Easy-Care House Plants I can’t Grow

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I’m not a great fan of categorising plants into hard or easy care. How well a plant does in your home largely depends on the conditions – the light, humidity, and temperature will have as much of an effect on how well a plant does as the care you provide it will.

(Obvs you still need to water them).

If you have a heated greenhouse with a humidifier, you’ll be able to easily care for ‘difficult’ plants because often ‘difficult’ is code for ‘needs high humidity and hates draughts’.

If you have a plant that dies, and someone says to you ‘how? Those things are indestructible? I dropping mine in Mount Doom four times and it’s THRIVING’, tell them to go fuck themselves.

All plants are different.

So, here are a list of plants I can’t keep alive. Eery so often I’ll get myself one, to try to ascertain whether or not the curse is broken. SO far, it’s still going strong.

Spider plants

This one hurts the most because my parents, both notorious plant killers, INSIST that they’re easy to care for.

They keep them in a north-facing conservatory in summer, and a kitchen windowsill in winter and they thrive. They’re always having pups, and blooming, and just…not dying.

I can’t get spider plants to grow. I’ve had some luck with not letting them actually die, but they just…won’t grow. The leaves go soggy and rotten on the end and I have no idea why. None of my other plants do this, but all the spider plants I’ve tried (from multiple shops, and from my parent’s fertile bunch) do. The roots are always thick, white, tubers, so there’s no problem there.

You see why I think there’s a curse?


Ok, so this one I think is psychosomatic. Seriously.

I love dieffenbachia, and really, really want a dieffenbachia reflector. They’re beautiful, but also quite pricey, so I’m only allowed one if I can keep a cheapo one alive. So far, so dead.

But am I sabotaging myself?

You see, I’m naturally a very risk-averse person, and a MASSIVE overthinker. Dieffenbachia are well known for being pretty poisonous. I think my brain subconsciously killing them so I don’t hurt myself.

I am aware that I’d need to eat quite a substantial amount of dieffenbachia to do myself any real damage, but my brain won’t let me take the risk. What if I trip with my mouth open and accidentally gobble the lot? What if I get amnesia and confuse my dieffenbachia for parsley?

You see? A risk-averse overthinker probs shouldn’t go with a Dieffenbachia.

Parlour palms

I have no idea. They just hate me.

It usually takes them a good few months to realise that they hate me. They go from lush and green to brown and crispy in an impressive amount of time. Look at my current one:

parlour palm in leca


He’s on borrowed time.

He’s also in leca, because I like to really torture them when they’re on their way out.

Jokes, I just like to try it in case it works. It sometimes does!

There was actually nothing wrong with the roots when I cleaned them off, so I don’t think that was the issue, but you never know.

By the way, all my other palms (all bought from Ikea, btw) have died from scale infestations. I’ve never had scale on any of my other plants (except my staghorn fern, which has been banished to the back garden to see if I can kill the scale before the fern dies).

I couldn’t see any scale on this palm, but there’s clearly SOMETHING that’s bothering it (it’s not burned, overwatered or underwatered, and all the plants around it are totally fine).

It’s definitely the curse at work.

I’ve managed to revive him a bit (read how to revive a dying palm here), but he’s on a very long journey.

Final thoughts

I think these are the big three that just…won’t do the thing.

I’ve killed many, many other plants, but that was from general neglect and across a range of genuses (genii? genera?)

If you have any thoughts on where I’m going wrong with these plants, please leave comments below, but I’m happy to think it’s a combination of my own anxiety and a curse. Though where I picked the curse up is anyone’s guess.

Perhaps I inherited it from my mother, who has killed hundreds of plants over the years, including a very healthy snake plant that, bless it, froze to death in the conservatory.

She does, however, have a beautiful Thanksgiving cactus that blooms amazingly well purely because she doesn’t like the flowers (she thinks they’re too showy, which they are, but in a fabulous way). It’s staying alive to spite her, and I think that’s beautiful.

Also feel free to ask for advice if you keep killing a favourite plant. There’s so much contradictory info out there (because plants vary so much, not that it’s necessarily wrong), and it’s sometimes nice to get someone else’s opinion who definitely won’t judge you for having sad plants (I direct to the above picture of my palm, and also to my Instagram where I often document my dying plants).

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

2 thoughts on “Easy-Care House Plants I can’t Grow”

  1. This is hilarious. As I’ve managed to slowly kill off peace plants (that probably isn’t a good sign) I totally sympathise.

  2. Thanks! I got myself a lemon lime maranta and it now has no leaves D: I don’t want to check the roots because I’m pretty sure, er, it hasn’t got any. I’m gonna give spider plants another go since I’ve moved house, but me and dieffenbachia are DONE.

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