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Low-maintenance plants and how to care for them

As climate change increasingly becomes a bigger topic of conversation, one thing quite literally close to home that can begin to falter due to a changing climate is our plants. But which ones are best suited to surviving the unpredictable weather?
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Header image of low-maintenance plants and how to care for them
Header image of low-maintenance plants and how to care for them

With the popularity of indoor plants increasing, 67% of UK adults have claimed that the upkeep and care of them are more than they signed up for. 

As part of our Low Maintenance Plants Report, we’ve rounded up some of the easiest plants to take care of, which are ideal for the kind of person that always forgets to water their plants. 

So whether you’re looking for some greenery to brighten up your home, or you’re a beginner gardener but you’re not sure where to start, we reveal indoor and outdoor plants that pretty much take care of themselves, and how toxic they might be to your pets: 

Low maintenance indoor plants and how to take care of them 

The indoor plant craze is ever-growing but like a lot of homeowners find, keeping them alive can sometimes be a challenge. That’s why we have rounded up some of the best plants that require little-to-no maintenance and can help reduce your energy bills through their natural humidity boosting effect. 

Table of low maintenance indoor plants and how to take care of them 
Table of low maintenance indoor plants and how to take care of them 

1. Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum Raddianum)

Water💧:  Every other day

Sun ☀️: Partial Sun / Shade 

Maidenhair Ferns are a popular house plant and have delicately shaped plant leaves that give it a pretty lace texture that instantly adds character to a room. 

In nature, these plants are used to growing on forest floors that makes them tolerant to low light conditions. They grow better with plenty of water but can withstand short spells of drought. 

2. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema Commutatum)

Water💧: Once or twice a week 

Sun ☀️: Partial / full shade 

If you are looking for an easy-care plant that doesn’t require much maintenance to stay healthy then adding a Chinese Evergreen to your home can be a great option. 

These plants do well in partial shade and only require a drink once or twice a week when the weather is warm and even less during the colder months. Remember that the lighter the leaves on your plant, the more sun they will need.  

3. Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea Recurvata)

Water💧: Once every one to two weeks 

Sun ☀️: Full/indirect

For those that forget to water their plants, the Ponytail Palm can be the perfect addition to your home without needing much maintenance. 

Place your foliage in a bright corner of your home where it gets the most sun and remember to water it once every one to two weeks. We also recommend leaving plenty of space for it to grow as it could potentially grow as high as 1.5 metres. 

4. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum) 

Water💧:  Once a week 

Sun ☀️: Partial Sun/Shade

Another low-maintenance plant to get your hands on is a Spider Plant, but don’t worry - they aren’t as scary as they sound.

Amongst the most popular house plants out there, Spider Plants not only have pretty stripey leaves, but they are also super easy to take care of. Place them in light shade and water them once a week and you’ll have a perfectly healthy plant. 

5. Zebra Cactus (Haworthia) 

Water💧: Once every two weeks 

Sun ☀️: Fullsun/partial shade

The Zebra Cactus is a succulent that gets its name thanks to the white speckles all over its leaves. 

The plant is generally easy to grow and can go as long as two weeks before it needs a drink again. If you are looking for the ideal soil type we recommend getting a succulent or cactus mix that has good drainage. Place it in indirect sunlight and your cactus will stay healthy all year round. 

6. Burros Tail (Sedum Morganianum)

Water💧: Wait until the soil dries out 

Sun ☀️:  Full sun

If you are looking for a plant that is low maintenance but looks a bit different then why not opt for a Burros Tail? The plant is easy to grow and comes with teardrop hanging leaves that make it the perfect addition to any room in your house. 

As with a lot of succulents, these plants will need plenty of sunlight so choose a sunny window sill or a place where it will get plenty of rays throughout the day. Though they might require good light you can normally wait until the soil dries out before needing to water it again. 

*These are just six plants that require low maintenance for information on more check out the table above. 

Low maintenance outdoor plants and how to take care of them 

Table of low maintenance garden plants and how to take care of them 
Table of low maintenance garden plants and how to take care of them 

For those that want to start a garden, knowing how to take care of plants and keep them alive can be somewhat daunting. That’s why as part of our report we have gathered 20 different low maintenance outdoor plants that are perfect for beginners or those looking to make their garden more self-sufficient. 

1. Kangaroo Paw 

Water💧:  Wait until the top inch of soil is dry 

Sun ☀️:  Full/direct sun

Kangaroo Paw is a bright red plant that gets its name thanks to its native country of Australia. 

The unusual-looking foliage grows on t

he ends of stalks like fans and has long leaves that stick outwards that are hard to miss. Make sure to plant the Kangaroo Paw in an area of your garden that gets plenty of sunlight and water when the top inch of soil begins to feel dry. 

2. Trumpet Vine (Campsis Radicans)

Water💧: Typical rainfall

Sun ☀️: Full/partial sun 

If you’re looking for a colourful plant for your garden that requires little-to-no maintenance then the Trumpet Vine is a great way to get started. 

Plant the orange foliage in a place that gets partial sunlight and that’s about all you need to do. Once established, Trumpet Vines will take care of themselves on typical rainfall. 

3. Wild Lilac (Syringa Vulgaris)

Water💧: Regularly until the plant is established

Sun ☀️:  Full/partial sun 

Wild Lilac are bright purple bushes that bloom during spring and do not require much maintenance at all. For those that want to add a splash of colour to their garden, planting the bush in direct sunlight will help it grow well. 

These plants usually survive on little moisture, but make sure to water them regularly during periods of long drought or until they are established and fully grown. 

4. Cone Flower (Echinacea)

Water💧: Once a week for the first year

Sun ☀️: Full Sun/partial shade  

Cone Flowers will stand out in your garden if you’re looking for something eye-catching. But the good news doesn’t end there for gardening fans. These flowers are drought resistant and long blooming. 

Place them in direct sunlight and water once a week for the first year while they grow and you should have healthy plants all year round. 

5. California Poppy 

Water💧: Typical Rainfall 

Sun ☀️: Full Sun 

California Poppies are wildflowers that are really easy to grow for first-time gardeners. With this plant, less is more when it comes to watering, making it the perfect flower to add to your garden if you don’t have time to maintain your flower patch. 

Place the poppies in direct sunlight and watch them grow.  They often require very little water and will normally survive on typical rainfall. 

6. Saliva (Salvia splendens) 

Water💧: When the top inch of soil is dry

Sun ☀️: Full Sun 

Red Salvia is a beautiful and striking flower to add to your garden, but which are also really easy to maintain. 

They can grow really successfully in bright light and require water only when the top inch of soil begins to feel dry.

*These are just six plants that require low maintenance for information on more check out the table above. 

How toxic are your plants to your pets?

Buying plants can be especially tricky when you have a pet or small children at home, as they can often be poisonous to our furry friends. 

So if you’re planning to add to your garden or invest in some green foliage for your home we reveal which plants you should consider if you have pets and which ones you should avoid. 

Table of toxic plants for pets
Table of toxic plants for pets

Our report has found 12 out of the 20 indoor plants featured on the list can cause some form of irritation among animals or might be poisonous. 

Plants that should be avoided or kept out of reach as they can be fatal if consumed by animals include the Aloe Vera succulent, Jade Plants, Dumb Cane and Chinese Evergreen.

However, plants that are still safe to have around your pooches include a Burros Tail, Spider Plants and Zebra Cactus’. 

Table of toxic outdoor plants for pets
Table of toxic outdoor plants for pets

If you want to upgrade your garden, or you’re just starting out, there are also some outdoor plants that you should keep pets away from. 

Bearded Irises, Lavender and Pride of Madeira all contain sap that can be harmful to your pets, so if you are interested in purchasing them, make sure to keep them corned off or out of reach from your excitable animals. 

Don’t fret - there are still 11 other options on our list that you can plant in your garden that allows pets to run around freely. 

For those that love flowers, Cone Flowers, California Poppies and Beardtongue can be the perfect addition to your garden in the summer that are safe all year round.

Low maintenance plants FAQs

With many people having upped their plant game to give their home a new lease of life, managing their care can be overwhelming. That’s why with the help of Anna Sissons, Garden Designer at Sitting Spiritually, we have the answers on how to care for your plants if you are a first-time gardener: 

Which indoor plants are the most drought-resistant / good for hot weather?

Succulents and cacti will withstand long periods without water compared to other plants but just like all of us, they still need water and food. Again, like us, they need more water in hotter weather, and more food during the growing season. Only water cacti and succulents when the soil has almost completely dried out, and then saturate the soil again fully.

How can you be more eco-friendly when using water in your garden?

Rainwater harvesting is easy to do, and your plants will benefit much more from rainwater than treated tap water. It can be as simple as keeping a bucket outside which fills with water but be sure to cover it so that the water does not then evaporate. You can go a step further and replace your downpipe with a rain chain or water butt which can then overflow into the mains water when it is full.

When watering your garden, always water at soil level rather than over foliage which can result in the plant being scorched when the water evaporates. 

Which indoor plants should you keep out of reach of pets and why?

Popular indoor plants such as Aloe Vera are poisonous to dogs, so take the time to research your pets needs on websites such as The Dogs Trust in the case of puppies. Even if the plant is not poisonous it is highly likely a puppy will have a nibble so it is worth moving out of reach anyway!

Do you have any tips for beginner gardeners?

Don't worry about making mistakes as that is how you will learn. What's most important is enjoying the process of gardening, getting soil under the fingernails and spending time outside. 

Choose plants that you want to be close to but do a little research into the conditions it likes such as aspect, soil PH and drainage. Finally, I highly recommend saving some space in the garden to grow your own fruit and veg as it is exceptionally rewarding and tasty!

Sources and Methodology: 

We gathered a seed list of indoor low maintenance plants, outdoor drought-resistant plants and easy grow vegetables from a range of sources including Balcony Garden Web, Real Simple, The Spruce, Gardeners World, The Almanac 

Eco-Friendly Low Maintenance Indoor Plants and How to Look After Them

Taking 20 drought resistant plants across two sources including Balcony Garden Web and Real Simple we have discovered how easy they are to take care of. 

To do this we used sources including The Spruce, Our House Plants, Gardeners World, House Plant Expert and Pro Flowers to find the following information about each plant: 

  • Ideal Temperature

  • Ideal Light Conditions

  • The Size They Can Grow To 

  • The Type of Soil you Should Use

  • What the watering schedule of the plant is during summer.

Low Maintenance Plants for your Garden and How to Look After Them 

We wanted to find easy and low maintenance plants for those who are starting a garden but don’t want it to be too much work. 

Using a seed list of 20 outdoor plants from sites including The Spruce and Birds and Blooms, we used RHS, Gardeners World and The Spruce, to find the following five factors:

  • Foliage Colours 

  • Ideal Light 

  • The type of soil you should use 

  • Size the plant grows to 

  • How often you should be watering it during the summer months 

*Watering schedules were taken from the sites that gave a specific number of times a week or guidance for when to look out for dry soil.

*Any plants that we couldn’t find information for or were similar to the indoor plants were removed. 

How Toxic Are You Plants to Your Pets

Taking our seed list of indoor and outdoor plants from the previous two sections we wanted to find out how toxic they are to dogs, cats and people and which ones you should keep out of reach. 

To do this we used data from Gardeners World, House Plant Expert and ProFlowers which revealed which types of animals certain plants can be toxic or poisonous to.  

**Data correct as of 30/7/21**

**Please note some gardening sites watering times for plants might differ slightly**

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