperature, humidity, or even a combination of factors. I’ll even tell you the right way to care for these plants so you don’t have to learn by trial and error. You won’t want to miss it! 

15 Large Indoor Plants That Don’t Die Easily

To meet the requirements of a large houseplant for this article, all plants on this list are at least 1 foot tall. Many grow far bigger than that either height-wise or width-wise. Let’s take a closer look!

Philodendron

What it tolerates: The sizable, exotic-looking philodendron won’t begin wilting if the light is less than optimal at home or the office. It can actually thrive in dimmer lighting, so turn down your artificial lights. The philodendron also won’t mind if your home is only at base relative humidity, which is 30 to 50 percent.

What you should do instead: Keep the philodendron out of direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. Maintain bright indirect light or medium light instead of dim light.

By day, set the temperature between 65 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit and no lower than 60 degrees at night. If you can, boost your humidity to 40 percent or higher as well.

Water the plant when the philodendron’s top layer of soil feels dry. If the philodendron’s leaves are brown, the plant needs water more often. If the leaves turn yellow, scale back on watering!

Parlor Palm

What it tolerates: Low light, artificial light, the parlor palm doesn’t care. It can also handle temperatures that linger in the 60s if you’d rather open your window on a brisk autumn day or during an afternoon in early spring.

What you should do instead: It’s ideal if you can boost the temperature to at least 65 degrees for the parlor palm, but don’t go any higher than 80 degrees. Watch your temperature lows, especially at night. If the temps are under 50 degrees, your poor parlor palm could freeze.

Try to provide indirect light for the parlor palm, as bright sun will torch its leaves.

The soil should stay moist between watering but never wet. In the winter, you can water even more infrequently, letting the soil dry out completely.

Cast Iron Plant

What it tolerates: You might not think so by looking at it, but the cast iron plant has some tolerance for drought-like conditions. Indirect light doesn’t hinder this hardy houseplant either, nor do cooler temperatures in the low 40s and even the 30s in some cases. 

What you should do instead: Try to keep indoor temperatures between 45 and 85 degrees for a healthy cast iron plant. Any colder than 45 degrees and you may notice changes to this pretty plant’s foliage, which would be a shame.

The soil test will tell you when it’s time to water your cast iron plant. Plunk your fingers into the soil. If it feels dry, water the plant, but if the soil is moist, skip it for now.

Like several of the other houseplants I’ve discussed, keep the cast iron plant out of the sunlight. A northerly-facing window is best.

Peace Lily

What it tolerates: In the winter when you have less sun, the peace lily will live under fluorescent lights. In even darker conditions, your peace lily might be okay, but don’t expect much blooming out of it. You can also let the peace lily’s soil dry out completely and go a few days without water.

What you should do instead: I recently wrote an article titled: Peace Lily Leaves Turning Brown? Here’s Why about how humidity under 50 percent can cause the peace lily’s leaves to go brown, so don’t do that.

When it comes to ideal temperature for peace lilies, set your thermostat between 65 and 80 degrees, which is cozy for a household or office.

Check the leaves of your peace lily to ascertain how your lighting is. If the leaves are brown, the plant is getting too much light, and if they’re yellow, it’s too little.

The leaves will also become brown if you don’t water your peace lily. You should maintain moist soil from day to day, but don’t let the soil get soggy.  

Umbrella Tree

What it tolerates: Have you not quite mastered the umbrella tree’s watering schedule yet? Underwatering is better than overwatering, so it’s fine if the soil gets a bit dry.

It’s also okay if you put the umbrella tree in bright light or darker conditions, and this species doesn’t care much about humidity either. 

What you should do instead: If your umbrella tree sits in a drainage saucer, make sure you dump the saucer between waterings to prevent root oversaturation.

As for humidity, although you don’t need a humidifier for the umbrella tree, take precautions to ensure the air isn’t bone dry. Spider mites and scale are more likely to invade your umbrella tree plant when it’s drier.

Keep your thermostat at 55 to 75 degrees, which is plenty comfortable. Also, be aware that depending on its lighting, the umbrella tree can grow different ways. For example, the less light, the leggier the plant is and the more stunted its growth.

ZZ Plant

What it tolerates: It doesn’t matter what you throw at it: the ZZ plant can handle it all. Few conditions are enough to shake this tough houseplant, from the brightness of artificial light to darkness, lack of water, and changing humidity.

What you should do instead: Prevent the air from getting too dry, but otherwise, moderate to high humidity should suffice for the ZZ plant. This houseplant prefers temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees, which is again a normal indoor temperature range.

Water your ZZ plant maybe every two weeks depending on the season and how dry it is outside. Just like I recommended with the umbrella tree, keep the ZZ plant’s saucer dry between waterings.

Indirect but bright light is best for the ZZ plant, but it’s obviously no biggie if you can’t provide that kind of lighting all day every day.

Ponytail Palm

What it tolerates: Go ahead, put the ponytail palm in full sun for a few hours. Nothing bad will happen, surprisingly. That’s also true if the palm is exposed to temperatures as low as 15 degrees, provided it’s for a short period and your plant has fully matured. Also, here’s one plant that doesn’t mind if it’s been several weeks since you’ve last watered it.

What you should do instead: Considering the ponytail palm is a succulent, you want to wait at least three weeks between watering. Just make sure you don’t crank the humidity, keeping it at around 40 percent and maintaining a temperature of no higher than 80 degrees.

Attesting to its succulent status further, the ponytail palm likes bright light for at least half the day, but avoid giving it too much direct light.

Rubber Plant

What it tolerates: Oh no, did you forget to water your indoor plant for a while, like a month? Depending on the time of the year, the rubber plant prefers less water, especially in the winter and autumn when it doesn’t grow.

You also won’t hurt the rubber plant if you blast your heater at home and the air is on the drier side. Being able to handle both, humid and drier air, is one of the many reasons I added the rubber plant to this list.

What you should do instead: The rubber plant prefers partial shade and some full sun, so a bright and sunny window with a sheer curtain is its perfect environment. When it’s not the dormant season, water your rubber plant as its soil begins to dry out.

During the day, 75 degrees to 80 degrees will suit your rubber plant best, and at night, it likes temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees.

Snake Plant

What it tolerates: Longer stretches of no water up to eight weeks are no sweat to the snake plant. If the room where you put your snake plant has periods of high light and then times of low light, this also won’t affect the plant’s health.

What you should do instead: Overwatering is the biggest enemy of the snake plant, so take care not to do that. Go two to eight weeks between watering or when the soil has completely dried out.

Don’t let temperatures dip under 60 degrees nor rise over 75 degrees. Average room humidity will keep your snake plant healthy, but avoid drafts from air vents, radiators, or air conditioners.

A southerly-facing or westerly-facing window where the snake plant is about 10 feet away will help it grow healthy and strong.

Chinese Evergreen

What it tolerates: Do you have a Chinese evergreen in an enclosed office with only artificial light like fluorescents to spare? You’ll notice that your plant doesn’t appear stunted or in otherwise bad shape, which is impressive.  

What you should do instead: Depending on a few factors, you need to amend your watering habits. In the winter, when the Chinese evergreen is dormant, it needs less water.

That’s also true if the plant is in an area of lower light. In brighter conditions and when it’s actively growing, water the Chinese evergreen more often.

The higher the humidity, the better, but keep the Chinese evergreen out of dry conditions. Water only when the soil dries out or otherwise this plant’s propensity to develop fungal diseases will show.

The more variegated your Chinese evergreen, the less bright light it can tolerate, so be careful!

Dragon Tree

What it tolerates: If you left your dragon tree in a dark room for months, such as at the office, it will live. That said, you won’t get as many fun colors as this indoor plant species can display. Your plant will also grow less, but indoors, that’s not always the end of the world.

What you should do instead: Skip the full sun and give your dragon tree bright light to dimmer light.

Your temperature range is stricter, 70 to 80 degrees only. You shouldn’t have to change your house or office humidity, just avoid dry conditions.

The biggest facet of dragon tree care is watering it. If the top layer of the soil is dry, then it’s time to water. That should set you up for watering this houseplant about weekly, but it’s okay if it’s not every seven days on the dot.

Aloe Vera

What it tolerates: Yes, the aloe vera is hard to kill, even if it looks a little fragile. Since it’s a succulent, aloe vera can easily go long stretches with no water.

It doesn’t even need high humidity like other succulents. Dim light is okay too, at least for a few hours of the day.

What you should do instead: About every three weeks, it’ll be time to water your aloe vera. The exception is winter, when you can go up to twice as long between waterings.

Just wait until the first two inches of the soil are dry and then grab your watering can. If the tips of the aloe vera leaves have gone brown, you’re watering too seldom.

Average room humidity is fine, as is a mix of filtered sun and light shade, such as that from a westerly-facing or a southerly-facing window.

Spider Plant

What it tolerates: When you work at an office and can’t control the humidity, you need to pick your houseplants carefully. Thankfully, the spider plant is one of those plant species that can live in lower humidity.

You can also get away with infrequent watering once your plant has survived its first year, which is great if you’re the forgetful type. Oh, and all sorts of lighting works for this houseplant too.

What you should do instead: In a perfect world, you’d provide bright light for the spider plant, even direct sun. The temperature should be 60 to 80 degrees, and it’s okay if the temps dip down into the mid-50s overnight.

The snake plant prefers if you water it about weekly to maintain soil moisture, but only for that first year. After that, watering every few weeks to once a month should work.

The leaves of your snake plant will tell you when it’s time to give it water, as brown leaves indicate it’s getting too little water.

Money Tree

What it tolerates: You should aim to get your money tree out of low light eventually, but for the first few weeks or so, minimal light won’t hurt. If your air conditioner breaks and the temps get close to 100 degrees, the money tree won’t wilt. This plant can even withstand temperatures around 50 degrees. That range of temps should give you a good idea of why it’s on my list. should

What you should do instead: You can space out watering the money tree, doing it several times a month rather than every week. When you do water your money tree, feed it significant amounts of water, but then don’t water it again until the top layer of soil is dry.

Push your thermostat closer to 85 degrees if you can handle it. On the lower side, 50 to 60 degrees is about as cold as the money tree can handle.

One of the most important parts about money tree care is keeping the humidity high and avoiding low light as often as you can. If the money tree spends too much time in the shade, it’ll grow skinny and stretched.

Yucca

What it tolerates: For new indoor gardeners especially, the yucca is a great houseplant choice. It doesn’t need a lot of attention, including in areas of humidity, watering, and lighting.

Lower lighting can affect flower production and limit growth, but lack of light won’t kill the plant outright. I’ve had 3 Yucca Cane plants for a few years now and they’ve thrived during times I thought they would go limp and die.

Yucca Cane’s are, without a doubt, one of the hardest plants to kill. Mine are roughly 6 years old and are already almost 4 and a half feet tall.

What you should do instead: Lower humidity will help the yucca grow, as will indirect to direct sun, such as that from a westerly-facing window.

Given that the yucca has thicker leaves with a wax coating, its need for water is less. When it’s growing, give the yucca a good watering about two or three times a month.

Fred Zimmer

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

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