Successful Houseplants

Marian ParsonsDecorating, Gardening78 Comments

As many of you know, I discovered the joy of houseplants in the spring of 2015.  I went a wee bit overboard and bought way too many plants for my house throughout the spring and summer, but it ended up being a good thing.  I was able to see which plants thrived in my house and which ones didn’t.

Many were lost along the way.

A moment of silence for those who fell.

I learned that some plants just aren’t suited to live in my house.  Or in the place I put them in my house and, once they were moved, they really thrived.


This is probably my biggest success story…


This plant just loves my living room.

Here’s how it looked seven months ago…


And now…


It’s taking over.

It is potted directly in an ironstone tureen, but there is gravel at the bottom for drainage.  I usually water it twice a week with about 1/2 cup water.  (Oh, and there is a little bit of English ivy mixed in and it’s doing well, too.)


These little baby tears also do well in my living room.  They just keep growing and growing.  I suppose at some point I will have to replant them in a bigger pot…


I think this succulent is the heartiest plant.  It seems to do well wherever it is and never asks anything of me.  I splash some water on it when I’m watering the other plants, just to keep the soil moist, but not too wet.  It, too, is potted directly in the tureen with some gravel at the bottom for drainage.  If you haven’t had luck with houseplants in the past, you might want to try this variety.  You can find them at Home Depot.


I tried a couple others varieties of “strings of peals”, but they didn’t make it.  This one, though, is doing very well in my family room, which doesn’t get a ton of light, so I’ve had a bit of trouble finding which plants are happy there.  This one has been in the family room for about five months and it still looks healthy and has a lot of new growth.  (I didn’t have a current picture of it.  Obviously, this was taken in the fall! It pretty much looks the same, but it’s a bit bigger and fuller.)


And, my favorite, are the lemon cypress topiaries.  I lost the myrtles that were in my dining room (I’m going to try them again next year), but I’ve been watering these faithfully and have left them where they get a lot of sun and they seem happy.  I was told that lots of sun and lots of water are what they need, so I’ve been trying to give them that.  (It’s amazing what happens when you follow instructions…)


These lemon cypress topiaries were in my family room and that definitely did not offer enough sun for them.


Confession time, I probably let them dry out a bit too much, too.

Sorry little guys.

And, as much as I want rosemary topiaries next to my kitchen sink, they are just not liking it there.  One has turned almost all black and the other one is threatening to do the same.  Can you revive them once they have started turning black?  Any tips on growing rosemary inside?


I’m enjoying the winter and the snow, but I am looking forward to when the nurseries are full of houseplants again and I can try out some new varieties…

Any houseplants that you find really easy to care for?

PS – I really need to get back (and stick with) healthy eating, exercise and pushing towards some fitness goals.  I’m thinking about starting a Facebook group for accountability.  Anyone interested?

Successful Houseplants

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78 Comments on “Successful Houseplants”

  1. Sadly, rosemary is not suited for inside. It needs to be outside away from inside heat/air systems. It flourishes in pots or directly in the ground.

  2. I’m going to have to try the baby tears plant! As I have not had too much luck with keeping houseplants alive for any great length of time. Glad to know I can find these at Home Depot! I love your lemon cypress as well. Thanks!

  3. Marian, rosemary is a Mediterranean plant and thrives in full, hot sun. I believe there are soil requirements, too, but not sure what they are. (Sandy soil, perhaps). I had a beautiful bush years ago that I killed and I felt awful!

    If you notice when you buy plants (I know this to be true at Home Depot) there are plants for sale in shaded areas (those are generally good for low light areas in your home) and there are plants out in full sun (those do best in full sun). There are many, many houseplants of the general, kinda biring variety that anyone can grow. Google it! You’d be surprised at what you can find just on the internet. I love the choices you’ve made though – sweet, soft little guys. Good lyck!

  4. I can’t remember how I stumbled onto your blog but I’m really enjoying it! And I could use a strong dose of accountability too.

  5. Yes need some help with sticking with my plans tried going to meeting but when you get back from work you don’t want to go out again so an online group maybe the answer

  6. Yeah, I don’t have any plants in mind that can survive both winter and summer. I love green a lot and that is why I am also into gardening. Marian, if you are planning to have a Facebook group, please count me in!

  7. I just finished a 21 day group on FB. I am not working with their shakes of videos, however, each day our challenge was to post a picture of our work out and one healthy meal. The accountability was great. So here is an idea. You may want to add a little incentive for the fitness. For example, everyone who posts a work out and healthy meal 6 days a week (one rest day) can enter a drawing for a bag of milk paint. One winner each week. We can introduce our friends to a healthy challenge as well as your milk paint. A bit of a win/win.

  8. Interested for sure. Not sure how long it will last but I love the Hyacinth bulbs. Picked one up at Aldi the other day and it’s a beautiful purple and smells amazing. Love it against the sometimes snowy backdrop out my eat-in kitchen window.

  9. I think Pothos are the easiest house plant ever. They are easy to root in some water and can even live in water for years. If they trail too long you can just snip off whatever length, and they will thrive. They do well where ever I put them.
    I’d be interested in a FB group too.

    1. I agree, pothos are so easy and I just cut them to the length I want and stick the cutting in a jar of water until roots start and then I plant them. Spider plants and ICUs are easy also.

  10. I’m in MN and bring my small potted Rosemary in each fall. It sits by my kitchen sink in a north window and I water it probably more than it would like. Yet it thrives. We keep our house pretty cool, too. It shouldn’t be happy with the temp, the light or the water! Either I have some immortal variety or I have just been lucky all these years. I’ve had this one for close to 10 years, I think!

  11. I bring my rosemary bush planters in for several months over the winter. They are fine for the first few months but by March they are crying to be put outside. As soon as I can I put them out and then they revive – the result is I have quite large plants because I keep them for several years. Also, indoors I need to watch for powdery mildew.

  12. We have rosemary in pots in a sunny window and have done for years – we’re in New England.. They have grown into pretty big bushes. We also have thyme and mint and a bay tree. I use all of them in cooking.

    In the summer we put them outside in a sheltered spot that gets lots of sun. We feed and water them, but we don’t cut them, using herbs from the garden instead. In the winter, after their summer vacation, we bring them in again and start using them. They have thrived.

    Bay is something you might try – a bay tree that can be used for cooking can also be very decorative.

  13. My 16-year-old son has developed a love for plants, especially succulents and cactus, so his plants added to mine are filling every surface of our home, especially over these long winter months when we brought many inside.

    I’ve found that a lot of plants don’t like the sudden change of going from outside to indoors, and rosemary seems especially sensitive. I was told by a grower to move it gradually and keep it in a south facing window as they need LOTS of sunlight. Mine were doing well until i missed watering them over Christmas. My bay tree didn’t like being moved either, but I snipped off the leaves that were dry and brittle and have been rewarded with fresh new growth.

    May I suggest visiting a locally owned greenhouse? They are so very knowledgable and are able to suggest certain plants for specific locations. Plus they might be a great resource for you when you have specific photo shoots.

  14. Marian,

    Rosemary is not hardy outside in SW PA (I don’t know about your neck of PA). I have had success with keeping rosemary inside near a sunny window. It prefers drier conditions, so let it dry out a little bit before you water it. Put it outside in the summer.

    This year, my indoor rosemary caught the same “bug” that wiped out many of my houseplants on the same window sill. I don’t know if your black rosemary is the same as my problem, but nothing I did could save it. If you want to try to revive it, start by making sure you let the soil go a little dry before you water.

  15. Hey lady, here in Fairfax County, I’ve had a rosemary alive in my garden for about 5 years. It even made it through last year’s punishing cold. It is in a fairly sheltered area, near the wall of my house. The variety you want for hardiness in this region is called “Arp”. I would plant it in the spring, in a sheltered area with good drainage(maybe near a brick wall) and take good care of it all summer so it is nice and established by the winter. Then be sure to mulch it in the fall.

    Good luck!
    The Other Marian

  16. Marian,
    If you haven’t tried spider plants, you may want to. I love them, they are great for indoor air pollution, and they grow little baby plants that can be cut off and rooted in water to make little giveaway plants for friends.
    I had no luck with rosemary inside, but have several plants outside that overwinter here in Mississippi. I clip some at Christmastime and hang them from twine around the house to make it smell good.
    I think a Facebook page for accountability is a good idea. And I agree with the comment above about a giveaway! That would be great!
    Happy Hump Day!

    1. I’ve had very good luck with Snake plant aka Mother in-laws Tongue in darker areas and Pathos are very easy and forgiving just about anywhere in the house

  17. I was inspired by your initial blog about plants. I passed a yard sale in and rubber necked when I saw all the plants. I bought 7 and a large planter for $9.00. The nice lady selling the plants told me they were all violets except one and it was a lily. I only lost one and the others are thriving. I even got a flower a few weeks ago on one of the violets… I’m told they are hard to take care of but I am getting really lush leaves and have already repotted them all once. I started picking up small succulents after you spoke about them before…My house has plants everywhere and for the most part, they are doing well. I’m in PA also. I even planted one violet in a ironstone tureen I got from a junk sell for $2.00 and I put little stones in the bottom. It looks amazing and apparently loves the tureen as much as I do! I’m going to head to Lowe’s and check out the plants you suggested! Thank you!

  18. Rosemary would work in the house if you had a south facing window – with almost full sun. Also they need to dry out between watering – too much water with too little light will be the death of them.

  19. I would definitely be interested in a Facebook group for healthy eating and fitness, especially if it focused on Whole 30/ Paleo eating. We fell off and climbed back on the Paleo wagon. It’s been 3 weeks of clean eating, and my husband and I just feel SO much better! We have more energy, we’re sleeping better, and our clothes are fitting better. I would love to connect with other women who are going down this same path. Maybe we could share quick and easy Whole 30/ Paleo friendly recipes!

  20. I have several large rosemary plants that are years old. They stay outside and here in South Carolina, they often bloom in the winter. I have never even thought of bringing them in. Pothos, as mentioned by someone else, is an easy, excellent houseplant. It’s not picky and it’s a great natural air cleaner. I also have a Norfolk Island pine that is quite large now. It’s such a beautiful “tree” and is very easy to keep. I have always said it thrives on benign neglect.

  21. How I miss having houseplants! Our apartment just doesn’t provide enough light 🙁
    I do have luck with one houseplant, the snakeplant/mother-in-law tongue plant thrives in low light. Mine is over 3 feet tall! I love the vertical line the leaves provide and the variegated mix of colors. In the Spring borrow a pair of your husband’s old work boots and fill them with succulents. Just drill a couple holes in the soles for drainage and you will have a fun outside planter.

    Oh, count me in for your FB accountability group!

  22. Plants bring life to a room.

    My favorite quote from The book MAKING THINGS GROW by Thalassa Cruso is: “Once we become interested in the progress of the plants in our care, their development becomes a part of the rhythm of our own lives and we are refreshed by it.”

  23. think of rosemary as Christmas tree. Outside thriving is the best. all 3 of mine are in 30 below temps and are doing great. Now, I have geraniums blooming in my laundry room. cool north light. They love it.

  24. Rosemary
    Overwatering is the reason most Rosemary in containers dies as theroots rot. Many people who grow it indoors have several plants they rotate one week inside and one week out ( not in the snow of course). You’ve done a great job with your plants- they look fabulous in some of your tureens.

  25. Hi Marian.
    I use the app “My Fitness Pal” to hold myself accountable. It’s a wonderful little thing keeping track of calorie in take, nutrition and exercise to help achieve goals. Since last June I’ve lost 43 lbs with the help of this tool. Give it a try!

  26. Something that I have found successful is to have two sets of rosemary. One outside and one inside and every week I swap them. This has certainly worked for me. I live in Brisbane Australia so we have a tropical climate here which is not great for Rosemary but mine have thrived!

  27. Marian, try spathiphyllum (peace lily)! Put it in a pretty sunny spot and water deeply once a week. Beautiful glossy leaves and white flowers – perfect for your colors. I would say no one can kill it, but I don’t want to risk making you feel bad…

  28. I would love a facebook group. I’m writing this as I finish off the bottom of a Pringles can. Ughhhh….

  29. Would love to join a Facebook accountability group to help keep me from becoming a “dumpling” this winter!

    I had given away all my houseplants before moving cross-country and am just beginning to rebuild my collection. Thank you for the inspiration!

  30. A wonderful, easy indoor plant that takes very little care is the ZZ Palm (zamioculcas zamifolia). It has roundish dark green leaves, only needs watering once every couple weeks, and thrives on indirect light. You van get these at Home Depot and online at Amazon. Try one … You’ll go back for more.

  31. Oh I would definitely benefit from the accountability group!! My goal is to lose a total of 55 lbs and get fit…. again! The fit part is the most important part as I know the weight will come off as I get fit.

    I have managed to keep my tiny Rosemary alive this year by neglect. Minimal water and keeping it in an area where it gets plenty of south facing light seems to do the trick. Come early spring after all chances of frost are past I plan to repot it and move it outside. Your other plants are looking quite lovely!!

  32. I had a beautiful Rosemary plant on my coffee table. I moved it for Christmas decorating and now it looks like it is half dead. I am trying to save it but I think it is on the DNR list.

  33. Don’t give up on rosemary. Every year, I would buy one and my daughter would say, Oh, going to kill another one? Well, I have one that summers outside and I bring it in and it is doing well. I got another this year and guess what? I can hear my daughter’s voice, asking that question….

    Listen, the NEXT thing you have to do is learn how to prune. I KNOW. When people don’t think of themsleves as gardeners, they are shocked to think of cutting…but guess what? Once you get over your fear, you will find that it is the way to make your plants look thicker and more lush.

    When the days are starting to get longer, clip off a long place on one of those leggy plants that you showed in the first picture. Cut right where it is growing, or better yet, go on line to get better directions for prunning. My mom thought she was the worse (though, as you wrote, when you follow directions, oh my, things go right).and even she is confident that prunning is a positive, helpful step for growers.
    Plants want to make seeds, they want to procreate. When you cut them, you are stimulating them and they will respond. Don’t go overboard, do a little cutting and then watch what happens. Don’t be afraid.
    Marion, you do so much and have grown so much creativly, plants are no different. Once you figure it out, you will laugh and join the club.

  34. Re: exercise. I’ve been doing a spin class at a spin studio (indoor cycling-choreographed to music/songs) for a little over a year and highly recommend it. In 45 minutes you get a full body workout. Challenging, but super fun. Mouse.

  35. I had the same issue with the lemon cypress I got at Christmas. I don’t think it got enough light and even though I watered it it dried out. I think I need to stick to succulents.

  36. I second the suggestion for the peace lily (Spathiphyllum). They are the only plants I don’t kill. My hubby used to tell me silk plants had no chance of surviving. Peace lilies have different shades of foliage and in one issue of Southern Living they were called the perfect house plant. They are beyond forgiving with how easy they are to care for.

  37. I’ve never been able to grow rosemary inside. They do not like too much water, probably why yours are turning black. Repot them in just slightly damp soil and put them outside for a while. They love sun and really prefer to be outside. Try bringing them in for a while and then put them back outside when they are failing.

  38. Jade plants are easy to grow, can handle a smaller amount of sun and come in every size! We have a lovely 3′ jade tree in our office. I have a shamrock that I have had for twenty years ( since high school!) . My mother did care for it while I was away at college, and it has traveled long distances. I love plants! I have over wintered Rosemary indoors in a South window, but it was always desperate for outdoors ( far North location). It lasted several years until a South window was no longer available.

  39. Yes on the Facebook group – 🙂 And rosemary doesn’t like wet as it (and lavender) are both Mediterranean plants…. so not too much water. Somewhat gritty soil too…

    I’m married to a pastor too — love your home and all you do! And can so relate to life….

  40. I grow tons of house plants in my home and I like to rotate them inside and out. I grow Rosemary inside and out with no problems. Water very carefully because they don’t like too much wet by their roots. People also ask me how do my plants flourish so well. Taking the time to observe your plants every day and checking on them makes a huge difference. Never water without checking the soil and houseplants do need to be fertilized (just a little). I check each of my plants once a day and rotate them. I take off dead leaves and maybe mist them. All of this helps. Most plants die of sheer neglect and that is a waste of money. I think of my plants as my pets (even though I have dogs and cats.) I have even named some of them!

  41. I live in New England and I also lose a lot of houseplants in the wintertime. Maybe my drafty house could be to blame, though. I do have good luck with philodendron, Swedish ivy, and pothos. I also bring in bulbs all winter long to keep it bright and cheery like paper whites and mini daffodils and hyacinth.

  42. At this time of the year I love Paper Whites. I stagger their planting times and I have flowers from the first of December through February. And the scent is intoxicating.

  43. I struggle with those rosemary topiaries. Outdoors, mine are happy little campers. Indoors. Not so much. They are a Mediterranean plant that thrive in dry, bright sunny environments. They need something like 8 hours of bright sunlight. so in order for them to survive indoors, I’ve read that you have to put them on a sunlight diet and acclimate them to lesser amounts of sunlight.Often they are already struggling from the conditions they endured at home improvement garden centers before they even get to your house. They only need water when the top soil feels dry. I’d cut off the brown and prune it back so it it not struggling to maintain quite as large a plant and then make sure it is getting good strong light. It’s not dead, but its not going to be pretty for quite some time 🙁

  44. I have for decades enjoyed the Pothos plant. It is an easy keeper in almost every condition. When mine start growing too long, I can just snip it off along the stem and start another plant in water. I have at least one in every room of my house. Can’t make a mistake. Try one! They seem to always be happy!
    I am sure injoying your blog! Thanks for sharing all that you do!

  45. I have aloe plants, arrowhead vine and golden pothos and they’re all very forgiving and don’t need slot of attention. The arrowhead is awesome and gets tall and then drops so it’s great on a pedestal. The golden pothos is pretty cool too because it’s easy to take clippings and start new plants in a glass of water. It’ll start rooting and then you can plant it in another pot. It also gets really long and you can drape it down bookcases, etc. The aloe is the best plant I think because it needs almost zero attention and I snip it for any kind of skin trauma like burns, cuts, and even wrinkles lol
    I’d be interested in a FB accountability group 🙂

  46. Ivy, Aloe and Paper whites in the winter.

    The aloe is good with kids, any time there is an little first aid need, I have break off some aloe vera. Its virtually indestructible.

    Yes, to the Facebook group idea!

  47. All of the greenery looks so great with your lovely white ironstone and other decor. I have a string of pearls plant potted and sitting on my patio table outside. The table is under my kitchen window though, so the little pot is directly in front of me whenever I am standing at the sink. Right now, it is covered with little white blooms that smell sooooooo good! Has yours ever bloomed? Mine gets several hours of direct afternoon sun each day and I only water it about once a week. The pot has a hole for drainage.

  48. Peace lilies!! They are impossible to kill! I water mine when it starts to drop and it perks right back up.

  49. I adore houseplants, I’ve been on a big kick the last couple years. I live in Upstate Ny and some of my favorites that are so easy are: Jade, Fern, English Ivy and Creeping Fig. They all thrive and are beautiful and healthy plants. I also love my Orchid, I’ve only had it for 5 months, but so far so good. I am afraid I’m going to kill it, though. Haha.

  50. I have learned that Rosemary really doesn’t like to be indoors and should be moved outside as soon as possible. Same goes for the cute little mini roses you see in the store.
    I live in a partly wooded area so I don’t have a lot of light. I have had a lot of success with African Violets (north or east window, indirect light) and what we call Christmas Cactus (east or west window).

  51. I am interested in a Facebook accountability group. I did Whole 30 with great success in October/November. I just felt better and I lost 14 lbs! Christmas happened and I didn’t stick with it. Started again last week and I felt better quicker this time around. Would love some company!

  52. You might want to try Arrowhead plants. They come in a variety of variegated forms and I grow mine in water or plant them in soil. So very hardy, I put them on the porch (no direct sunlight) in summer and bring them in when the weather gets cold. I have started all of my plants from one plant by putting cuttings in water and they root very quickly. Also you might want to try Pothos. So very hardy also and will root in water.

  53. Loving your green! One of my favorite how to grow things places, is the U of Maryland Extension site. It has a helpful article on Rosemary care indoors.

  54. You might try begonias in your low light areas. My dining room doesn’t get a lot of light and my begonia is thriving. I bought it in the houseplant section of Lowe’s.

  55. Beautiful plants Marian….I will have to try the baby tears as it looks so beautiful cascading down from the cabinet…..I have the same fluted bowl and have lavender in it….love the way the plant looks in it, so will be on the lookout for baby tears. I too, have not had much luck with Rosemary topiaries in my house…however, I am having great luck with dwarf myrtle topiaries!

  56. Is the first plant a creeping fig? If so I am trying to grow one of those up the side of my house as we speak 🙂 I recently purchased a Maidenhair fern and so far it is lovely, getting very little light in my kitchen. It has the cutest little curly que’s that it makes. Good luck with your plants! They do make a room look happier 🙂

  57. Believe it or not – I’ve had nice success potting up hosta (from garden divisions) to use as indoor plants — they LOVE shade outdoors, so I thought, why not low light inside?

  58. I had a creeping Susan (Charlie) in our first home that had hardly any natural light. It thrived! It actually was a gift from my husband’s grandma that started out as a few clipping from her plant. She would just clip a few stems off and put them in a glass of water till roots started growing. I thought it was the sweetest gift that just kept giving! The tear drop plants remind me of it!

  59. I have no idea how old this post is, but here goes. I have killed many Rosemary plants, but this seems to work. Rosemary will inevitably look a little straggly inside. It’s not hardy where I live, so mine comes in for the winter and goes back outside in the summer. My main goal for winter is to keep the plant alive. I usually shear off the straggly growth every six weeks or so.

    You don’t want to overwater it. I usually wait until it feels almost bone dry and then drench it until water runs out the bottom of the pot. You need really good drainage in the pot though. It needs some humidity. I’ve never tried putting a plate of pea gravel under the pot but some people swear it works. I mist it once a week.

    Rosemary really does need a lot of light. It needs to be close to a south facing window or under a plant light for several hours a day. I have a whole setup with built in lights on a timer for several overwintering houseplants. If your desired location isn’t that bright, you could try replacing the lightbulb in that room with a plant light.

    As Rosemary is an evergreen, once the needles get really dried out, the only thing you can do is shear the plant back and hope for the best. All of this is not as much work as it sounds – it’s mostly about proper setup.

    If you really want the look of the topiary you’re better off with fake plants.

  60. Your house looks so lovely with all the plants! They really do make a room look more cheerful and alive. I recently discovered this too; even though I have been an avid gardener for the better part of a decade, I avoided houseplants until last fall (when I went overboard — i have at least 50 plants inside now!), and this winter seems to be going so much more easily for me. As far as the rosemary, it won’t overwinter outside for me, so I bring it into my basement and put it under a grow light near an small east window, and water it about once a month. I think the upstairs is too dry with central heating for most evergreens — my little European cypress got crunchy like yours within weeks of bringing it home. I just don’t think the humidity is high enough to grow those inside, so don’t feel like you did anything wrong. Nice post! -Beth

  61. Peace lilies have been easy for me to keep alive in non-sunny areas. I have also had luck with an indoor pine that I bought in November – just not a lot of water necessary. Thanks for the tips!

  62. Three indoor plants that are pretty easy to grow are Spider Plants, African Violets, and Christmas Cactus. I give both my African Violet and Christmas cactus 2-3 drops of African Violet fertilizer in their water (which comes from the bottom) and get some nice flowers to go with the pretty greens. (Note, my “Christmas” Cactus is just getting ready to bloom. It didn’t bloom in December, but will give me some pretty February flowers.)

  63. I love my two massive Peace Lilies. They hang out in large chunky baskets in my living room and add a pop of color and texture. AND, they are very forgiving… Which is good because I’m awful with plants.

    I would love a Face Book Accountability group. Yes, please!!

  64. I’ve had two rosemary plants (not topiary) alive in pots for three years – inside when below 32 F and outside for the rest. They seem to need quite big pots as I had a couple die before that in smaller pots.

    I also have aloe because it is so low maintenance and I have a devil’s ivy that I mostly ignore also.

  65. Pretty plants! Is the one in your living room baby tears? I really like that one and think I have the perfect place for one. We used to have a house full of plants but now only have two…a spathiphyllum (peace plant) that was sent to us when my mother died in 2006 and it is still flourishing…and a Croton which was once a beautiful variegated green, red and yellow plant but is now all green. I have had the Croton for about 15 years. It has been in the same pot for about the last 5 and really deserves a new pot. I have changed the soil in it, so I’m not really a plant abuser. Ha! I wish the variegation would return. Should really research to find out why it changed.
    Thanks for posting this. I used to love lots of plants but didn’t have time to take care of them. Now, I am retired and you have inspired me to invest in a few more. They add so much to the home.

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