Houseplants I Haven’t Killed

By Kate Riley March 17, 2020

I took a walk around my neighborhood and downtown this morning, it was eerie seeing all the streets mostly empty. Many of the local stores have closed, and the bars and restaurants and gyms. Residents are staying indoors with the exception of walks around town for fresh air. I was at Kohl’s yesterday returning a sweater and the entire store was empty. I went to Target to pick up a few toiletries and people were hushed, moving quickly, and all standing far apart from each other. This situation has changed dramatically in the past few days.

I’m a social creature, so this lockdown will be challenging. It’s St. Patrick’s Day and I always go to the local Irish pub to celebrate, but not this year. I’m trying to stay positive. The sun is shining, the trees are in bloom, and we have food to survive two weeks, so for now, everything is fine. My heart is hurting for all the small businesses that will suffer in the upcoming weeks and months. I see this situation is an opportunity for us all to show more kindness, compassion, and generosity, right?

I was thinking, what do I write about in the coming weeks? Obviously, all things home related. Our homes are our sanctuaries, or at least they should be, so I’ll keep the content focused on that for the month of March. So I was looking around and thought hey, why not share the indoor plants that have survived and thrived under my care for at least a year. That’s a pretty good measure of success. Here are the houseplants that I haven’t killed. ;)


I’m a big believer in having a plant or two in every space. I find the more green leafy plants I add to a room, the more serene it feels. And we could all use more serenity now right? “Serenity Now!” I have had no luck with ferns. Every fern I buy dies. But these guys below are totally low maintenance, very forgiving, they even survive a few days without water, because I’m irregular with it and sometimes I’m just out of town.

Two large leaf plants I’ve had success with are Bird’s Eye Fern and Philodendron Selloum. I care for three Bird’s Nest Fern plants, they have beautiful curly long green leaves and is impossible to kill (in my opinion). Visitors always ask about them! I brought back a Philodendron Selloum from Las Vegas when we sold those properties, I’ve had it for at least four years. It has giant green leaves and thrives indoors in partial sun, and it doesn’t require a lot of water.

My sweet ZZ plant can live anywhere. I move it around all the time and it doesn’t care. It’s slow growing and low maintenance. So is my Dracaena Marginata, which does really well with low light.

‘Crasula Ovata’ Jade or Hobbit Jade has tubular finger like leaves and is also slow growing but worth the wait! I’ve had mine for about four years and it’s not even 2 feet tall yet. Jade does well in sunlight and with minimal water. (Another favorite jade plant I like is ripple jade.) No doubt you’ve noticed Snake Plant (also referred to as Mother In Law’s Tongue), it’s trending as an indoor plant for good reason, it’s tall spiky leaves fill vertical space nicely!


On the left is a mystery plant, I think it’s a Bird’s Nest Snake plant and I’ve had it for a few years, but I’m not 100% sure. Correct me if I’m wrong! On the right is a Dracaena White Bird with really pretty white stripes down the sides of each leaf.

The indoor plant I’ve had great success with is Schefflera, or Umbrella Tree. I have few varieties of this plant, some with variegated leaves. I have a Schefflera tree in my studio that I’ve grown for 7 years, it’s started at 12” and now it’s almost 8 feet tall!! I wrapped twinkle lights around it and it’s magical when lit up in the evening. :)

Schefflera never fails me, they thrive indoors even with the heater on in winter, and are so tolerant of irregular watering.

If you’d like to add any of the ones I mentioned to your collection, keep them in mind next time you’re at the garden center. Below are online sources to have them shipped to your home. One thing, if you have pets, before investing in any new plants, check the ASPCA list of plants that are toxic to pets!

zz plant  / schefflera

dracaena white bird / bird’s nest fern

hobbit jade / dracaena marginata

philodendron selloum / snake plant

The one plant I always kill is the Maidenhair Fern. I just can’t seem to keep it alive! I’ve failed so many times. There are so many plants that do well indoors, which ones have you had success with? I’d love to know, I’m always adding to my collection!

Weekend Reading 3.14.20

By Kate Riley March 14, 2020

What.A.Crazy.Week! Wow friends, how are you all holding up? This virus is rocking our world! I was out with a few friends last night, we met at a local brewpub, and the virus is the thing everyone is talking about. There hasn’t been an outbreak in our county yet so we’re all doing our best to support our local businesses for as long as possible, but also conscious that we will all be better off if we self quarantine to the best of our ability to slow this down. Spring break just started and we suspect the school system will go to digital teaching for the rest of March. We’re awaiting that announcement.

One of the things that came out of my conversation with my friends was that this forced pause on all of our lives could generate some really positive things. Gratitude is one, we should all be grateful we have homes to hunker down in. Extra time gives us all an opportunity to catch up on our to do lists, those projects or chores we’ve been neglecting. Extra time spent at home is also an opportunity to tackle things you may have been thinking about but putting off: starting a new business, writing a book, creating music or art, etc. Who knows, with all this extra time, come summer we may a sudden injection of creative new ideas flooding the world!

Favorite links from the week:

I spy many beautiful patterns and colors in these home tours by Florida designer Kara Hebert.

Experts share their home decorating and renovating tips to elevate your style.

A great explanation why you should never buy the furniture set.

9 ways to make working from home more joyful.

Boosting neighborhood morale by singing songs together.

Bookmark these three great photography tips for when we all start traveling again.

10 acts of kindness from strangers around the world.

If we’re all restricted from traveling, we can still enjoy these 47 great travel films.

Also, 22 Irish movies to watch on St. Patrick’s Day.

We’re all in this new challenge together! Let’s keep sharing stories of positivity and hope as we tackle this trial. :) Next week I’ll be reorganizing my office, creating a tiny patio sitting area outside my studio, finishing my taxes, and making more art for the new site. What will you be doing with your extra time spent at home?


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