Plants for People Who Kill Plants

A couple of months ago, I went shopping for veggies in Chinatown, when something beautiful caught my eye. I saw it in a display window from the grocery store across the street, so as soon as I paid for and packed my groceries, I went straight to the plant store to have a closer look at a gorgeous bonsai tree.

Three weeks I fought with myself (‘cause I would say it is a pretty expensive plant), but my biggest argument was: “It will make me happier.” And it did. Until it died. I left the tree for three days when I went to Montreal on vacation and, well, you already know how it turned out.

So if you’re a plant killer, or don’t have a green thumb next door to give you some recommendations on your droopy daffodils, read this list. All of the plants listed below have two obvious advantages—they’re hardy, and easy to grow. Aside from those, there are also plenty of other benefits to discover in simple plants.

English Ivy

D8E3D6630E-2Photo courtesy of Skitter Photo via

Reasons to have it:

  • Air purifying plant. Removes most pollutants, especially formaldehyde.
  • Very adaptable, except for high temperatures (yeah, like that can happen in Canada).
  • There are some species that have a beautiful white rim on their leaves.

Care: when watering your ivy, always check the soil before adding water. Ivies prefer to be kept slightly on the dry side (so it won’t be dead in a week if you forget to water it). Also, make sure that your plant has excellent drainage, as ivy does not like to be in standing water or overly wet soil.

Peace Lily

peace-lilyPhoto courtesy of

Reasons to have it:

  • Air purifying plant. Removes alcohols and acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde.
  • Beautiful plant with gentle white flowers.
  • Strong and peaceful energy.

Care: This indoor flower is not picky when it comes to the lighting. Although, it loves loads of water, so it should be watered as topsoil gets dry.


980D1D74E1-2Photo courtesy of Jay Mantri via

Reasons to have it:

  • It’s fragrant, fast-growing, and compliments fruits, vegetables and meats.
  • It’s its own ice cream flavour.

Care: mint needs a sunny window. It may get lanky as it stretches for the light, because it really prefers full sun. Water your mint frequently for the first year. Keep the soil damp, but don’t soak it. Although mint is easy to grow, its roots, which are called “runners,” are also incredibly invasive. Mint will overtake a flowerbed in no time if you’re not careful.

Christmas Cactus

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Reasons to have it:

  • It is one of the most striking and surreal-looking plants, whose flowers look like leaping shrimps.
  • Having a tropical plant at your home sounds awesome.

Care: keep the plant in a well-lit location, but away from direct sunlight—too much heat and light can stunt growth and burn the leaves. Thoroughly water the plant. Before attempting to water the plant again, check to see that the top inch of soil has dried thoroughly first. Mist leaves as well as watering the soil.

By the way, it’s a plant my friend recommended, saying: “My dad found it in a garbage, brought home, and mom trying to take care of it, couldn’t kill it, so Go, Christmas Cactus!

Areca Palm

44-3572Photo courtesy of

Reasons to have it:

  • Air purifying plant. Removes all tested indoor air toxins.
  • This palm tree originated from Madagascar! Isn’t that exciting? However, it is endangered and very rare in its natural habitat.
  • It grows fast, can reach up to seven feet, but a smaller pot will keep it contained if you’d like it to stay smaller.

Care: The Areca Palm does well in filtered light. Use a moist, well-drained soil, and water the plants as soon as the soil feels dry a little below the surface. Areca palms do not respond well to overwatering. It’s my first plant. I called it Salvador, as in the Spanish surrealist painter. It was chewed by my mom’s cat, it survived four months drought when I asked my sister to take good care of it, and guess what, it’s a beautiful strong plant after all.



We might not be green-fingered, guys, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have healthy plants!

Valeriia Timets is a designer for On the Danforth’s Spring edition. To find out more about resilient plants, contact her at


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