Bringing greenery into your senior’s home doesn’t have to mean a lot of work for you or them. Many houseplants require very little attention to thrive and grow, and they can add a boost of life and color to your senior’s space.
Houseplants can also bring a number of health benefits as well. While we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, plants do the opposite, which freshens the air and helps to eliminate toxins that can sometimes be harmful to your senior—and you, too.
Tending to houseplants can also be good relaxation and stress relief. Watering, pruning, even repotting plants can be meditative and soothing. Caring for houseplants can also add a sense of purpose to your senior’s day, giving them a task to focus on if they’re restless or bored.
Here are some of the easiest plants to care for, including succulents, climbing vines and others—all safe for people, dogs and cats if ingested accidentally. Be sure to choose houseplants that are safe for your senior—avoid spiky or prickly leaves, plants that may ooze sap or other liquids, or plants that can cause skin irritation if the leaves are touched.
Name: Calathea concinna
This boldly patterned plant, also known as the prayer plant, will bring a touch of fun to any room. You can choose from green, white, yellow or rose leaves. So, whether you want a petite version at just six inches or a two-foot statement, the calathea is an easy-care and fun addition to your senior’s home.
- Care needed: Indirect light; water one to two times a week; 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit
- Size: Six to 24 inches tall
Name: Aspidistra elatior
The name of this hardy plant says it all. The cast-iron plant will survive just about any treatment or neglect. This slow-growing plant won’t take up any more room than you want it to, so pick the size you like when you buy it.
- Care needed: Low light; wide range of temperatures; keep moist for growth, drier when a good size
- Size: Two feet tall and two feet wide
Name: Cissus rhombifolia
This variety of ivy is also known as oakleaf ivy because the leaves on its climbing vines resemble oak leaves. Grape ivy is an excellent plant for a room with high ceilings because it will climb a trellis and add a vertical touch of green. In addition, its leaves are shiny, making it a bright accent for any room.
- Care needed: Medium light; moderate temperatures; keep evenly moist
- Size: Will grow up to six feet as a vine
Name: Hoya carnosa
This wax plant has a strong, pleasant scent that will be enjoyable in your senior’s home. Its leaves are small, and its trailing stems give it a delicate look, which occasional blooms of pink flowers can enhance. The hoya needs very little water, making it low-maintenance, perfect for seniors with memory issues.
- Care needed: Full light, medium to strong; 55-75 F; don’t water until the surface soil is dry
- Size: Can grow to four feet high or wide, so be careful it doesn’t cause a tripping hazard
This blooming succulent will add color to your senior’s home for just a few weeks in winter and early spring, but its bright flowers will be worth the wait. The kalanchoe’s big, waxy leaves will be a pretty showpiece the rest of the time.
- Care needed: Indirect sunlight; let the soil dry out before watering; moderate temperatures
- Size: One foot tall
Name: Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’
Succulents are among the easiest plants to care for, and the snake plant may be the easiest of all the succulents. Its thick, durable leaves come in various sizes and shapes, and all of them grow quickly in low light with little watering needed.
- Care needed: Any light, from dim to bright; 60-85 F; water only when soil is dry
- Size: Will grow up to four feet tall
Name: Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’
If you have plants in your home, you probably have at least one spider plant. Familiar to everyone, the spider plant grows easily (and sometimes wildly) and can easily be clipped and repotted to add to your collection. Some are all green, while others have a fun white-and-green stripe coloration.
- Care needed: Medium to bright light; 60-75 F; keep the soil moist at all times
- Size: One foot tall at biggest
Creating an indoor plant collection is a fun project for caregivers and seniors to do together—from deciding which plants to buy to creating a watering schedule, planning for pruning, and rotating for the best light. Whether you’re an experienced gardener or new to caring for plants, easy-care varieties will make this hobby pressure-free and easy to learn.