9 No-Fuss Plants That Will Brighten Your Home Until Spring

By Ashley Marcin on 20 February 2017 0 comments

This time of year, it's nice to bring something green home to help pass the gray days. Houseplants are a living reminder that spring is on the horizon. You don't need to be particularly good at keeping stuff thriving to enjoy them, either. Here's a list of some low-maintenance plants that are cheap or, in some cases, free! (See also: The 5 Hardest-to-Kill Houseplants)

1. Pothos

You can pick up a gorgeously green, 10-ounce pothos plant for less than $4 at Lowe's. If you're worried about it being high maintenance, don't fret. Chances are, you'll have this plant for the long haul. Even people who have green thumbs explain that this plant will withstand a hearty dose of "benign neglect."

And if your friend just happens to have this plant, you may be able to get one for yourself for free. Simply cut an existing plant into some individual segments above the leaf by about half an inch. Take 10 or so of these cuttings and place them in a pot (don't forget to water them) for about six weeks. Each cut should eventually make a vine that will turn into a full plant.

2. Spider Plant

The only plant I have ever had in my own home is the spider plant. And amazingly, it has withstood the test of time and countless messes along the way. Talk about indestructible. What about cheap? Yeah, it's that, too. This plant produces seemingly unlimited babies that you can either inherit or pass along to your friends with virtually no work involved on your part.

Here's a tip: spider plants can sometimes get a "burned" look on their leaf tips. This is as a result of too much fluoride accumulation. If you want to avoid this tattered look, try using higher grade fertilizer and skipping tap water when watering. It's a great excuse to try your hand at making a rain collection barrel.

3. Aloe Plant

Want a plant that does more than just look pretty on your shelf? Grow aloe! You can use its gooey center to ease irritation from cuts and burns. A 10-inch aloe vera plant costs only $4. Care is easy. Water well and then let the soil dry one or two inches before the next watering.

Another option is tiger alloe. It is one of the smaller plants in the aloe family and only reaches about 10 inches tall. As a result, it fits well on coffee tables or other areas in compact apartments. Oh, and it gets some spikes with orange flowers in the middle of winter to help shake the cold-weather blues and add a burst of color into your life.

4. Jade Plant

Jade plants can last 100 years or more with proper care. It is a slow-growing succulent, so it doesn't need to take up a lot of space and can survive even if you forget to water it regularly. You can grab a jade of your very own for around $4 or $5.

If your jade picks up mealybugs — a white, cottony mass — you can treat it with some rubbing alcohol.

5. Cactus

My neighbor bought a tiny Christmas cactus plant for around $5 a few years ago. It now sits proudly in her bay window and blooms late each fall with some really pretty flowers. You'll want to place this plant in a well-lit area and place it in a well-drained pot. You only need to move it to a new pot every year or so. In the summer, you can move it to your patio — just make sure to give it some shade during the hottest time of day.

This plant is often called a crab cactus in Europe. And in its native Brazil, the "Christmas" part of the name would be relatively meaningless, as its blooms in spring there (because it's in the Southern Hemisphere).

6. Mother-in-Law's Tongue

While a mother-in-law's tongue (otherwise known as a snake plant) may sound like something you'd want to stay away from, this plant is excellent for indoor air quality. It filters anything from formaldehyde to trichloroethylene to benzene out of your home's atmosphere. It's relatively cheap to boot. You can pick one up for around $15 at your local big box center. Experts recommend you place this plant in your bedroom because — get this — it can convert exhaled CO2 into oxygen.

The best part? This plant is super hard to kill. They don't need much light either. Just some love, and little water, and an occasional dusting.

7. Cast Iron Plant

Don't have a lot of light in your home? The cast iron plant doesn't care. The shadier, the better for this happy plant. Actually, if it gets too much sun, its leathery leaves will start to burn. Otherwise, it's hearty and easy to maintain. A small cast iron will set you back around $12.

If your plant's leaves do end up burning, you can simply cut them off, water well, and place it in a spot with better shade away from windows.

8. Rubber Plant

As one of the world's oldest house plants, the rubber plant can grow quite tall and take up a bit of space in only a few years' time. But that's good if you want a houseplant as a feature of your home decor. It's also resistant to pests and diseases and can tolerate poor treatment. You can get a rubber plant for around $8 plus shipping costs. Not bad considering how big it will get.

My mother-in-law keeps these plants, and she explains that if the leaves turn yellow, it's typically that they're receiving too much water. Back off for a while, and their usual color should return.

9. Peace Lily

Another easy-to-grow houseplant is the peace lily. It's quite common in houses across the U.S. and beyond, so you may be able to score one from a friend. Otherwise, you can buy this plant for around $8. Its pleasant white flowers prefer shade versus sun. Most peace lily plants grow to about 16 inches tall and bloom throughout the year. No blooms? Move your plant to a darker room.

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