Challenge your Greenthumb: Four Difficult Houseplants - gardenstead Skip to content

Challenge your Greenthumb: Four Difficult Houseplants

difficult houseplants

Do you know this story? It’s a beautiful day, you’re out running errands and happen upon a store that has a dozen stunning, super trendy, Fiddle Fig trees. Mere moments pass before you are justifying why you need it and exactly how you’ll rearrange your living room to accommodate the new family addition. Swipe goes your credit card. For the first month, everyone gets along great but then, what’s that? A leaf turning brown? Then two leaves? Unfortunately and all too often… it all goes downhill from there.

It can seem like there are more difficult houseplants to keep healthy and happy versus easy-to-care for ones. As much as houseplants bring much happiness to our lives and homes, growing houseplants can actually be really difficult. We find the best way to set up for success is if you are able to mimic the natural environment of the plant as best as you can.

Take a fern for example, which typically thrive in little shady and moist pockets in forests. If you were to hang a boston fern in a kitchen window in a dry house that gets blasted with direct sun all day, it might not want to stick around for too long.

Below are four houseplants, that you should do research on before handing over your cash. If you’re able to find the sweet spot in your home and crack the code of its fussy needs, these four beauties below are immensely rewarding to grow. If you’re thinking: “I accept the challenge…” Below, we’ve profiled their natural environment, their basic needs of light and water and you can take it from there. Watering needs vary from plant to plant because of its environment. It depends on humidity and light available to the plant, please observe your plant closely and to learn its watering needs .

Like bringing a new puppy home, do you research and see which plant best suits your environment and personal needs.

1. Orchid
white orchid

When you spot one these in the flower section at the supermarket, think again about bringing it as the host gift to the party you’re en route to. Orchid survival seems to be divided right down the middle, they either strive under your care or you kill them. For tips on how to keep your orchid healthy, check out our orchid care guide.

Ideal Environment: Tropical Climates

Light Needs: There are tens of thousands of species of orchids, all with specific light needs, but generally speaking most orchids need bright, indirect light.

Watering Needs: Sparingly. Some suggest it’s best to water early in the morning so the plant can dry out by the evening. Some people say only water with warm water.

2. Rubber Plant
rubber plant

Rubber Plants have stunning large, glossy and dark green leaves. It’s a very beautiful indoor plant but if you’ve ever read in a plant blog that these are an easy houseplant to take care of, you’ve been sorely misled. You may think nothing of a few dropped leaves, but then it’s all too often, too late. Rubber plants hold on as long as they can, but as soon as conditions aren’t right and they become sick, their decline is rapid.

Native To: Tropical Climates

Light Needs: Bright, indirect light

Watering Needs: Thorough deep waterings throughout the spring and summer. Let dry out and water less in the winter months.

3. Boston Fern

The key to most indoor ferns is creating enough humidity for them. You can mist them or take a more hands off approach that works by placing a large saucer or tray (it should be larger than the pot the plant is in) with pebbles or small stones in it and keep an inch of water in that tray. The water will evaporate up to the fern. Many people have the most success in the summer when they keep ferns outside. The plant often struggle during winter but bounces back again when put back outside.

Ideal Environment: Humid forests and swamps

Light Needs: Bright, indirect light

Watering Needs: Similar to the Rubber Plant, the Boston Fern like thorough deep waterings throughout the spring and summer with less waterings in the winter.

4. Croton
croton
croton flower

With bright green, yellow, red and orange colorful leaves this houseplant is stunning and yet not commonly seen (because it’s difficult to keep alive!). Croton’s are tricky and picky!

Ideal Environment: Tropical Climates

Light Needs: Bright, indirect light

Watering Needs: Deep, thorough waterings

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