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Low-Water Houseplants For Forgetful Gardeners

Low-Water Houseplants For Forgetful Gardeners

By Justin Hancock, Costa Farms Horticulturist
Photographs courtesy of Costa Farms

While more houseplants die from too much love (overwatering) than not enough (underwatering), there are times that challenge just about every houseplant owner. Whether you have a packed schedule, travel for an extended time, or just forget, houseplants that don’t need much water have your back. Here are a few of our favorites here at Costa Farms.

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1. Aglaonema

Aglaonema, also called Chinese evergreen, is one of our all-around favorite plants. It’s delightfully durable indoors and most varieties offer variegated foliage that adds a little flair to our indoor décor. While it does best when watered as the top half or so of the potting mix dries to the touch, it can go several weeks without water if need be.

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2. Cacti

It’s not really a surprise they’re on the list since cacti are known for coming from dry environments. Dig into different varieties and you’ll find an amazing array of sizes, textures, and colors. Cacti need high light to thrive inside. Not sure when to water? Try sticking a toothpick up one of the drainage holes. If it comes out clean, your cactus could use water. If it comes out with bits of potting mix on it, then it’s probably fine.

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3. Hoya

What’s not to love about Hoya? These subtropical plants offer outstanding drought tolerance and many offer beautiful (and fragrant!) flowers to boot. They’re slow growing, and many have a climbing or trailing habit making them perfect picks for hanging baskets, so you can keep them up and out of reach of children or pets who may knock them over and make a mess. 

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4. Ponytail Palm

The thick base of ponytail palm is the clue that this plant doesn’t need constant hydration. This native plant of Mexico stores water reserves so it can go long stretches of time without moisture. It’s an exceedingly slow grower, especially if you don’t have a high-light spot, making it a lovely little tree you won’t have to worry about growing out of bounds.

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5. Raven® ZZ Plant

Like ponytail palm, ZZ plant also stores water in its thick leaves and potato-like rhizomes. It’s so durable that it can dry out so that the leaflets all fall off, and if you give it water, it will push out new growth. Raven® is a newer variety of ZZ plant that offers striking purple-black leaves and lime-green new growth.

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6. Sansevieria

Like Raven® ZZ Plant and Aglaonema, this is one of the most durable plants around. Able to go weeks without water, you only have to worry if Sanseveria’s sword-like leaves start to look wrinkly. It tolerates low, medium, and bright light and can survive in the same pot for years between repottings if it needs to. But like most houseplants, it does far better if given good care. Tolerating isn’t the same as thriving.

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7. Spider Plant

Spider plants prefer slightly moist soil, but forgive you if you let them get drier. Like ZZ plants, they store moisture in thick tuberous roots, so you can count on them to survive while you’re on vacation. It’s also a quintessential pass-along plant, making little babies on arching stems that you can easily clip off and share with friends.

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8. Succulents

Like cacti, succulents are renowned for their ability to survive long periods without water. Whether you favor the rosette-like form of Echeveria peacockii, the fuzzy leaves of Kalanchoe tomentosa, the white variegation of Haworthia fasciata, or the pickle-like look of Senecio stapeliiformis, there’s a succulent for practically every look.

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