A List Of House Plants We Can Keep Alive

As requested, we’re back with some pictures of the plants in our house and a few ideas when it comes to the where and the what-to-put-them-in. We’re partial to clean white ceramic Ikea planters (which usually cost around $2-10). We love sticking the little ones in windowsills and on top of stacks of books and placing the big ones on the floor for some major air purifying action. They’re universal enough to work in any space and they sport nice clean lines to avoid that dated grandma-vibe.

Here’s a happy little burro tail in the guest bedroom. They’re super easy succulents (just a drop of water a week and they’re happy).


Oh and our paperwhite bulbs grew just in time for the holidays, and we even remembered to snag a picture for ya. The great thing about an abundance of house plants in white planters is that we can switch them around without ever worrying if the newly shifted plants “match” the new location- although in the case of the paperwhites we just moved our happy little burro tail over a few inches.


We also have a big Nasa recommended corn plant in the bedroom…


…along with a little English Ivy in the window:



Here’s another one of our burro tails (we can’t get enough of them) on our TV stand in the den. We used it to create an arrangement that feels balanced without looking overly symmetric (the ceramic horse head is a fun counterpart to the organic succulent).


We also have a few plants that are even lower maintenance, some dried grasses in our floating vases from CB2 and two big purple hydrangeas that dried out but kept their moody plummy color.


In the third bedroom we have an orchid (one of two that we recently snatched up when we realized how easy they are to care for- a bit of water once a week and some light and they’re just hunky dorey). The other lives on our fireplace mantel in the den.


And nothing beats a few (free!) leafy branches plucked from an evergreen bush outside and dropped into a short clear vase (they last forever in water and eventually sprout roots).


In the corner of the guest bedroom we also have a croton that gets fiery red variagated leaves throughout the year. Just $12 at Home Depot.


And here’s yet another burro tail on the sill in the kitchen, soaking up the sun (or lack thereof).


What about you guys. Any favorite planters? Specific plant varieties that you adore? Dish the house plant dirt.

For more info about plants you just cant kill, check out this article on about.com.


  1. heather s. says

    I’ve been looking high and low for burro tail and can’t find it anywhere so I’m incredibly jealous of yours! I always thought pots should have holes for water drainage but it doesn’t look like any of the white IKEA ones do. Is it really okay for them to not have holes? (I have a notorious black thumb and am trying whatever I can to keep my plants alive!)

  2. Lori says

    I do not have a green thumb so I am always looking for low-maintenance plants. Hope I can find a burro tail – where do you find them in Richmond?
    My current favorite is Chinese evergreen. It may have an official name, but it is super easy to care for. And pretty!
    Thanks for the tips!

  3. Sara says

    I think as long as you aren’t soaking your plants. Just enough to wet the soil. Something I do with some of my pots is to put a layer of rocks on the bottom. Then, it gives the water a spot to drain. Be sure not to overwater though, because you don’t want to see the nasty stuff growing in the bottom or little bugs finding their way to your pretty plants!

    Also, it looks like with the burro’s tail & corn plant they left them in their original containers from the store. Am I right John & Sherry? That would make for a super easy clean up if the plant died! I would kill it for sure! I am going to have to make some cutting from my mom’s burro’s tail..they are a great succulent!

  4. says

    I love your little burro tails too! I’m now on a mission to find some!

    I’m a fan of philodendrons – especially the mottled pink or white varieties. Just water them when the dirt is dry, and cut them when they get too leggy. You can even just stick the cuttings in the dirt and they’ll eventually grow roots!

  5. Erynn says

    Just wanted to say THANK YOU! The last three years I’ve been forcing paperwhites for the holidays and I’m always disappointed when the stems get so long and the flowers tip over. Never occurred to me to tie them with a pretty ribbon. Sometimes it’s the most obvious solution that’s the hardest to see!! Now, if I can just remember for next year…

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey everyone,

      Here’s the added plant info:

      1. All the plants in our house (save for the orchids which hail from a local grocery store called Ukrops) are from Lowe’s or Home Depot. It might sound crazy but they have a year-long money back guarantee so it seems safest for us to invest in plants that we can return or exchange if they die (it really helped us discover which varieties worked best in our small semi-dark house). So as for where we shop for plants- winter, spring, summer or fall we’re at Lowe’s or Home Depot getting our plant on.

      2. Specifically the burro tails are from Home Depot. We were there recently (picking up the corn plant and the rubber plant) but we noticed that there were none to be found. Maybe in the winter they cut down their house plant varieties? But definitely keep an eye out for them in the spring or check out a fancy nursery which will probably have like a million varieties for you to choose from. Oh and at HD they actually come in these weird hanging planter containers with hooks but we took the hanging hooks off and popped them (planter and all) into our white Ikea planters. Easy peasy. So when you’re looking for them, check the hanging baskets at HD as well as the shelves and table displays. Happy hunting!

      3. We leave every plant in our house in the original plastic container that it comes in (which has drainage holes) and slip it into an Ikea planter (without drainage holes) so any excess water will be caught by the Ikea planter. Excess water in general is a terrible idea though, because plants that sit in even an inch of water will die super fast, so be sure to lift your original planter out of the Ikea pot to make sure there’s no standing water in there. Yuck! We’ve learned that it’s far better to underwater than to overwater, and a splash once a week for all the plants in our house is more than enough.

      4. As for the no-plants-in-the-bedroom rumor, we’ve heard that one too. But countless studies show that house plants give off far more oxygen than the small amount of carbon dioxide that they briefly emit (they do much more good to the air than harm) so as long as you’re not sleeping in a jungle you’ll be a-ok. To put it into perspective, your husband/dog gives off far more carbon dioxide than a whole gallery of plants ever could. And it’s still totally safe to sleep with the hubby and the puppy. Oh and having a carbon monoxide detector in the bedroom is a must, so that should also ease your worries of a silent but deadly plant attack.

      5. I forgot to include our lovely boston fern in the den on the fireplace surround – she’s are one of our favorites so I can’t believe I left her out of the plant roundup! Keep an eye out for one of those babies for instant “botanical” style thanks to the feathery leaves and the lush, full shape. Love ’em.


  6. says

    I heard (or read??) somewhere that you shouldn’t have plants in bedrooms where you sleep because of the nitrogen give off? Is this true or do I have it wrong?

  7. Lacey says

    I’ve had a cyclamen growing on the windowsill above my kitchen sink for the last 3 years. It’s great because it blooms in the winter — just when I need a splash of intense color!

  8. Sadie says

    I’ve created a garden corner in our apartment complete with a Swedish Ivy over flowing atop a 3-tired shelf; some English ivy plants; a small palm tree with pink, white and green variegated leaves; an elephant ear plant; a bamboo plant; and a very happy medicinal aloe plant. I also have a small cactus, a peace lily, a rubber plant, an Oncidium orchid (just in bloom, fragrant and pink small flowers), a wandering Jew (hard to grow though in my experience), a spider plant, a Christmas cactus/orchid hybrid… I think that covers it. Most of these plants I love b/c I can easily give clippings away that can be rooted in water. I make up low concentration plant food and water with it each time (about weekly as the plants dry out to the touch). We have huge windows facing different directions which helps with light issues. I also enjoy forcing bulbs and have paper whites this year. I’ve also tried my hand at growing an avocado tree from the pit… moderate success so far.

  9. Amanda says

    The plant you have in your guest bedroom is a Croton. I buy them every summer for our deck. I’ve never tried bringing them in over the winter but next year I will try to make room for them – I already have 6 full-time indoor plants they would have to compete with in my tiny house. Oh, and don’t forget orchids are great for bathrooms because they love the humidity.

  10. says

    Those all look great – you have inspired me to add plants to our house! I was wondering about sources of light for the plants, since some of them seem to not be right in front of a window (at least in the pictures). My house (a ranch too!) has limited windows, and very high ones in the bedrooms. Any advice?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Amanda- Thanks for the hint about the croton! We updated the post with our new found plant knowledge.

      And Mary- We’ve learned to watch the patterns of the sun and place each plant where it’ll get at least a splash of sun every day (although none of our plants get direct sun for more than about an hour they seem to be quite happy). Our house gets more light in the front of the house in the morning and a lot more light from the back of the house in the afternoon- so we’re sure to open all of our shades when the light is streaming in for our little plant babies (any room with a shade that’s always down is no room for a plant!). The varieties listed above all seem to be a-ok with our limited amount of light so maybe starting with a few easy-care succulents (like a burro tail or two) along with some hardy english ivy or a corn plant or two is the best way to go? Good luck!


  11. Regina says

    So pretty! I read an article in the very last issue of Cottage Living about Paperwhites. It inspired me to grow some and they were perfect for the holidays and beyond. Now I’m inspired to get some burro tail too. We’re having a pretty brutal winter here so these plants will be the perfect pick-me-up!

  12. says

    I just started amassing a plant collection this past year, so mine is just growing…

    A small ivy sits inside a little wooden wishing well my mom made in our dining room.
    The poinsettias are still doing well (to mask the ugly foil wrapped pots, I stuck them pot and all inside hammered metal serving bowls.)
    A couple transplants from my mom (names unknown to me) came in ugly yellow plastic pots so I simply tucked them inside black wicker baskets from Ikea and they look perfect in our living room.
    All the rest of my pots have been from Walmart including my favorite outdoor pots: beautiful ribbed looking pots with an opalescent turquoise glaze that are currently holding my rose bush, a juniper bush and a lily until we move to a permanent home with garden this summer. I have one Ikea pot that holds all new plants until they grow out of it :) She’s our “Starter Pot” lol

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