Something living in that soulless dorm room, the weird-shaped nook the landlord calls a bedroom, or that gorgeous Craftsman that was such a find you can hardly believe it—that’s what makes it something better than a box to sleep in. Plants are easier than puppies. You have a brown thumb? No worries. The dirty little secret of having a green thumb is that most of us had to murder a lot of plants along the way.
To minimize the slaughter, try one of these:
Spiderplant (Chlorophytum comosum)
If you have a bit of light, even a north window, go for the white-striped kind; it’s more cheerful. The roots get fat, so give it pot room. Finding one for free should be easy; root the flying babies in water for a week or two.
Snakeplant (Sanseveria species) Will live in the dark at the back of the room—just don’t water it much. The Dry Garden on Shattuck sometimes has nifty, different specimens.
Cast-iron plant (Asphidistra eliator)
Can be hard to find, but lives up to its name. Tall and dark-green, and like spiderplant will do fine outdoors here.
Pothos (Epipremnum pinnatum)
Easier to grow than to spell. It’s a vine with heart-shaped leaves splashed with yellow or white. More light = more color, if you keep it watered. Let the soil dry out on top between waterings. Roots easily from cuttings.
Peace “lily” (Spathiphyllum species)
Actually an arum, with soft dark green leaves. Wants water whenever the soil surface gets dry; if you put it in filtered light, like a sheer-curtained window, it will give you elegant white flowers.