by Lisa Watters-Lain, Arizona’s garden gal, Watters Garden Center
Always forgetting to water? These varieties are perfect matches for absent-minded owners.
Succulents — These waxy, geometric beauties are certainly trendy, but not only because of their interesting shapes and hues ranging from mint green to deep violet. Their thick leaves store water, so they typically only require weekly watering (wait until the soil is dry before dousing them again). Succulents come in lots of varieties like slender cacti, spiky sedum, smooth echeveria or flowering kalanchoe. They typically enjoy sunlight and dry air, the perfect Arizona plant.
ZZ plant — These beauties, which grow in tall stalks of deep green, rubbery leaves, actually like to be left alone. Though they prefer moderate levels of sunlight, they can tolerate low light, too, so they’re often the go-to choice for offices. “These plants prefer to stay on the dry side and seem to thrive on neglect,” says Amy Langley, Watters houseplant manager.
Pothos — This leafy vine would have been voted “most popular” in high school. Since it’s quite hardy, and very pretty from a young age, people choose it often. It can deal with low light and won’t be bothered if you let the soil dry out. It even talks through its droopy leaves days before it needs more water. Fertilize once a month with Watters Flower Power 54 for a plant that impresses.
Ponytail palm — This Mexico native gets its name from its shape — its skinny leaves sprout from a thick stalk where it stores huge amounts of water.
Snake plant — Also called mother-in-law’s tongue (perhaps because its leaves come to a sharp point), this easy-care plant is a popular choice for many homes. You might think they’re kind of passé, but there are lots of interesting new varieties coming out every year.
Air plants — Much like their name suggests, these spidery plants don’t even need soil to thrive; you can literally hang them in midair, place them in a decorative vase, or prop them up on a shelf. And watering them is nearly set-and-forget: “Just dunk them in water for an hour every five to seven days,” advises Michele Hyatt, Watters Garden consultant.
Begonias — These crowd-pleasing blooms need their soil to dry out before they get another drink and require even less watering in the winter. Plus, they come in many different foliage colors and patterns.
Chinese evergreen — This is one rock-solid plant! We don’t think you should torture any plant, but the Chinese evergreen can stand up to a lot of abuse. And there are fun versions with speckles and stripes that look like they belong at a carnival. Thrives in low-to-medium light; water when you notice the soil is dry or the plant’s light to pick up.
Cast-iron plant — Tough as nails, much like its name suggests, this low-growing plant with wide, flat leaves can stand up to tough conditions (like an owner who often forgets to pick up the watering can). You should water them when the soil is dry, but they’ll live through drought and frequent travelers too.
Flower Power 54 — Most houseplants appreciate monthly feeding with this flower-boosting formula.
Aqua Boost — allows plants to go twice as long between waterings. Simply take a pencil and poke several holes in the soil and sprinkle one teaspoon as deep into the roots as possible. These water-boosting crystals hold water until your plants need it.
Now you can truly neglect your plants or take that exotic three-week cruise and return to happy, healthy plants.
Lisa Watters-Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd. in Prescott, or contacted through her web site at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter.