A lot of times I think people overthink houseplants. Even with houseplants that require more intensive care, don’t overthink it. I honestly don’t believe in the “brown thumb” concept. All it takes to grow houseplants is a little bit of thoughtfulness and I’m of the school of thought that a lot of love doesn’t hurt, either. There are several beginner houseplants that I think are perfect for those starting out.
The Best Beginner Houseplants
Because I could write a book just on these 3 types of houseplants alone, I’ll be focusing on one type at a time for a new series: Beginner Houseplants.
Low Maintenance Houseplant: Devil’s Ivy
I am a self-proclaimed plant lady. For the majority of my life I’ve had plants of my own and I love caring for them. Over the years I’ve had plants that are easy to care for and plants that require a human sacrifice to live. I think a lot of people would like to be able to have houseplants and there are several that I think are great beginner houseplants, but none better than the Devil’s Ivy.
I come from a long line of plant lovers. Over seventeen years ago, my granny had a ginormous ivy in her bay window. It was probably 2 feet by 5 feet. I remember it always being there as a kid. When she died, my mom took 5 cuttings from it and propagated tiny ivy plants for each of my sisters and herself. I was only 9, but I remember feeling so protective over that plant. And, really, I think that’s when the seed was planted for me to become a plant lady.
The Devil’s Ivy is the perfect houseplant for beginners because it can survive even the harshest conditions. When I took my ivy to college in 2009, I stuck it in a window and completely forgot about it. Weeks would go by and I would forget it was even up there. Leaves browned and dropped off… but it just wouldn’t die. It was in sad shape, honestly, but it stuck in there.
Water thoroughly but infrequently. When the soil is dry, water until some starts to seep out of the bottom of the pot. Then, do not water again until the soil is dry again. My mom used to say all the time, “they don’t like wet feet” and that’s the perfect way to explain it. Don’t let your ivy sit in water. You can actually drown it.
If you do overwater your ivy, it will let you know. Typically the leaves start to turn yellow (the entire leaf). If you see that happening, just slow down on your watering.
Ivy like humidity, too. So misting the leaves once a week keeps them happy and humid. You can place rocks on the surface of the pot and they will hold moisture, too. I don’t use the rocks for mine, but I hear good things about it.
As I mentioned before, when I was a kid I didn’t give my ivy enough light. However, ivy plants are ridiculously tolerant of a variety of lighting conditions. They like filtered light (not direct, meaning the sun beams are literally bathing the plant with light). A north or east facing window is perfect. If placed near a south or west window, make sure the light isn’t directly hitting the plant because it can be too harsh and will dry the plant.
In the summer, you can move your ivy outdoors, but they require shade. If you don’t have a place that stays shaded all day, the safe bet is to keep them indoors.
Ivy also thrive under fluorescent lights, so they’re the perfect office plant. The main thing to consider is that most of the time, plants adapt to an area and they don’t like to move. So, if you have an ivy that’s use to east-window light, it will likely go into shock if you put it outside in the summer. If you must move the plant, try to make small changes gradually, but generally find a place and keep it there.
It is necessary to repot when an ivy becomes rootbound or depletes all the nutrients in the soil (the soil dries out quickly). When you repot you want to choose a pot just big enough for the roots, and you want to use plastic or clay. You don’t want to pot the ivy in a pot too large because that can lead to root rot.
You also want to make sure there are several drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. Cover the holes with rocks or fragments of an old clay pot. This will allow drainage without soil escaping from the holes.
Break up the roots a bit before repotting into moist soil.
Sometimes, pests can take over your ivy. This happened to me about two years ago and it was frightening. My ivy had mites. Pests aren’t super common with ivy, but they can happen. My mom told me to get a spray bottle and put a few drops of mid dish washing detergent in it. Then I sprayed the leaves once a day for several days, and my pests were gone!
Taking care of the leaves in general will keep pests away. Don’t let dust collect on the leaves. You can either manually dust the plant, or spritz it with water once a week.
Resilient and easy to care for, I think the Devil’s Ivy is the perfect beginner houseplant. Because it can thrive in a variety of environments, it’s a plant that practically anyone can keep – from 9 year old girl, to beloved mom and granny – it’s a plant for all.
The Devil’s Ivy will always have a special place in my heart and home because it reminds me of 2 of the most amazing plant ladies: my mom and my granny.