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10 Best Low-Water Houseplants

If you love houseplants, but occasionally forget to water them, chose varieties that thrive on neglect. Here are ten great indoor plants that can live life on the dry side. By Doug Jimerson

Sago Palm

Any plant that has been around since the dinosaurs walked the earth is tough enough to miss an occasional watering. In fact, Sago Palm drinks very little and will suffer if you give it too much water. Place Sago Palm in a bright location and water only after the soil has dried out. To keep Sago Palm in top form, fertilize it several times during the spring and summer. Sago Palm is poisonous so keep it out of reach of pets and small children.

Snake Plant

A true classic, snake plant (also known as Sansevieria or mother-in-law's tongue) thrives on neglect. This super-easy plant grows in low or medium light and can go for long periods without taking a drink. It's the perfect plant for frequent travelers who may be on the road for extended periods. Plus, snake plant comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors that add interest to any room setting.

Orchids

Let's face it: a lot of gardeners avoid orchids because they think the plants are hard to grow. But nothing could be further than the truth. Today orchids are not only plentiful, but also easy-care and long-lasting. In fact, some moth orchids have been known to hold their flowers for 4 to 5 months, only asking for a quick drink of water week or ten days. Orchids prefer bright indirect light and protection from heating ducts or drafty windows. They really aren't fussy, so give them a try.

Ponytail Palm

It's not hard to see where ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) gets its other common name, elephant’s foot. Each plant develops a fattened, gray base that looks like a pachyderm's foot. It’s this base that makes ponytail palm one of the best plants for folks who misplace the watering can. That's because these fattened stems actually store water so the plant has its own reservoir to draw from during times of drought. Ponytail palm likes bright light and grows slowly so it won't take over your living room.

Spider Plant

Prized for its bright green or variegated, grasslike foliage, spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) can go a week or more without a drink. As spider plant matures, it sends out arching stems that produce multitudes of baby plants that look like miniature versions of the parent. To show spider plant off to best advantage, grow it in a hanging basket or tall urn where the dangling babies can be viewed easily. Spider plant prefers bright indirect light.

ZZ Plant

If you’re looking for a houseplant that’s almost indestructible, you can’t go wrong with ZZ plant. This amazing plant tolerates a wide range of light conditions and can go without water for extended periods. To top it off, ZZ plant, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, has waxy, bright green leaves held aloft on stiff stems with thickened bases that help the plant conserve water. It’s the ideal plant for frequent travelers who aren’t around enough to keep other plants alive.

Devil's Backbone

Don't let the name devil's backbone (Pedilanthus tithymaloides) fool you. This super-easy plant is a dream to grow, sporting variegated leaves on stems that grow in an interesting zigzag pattern. devil's backbone has an upright form that looks terrific when grown in tall, vertical pots or planters. It prefers bright light and only needs watering when the soil dries out.

Red Aglaonema

As tough as it is beautiful, Red Aglaonema, is a great choice for anyone who wants a stylish houseplant that doesn't require a fuss to keep it looking good. Red Aglaonema produces gorgeous red-and-green foliage and thrives in bright to low light conditions (just keep it out of direct sun). It also can go a week or more without watering.

Pothos

Dark green leaves splashed with cream, white, or yellow are what make pothos (Epipremnum aureum) one of the most popular houseplants in the country. This fast-growing vine looks great grown in a pot by itself or mixed with other houseplants in a tub or planter. Pothos prefers bright, indirect light, but will tolerate darker conditions. It's not a heavy drinker and only needs watering when the soil dries out.

Succulents

There's nothing sadder than a neglected houseplant. Forced to live in dry conditions, most indoor plants wilt, turn yellow, or flop over. But succulents are different. This huge family of plants come in an almost unlimited selection of shapes, sizes, and colors and can survive on just a few drops of water to keep them in top form. Most have shallow roots so you can mix and match them in dish or trough gardens. Succulents prefer full sun.