15 Indoor plants that only need to be watered once a month: for Busy and Forgetful People
11 min read
Watering is a fundamental aspect of plant care, as it plays a pivotal role in their growth and survival. Plants, much like humans, are made up mostly of water. The hydration they receive is not just for quenching their thirst but also essential for various biological processes.
Water is the conduit through which nutrients are transported from the soil to the plant's cells. It helps dissolve minerals and nutrients in the soil, making them accessible to the plant's root system. Once absorbed, water carries these nutrients all the way up to the leaves where photosynthesis, the process by which plants make food, takes place.
Furthermore, water provides the turgidity that keeps plants upright and prevents them from wilting. It also plays a key role in the process of transpiration, where water evaporates from the leaves' surface, helping the plant to cool down, much like sweating does for humans.
However, different plants have different water requirements. While some plants need regular watering, others have adapted to survive in arid conditions and can go on for extended periods without water. These are often plants with specific adaptations like succulents, which store water in their leaves, stems or roots, allowing them to go weeks or even months without watering.
Understanding your plant's specific water needs and adjusting your watering schedule accordingly is crucial to their health and vitality. Too much water can be just as harmful as too little, as overwatering can lead to root rot and other diseases.
In the following sections, we'll explore 15 indoor plants that have low water requirements and are perfect for those with a busy schedule or a tendency to forget watering. These plants only need to be watered once a month and are a great choice for adding a touch of green to your home with minimal maintenance.
Houseplant Watering Tips
Indeed, even though some houseplants require less frequent watering, it doesn't mean they can be completely ignored. Here are some handy tips for watering your indoor plants:
Set a Reminder: If you're prone to forgetting, set a reminder on your phone or mark your calendar. This can ensure that even the most drought-tolerant plants receive their monthly watering.
Seasonal Adjustments: The watering needs of plants can change with the seasons. For example, during winter months when indoor humidity tends to be lower, plants might require more frequent watering. Conversely, in the humid summer months, your plants may need less watering.
Soil Test: One effective way to determine if your plant needs water is to test the soil. You can do this by simply sticking your finger, or a wooden skewer, about an inch into the soil. If the soil is dry at that depth, it's usually a good indication that it's time to water.
Avoid Waterlogging: Overwatering is one of the most common reasons houseplants die. It's better to err on the side of underwatering than overwatering. Remember, it's easier to fix an underwatered plant than one that's been waterlogged. Always ensure your pots have good drainage to prevent water from sitting at the bottom and causing root rot.
Consider the Plant's Natural Habitat: Understanding the natural environment of your plant can also help you determine its watering needs. For instance, succulents and cacti, native to arid desert regions, require much less water than tropical plants which are accustomed to a humid, rain-rich environment.
Remember, these tips are general guidelines. Each plant species has its own specific needs, and it's important to research and understand these for the successful growth and health of your indoor plants.
Houseplants that don't need to be watered often
Ficus Elastica (Rubber Plant)
The Ficus Elastica, commonly known as the Rubber Plant, is a fast-growing indoor plant that boasts vibrant, glossy foliage.
One of the key features of the Ficus Elastica is its striking foliage, which can be kept glossy and vibrant by gently wiping the leaves with a soft, damp cloth. It thrives best in a temperature range of 18-25 degrees Celsius.
Today's Ficus Elastica varieties offer a delightful departure from the traditional green plants of the past. Popular variegated varieties include Ficus Elastica 'Belize', which showcases leaves with pinkish hues, and Ficus Elastica 'Tineke' and 'Variegated', both boasting cream and golden patterns on the leaves.
Ficus Elastica thrives in bright, but diffused sunlight and requires watering approximately every 15 days for optimal growth, however Rubber plant can go without water for over a month. During the colder months of autumn and winter, watering ficus elastica should be reduced to once a month as the photosynthesis is also reduced and plant unable to process water as fast as during the growing season.
Sansevieria (Snake Plant)
Sansevieria, commonly known as the Snake Plant, is a tough, resilient indoor plant that stands out for its architectural form and robust nature. These plants prefer to stay on the dry side and should only be watered when the soil is completely dry. Typically, they require watering every 10 days, but they are remarkably forgiving and can survive for a month or even more if you happen to forget about them.
Snake plants are also very adaptable in terms of light, tolerating everything from low light to bright sunlight. They can grow quite tall, reaching up to two meters in height, making them a fantastic choice for adding a touch of nature's grandeur to your indoor spaces.
Chlorophytum (Spider Plant)
Chlorophytum, commonly known as the Spider Plant, is a popular and versatile indoor plant that you'll find in homes and offices around the world. This plant loves moist but not waterlogged soil - overwatering can indeed lead to issues like root rot, which can eventually kill the plant.
While the Spider Plant prefers regular watering, it also has a remarkable ability to withstand dry conditions. It can survive periods of drought, making it a great choice for those who sometimes forget to water their plants.
However, despite its toughness, Chlorophytum does have its preferences when it comes to light. It's not a fan of direct sunlight, which can scorch its leaves. Instead, place it in a spot where it can receive bright, indirect light for the best growth. With its arching, variegated leaves and its ability to produce 'spiderettes' (small plantlets), the Spider Plant adds a touch of greenery and visual interest to any space.
Lithops (Living Stones)
Lithops, often referred to as "Living Stones" due to their distinctive, pebble-like appearance, are among the most unique and fascinating succulents you can grow indoors. They are exceptionally drought-tolerant, making them an excellent choice for those seeking low-maintenance indoor plants.
These intriguing plants require bright light to mimic their natural, sun-drenched habitat. When it comes to watering, less is more for Lithops. During the warmer months, they only need to be watered every 3-4 weeks. In winter, Lithops go through a period of dormancy and require no watering at all. Overwatering during this period can lead to splitting or rotting.
While Lithops plants themselves are relatively small, they have a large root system. This means that they will benefit from a spacious pot that allows their roots plenty of room to grow. With their unique appearance and easy-care nature, Lithops make a truly captivating addition to any collection of indoor plants.
Cacti, the quintessential desert dwellers, are uniquely adapted to thrive in dry, arid conditions. This makes them exceptionally easy to care for as indoor plants, especially for those who may forget to water frequently. They come in a diverse array of shapes and sizes, adding a distinctive touch of nature to your indoor spaces.
When it comes to watering, cacti are decidedly low-maintenance. They need to be watered only when the soil in the pot is completely dry. This is typically once every 3-4 weeks during the summer months, and even less frequently during the winter, about once every 4-6 weeks. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues, so it's best to err on the side of caution.
Cacti prefer a sunny spot, so place them near a window where they can receive plenty of natural light. With their striking forms and easy-care nature, cacti make a charming and resilient choice for indoor greenery.
Aspidistra (Cast Iron Plant)
Known as the Cast Iron Plant, Aspidistra earns its name from its remarkable resilience and ability to withstand a wide range of conditions. This plant is often referred to as 'indestructible', and for a good reason. Even those who have struggled with keeping plants alive in the past will find that this robust houseplant can withstand neglect, making it a great choice for beginners or those with busy lifestyles.
Aspidistra is highly tolerant of low light conditions and low humidity, making it a versatile choice for various indoor environments. Its watering needs are also minimal, and it can handle infrequent watering without any issues. Despite these low-care needs, Aspidistra doesn't skimp on aesthetics. It showcases broad, dark green leaves that can add a lush, tropical feel to your space. Some varieties even feature variegated foliage for an extra touch of visual interest.
In terms of size, Aspidistra plants are relatively compact, usually reaching about 60 cm in both height and width. This makes them a great choice for adding a touch of green to desks, tabletops, or other spaces where room may be limited. With its combination of toughness and beauty, the Aspidistra truly lives up to its Cast Iron Plant moniker.
Nolina (Ponytail Palm)
Nolina, also known as the Ponytail Palm, is a unique and hardy houseplant that thrives on minimal care. Its thick, trunk-like stem serves as a reservoir for moisture, allowing it to withstand periods of drought with ease. This makes it an excellent choice for those who may occasionally forget to water their plants.
During the warm season, Nolina requires watering every couple of weeks. In winter, you can reduce this frequency to every 3-4 weeks. This plant is not picky about light either; it can thrive in both low-light and bright-light conditions, making it a versatile addition to any indoor space.
One of the standout features of Nolina is its growth potential. As an adult, these plants can reach impressive heights of up to 3 meters. With its cascading, ribbon-like leaves and distinct trunk, Nolina adds a touch of architectural interest and natural beauty to any room. Despite its palm-like appearance, it's worth noting that the Ponytail Palm is not a true palm but a member of the Agave family.
Echeveria, a member of the succulent family, is a popular indoor plant thanks to its striking rosette shape that resembles a rose in bloom. Like its succulent relatives, Echeveria has the ability to store water in its fleshy leaves, allowing it to go weeks without watering. In fact, overwatering can lead to soft leaves that may fall off, so it's crucial to allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
These plants look particularly charming when displayed on a windowsill in a series of small pots, their rosette shapes creating a delightful visual appeal. Echeveria thrives in temperatures of 20-27 degrees Celsius during the summer and prefers slightly cooler conditions of 10-15 degrees in the winter. They prefer a south or southeast windowsill to receive ample sunlight.
Echeveria, with its low-maintenance watering needs and delightful appearance, is a fantastic choice for both novice plant owners and experienced indoor gardeners alike. It's a reminder that a busy schedule doesn't mean you can't enjoy the pleasures of indoor gardening.
Zamioculcas (ZZ Plant)
Zamioculcas, commonly known as the ZZ Plant, is a hardy houseplant known for its tough, shiny, leathery leaves that can sometimes be mistaken for being plastic. This plant's low-maintenance nature and attractive appearance make it a popular choice for indoor gardening.
The ZZ Plant only requires infrequent watering, typically once every 2-3 weeks, which is slightly more attention than you would need to give to an artificial plant! Despite its minimal watering needs, this plant doesn't compromise on aesthetic appeal. Its glossy, deep green leaves bring a touch of natural beauty to any indoor space.
This drought-tolerant houseplant is quite adaptable when it comes to light conditions. It prefers bright light but can also tolerate dimly lit corners of your home. All varieties of Zamioculcas are slow-growing, but they can eventually reach up to 90 cm in both height and width.
The ZZ Plant's striking appearance, combined with its easy-care nature, makes it an excellent choice for both beginner plant owners and those with a more experienced green thumb.
Philodendron, a genus that boasts over 400 different species and dozens of varieties of each, offers a rich diversity of plant options to suit any indoor gardener's preferences. Whether you prefer trailing vines or upright plants, there's a Philodendron that's perfect for you.
Philodendrons have relatively low water needs. They prefer to stay a bit on the dry side and only need to be checked for watering every 10 days or so. This makes them an excellent choice for those who prefer plants with less demanding watering schedules.
In terms of temperature, Philodendrons thrive at 20-25 ºC. They prefer diffused light, making them suitable for rooms with indirect sunlight. As for their size, these are generally large plants that are well-suited to spacious rooms. They can create a striking focal point with their lush, tropical leaves.
With their easy-care nature and versatility, Philodendrons are a fantastic addition to any indoor plant collection. Their stunning foliage can brighten up any space and create a relaxing, natural ambiance.
Senecio Rowleyanus (String of Pearls)
Senecio Rowleyanus, commonly known as the String of Pearls, is a charming succulent that stands out for its unique, necklace-like leaves. This plant stores water in its stems and leaves, allowing it to go without watering for a couple of weeks or even longer. Originating from South Africa, the String of Pearls is naturally adapted to endure periods of drought.
While this plant adds a delightful touch of whimsy to any indoor garden, it does require careful handling. Its thin stems are quite fragile and can break easily, so it's important to handle with care when watering or repotting. If you're fortunate enough to see your String of Pearls bloom, you'll be treated to white flowers that emit a pleasant cinnamon-like fragrance.
As for lighting requirements, the String of Pearls prefers bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can cause its leaves to scorch, so a location with filtered light is ideal. With its cascading trails of pearl-like foliage, the String of Pearls can add an interesting texture and visual appeal to your indoor plant collection.
Yucca, traditionally known as an outdoor plant, makes a striking indoor addition as well. It's an excellent choice for beginner gardeners due to its low-maintenance nature. With origins in desert environments, Yucca plants are highly adapted to handle drought-like conditions. This means that you should allow the soil in the pot to dry out almost entirely before the next watering.
In terms of lighting, Yucca plants are highly versatile. They tolerate direct sunlight, reminiscent of their native desert habitat, but they can also thrive in partial shade. This adaptability makes them suitable for various indoor settings, from sunny windowsills to rooms with less natural light.
With their robust, sword-like leaves and distinct architectural shape, Yucca plants can bring a touch of exotic appeal to your indoor garden. Their resilience and striking appearance make them a fantastic choice for those looking to add some greenery to their space without the need for extensive plant care.
Pilea Peperomioides (Chinese Money Plant)
Pilea Peperomioides, often referred to as the Chinese Money Plant, is a delightful indoor plant recognized for its unique, coin-shaped leaves. Some plant enthusiasts even liken their appearance to flying saucers! This plant is known for its speedy growth but, despite its vigor, it only requires watering when the top 75% of the soil in the pot is dry.
To check soil moisture levels, you can use a simple "trick" - insert a wooden skewer or chopstick into the soil. If it comes out clean or with just a few dry soil particles, it's time to water your Pilea. If the stick comes out with moist soil clinging to it, you can wait a bit longer before watering.
With its charming foliage and easy-care nature, the Chinese Money Plant can make a wonderful addition to your indoor plant collection. Its unique appearance and low-maintenance requirements make it a great choice for both novice and experienced plant enthusiasts.
Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)
Aglaonema, also known as the Chinese Evergreen, is a highly attractive plant celebrated for its lush, bushy shape and strikingly variegated foliage. It exhibits a wonderful mix of colors, with leaves showcasing red, silver, or white accents alongside their predominant green.
Aglaonemas are quite drought-tolerant and prefer to dry out between waterings. As such, you only need to check their soil moisture levels once every 10 days or less, making them a low-maintenance choice for indoor plant care.
The Chinese Evergreen is an ideal plant for beginners due to its hardy nature and low care requirements. It's not particularly picky about its environment, and it can thrive even under less-than-ideal conditions. However, it's important to note that Aglaonema is poisonous if ingested, so it should be kept out of reach from pets and children.
With its stunning foliage and easy-care nature, the Chinese Evergreen can add a touch of tropical beauty to your indoor garden, while also being a great plant for those new to gardening.
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