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5 hard-to-kill indoor plants to get your urban jungle started


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Try as you might, some people wind up with a home garden that looks more like a plant cemetery than a Pinterest board (guilty!). But there’s good news afoot. Whether you’re looking to boost your mood, the air quality, or simply take an adorable #shelfie, there are low-maintenance indoor plants that almost anyone can actually keep alive.

“The most important thing to keep in mind when purchasing a new plant for your home or office is the plant’s native habitat,” says Erin Marino of the New York City plant shop The Sill. “We tell our customers that the best way to care for a plant is to try to recreate an environment within your space that is similar to the environment of its native habitat.”

But if you live in a concrete jungle as opposed to a actual jungle, that can be a notoriously difficult feat. Luckily, these five “starter plants” require minimal intervention, which means that you’ll hardly ever have to prune or water them. While they still require some natural light and TLC, according to Darryl Cheng of House Plant Journal, “these plants also tend to die the slowest, should you desire to sentence it to a windowless corner.”

And if all else fails? There’s always palm-printed wallpaper.

Keep reading for your plant-lady-in-training starter kit.

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Snake plants

If you’re someone who might forget about watering your plant for a few days, consider starting out with a succulent. “The sansevieria, AKA ‘snake plant,’ is tolerant of a wide range of conditions.” says Marino. The leaves are extra sturdy, and since the snake plant is a type of cacti, they don’t require much hydration. 

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Trailing plants

“Trailing plants, like the pothos or philodendron, tend to be low-maintenance and hardy,” says Marino. “They’re also fast growers — and that frequent new growth will help let you know that you’re being a decent plant parent.” According to Cheng, if the leaves start to look “less bouncy” you’ll know that it’s time to add some H2O. 

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ZZ plants

If you’re looking for a lifelong commitment that doesn’t involve a diamond ring, consider the zamioculcas zamiifolia or “ZZ plant” your soulmate. They’re commonly referred to as the “eternity plant” because of their will to live. According to Cheng, the plant’s lush, succulent stalks store water to use during times of drought.

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Dracaneas plants

Whether you opt for a table-top version or a full-blown floor plant, dracaneas are quite tolerant of dry soil, so you won’t have to worry about them when you jet off for a weeklong wellness retreat in Bali. They tend to grow best in bright sunlight with a little bit of humidity, but are also known to survive in lower-lit and drier spaces, too.

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Jade plants

Jade plants are said to bring good luck, so when it comes to keeping one of these alive, the universe is on your side. “[They] will grow slowly and be leggy in low light but can always be pruned back, which will encourage branching,” says Cheng. If you’re really diligent about caring for a jade plant, it may even start to flower. Congratulations, you’re now ready to bring even more plants into your home.

Since you’re spending more time at home now caring for your plants, you can try DIY pedicures and at-home meditation apps—to achieve the self-care trifecta without ever having to leave your apartment.