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3 Plants to Buy When You’ve got a Brown Thumb

Updated on October 30, 2012
Air Plant
Air Plant

I would love to have a house filled with potted plants. However, I’m just not capable of keeping them alive. I have a natural brown thumb that has even succeeded at killing cacti shortly after it was moved in to decorate the home. Does this mean I can’t have any plants in my home? Nope. It just means that I need to be really selective about what I bother to buy, knowing that only the hardiest of plants is going to survive my “caretaking” skills.

Luckily, there are several plants out there that can get by with very little care from their owners and still end up looking great. Here is a look at three different types of indoor plants to consider purchasing if you want great-looking greenery that doesn’t require a lot of your love:

1.     Air Plants. If you haven’t yet come across these wonderful little plants then it’s time that you started doing your research into them because they’re absolutely amazing. I was introduced to them by someone I took a walking tour with and have been fascinated by them ever since. They are actually named Tillandsia (and are often called Tillies for short) but people have nicknamed their air plants because of the fact that they survive off of the air in your home. That’s right; they don’t need soil and they need very little water. You have to soak them in water once or twice per week but you can pretty much forget about them the rest of the time. Besides the fact that these plants are super easy to take care of even for brown thumbs like me, they are just really cool plants. They can stick to just about any surface, hanging upside down or rightside up. They don’t require potting or replanting or any of that nonsense so they really are the ideal plant for someone who wants a live plant in the home but doesn’t want to actually have to deal with having and caring for a live plant. Most people who get these order them from the Internet. You’ll learn as you start to research them that there are different kinds, many of which actually bloom beautifully.

2.     Succulents. These plants tend to grow in the desert, which is the first sign that they’re going to be easy to take care of. Most plants that grow in the desert are hearty and these are no exception. Like other desert plants, they store water well which means that it’s okay if you forget about them on a regular basis. Admittedly, succulents require more work from you than air plants do. You do have to put them in pots with soil and you do have to think about making sure that they’re placed in a place where they get a lot of light without being directly exposed to the sun (although this can vary depending on the specific plant that you get). In spite of this, you should find that you can handle keeping these plants alive even if you tend towards a brown thumb. They revive well so if you notice that you’re not keeping up on them well enough you can probably still bring them back to life. And these plants tend to be the most useful plants in terms of low-maintenance plants. A very popular succulent to grow is aloe vera, a plant that can be used to treat sunburns and to create natural face masks. And yet, like other succulents, it doesn’t require a lot of hard work to keep it alive for you to use.

3.     Philodendrons. These plants are widely known for being plants that you can neglect. That’s the reason that so many people have them in their homes. What you might not know about them is that there are actually a lot of different types of philodendrons. You can get shrub-like philodendron trees or climbing philodendron vines. What many brown thumb folks really like about these is that they don’t care all that much about sunlight (compared to other houseplants) so you don’t have to ever really think about positioning them properly or moving them back and forth to find the sun. They do require soil and watering but the care that they need to stay alive really isn’t extensive. What’s cool about these plants is that they can actually flourish if you give them a lot of care but they won’t die out easily if you neglect them. This makes them a great plant for someone who wants to practice getting a greener thumb when it comes to their indoor plants but who wants the assurance that they probably aren’t going to kill the plants if they don’t end up doing a great job of developing that green thumb.

Of course, these three plants aren’t the only options that you have for low-maintenance, durable, hard-to-kill plants. They just happen to be the safest options for people regardless of where you might be located. Another good option is to look into getting native plants and planting them outside in your yard instead of inside. If the plant can naturally survive in your area then it’s going to be tougher to destroy it through neglect as long as it’s still out in the natural environment near you. It’s a good idea to take the time to ask local nursery growers about the best plants for your area. Let them know that you’ve got a brown thumb and see what they suggest for you. 


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  • Selarisa profile image

    Selarisa 6 years ago from Canada

    I have also killed cacti and my philodendron did last longer than any plant I've ever had, however, I've never heard of an air plant so thank you very much for a great hub! I'll have to pick one up and see if it can survive my brown thumb :)

  • U Neek profile image

    U Neek 7 years ago from Georgia, USA

    Very well written and good advice for me, another brown thumb person!

  • Katrina Ariel profile image

    Katrina Ariel 7 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

    This is a great hub. I do okay with plants, but I think it's nice to know which ones need more maintenance and which are more laid back about how often you tend to them. I love the picture of the succulent - so beautiful!