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These 8 indoor plants are hardy enough to withstand Boston weather

Pothos, Haworthia, snake plant, and a succulent substitute—these species and others don’t mind the winter blahs, according to the experts, and they add flair to any interior

A sunny, fashionably designed living room with plush couches, a wall of windows, and tall houseplants.
Consider how contrasts, such as short plants in tall containers, can add texture to your home.
Rosemary Fletcher Photography via Winston Flowers

Okay, you’re at home a lot more now. And, while you may not be able to host people at the moment, that doesn’t mean you can’t let new life in at all. Plants are the perfect permanent houseguest that you can welcome with open arms. And, in a time of no-contact transactions, you can buy them online.

After all, they’re good for your health. David Winston, co-owner of Winston Flowers, explains, “many are effective in removing various toxins from our breathing air and adding much-needed moisture.

“And, now, more than ever before, given that many of us are working from home, or self-contained at home, plants not only create a more inviting work environment, but they make the air healthier, spark creativity, and they definitely offer a sense of calm. And who doesn’t need that now?”

Of course, plants aren’t one size fits all. It’s all about finding the right plant for your particular home’s environment.

If your home is on the darker, drier side, then you’ll choose your greenery like Leesa Welds, @houseplant_junkie, does. “I choose plants that don’t mind low humidity or low light because I don’t use grow lights or humidifiers,” she says.

Also, if you ever do find yourself on an extended trip away, you want to think about plants that will do just fine without you. This might be “a plant you can leave for a three-week European sabbatical and it will still survive,” says Lorinda Constant of Sweet Talk Floral.

Since living in Boston often translates into smaller, older, or otherwise unique spaces, it’s worth considering how to best feature your leafy company. For lofts and other spaces with high ceilings, you want to achieve height. Consider using a taller container paired with a shorter plant. Placing interesting containers on a pedestal also works.

Winston advocates for floor plants, which can effortlessly fill otherwise empty space. “Paired with a beautiful container, a floor plant can become a visual focal point in any room,” he says. “Conversely, smaller plants offer the chance to dress up an interior space in a more subtle way.”

Selecting the right scale, color, and material for your container is an extension of your overall decor. In addition to the form, there’s also function—as your plant grows, you will want to make sure your plant’s container increases along with it. Don’t forget about the soil either: Welds uses a well-draining potting mix to ensure optimal conditions for watering.

With these tips in mind, here are eight hardy houseplants recommended by Winston, Constant, and Welds that are most likely to survive the twists and turns of seasons in the Boston area.


Satin pothos or Silver philodendron, Araceae. Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images

Pothos

This is an ideal choice for first-time or otherwise forgetful owners. “You will get lovely long vines that can hang from mantels or shelves,” Constant says. Plus, you can leave it unattended for a few weeks; it will still forgive you.

Ife sansevieria or African bowstring hemp. Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images

Sansevieria cylindrica

Pattern lovers among us might be attracted to the gray-green stripes on its smooth, spear-like foliage. This is a “unique plant for clean, modern spaces,” Winston says. This plant thrives in bright light, but it’s easygoing, tolerating most light conditions.

Philodendron hastatum (silver sword)

Equipped to handle low-light conditions, it’s a solid year-round interior choice. Welds tested this one over the winter in an east-facing window with no direct sun or humidifiers, and it passed with honors. This plant is ambitious, as it is known to have a strong climbing habit—a trellis is an ideal complementary accessory.

A potted cactus-like plant. Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Haworthia

Succulents are often thought of as a go-to choice—but, in New England, most desert plants just aren’t going to grow well with our light here. To get a similar look and vibe, the Haworthia has the right look and substance. While these still require full light, they are hardier and not as sensitive as most other succulents. A barrel cactus or angel wing cactus also works.

A potted snake sansevieria, or Asparagaceae, plant. Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images

Snake plant (mother in law’s tongue)

First of all, let’s appreciate the unapologetic humor in this plant’s nickname. Alright, now that we’ve gotten past that, let’s get to its strengths. It can survive in a room with little to no light. “Its long, pointy leaves are an architect’s dream and look fantastic in plant stands,” Constant says.

A potted rubber fig or Rubber plant, or Moraceae, plant. Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images

Rubber plant tree

If you’re looking for a plant that can grow to a sizable stature with minimal oversight, the rubber plant tree is it. Its only requirements from you: indirect light; moist but not overwatered soil; and not-too-hot temperatures (no placement near radiators).

Pilea (coin plant)

Also known as the Chinese money plant or the missionary plant, this one makes deposits, as it were: “It produces ‘pup’ baby plants,” Constant says. Its rich green color often pops up to provide contrast against the white walls of Scandinavian interiors. Featuring coin-shaped leaves, this hardy specimen requires low to medium light.

Firestick pencil cactus

Its slim, upward-reaching branches that flow in a beautiful color gradient are hard to reject. Winston advocates for its versatile size: It “can either be a small table-top or a 5-foot or larger floor plant.” It thrives in a bright location with direct sunlight. Be forewarned, though: This look-don’t-touch plant is not ideal for homes with pets, children, and otherwise sensitive individuals. It produces a toxic white liquid when stems are cut, pierced, or bitten.