Best Houseplants that Thrive on Neglect

Most houseplants that thrive on neglect are succulents that like dry soil and less frequent watering. That said, low-maintenance care doesn’t necessarily include neglect when first potting and placing the houseplant. Some of these plants like direct sunlight; some prefer full-shade conditions. Be mindful of these placements for true easy-care houseplants. Moreover, it’s important to use a potting soil and pots with good drainage that lets the soil dry out completely between watering intervals.

Another way of saying a plant thrives on neglect is that it’s susceptible to overwatering and root rot. Every houseplant is at least somewhat vulnerable to root rot, but some easy-care houseplants need only infrequent watering AND have at least some resistance to overwatering.

Houseplants that Thrive on Neglect

  1. ZZ plant: Like most plants that thrive on neglect, the most common mistake is overwatering. Be sure the potting soil is completely dry before applying water. Be sure this plant is in a pot with drainage, and be on the lookout for yellow leaves. You should also avoid west- and south-facing windows. This plant does best with lots of indirect light but will tolerate full shade better than direct sunlight. Great for evergreen foliage and vertical growth that can reach several feet tall, the ZZ plant shows you can find large houseplants that thrive with very little care.
  2. Aloe Vera: About all the aloe vera plant needs is a sunny spot in the home. It will usually do best in a west- or south-facing window but can usually tolerate other windows as long as it gets plenty of indirect light. These window placements also tend to make sure slightly drafty areas of the home still stay warm enough in winter. This easy-care houseplant needs very little water in general and thus thrives on neglect, but is vulnerable to root rot. Increasing water slightly in summer is often smart to promote healthy new growth. Aloe vera is a very popular choice for medium size houseplants.
  3. Jade Plants: This is another succulent that needs less water and a reasonably sunny spot. Most jade plants will tell you when they need to be watered as their leaves will shrivel and lose their elasticity. Left unwatered, the plant will also start dropping more leaves than usual. Just make sure you have a pot with good drainage. Jade plants will bounce back from underwatering, but root rot from watering too frequently is a more serious problem. There are numerous subtypes of jade plants with slightly different growth characteristics, but nearly every jade plant has minimal care requirements if you know what to look for.  
  4. Ponytail Palm: These houseplants do great with either direct sunlight or lots of indirect light, and some can even tolerate low-light spots in the home. Like the ZZ plant, the ponytail palm is a larger houseplant that’s also easy to care for. This plant can grow in most conditions, but it’s also a low-water succulent that tends to thrive on neglect. Wait for at least the top couple inches of potting soil to dry out between watering. This houseplant looks like a small palm tree with thin wispy leaves.
  5. Snake Plant: Also known as Mother in Law’s Tongue, this is another easy-care houseplant that thrives on neglect but is adaptable to nearly any light exposure conditions. It’s not especially sensitive to drafty windows or temperature swings, either. About the only way to seriously harm this plant is root rot. Avoid watering a snake plant too frequently or putting it in a pot without drainage. If you do go too long without watering, the plant will let you know when the leaves start to curl. The large broad leaves are often variegated. Even just a couple feet tall, this is a houseplant that gets noticed.

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