Plants That Can Survive Without Water
Every plant must have some water in order to survive. However, you can grow a few plants that will survive without much water for long periods of time or during certain times of the year. Aloe, cactus, cast-iron, century, jade, ponytail, rubber tree, snake and southern yew plants still thrive and yield great results even for the forgetful houseplant owner.
Aloe Plant (Aloe vera)
Handy to have around whenever you suffer from a kitchen burn, aloe vera treats sunburn and cuts, among other skin conditions. It only needs water once or twice a month in the winter. During the warmer months, just check the top inch of soil to see if it's completely dry. If so, water the aloe plant.
Cactus Plant (Cereus)
Cacti are designed to store water. You can forget to water this plant in the winter month after month and it'll still stand tall. Even though you do need to apply some water in the spring, you can still let the soil get very dry beforehand. Stick a pencil deeply into the soil; if any particles stick onto it when pulled out, then you should hold off watering.
Cast-Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)
This slow-growing, tough-to-kill plant not only survives with little water, but it also still grows without a lot of sunshine, which made it a popular houseplant back in the Victorian Age as well. Although you should aim to keep the soil regularly moist, missing a week here or there of watering proves no problem; the cast-iron rarely shows signs of any neglect.
Century Plant (Agave Americana)
Related to the cactus, this native Mexican houseplant displays the same need for little water. Giving it a drink approximately once a month is appropriate. As another slow-grower, the century plant gets its name due to the fact that it only flowers every one to two decades, if it does so at all.
Jade Plant (Crassula ovata/argentea)
The jade plant originates from South Africa and is a favorite among feng shui believers who think it brings good luck. Since it possesses the same trait of water and nutrient storage as the cactus, it doesn't need a lot of water. In the summer, water it once a week. When the weather turns cooler, however, you can wait 6 to 8 weeks before the next watering.
Ponytail Plant (Beaucarnea recurvata)
The ponytail is another slow-growing houseplant native to Mexico. Long, thin leaves grow from a knot in the center, resembling a ponytail. That knot acts as a reservoir, holding water; therefore, you can miss or deliberately skip watering for a month without major effect. The plant needs very little water at all during the winter.
Rubber Tree (Ficus elastica)
Even if you're extremely forgetful and don't water your rubber tree for months at a time, it might show signs of neglect, but it'll still survive. However, aim to water it once or twice a week during the warmer months and only once every 2 weeks or once per month during wintertime.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
This grower doesn't need a sitter when you take a vacation. Sun or shade, watered or not, the snake plant still stands tall even if you only water it whenever you think about doing so. Go for weeks at a time without watering it, especially in the winter.
Southern Yew (Podocarpus macrophyllus maki)
The southern yew is also often called the Japanese yew or Buddhist pine, and it only needs the occasional drink once every 2 weeks. Check the soil for moisture more often in the summer.
- "37 Houseplants Even You Can't Kill"; Mary Kate Hogan; 2006
- "Reader's Digest The Complete Guide to Houseplants"; Valeria Bradly; 2006