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Noreen Claire

I need house plant recommendations!

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DS5 has asked for a plant for his bedroom for Christmas. It is the thing that he wants most of all, even more than a remote control car. I have a fairly brown thumb, so, I need recommendations for what kind of plant to get him. He will want to care for it himself. The options for a plant in his room are: 

  1. Hanging in an east-facing window, very close to a steam radiator.
  2. Hanging in a south-facing window with direct, unfiltered sunlight. (We live in New England, if that matters.)
  3. On a bookshelf on the south wall, with no direct sunlight.

Please, can you recommend a small-ish, green plant, with or without flowers, that is relatively easy to care for and will thrive in one of those three locations?

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When I took Botany in college, we worked with spiderwort/wandering jew. The class was only a month long, so we needed something that grew and changed quickly. It is very easy to propagate and likes indirect light. I don't remembering mine having flowers, but I guess it does that, too. At his age he might enjoy something like this that grows quickly, can easily be pinched back and the pieces used to start new plants to give away. You may even know someone with that plant that is willing to give you a few cuttings. It will be started by Christmas for sure.

 

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Pothos will thrive just about anywhere. Needs minimal care. You can keep it cut back if you prefer to keep it small(ish).

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For the bookshelf, a peace lily might work.  They prefer no direct light.  They don't mind being overwatered, so you can drench them periodically.  If you don't repot them, they shouldn't get too big.

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I think it's so sweet that your ds wants a plant! I'm a houseplant nut myself. Do you have any pets? If so, make sure the plant is not toxic. Many of the most popular plants are toxic, unfortunately. I am limited in the types of plants I can have because my cats like to graze on them (even though they have their own planter filled with grass - grrr!).🙂

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jade plant - or another succulent.

for hanging - spider plants, or wandering jew.

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Pothos. We got ours from IKEA and it got slightly burnt in the hot car during summer on our way home. It’s thriving on my kitchen countertop which doesn’t get direct sunlight. My DS13 took this photo for his photography assignment. 

 

Edited by Arcadia
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An air plant?  Needs periodic soakings in a water filled container, but that's it.  It was my husband's first office plant and it has thrived in there.

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Pathos or philodendron.  A brown thumb is OK since, if you forget to water it, it will look droopy and sad.  Then you water it and all is forgiven.  I think more people kill plants from over watering them.  Let them dry out, then soak them through.  This might be tough with a kid who wants to give his plant a little drink of water every day, but it's really better to water a lot then leave it alone until it dries out.  Dracaena's and Snake plants are pretty hearty too.  I have all these in my house as low light plants, but they live outside most of the year, so they can also live with more light.  They don't grow a ton this time of year, so don't think you did something wrong if it's slow going for a while.  You just have keep them alive through the winter with sparse watering.  Save all of the feeding/repotting/potting up nonsense til spring when they WANT to grow more in response to the longer days.

A kid might enjoy starting a plant from a cutting so he can watch the roots grow.  You just need friends to donate cuttings, a jar of water (change it weekly) and some patience.  He can even do cuttings from his own plant later on if he's interested.  It might be fun to put some kitchen herbs in your south facing window.  Basil, parsley, oregano, and chives are pretty easy and useful when you're cooking.  My house doesn't have windows on the south side, so I'm very jealous. 

The low light plants I listed above are also ok with artificial light.  I have a pathos and some aloes in a bathroom and they're thriving because nobody remembers to turn that light off.

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The only thing I don’t kill is cactus. 😂 They appreciate neglect and prefer less light. If you get a Christmas cactus, it will even flower.

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I have a spider plant and a philodendron.  They are super easy and forgiving.  Mine don't mind shady places.  I even left them in my sunroom last winter in freezing (below 20*) by accident.  I brought them when I realized what I had done and they actually survived.  Had to cut away a lot of dead, mushy, brown leaves, but they both made it through.  🙂  Unfortunately, I've killed cactus'.  

If you'd like more information than you'd ever need this lady is pretty cool 

 

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How about finding a cute planter and filling it with different succulents? They only need watering once every couple weeks, at least  mine do fine with that.

There are also types of fancy begonias, or painted leaf begonias, that are gorgeous. I have very little sun on my house, but they grow fine with indirect light. I water them weekly. They don’t bloom( if so, they’re small and plain) but the leaves are amazing. https://stevesleaves.com/product-category/begonias-rex-cultorum-begonias/

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Another vote for pothos. They are super forgiving. Mine are in draining pots set inside decorative, non-draining pots. They end up growing roots out the bottom of their inner pot and then live in the water left in the decorative pot, but can also manage drought. They would love the south facing bookcase, and would grow down nicely. Two of mine are now over twenty feet long. I just train them all around things, but you can trim them, too. One actually has tendrils and is climbing our wall. Editing to add mine are in areas from high, indirect light to low light and flourish.

Edited by livetoread
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1 hour ago, livetoread said:

. They would love the south facing bookcase

Sorry, it's a bookcase on the south wall, facing an interior north wall. It will get zero direct sunlight.

 

Thank you, everyone, for the recommendations! I will do some research and maybe show him some pictures so he can tell me more of what he likes. Thanks again!

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Hanging in South window: spiderplant or pothos or similar...  a self watering style planter might help.   (They aren’t truly self watering, but hold a water reservoir so it can be filled in a schedule more easily) 

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In the sunny window, for something fun, try a sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica). If he touches a leaf, it will fold closed immediately, to reopen after a bit. Don't overdo the touching, but it can handle a few times a day for a few days, then maybe less often. Care is pretty easy, just sun and water when dry. Logee's is a good greenhouse. They seem to be out of it at the moment, but this will show a picture, and they might be getting some in by Christmas. They're pretty steep, though, and you might find a cheap one elsewhere. 

https://www.logees.com/sensitive-plant-mimosa-pudica.html

Pothos, like everyone said, is easy.

Christmas cactus is easy too, has the advantage of flowering, and also loves sun and survives neglect. Just water it when it gets dry.

When we were little we had Mother of Thousands plants. They're entrancing because on each leaf, lots of tiny baby plants appear, grow, and eventually drop, hopefully to root in the same pot (or get swept up and tossed in another, or tossed out). The babies are cute and ridiculously easy to grow in a sunny window. Just don't overwater. Be aware, though, that they are poisonous. If nobody is going to eat them, all is well.

https://www.houseplantsexpert.com/mother-of-thousands-bryophyllum-daigremontianum.html

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A flowering Christmas Amaryllis could also be nice for the season, but then would need to be put away till the next year or to plant outside in spring perhaps depending on your climate. 

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Succulents: they survive a lot of neglect. 

Another interesting choice of plants would be the Venus Flytrap kind of plant.

a third option would be to start something from seeds or cuttings, put them in a transparent cup or glass container and watch them establish roots and grow.

there are a lot of eye catching bromeliads in tropical colors and it is worth taking him to a nursery to see if he likes any of them.

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Another vote for philodendron.  As someone said upthread, it'll get droopy when it needs water, but will perk right back up.  I have a brown (maybe even black) thumb and I've been keeping a philodendron alive for my mom while she travels long-term.  I do think they're poisonous to household pets though, so there's that caveat.  I've also been keeping an aloe vera plant (which is a succulent) rather happy with the occasional drink in my garden window.

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I haven’t killed my monstera yet it grows and grows even though my dog likes to eat its leaves 😞

I have a ficus benjamina I think it’s called in my Paris apartment that’s totally neglected and yet it lives, against all odds. I want one asap after I return to the states but not sure where I will find.

my money trees from Aldi’s also keep growing (I mean they did, before I left). 

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On 11/19/2019 at 9:48 AM, Laura Corin said:

For the bookshelf, a peace lily might work.  They prefer no direct light.  They don't mind being overwatered, so you can drench them periodically.  If you don't repot them, they shouldn't get too big.

 

I agree that a peace lily would be a good choice.  They wilt before they die, so they give you warning that they are being neglected -- Then they bounce back nicely when you give them a good deep soak.   Mine have not been fussy about light.  You may find them labelled with their scientific name: Spathiphyllum. 

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Saw this zygo cactus today at Trader Joe’s. It has lovely flowers.

 

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On 11/19/2019 at 1:17 PM, PrincessMommy said:

I have a spider plant and a philodendron.  They are super easy and forgiving.  Mine don't mind shady places.  I even left them in my sunroom last winter in freezing (below 20*) by accident.  I brought them when I realized what I had done and they actually survived.  Had to cut away a lot of dead, mushy, brown leaves, but they both made it through.  🙂  Unfortunately, I've killed cactus'.  

If you'd like more information than you'd ever need this lady is pretty cool 

 

 Planterina cracks me up.  I only discovered her since I became a farmer. (Translation: I have a some garden boxes and a few dozen house plants.)

To the OP, don't be too afraid to just get what you like.  There will be a learning curve.  You might kill one plant and be wildly successful with another.  Just keep your expenses low and budget under consumable science supplies. If you have a friend with lots of plants, ask them for a start.  If they're like me they'll be delighted to share their obsession plants; especially with a child.

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1 minute ago, Noreen Claire said:

No pets! Five sons are enough....

LOL. I just had flashbacks to that time I had three kids under 5 and my husband bought me a houseplant for Mother's Day. I know he meant well, but one more thing to take care of wasn't at the top of my list right then. 

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I have done decently well with a spider plant (in college, when I really didn’t know much about plants and was more scatterbrained).

I’ve killed many kinds of plants, including a succulent. Right now I’m managing to keep a geranium alive, it’s been a year and a half. Seems fairly  hardy (hardy is the main thing I look for in a plant, plus heat tolerant for outdoors plants), and I like the flowers. I put it outside in the spring/summer. Right now it is in a sunny window.

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On 11/19/2019 at 10:05 AM, PeterPan said:

If you get a Christmas cactus, it will even flower.


I bought the Christmas cactus from Trader Joe’s because of this thread and now it’s blooming. 

3DC4D259-F40D-499C-9CAC-4A3F24BA5D25.jpeg

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23 hours ago, Arcadia said:

I bought the Christmas cactus from Trader Joe’s because of this thread and now it’s blooming. 

That's wonderful! I like mine so much, I went a little crazy and bought 3 more. So now I have 5 christmas cacti, 1 overgrown aloe vera with children and grandchildren, and some little pointy thing I wanted to try. Well that and this pokey sword kind of thing. I just look at Walmart and if it's dry and desert-ish, I'm game, lol. But your TJ cactus is lovely too! I got so many this year because they had COLORS!!! I hadn't seen the colors. So I got red, pink, and a pale butter color. So pretty.

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I got DS5 a small pothos and a new pot, so that he can repot it with my mother (she's got the green thumb) and she can teach him to care for it. He practically squealed with happiness when he spotted it under the tree!

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18 minutes ago, Noreen Claire said:

I got DS5 a small pothos and a new pot, so that he can repot it with my mother (she's got the green thumb) and she can teach him to care for it. He practically squealed with happiness when he spotted it under the tree!

That is so sweet! Maybe you have a garden sure near you with a green house? It is fun to wander through and see what they have.

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7 hours ago, Noreen Claire said:

I got DS5 a small pothos and a new pot, so that he can repot it with my mother (she's got the green thumb) and she can teach him to care for it. He practically squealed with happiness when he spotted it under the tree!

It's really hard to go wrong with a pothos. I guess consistent over watering would be the one thing that would do one in. I have four pots of pothos scattered around the house because they're so easy to propagate and because they can handle various amounts of sunlight and still thrive. It's a perfect gateway plant, IMO. 😉 

Edited by Pawz4me
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