Here are three easy-to-grow, fast-growing and interesting houseplants that will flourish in your house with just a smidgeon of care and attention. The first two plants on this list will even stand substantial neglect — but to get the best out of them you’ll need to water them just a little when the soil’s dry-ish and don’t do anything crazy like leaving the curtains shut for three months ….
(Incidentally this photo is Mimosa pudica, which you can find more about here. Mimosa is easy to grow but not as easy as the three plants we’re about to discuss. On the other hand, it does move when you touch it!
Tradescantia comes in various forms, but basically they all have tough, slightly rubbery leaves and are sold as tiny little plants for about two dollars/euros in most plant shops and not a few supermarkets. To get the best out of them, transfer to a larger pot using houseplant potting compost, also typically available from large supermarkets. Tradescantia will cascade down from your shelves in a quite spectacular fashion and can easily grow two meters in a good summer. If you want more tradescantia, just cut a bit off, just below a pair of leaves. Take off the two lowest leaves so that now you’ve got a few leaves and a bit of stem. Stick this into some soil and water it. Then wait. It’ll take root and start growing more leaves quicker than you can blink. Well OK, not quite that quick …
Ah, that old stand by, the spider plant! You can find these anywhere that sells house plants. Put it on a shelf somewhere and it’ll do just fine as long as you water it occasionally and let it get a little sunlight (you do have windows in your house, right?). Little baby plants will grow on the edges of long shoots. You can put these baby plants into soil and they’ll take root and grow into big plants pretty quickly. Spider plants can actually grow quite large given a couple of years, and with care and attention they look fantastic. Without care and attention, they still look OK most of the time.
What? Banana trees? Yes, while banana trees are just a smidgeon harder to grow than tradescantia or spider plants, they’re really not that hard. If you are one of those people who tells everyone that they kill anything they touch, then you’d best stick to tradescantia and spider plants. But if you don’t mind giving your houseplants just a little bit of thought, you can easily grow one of these beasts. Bananas like light and will take as much of it as you’ve got, but also generally do OK a little bit in the shade. If possible put them near a window. They can grow very big, very fast. But they aren’t woody like trees so you won’t find yourself sawing them up with a hacksaw when you need to get rid of them (but don’t quote me on that). While you might one day be blessed with your own banana crop, the real advantage of banana plants is that they produce a lot of very elegant foliage quite quickly. With lots of sunlight, a big pot and some fertilizer, they might even grow a meter or two in just a few months. Try keeping them in a smaller pot if you don’t want them to get out of hand. You can find banana plants for sale in many good houseplant shops, and garden centers sometimes sell them in cute little test tube type things, from which they can be carefully transplanted into potting compost.
For more more houseplant ideas including plants that camouflage themselves, move, hunt and speak (just joking about that last one), check out my article Top Ten Freaky Houseplants.