The 7 Best Houseplants for Beginners

Plants You Can’t Kill

By Jon VanZile

These houseplants are the best place to start your collection. They are all easy to grow and can generally withstand erratic watering, uneven or bad light, and fluctuating temperatures. They’ll thrive in dorm rooms, offices and sometimes even dismal corners.

Epipremnum-aureum-poznan-palmiarnia-abrimaalGolden pothos vine (Epipremnum pinnatum ‘aureum’)

There’s a reason this vine is one of the most popular hanging plants around. In its native habitat, golden pothos grows into a tree-swallowing monster with huge yellow and green leaves. As a houseplant, the plant will grow aggressively from pots or trailing baskets with minimal care. They will easily root in a simple glass of water. With better care, large, mottled, mature leaves may develop.

ChlorophytumCapenseSpider plant (Chlorophytum)

A well-grown spider plant is a magnificent thing. The plant grows easily in baskets or atop columns, with arching leaves. The variegated variety is by far the most common. Over time, a mature plant will send out plantlets or offsets on long stems that form an impressive hanging display. These plantlets can be easily potted up to create new specimens. Spider plants are not picky about water, light or temperature.

Snake_plantSnake plant and mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata and S. trifasciata laurentii)

Actually in the same family that includes dracaena and liriope, there are many varieties of sansevieria that are exceptionally tough. They like plenty of light, but they can handle less if necessary and they aren’t too particular about watering—providing there isn’t too much. When repotting is necessary, the main clump can be easily divided. These plants are striking additions to a collection. The snake plant features green on green bands on sword-like leaves, while the mother-in-law’s tongue has yellow leaf margins.

Dracaena species

There are many varieties of dracaena suitable for home growth. The D. Draco and D. Marginata are wonderfully easy plants that tolerate a wide variety of conditions. These plants feature arching leaves from a woody stem. Dracaena leaves can be green, yellow and green, or even tri-colored. Also a member of the agave family, they like to be regularly watered in the summer and almost left dry throughout the winter. D. Fragrans is often used to make the popular Ti plants, or false palms.

Succulents and Cacti

There are dozens of varieties of succulents and desert cacti flooding into garden centers and grocery stores. In general, succulents are desert plants with thick, fleshy leaves. Some of them have spines, and some none. Agave is an example of a popular succulent, along with aloe and popular echeveria rosettes. Cacti generally have spines and interesting leaf structures, including barrels, paddles and columns. As a class, succulents and cacti are slow growing and will withstand tremendous abuse. They do best with bright light, well-drained pots and little water. In the right placement, these are plants that truly thrive on neglect.


These plants have gained an unfair reputation, probably because of the difficulty required to coax a bloom from a bromeliad. It’s true that making these jungle plants bloom in the house is a tricky task. They require copious warmth and water, along with high humidity and filtered light, to produce their showy flower spikes. However, many species of bromeliads have beautiful leaves that are attractive by themselves. Bromeliads plants are usually watered by filling the central cup. They require little fertilizer, and when pups appear around the base of the plant, these can be potted up to increase your collection.

Lucky_bambooLucky bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)

Technically a dracaena species, lucky bamboo is the perennial office plant. Untold pots of these thrive in awful conditions, sporadically watered with bad lighting and poor air quality. Nevertheless, lucky bamboo lives on. These make wonderful gift plants, and many people believe they bring good luck and enhance the chi, or energy, of their surroundings.

It’s Redge Ranyard’s story …

Last week, John Boehner said that Republicans were locked in an “epic battle” to keep the government shutdown going.

As a World War II veteran, I fought in six epic battles. I helped fight the Nazis in the North African seas, and took part in operations that liberated Italy and the South of France, from Germany.

The Tea Party Shutdown is not an epic battle — it is bad governance.

Americans and veterans like me depend on our entire government being open.

I filmed a television ad with VoteVets, and it’s on the air starting today. I hope you’ll watch it and contribute to help keep it up.

After receiving General Wesley Clark‘s email last week, I responded with my personal story about how the shutdown impacts my life, while expressing my disgust with the Republican Party’s politicization of the World War II Memorial shortly after the shutdown began.

I served this nation with honor. Today, I can’t say the same thing about most Republicans in Congress.

Thank you for standing up for me,

Redge Ranyard
World War II Veteran

One of the first soldiers I lost in Iraq … LTG (Ret.) Ricardo Sanchez

One of the first soldiers I lost in Iraq wasn’t an American citizen.

His story began like many others who come to this country seeking a better life while giving back to their communities. Some do it through public service jobs and volunteerism, others in our churches and community centers.

He chose to do it through military service, but he lacked citizenship when he made his Final Journey home — despite the fact his sacrifice for our nation was just as enduring as those born here.

Comprehensive immigration reform recently passed the U.S. Senate but remains stuck, waiting for the House of Representatives to take action.

Please join me, VoteVets, and Daily Kos in signing a petition urging them to act now. Add your name to mine and we’ll deliver your message to House leadership.

My war experiences give me a perspective on this issue that very few others have. While in command of U.S. operations in Kosovo and Iraq, I learned the importance of controlling the borders — it was literally a life and death issue.

The bill that passed the Senate is a fair mix of proposals to secure our borders while providing immigrants an opportunity to give back to this great nation they already call home.

This is the right approach, and I hope you’ll join me in supporting it.

All the best,

LTG (Ret.) Ricardo Sanchez

Give back with the first-ever donatable Hangout-a-thon on Google+

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 06:00 AM PST

As the holidays approach and our calendars become full, it can be hard to find time to give back to the causes you care about most. Tomorrow, on Giving Tuesday—an annual one-day event that encourages people to make donations to their favorite charities—we’re making it easier for you to connect with a worthy cause through the first-ever “Hangout-a-thon” on Google+.
Starting at 9 a.m. EST tomorrow on the Giving Tuesday Google+ page, you can join nonprofit organizations working to improve clean water access, eliminate bullying, and provide disaster relief in the Philippines. Learn more about their work, ask questions and connect directly to the people they’re helping. Celebrities such as Jennifer Garner, Chris Daughtry and Sophia Bush will stop by to join in on the fun, and you can also donate to the charity of your choice while watching the Hangout.

Here’s a preview of what you can do:

  • Connect with people engaging in relief efforts on the ground in the Philippines through Save the Children and UNICEF
  • Join conversations with the founders of Warby Parker and TOMS about gifts that give back, moderated by our partner Mashable
  • Get inspired during a morning yoga tutorial with the Africa Yoga Project in Kenya
  • Hear how the Malala Fund is working to promote education as a peace-building tool in developing nations
  • Participate in a quick coding lesson from, Girls Who Code and Code2040 and learn what you can do to support digital literacy

We hope you’ll participate by watching the Hangout-a-thon, donating to a cause you care about and posting about the event with #givingtuesday on Google+. And to keep the giving going throughout the holiday season, download One Today, our Android app that lets you donate to a different nonprofit every day.
Posted by Ramya Raghavan, Head of Politics and Causes for Google+

the Indian Parliament chose to delay the ban on child labour.


Your support was instrumental in building pressure for the Indian government to pass the Child and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill in August. But despite 1,010,918 signatures (including yours), the Indian Parliament chose to delay the ban on child labour.

The Parliament resumes on 5 December, and we need greater public support this time to ensure that our voice is not ignored. Can you help by forwarding the message below to your friends and family asking them to call on the Indian government and ensure that it passes the bill immediately?

Thank you in advance for your help.


“On the day that Durga Mala was rescued, she lay crying on the stone floor, where she was attempting to cool her back. She was 11 years old and her skin was covered with blisters, from her shoulder blades to her buttocks. A few days earlier, her owners had poured hot oil over her because they thought she was working too slowly.”1

The Indian Parliament must believe we’re not concerned about Durga or millions of children like her in India. Why? Because time and again, the Parliament has delayed a vote on the Child and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill, which would ban employment of children up to 14 years of age. But we are watching.

The Indian Parliament resumes on 5 December. Every day the bill is delayed, several children remain at risk of being bought and sold to work in unimaginable conditions of sex slavery, bonded labour and domestic servitude. Unless we speak up.

We need to build massive public pressure for the Indian government to pass this historic legislation that will help end child slavery in India.

Call on the Indian Parliament to immediately pass the Child and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill and help end child slavery in India.

In just days, the Indian Parliament will resume. This is our last chance to put the bill to vote before general elections next year.

The Child and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill will:
1. Prohibit employment of children up to 14 years of age; 2. Outline harsher sentences for violators of child labour laws; and  3. Provide for monitoring of suspected instances of child slavery.

While stories like Durga’s are making headlines, there are many more that remain hidden, trapped in the nightmare of modern slaverywith no choice, no pay and with no realistic chance of escaping. At an age when children should be in school, they are being subjected to situations that make them vulnerable to serious physical and psychological harm.

But all this could end. The ban on child labour will help end enslavement of children in India. But the delay to vote on this bill is delaying freedom for children from modern slavery. Even scarring them for life.

Tell the Indian government to help end child slavery and pass the Child and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill now.

Thank you in advance for your support. Once you have taken action, please forward this message on to everyone you know and help bring us one step closer to eliminating modern slavery.

In solidarity,

Debra, Mich, Jess, Kamini, Mika, Sarah, Kate, Olly, Joanna, Jayde and the Walk Free Team

P.S. On Twitter? Follow us


Walk Free is a movement of people everywhere, fighting to end one of the world’s greatest evils: Modern slavery.

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