5 low-cost plants that are also hard to kill


If you've had plant fever lately, you're not alone. American spending on household plants increased more than 50% from 2014 to 2018, according to a GardenResearch.com survey, with 52 million American households buying at least one houseplant or houseplant product (i.e., soil or pots) in 2018.

Although trendy, plants can be pricey — and ultimately not worth the money if they shrivel up as soon as you bring them home.

Usually, when a plant is expensive, it's because it is rare, says Erin Marino of plant retailer The Sill. If a plant isn't sold at many stores, the few places that do carry it are able to sell it for a premium. Luckily, she and other experts say, some plants are more resilient than others and still cost-effective. Here are five plants they recommend because they're a good bargain and easy to keep alive:

Aloe vera


Good for homes with: Bright, direct light

How to care for it: Aloe vera is a succulent. "With succulents, the easiest way to kill them, besides not providing the right light, is to over-water them," Marino says. Aloe vera and other succulents should only be watered once a month.

Price: $9.75 on Etsy.com, $10 at The Sill, $23.94 for three at Home Depot

Philodendron heartleaf

Courtesy Bloomscape

Good for homes with: Moderate, indirect light

How to care for it: Philodendrons are tropical plants and how much water they require depends on how much light they get. Once a week generally works, but during the summer when the plant is getting lots of sunlight, it's better to water the plant every five days, while during the dormant season (winter), you can get away with watering once every 10 to 12 days.

Joyce Mast, "Plant Mom" of plant retailer Bloomscape, also suggests philodendrons. "They are the perfect plant for adding dimension and some green, leafy decor to your home," she says. "It's incredibly tolerant of all kinds of neglect, too, including low light, poor soil, and inconsistent watering."

Price: $7 at The Sill (4 inches tall), $18.98 at Home Depot (12 inches tall), $35 at Bloomscape (8-14 inches tall, with a planter included)


Courtesy Bloomscape

Good for homes with: Moderate, indirect light

How to care for it: "I think we tend to think, 'OK, if I water my plant every Sunday, I'm good to go,' but think of the plant's natural habitat," Marino says. "It's not going to rain every Sunday at the same time in its natural habitat. It has formed adaptations over time to hold and retain water."

Like the philodendron, the amount of water the peperomia needs depends on the season. During summer, water it every five days and, during the winter, every 10 to 12 days. If you're unsure, once a week is probably good.

Price: $8 at The Sill, $9.99 at Walmart, $11 on Etsy.com

ZZ plant

Courtesy Bloomscape

Good for homes with: Low, indirect light

How to care for it: "Most of the time, when someone struggles with a low-maintenance plant, it's usually because they over-water it," Mast says. A ZZ plant needs water once every two to three weeks, Marino says, and during the winter, maybe even less.

Price: $10 at Pistils Nursery, $12 at The Sill, $15.64 at Home Depot

Snake plant


Good for homes with: Low, indirect light

How to care for it: The Snake plant is technically a succulent, but it doesn't need bright, direct light. Like the ZZ plant, you only need to water it once every two to three weeks, and less during the winter.

Price: $7.92 at Walmart, $11 at The Sill, $15.94 at Home Depot

By purchasing low-cost, low-maintenance plants, you can build and sustain a soothing indoor oasis without spending a ton of money.

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