NYC Living

10 Indoor Plants Your Apartment Won't Kill

When you’re living in 450 square feet of space, every spare inch is precious potential to achieve the chic NYC apartment of your dreams. Here are 10 low maintenance plants to help spruce up your pad.



The aloe plant can grow up to three feet in height, so be sure to opt for the smaller variety (aloe vera) for your studio apartment. The second best thing about having an aloe plant is that you only have to water it once a week. Even if you forget about this little guy, aloe stores water in its leaves and can survive for extended stretches on little to no water. The first best thing about aloe? Having your own sunburn medication supply in preparation for the summer.

Jade Plant

Jade Plant

Because the jade plant is a succulent, it’s very low maintenance, requiring only partial or indirect sunlight and is nearly impossible* to kill. Put a jade plant in a large pot with other succulents and create a mini in-unit (virtually immortal*) garden.

*do not overwater!

Spider Plant

Spider plant

One of the easiest houseplants to care for, spider plants require medium light and thrive at room temperature, with slight moisture in the soil. Maximize your space by hanging these plants in any semi-sunny spot in your apartment.


Heart-leaf philodendron

There are many different sizes, shapes and coloring within the philodendron family, but regardless of the variation, they are able to survive neglect and adverse conditions. The heart-leaf philodendron (pictured above) is more suited to vertical living and will trail stylishly down your mantle or bookshelf. If you’re fortunate enough to have a somewhat large, sunny corner in your apartment, the split leaf philodendron (pictured below) will lend your apartment a tropical feel, just in time for summer.

split leaf philodendron

Snake Plant

snake plant

The snake plant is perfect for those sometimes gloomy ground-floor apartments as they can survive at very low light levels. In addition to withstanding drought, they’ve been shown to keep the air inside your apartment clean and free of toxins such as formaldehyde, a common ingredient in cleaning and other personal care products. Like your long-forgotten National Grid bill, this plant can be neglected for weeks at a time. 

Cast-Iron Plant

Cast iron plant

Another ideal choice for apartments with low light, the cast iron plant is able to withstand neglect, low humidity and a wide variety of temperatures. As long as you use a higher quality potting soil, this plant can survive your forgetfulness.

Rubber Tree

Rubber Tree

Aside from being easy to grow, the rubber tree plant can be as large or as small as you’d like. Prune long stems and keep in a smaller pot for more of a shrub shape, otherwise this sucker can reach up to eight feet! Just plant in a container with proper drainage and you’re good to grow.

Shamrock Plant

shamrock plant

A windowsill is the perfect spot for the shamrock plant, as it will get several hours of light each day but won’t be constantly fried. Rather than worrying about when to water, try placing the pot in a shallow dish of water while it’s actively growing. Allow the soil to dry out slowly when it begins to look less perky. If the leaves or white flowers turn brown – don’t panic! You didn’t kill it, we promise. Just pluck the brown leaves off and wait for them to regenerate.




The echeveria are those beautiful succulents you eye every morning at the Union Square farmer’s market but have never actually pulled the trigger on buying. Well, today’s the day! As long as you keep the soil moist (taking care to water around the bloom and not directly onto it), this little baby will sit proudly in your window, affirming your newly-discovered green thumb all year-round.

Inch plant

Inch Plant

Similar to the heart-leaf philodendron, this flowering plant has vines that look great trailing off mantles or shelves. Although the plant can grow in dim light, its leaf markings will fade under such conditions. Water completely and let drain thoroughly before returning the plant to its drainage saucer.


Maggie Glascott

Maggie Glascott is a marketing coordinator on the StreetEasy marketing team. Hailing from the mean streets of Westchester County, NY, Maggie fulfilled every suburban teenagers’ dream and moved to the city after graduating from the College of Charleston. After spending a year in a poorly lit ground-floor apartment on the Upper East Side, she moved to the top floor of a sunny walk-up in Prospect Heights and hasn’t looked back.

  • Great list of hardy plants! You can find 6 plants from this list in our online plant shop. We deliver potted plants anywhere in New York City and most of our plants are potted in planters with sub-irrigation system. You will need to water your plants 3 times less compared to regular clay pots. It’s perfect for New Yorkers who like to travel. We have created a special “Hard To Kill Plants” category

  • Pirate_girl

    This person doesn’t know her plants. The first is not an Aloe, but a Haworthia, I know ’cause I grow them, both.

    Jade plants are extremely easy to kill by overwatering & no, indirect light is not sufficient for them. They will grow overly tall & spindly (called etiolated) from the insufficient light.

    Succulent placed in pots w/ no drainage hole are doomed to death. If most of those pix are of plants in cache pots (outer decorative pots to contain ordinary plant pots w/ regular holes for drainage), then those would likely be OK.

    • WhySoComplicated

      Amen. The first plant is haworthia, probably a hybrid of two or more of haworthia zebra, haworthia pumila, haworthia concolor, haworthia aristata, haworthia limifolia, haworthia attenuata, hawortha fasciata. You can buy them on ebay.

      Another TERRIFIC indoor plant is zz plant (zamioculcas samifolia), grows to about 12″ or 36″ depending on the type, very cool plant, mine survived 3 months without watering. Dracaena are also good indoor plants.

      My indoor plants somehow got a mite infestation, mites quickly killed my jade plant, my christmas cactus (oh, you were beloved), my hoya rope (I loved you, too, RIP), and some of my agave. Eventually, by repeatedly smearing diluted dishwashing liquid on the remaining plant leaves, I mostly triumphed over the mites. I am now constantly vigilant for those awful mites.

      I have a lot of succulents in pots without drainage holes. Instead, at the bottom of the pot, before I put in dirt, I put in polymer spheres that absorb water (and become bigger when watered, then get smaller as the water goes back into the soil over time), so the roots don’t sit in water (that’s what kills them). Instead, the roots actually grow into the spheres and can absorb water at their own rate, and of course, the plant can tolerate less frequent watering as the spheres act like little reservoirs. On ebay, they’re called water absorbing polymer crystals.

      The plants clean and moisturize the air, so the air is good for your lungs. I adopted a cat with a respiratory infection, was given medicine and told to medicate the cat for 10 days to cure the respiratory problem. I did not medicate my new cat. Instead, the cat happily slept in a sunbeam for two days, near the highest concentration of plants, and cured his respiratory infection on his own. (If the cat didn’t seem to improve, I would have medicated, but I thought he deserved a chance to heal without medication. The air in the cat adoption place was dry and grimy, I noticed the grime while breathing there, so I thought my apt with its clean and moisturized air would help the cat’s breathing.)

      • Thanks for the feedback, @karensternberg:disqus and @WhySoComplicated:disqus –the post has been updated!

  • Pirate_girl

    The new first plant is also not as posted, she says it’s an Aloe vera (no way), not even sure it’s an Aloe, look more like an Agave.

    Maggie, you really don’t know your stuff. Try Other Poster’s suggestion of a ZZ plant (Zamioculcus zamifolia), there aren’t multiple varieties for you to get so confused among & they are virtually indestructible barring overwatering.