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May 17, 2024

'Hard to Kill: Houseplants for the Inept'



Up top, the headline above Michael Tortorello's New York Times article.

Right about now is when a lot of people's houseplants are looking a little wan so I figured it was the good time for this.

Wrote Tortorello:

When I learned that I would be moving... for the first time in 11 years, I took stock of the survivors. What did I find on the radiator cover? A pair of umbrella plants that counted a dozen leaves between them. A ficus with something like psoriasis and another with a stoop. I felt pity, and I felt shame.

A month after moving into my new home, I phoned three experts [Uli Lorimer, Mike Rimland and Mark Hoover] to ask what new houseplants I should draw close to my bosom and adopt as my own. They suggested plants for shady windows and plants for dry winters. They shared their best tips and their favorite catalogs. They described plants that cannot be killed. Their greatest hits are below.

CAST-IRON PLANT (ASPIDISTRA ELATIOR) Like vending machines and cosplay, Mr. Lorimer said, the aspidistra [below]


is big in Japan. Maybe it's the ground-level flowers that bear an unlikely eight petals — the botanical equivalent of a two-headed goat at the state fair. Or perhaps it's the plant's indifference to light and water. Ultimately, Mr. Lorimer said, you can treat this plant like a piece of furniture. That is to say, remember to dust its foot-long leaves every once in a while.

SAGO PALM (CYCAS REVOLUTA - top) "You could drive a truck over it [top], and you couldn't kill it," Mr. Rimland said. Do we hear a challenge?

STRAWBERRY BEGONIA (SAXIFRAGA STOLONIFERA) The botanical name sounds like a Mary Poppins tongue-twister, and the "round, grayish, scalloped" leaves [below]


are nothing special, Mr. Hoover said. He came to appreciate the survival instinct of this tiny plant when he noticed it sending out runners at the nursery — on the cold floor, beneath a table, with no obvious water or light.

May 17, 2024 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


I got tired of buying house plants that only lasted 2-4 months. So I started transplanting some of the more interesting plants growing in the back yard (weeds). Same result but now they are free. ;)

Posted by: Mike | May 18, 2024 9:36:06 AM

"'Hard to Kill: Houseplants for the Inept'"..... Joe, I just use plastic now ;)

Posted by: Jim | May 18, 2024 9:32:57 AM

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