If you love plants but like to get away, especially for that spur of the moment week’s break, keeping your indoor plants going can be a bit of a challenge.
Fortunately, there are indoor plants that are tougher than they look and there are some neat strategies to keep plants moist for longer. No more drooping stems or dried up leaves when you come home.
With these seven plants you can get away with watering only once a month, although it does depend on indoor temps and once you return, they will appreciate more regular watering.
ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is almost impossible to kill. It tolerates both heat and cold, dryness and very little water as well as low light. However, it will grow better with bright light. It is a gorgeous plant too. With its glossy green leaves and strong stems, it could almost be mistaken for a cycad, and over time grows into a statuesque plant. Even under normal circumstances, soil should dry out between waterings.
String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus) is as decorative as its name, being a most unusual trailing succulent that looks best tumbling out of a hanging basket. The round green leaves look like pearls strung along slender green stems, that can grow 60 to 90cm long.
In fact, you can have a whole collection of strings…like string of bananas, string of turtles, dolphins and hearts. Most are members of the Senecio family of succulents that are indigenous to Namibia so can easily tolerate dryness.
The ‘Strings’ like bright indirect light and should not be over water as this can cause root rot. Cut back straggly stems to produce a fuller plant and keep it looking neat.
Another toughie is Sansevieria (mothers-in-law tongue) which will survive almost anywhere and last indoors for many years. It will take low light, cool temperatures, and dry soil very well. The most popular variety for indoors is Sansevieria ‘Golden futura’ which always looks elegant, doesn’t wilt, and doesn’t take up much space. It is happy in a well-lit room or home office and only needs watering when the potting mix feels dry.
Delicious Monster (Monstera deliciosa) is back in fashion because of its large, dramatic leaves. In nature these forest plants survive on existing rainfall which means that they can survive periods of dryness. They need the minimum of care, being happy in a well-lit room with space for the leaves to show off at their best. Wipe down dusty leaves with a damp cloth.
Guzmania lingulata ‘Scarlet Star’ and Yellow Star are dramatic and exotic, with red or yellow-tipped yellow flower bracts. The flower bracts last for two months or more then the plant dies, leaving behind new plants, called pups, that become the next generation Guzmania. Plants like a warm, draught-free room with bright, indirect light. Keep the plant’s central tank/vase plant filled with water and flush it out regularly to keep it fresh.
Areca palm, also known as the bamboo palm, is surprisingly tolerant of neglect. It is a graceful space filler that does best being close to a window for good, filtered light. It should not be over watered and a sure sign of over watering is yellow leaves. However, it will appreciate sitting on a saucer filled with bark chips helps with humidity. These palms grow into good sized specimens and to appreciate their graceful fronds they need space.
You can’t talk about hardy, long lasting plants without mentioning anthurium. The indestructability of this tropical plant, with its heart-shaped leaves and multi-coloured ‘flowers’ make this a perfect houseplant. Display anywhere with good light, warmth and away from draughts. Being compact, plants are easy to display always having a bloom or two. Wipe the leaves to keep them glossy and snip off dead flowers. Most importantly, don’t over water.
Tips for keeping your indoor plants alive for longer.
- Make sure the pot is filled with good quality potting soil. Half-filled pots dry out quicker.
- Stand the pot plants in a bath with 5cm of bathwater. They will slowly absorb the water and stay moist for longer, especially if the bathroom is cool.
- Place a saucer under the pots and water before you go away. The plants will draw up the water as they need it.
- Where possible, move plants in warm rooms with bright light into cooler areas of the home. They will need less water.
For more information visit LVG Plant
TEXT: Alice Coetzee