There are few plants that are harder to kill than the philodendron or pathos plants, and we’ve already chatted about how fresh greenery breathes life into your home (both literally and figuratively). But sometimes they look a bit less chic and a bit more Little Shop Of Horrors if they’re overgrown and snaking all over the place like the ones in the background of this down-home seafood restaurant that we loved in Savannah (ignore our crab-like expressions in the foreground):
So whenever ours threaten to spread out a bit too much, we grab the scissors and get our clip on.
And the greatest thing about it is that by clipping close to the root of the plant…
…each too-long branch that we snip can be placed in a glass of water only to grow roots and become a clone of the original plant. Really, the entire plant will regenerate from one small cutting once it’s placed in a cup full of water near a window. Is that sci-fi or what?!
Then once those spider-like roots form, just plant each branch in their own pot with some lush potting soil and watch them grow up to be a spitting image of their momma. There you have it. Free house plants for little to no effort.
How about you guys. Do you have any cheap house plant tips to share with the group? Any impossible to kill varieties that are tickling your fancy these days? Spill the house plant dirt.
Wanna know what other plants live here at Casa Petersik? Here’s the long and leafy breakdown.
I swear by peace lillies. It’s really hard to kill them. They need just a little bit of daily sunlight (really any room with some natural light) and water only 1-2 times per week. Just prune the leaves that will inevitably die, and I’ve also heard you’re supposed to prune the flowers when they bloom, but I never do.
Thats not a spider plant, thats a philodendron. Spider plants look like this: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_YhW_VafsexU/SDk5FPDuevI/AAAAAAAAD8A/vKEDg4dmNaY/s400/spiderplant.jpg
The plant-clipping idea brings back a great memory:
My 5th grade teacher, Sister Dorothy, used to have a windowsill full of those planets. She would snip & grow dozens of little plants that she would give out as bingo prizes to benefit the missions.
Great post, but I think those plants may be “pathos” (aka Devil’s Ivy). . . spider plants have spiky leaves and send out long offshoots with more spiky leaves! You can just plant the offshoots separately after you break them off the offshoot part.
We picked up a few “balloon flower” plants (I don’t know the technical name but you can see them on this site towards the bottom http://www.art-rageous.net/FlowerGarden.html)at Home Depot the year before last. Their purple flowers look like a hot air balloons before they burst open. My MIL showed us how to get the seeds from them. You simply pinch off the flower, set it somewhere to dry for a couple of days and then dump the seeds out into a bag for the following year. We had nine plants originally and the first year, we got about half of a sandwich sized ziploc full of seeds. They like lots of water and lots of sun. They are virtually maintenance free.
We have a “mother in law’s tongue” plant outside next to the front door. We ignore it for weeks and months, not even remembering to water it…and it lives.
heather s. says
I’m sorry, but that is not a spider plant. Spider plants have long thin leaves. I have the same plant that you listed above in my house and can’t recall what it’s called.
Those look like philodendrons. Spider plants are the ones that drop the little baby spider plants all over the place. Of course they can look a little unruly at times as well!
heather s. says
Found it: it is a philodendron.
I bought a fun moss plant on Etsy the other day. It was in a cute concrete bowl. You mist them with water every day and keep them out of the light. They are almost impossible to kill and a beautiful green color!
Great tips. Are those philodendrons? I thought spider plants had long and skinny leaves. Love your blog.
Sorry for the spider plant snafu. Consider it fixed. We somehow confused the other spreading house plant that can be cloned in the same way (spider plants can also go crazy and get pretty hairy looking, so feel free to use this technique on yours as well). Thanks so much for all the sweet corrections.
I’m sure you know by now it’s a philodendron ;-), but spider plants are also fantastic! Plus they are easy starters and love bathrooms. I have one in mine!
Jen C says
I recently picked up a decent size ZZ Plant from Ikea for $10 and it’s super cool looking (almost succulent like) and is nearly impossible to kill. Barely ever needs watering and doesn’t care what kind of light you give it.
I’m in love!
i really like to have african violets in my house. they are very low maintenance and have pretty blossoms when they bloom. i keep mine in a selfwatering (no water directly on the leaves) pot and just make sure it has water in it and the plant waters itself!
wow, those are so pretty. i love viney plants– i may have to get myself one of these!
I love indoor house plants! Be aware that some plants aren’t safe for animals should they eat the leaves. Philodendron is on the list for poisonous house plants for animals. The spider plant however is safe. This may not be an issue for some of you but we can’t keep our cat or dog out of plants no matter how ‘out of reach’ we try to put them.
Great tip! Let’s keep our animals safe and keep any plant that poisonous out of their reach!
These kind of give me the creeps (so do the spider plants)! I had one for several years and finally managed to kill it off. I’ve even killed one of those bamboo plants that don’t even need dirt – they just sit in a glass of water!
I’m a total plant virgin and have this exact plant (that I kept alive for over a year, hooray!) and it is starting to grow out of control. I will snip it down and do the water trick, how great! Thanks for the tip.
Also, where can I find those burro tail plants? I looked at Home Depot last time I was there with no luck. Any suggestions?
Thanks for your great blog, I love reading it every day!
Hmm, other than Lowe’s or Home Depot maybe try a more specialized nursery (which might even be able to order them for you if they don’t have them lying around). Hope it helps!
Quick question that is a bit off subject:
Do you scrub your window sills juuuust before you snap a picture? Or are they always so clean?
So pretty and clean! Great work.
That’s too funny Robyn. John actually asked if I dust them the other day… and… I do. About once a week I run a swiffer dust pad over them (along with other pieces like our tv table, our console, our coffee table, etc) to keep them looking clean. Oh and semi-gloss trim paint is much more wipe-able than flat paint so that also helps the cause. Stay tuned for a full post about how we keep our house squeaky clean with as little effort as possible…
These are my favorites – because they’re so hard to kill. :) (Only, we’ve always called them Pothos – different name for the same plant? Confusion in naming? Do tell!)
The other trick I use, when it starts to get long and straggly is to let it root in its own pot. Take the long offender and bury a 1″ portion of the vine in the dirt. Water, and it will root within a day or two, giving you a fuller plant!
Aimee- Ooh great tip! I have heard some people call them by the other name so maybe they just go by two names?
I am at a time when I think I would actually like some inside plants. Any thoughts on how to keep four cats out of the pots?
Hmm, we’re stumped since we’re pooch owners (although we’ve heard heavy river rocks on top of the soil can help). Anyone else have ideas?
there’s that bench I love! I’m about to embark on my first, big DIY refinishing project. I bought a great stool that I’m planning to repaint and reupholster. Any tips for me??
Hey Mrs. Lee,
Here’s a post all about how we made that bench.
Hope it helps!
I prefer succulents because I’m really, really, really, really bad about watering my indoor plants. Or my outdoor plants, for that matter (thank goodness for drip irrigation and timers). I bought some really neat succulents in pretty ceramic pots from Trader Joe’s for just a few $ and I get a ton of compliments on them. They’re growing happy and healthy and all I have to do is water them once every month or so.
Anyone have any ideas for a shade/super low light loving houseplant?
I have tried a few succalents that say they like shade but they have all killed over on me. :(
String of hearts are a super easy houseplant. I have them draping down the bare side of my kitchen cabinet. It likes sun and to be VERY dry. Plus, they grow these white balls on the vines that can be pulled and planted to grow more.
I have a Schefflera that I’m training to be a tree! It has four stems that I braid together as they get longer, and I prune all the leaves off the bottom so the stems get woody. But even as a bush, they’re great and very hard to kill. They’re on your NASA list, along with a Peace Lily, which I recently acquired but don’t know much about yet except that the flowers shed pollen onto the leaves and then I have to dust it, which is a bit annoying.
Bethany Joy says
I may be the only person in the world to have killed a philodendron. Mine actually got gnats in their roots and got gross. You have inspired me to try again though.
I am only good at keeping cactus and bamboo alive so far haha.
You might enjoy Baby’s tears (also called Irish Moss)- while it can be grown outdoors, I like it better as an indoor only plant (it is too hard to control its uncontrollable spreading in the yard). It likes moist soil and partial shade – which is perfect for those who tend to overwater… and you can sometimes buy it at Target.
Those are cute! As for actualy spider plants, they were totally taking over my apartment because any time I knocked one of the babies off I didn’t have the heart to throw them away. It got much better when we moved into a house, but STILL–if you want a free baby spider plant, feel free to come a’knockin at my door!
Ha, I am laughing out loud at this post right now, only because I have a complete black thumb and the only thing I’ve been able to keep alive at all is a phylodendron. It’s still ALIVE, but for the two years I’ve had it, I’ve just let it grow and get all spidery and ugly. I never knew how to maintain it and just hadn’t had the time or motivation to research it yet.
So of course you guys come through like always, and here is the perfect solution right in my Google Reader. :) I can’t wait to go home and try this so I can try to make my plant more healthy!
Succulents. I had succulents in my wedding bouquet and my husband’s boutonniere was a succulent. We left them to dry out for like 4 months (way longer than necessary), then planted them. We also took some cuttings from a couple different types of succulents from our honeymoon in the San Juan Islands, and now we have an almost free succulent garden, filled with lots of great memories. And to keep it growing we just take clippings from our own plants now.
Also, I took a clipping from a shamrock plant that my mother has had for over 25 years. Those are hard to kill too! I water it about as often as I water my succulents (never!) and just pluck the dead stems once in awhile. I have had it for over 5 years now.
You can do the same thing with your Burros Tail… just stick a couple of the “leaves” in moist potting soil and eventually you’ll have a cute new plant =)
Three cheers for almost-unkillable houseplants! I have become a big fan of bamboo myself, having ditched my philodendrons due to stubbornly curious cats. Madelaine (and other cat owners) can check this list of dangerous plants to make sure they’re keeping their felines safe: http://tinyurl.com/m9yh9k
That link also makes the helpful suggestion of getting plastic needlepoint canvas at a craft store and cutting that to fit inside the pot and around its base. This way, you can still water easily and air circulates, but the cats can’t dig in the soil. Depending on the plant you choose, the canvas will be more or less visible. I am anal enough to have spraypainted the plastic canvas brown so it blends in better :)
I have three cats currently and my answer is–don’t have plants in the house. I am a big gardener and I love plants but I also love my cats (who unlike many dogs get on everything). At least one of my cats at any given time seems to eat plants and throw them up. FWIW, our compromise has been to have plants in the garden and not in the house.
Kari-who remembers a day when she could have flowers in the house–that day is not today (wicked Lizzie and Betty!)
Erin K says
Love your blog – you guys always have the best ideas. One of the plants on that NASA list was a Rubber Plant – I have one and love it! The leaves are big and shiny with a deep green color. I was recently at plant sale where I saw some rubber plants that looked much happier and healthier than mine, so I asked what the secret was. The guy said to feed them stale beer mixed with water every other week….and it works! I started doing it and my plant looks 100% better. I wonder if this works with any other plants?
Don’t ask me how, but my roommate actually did kill the plant you have shown. I even tried my normal technique of waiting it out to see if there were other shoots hidden, etc. No, she actually destroyed it beyond the point of return. However, they are very resilient plants otherwise haha. She just has a really black thumb apparently.
I also LOVE those Ikea pots :) I was just there this weekend stocking up on all shapes and sizes. A little tip about them – you can actually drill your own drainage holes in them with an electric drill and a ceramic drill bit. Very simple, and I haven’t ruined a pot yet by doing it. That way, you can pot your plants directly in them. Although, you will need a saucer or something to protect your tables and windowsills. But, I move most of my plants (almost all Jades) outside to create a little “potted plant garden” along the side of the house in the summer, so the self-drilled drainage holes are great for that.
My fav for a gorgeous hard to kill architectural style indoor plant has got to be the Zanzibar Gem – dont know if you have them in USA but great in Australia.
Peace Lillies are great – we only water ours when the leaves start to flop, a quick drink and they are back to their former glory within minutes! A bit of tough lovin’…
heather s. says
I also have a cat and the best way to keep her out of the plants you don’t want them near (besides not having plants inside) is to plant cat grass or other plants that cats love in planters(catnip, pesian catmint, lemongrass). I have two pots in the house and two on the patio of catnip and cat grass so she can eat those rather than any other plant I have. Works like a charm.
Kristi W. says
I love spider AND philodendron plants (and their monster-like regeneration abilities). Most of our house plants (around 20) came from the same two original plants. I have to admit though, I actually like when they get all viney and snakey. I have some in my kitchen, and I let the vines grow out along the tops of the cabinets. Sure, we used to joke that our house was becoming a jungle, but really I just like how it looks. To each her own, I guess. :)
Good idea for a post (as usual).
Cecily T says
I got a burro tail after you guys profiled it, but it’s a little fussy w/ the leaf dropping when it gets touched, which it does often here w/ our toddler. Plus getting it repotted was dicey; I lost a lot of stalks.
I have a half-wall between my fam room and the kitchen, and honestly, I don’t know what I’d put there if I didn’t have my houseplants. I change them in and out depending on what’s doing well and what’s not.
My most recent and insane plant project was that when I cut back some of my plants that were doing a little *too* well; I decided to try rooting some of the leaves from a fittonia (nerve plant), some african violet leaves, and some from a sort of leafy succulent that I don’t know the name of. I did several leaf nodes from each plant, thinking I’d be lucky if I got one or two. Well, they are *all* rooting, and now my laundry room shelf is covered w/ the little bathroom cups filled with plantlets! If anyone needs a houseplant, let me know!
I also have a philodendron that I’ve had since I went to college 10 years ago; it’s survived 3 moves now!
I have a black thumb and have a bunch of houseplants I haven’t killed: pothos, ZZ plant as previously mentioned and philodendrons.
For places that don’t get sunlight (my bathrooms) use Israeli Ruscus or Ruscus hypophyllum cuttings. They are available at your local florist (Kroger for me) and last for 8 months or so. ($4 for 8 months!)
There’s an apartment therapy post here:
Lauren Gehr says
You realize it looks like you’re grabbing a pair in that picture right? lol
At any rate, I suck with houseplants, but my pothos has managed to survive despite my neglect. The advice I have is get a pothos and neglect it!
Where did you get that fabulous white flower pot… IKEA perhaps?
When I was growing up, my mom always had philodendrons around the house, and I never paid much attention to them. Until recently, that is, when I snipped one of my own. Okay, fine — I was removing dead leaves and I removed a live one by mistake. So I popped it into a vase of water and it really was just as easy as my mom made it out to be; roots are growing left right and center! I can’t wait to find a new pot for its new home. I recommend philodendrons to anyone who needs a hassle-free plant for home or the office.
can I start a shamrock plant just from clippings?
I’ve never tried. Anyone know?