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Low maintenance indoor plants are great for the not so green thumb

Apr 14, 2024

For those wanting more green in their homes but lack a green thumb, experts recommend going the low maintenance route to get started.

Carrie Turner, assistant store manager for Plant House located in Evans, said that like people, plants need light in order to thrive.

“Typically for a beginner, I'm going to recommend a 4- to 6-inch ZZ plant,” said Turner. “They’re low light tolerant. A lot of people will come in and ask, ‘What's the plant that thrives in low light?’ Technically there’s no plant that loves low light, but there are low light tolerant plants. ... It'll grow at a very slow rate.”

The ZZ plant, or Zanzibar Gem, is an air purifying plant. It can filter airborne toxins such as toluene, xylene, and benzene that are in the air and can absorb carbon dioxide from the air.

Turner said when it comes to watering there are a number of factors that come into play.

“It depends on the temperature you keep your house. It depends on the lighting,” said Turner. “In a lower light situation you can water once a month. But you don’t have to. If you skipped a few months that would be perfectly fine. In a higher light situation, like a sunny window where it's really warm, you can water once a week and it's going to grow a lot more actively that way.”

“The growing season is from April through October,” said Turner. “Typically plants will slow their growth during the non-growing season which is November through March. When you get into the non-growing season you're going to water even less.”

Turner recommends the Dracaena trifasciata plant or snake plant as another low maintenance plant option. Snake plants are also great for filtering the air.

“I recommend using a succulent water bottle to water your snake plant,” said Turner. “If you water with a succulent water bottle, you're not likely to over water. Typically people kill their snake plant by either over watering it or pouring water into the crown of the plant. If this happens it'll get crown rot.”

“Self watering pots tend to keep the plant consistently moist and with most plants you want them to completely dry out between watering,” said Turner.

Turner offered a tip for gauging the watering cycle for pothos.

“Caring for a pothos depends on the lighting and temperature of your house,” said Turner. “I will water it before the customer leaves. When you get it home, wait for the leaves to droop. If it took 14 days for the water to leave the soil, next time water it on day 11 or 12.”

Turner said another benefit of the ZZ plant, snake plant and pothos are that they’re not pest prone.

Emily Padgett, staff member at Bedford Greenhouses located in Augusta said Hoyas are easy-care indoor plants if you have the medium to bright indirect light that they need.

“With the Hoya you want to let the soil completely dry out before watering,” said Padgett. “The Hoya will let you know if it needs water. The leaves will wrinkle.”

Padgett said you don’t have to repot a Hoya right away.

“I’d keep it in the pot until you see some slow growth happening, not leafing out as much,” said Padgett. “They can stay in the same pot for a couple of years. When it is time to repot, a cactus mix soil is great if the plant is kept indoors. Cactus mix helps it dry out a little better.”

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Other plants, like succulents, don't require a special type of soil.

“Succulents need a lot of sun; otherwise, they’ll stretch and get very thin,” said Padgett. “You can use regular potting soil with a succulent. I like to use regular potting soil (as) it helps keep the moisture in.”

This reporting content is supported by a partnership with several funders and Journalism Funding Funding Partners.

Erica Van Buren is the climate change reporter for The Augusta Chronicle, part of the USA TODAY Network. Connect with her at [email protected] or on Twitter: @EricaVanBuren32.

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