Top 10 hard to kill house plants

Over lock down my house plant obsession has grown, except I’m a bit of a chaotic plant parent, so I’ve killed plenty of plants over the last couple years. I went in hunt of all these ‘easy care’, ‘newbie’, ‘hardy’ house plant lists, bought all the plants on the lists and then promptly killed most of them.

So after the plant genocide I now have a list of plants to share that will survive even the most neglectful plant parent.

1. Snake Plants- ‘mother in law’s tounge’ (Sansevieria)

As long as you do not over water this plant (and by that, I mean, literally drown them). They are impossible to kill.

They can be put in dark corners, or in full sunlight. They can be left for weeks without water. They can be in bathrooms, or kitchens, or bedrooms. They can be left in a draft window, or near dry heat from radiators. They can be left to go completely pot bound – although they don’t love to be in pots that are too big for them because it’s easier for the soil to become water logged (because there’s not enough roots in the soil to drink up the water) but they can survive for the most part. They need well draining and sandy soil but they will tolerate pretty much anything that doesn’t get too water logged.

2. Pothos – ‘devils ivy’

Again, as long as you do not drown this plant, it is un-killable. My dad had one of these in dark corner, barely watered it, never trimmed it, never repotted it and somehow it lived for twenty years.

They are happy pretty much anywhere but if you have them in a humid room, it won’t need watering as often. They are quite happy to be in small pots and becoming slightly pot bound. They need well draining soil but otherwise will pretty much be happy in whatever potting soil. Plus, they come in a variety of types and colours, so you can have a few of these in you rooms, get this jungle vibes going, without anyone realising you bought six different types of the same plant.

Another bonus with this plant is that it tells you quite clearly how it’s doing- droopy and limp=more water, yellow squishy leaf = too much water, yellow, crispy leaf= not enough water. etc etc

3. Cactus

Again. Do not over water and most species of cactus will survive with very little care. For the most part, you can’t put these in humid room but apart from that, they aren’t too fussy. They prefer small pots over big ones because they tend to have small roots. Cacti, once again, like well draining soil, perhaps a little sandy. A general rule for the least fussy types of cactus are any of the kind that is just one stalk, with no little branches (like euphorbia’s have), or floppy bits (like the ‘bunny ear’ type of cactus).

4. Monstera (delicosia or androsi)- ‘Swiss cheese plant’

Essentially, the deal with these guys is- give it a big -big drink then LEAVE IT THE FUCK ALONE. Don’t give it anymore water until like a good 2-4 inches of the top of the soil is dry.

That’s it.

Seems simple but I’ve definitely somehow killed one of these and I knew instantly at the time I’d overwatered it and fucked up.

They will tolerate varying light levels but grow better if they have a bit of sunlight, if you keep it in a dark area, it will grow towards the light so that can result in a wonky, stretchy plant. They do prefer humidity but are fine with the kind you can create by grouping a few plant together really, as if they are under a humidifier, it’s easy for them to become overwatered. This plant prefers bottom watering (being put in a little dish of water, left to soak and then removed from the water to drain- do not let it sit in the water for a long time). However, as a general rule, with watering from the top or the bottom, give a bit drink and leave it alone. Remember this is a jungle plant that would cling to trees.

5. Jade plant

I don’t know why I never see this plant on these kinds of lists because they really are hard to kill. They can get to a decent size if you take care of them but mostly they grow to the size of the pot you put them in.

Once again, as long as you do not overwater it, the plant will survive most other kinds of abuse. Although, I don’t think it would grow well in a low light position, it will tolerate quite direct, bright sunlight.

With my one, it did come down with a plant pest, so I abandoned it outside, during the winter in the uk, in the hopes that separating it from the other plants would stop the bug spreading. It somehow survived two or more months, left completely to the elements. So I mean it when I say this plant is tough! My friend leaves hers in a conservatory window and hardly ever waters it but hers has grown massive over the years she’s had it.

6. ZZ plant

These tolerate a lot of abuse. Are happy pretty much anywhere, in dark corners or sunlight- although they will sun burn if they’re somewhere too hot. Will tolerate varying water levels but, again, will not last long if they are overwatered. They like sandy, dry, well draining soil but will survive different soils as long as they aren’t overwatered.

7. Christmas cactus

Same points as the above, do not overwater, will tolerate varying light levels and drafts or heat. Although, if you want those blooms that Christmas cacti are famous for, a little bit of tlc is needed (and by that I mean, don’t leave it in less than ideal conditions for long!)

8. Fitonia

This is contrary to a lot of people’s opinions but if you are like me and tend to kill plants by giving them a little too much love, these dramatic bitches will be your new best friend. I’ve found it’s literally almost impossible to over water these beauties and because they ‘feint’ whenever their conditions are less than ideal, this plant waves a big dramatic flag anytime they are in trouble.

Unfortunately, there are many things you can do wrong with this plant. Let it get too hot or too cold, it’ll die. Underwater it and it’ll die. Wrong soil, it’ll die. But the reason I include this plant on this list is because of how quickly it gives you an early warning signal it is unhappy before it would die. Plus, it is one of the few you can happily water without worrying you will commit the inevitable plant sin of overwatering.

9. Calantheas and prayer plants

This may be another controversial addition but these plants are pretty happy as long as they have a bit of humidity and are watered properly. A big drink once a week (or more infrequently if they are in a very humid location) with well draining soil and these plants will be grow well. They come in beautiful varieties, look much fancier than they are and are frequently available quite cheaply in supermarkets or b&q.

10. String of hearts

Once again, well draining soil, do not over water. They do need humidity, so a bright bathroom would be ideal, or a kitchen but not too near the heat. This plant prefers bottom watering. This is another one that needs a big drink and then needs to be left alone.


well draining soil‘ – just soil with lots of spacers in it, so perlite (vermiculite), activated charcoal, bark and even very small rocks. Essentially when you water the plant thoroughly, you should see the water go through and come out of the drainage holes.

You can pretty much create your own house plant potting soil by mixing the normal ‘potting soil’ with perlite and sand if its appropriate for the plant. The less a plant likes to be left damp- the more spacer you put in.

‘Overwatered‘ – In extreme cases, this is where the soil has been saturated and is water logged throughout. Although, this is a general term for watering soil above the amount that particular plant can tolerate, leaving the soil damp enough to rot the roots of the plant. (you tell if the roots are rotted by if they become black and squishy).

‘humid‘ – damp air, basically.

pot bound‘ – where the roots get too big for the pot and get all tangled

Was this enjoyable? I have a lot of plant knowledge to impart, so makes sure you like this and/ or follow after reading as I’m not afraid to make this a series!