If you are reading this article because you have finally sent the quest for a “green thumb” to the desert, you probably need a suggestion to rethink: It is not a turquoise thumb to blame when plants “bitter”, but the (evil) market – which is made by people, usually greedy or lazy people when things go wrong. The specialist nursery around the corner that sells healthy plants with precise care instructions is on its last legs, while the global plant industry is mass-producing barely viable plants, along with supplies to keep those plants alive for at least a while. There is another way. Here you will find all the important information about robust plants for the room and for the balcony.

Plant life under adverse circumstances

Many consumers buy plants of the type described above, they are pretty cheap (usually not true), and try to keep them alive under the most adverse circumstances and without much information about plants and gardeners. Committed consumers have already set the first limits to this undesirable development, today there are FFP and MPS certifications for the plant trade (certificates for sustainable production, environmental friendliness and socially responsible working conditions), but still:

Plants in the room always live under adverse circumstances – plants develop in the wild and live on photosynthesis, and for this they need water and light, light of a certain intensity.

The light intensity with which we and the plants are irradiated is called illuminance (= luminous flux in lumens on a surface in m2), the unit for this value from lm/m2 is called lux (lx). To make the illuminance levels around us a little more tangible, here is a small comparison:

  • On a bright sunny day, plants in the garden are exposed to 100,000 lx in the sun, in the shade they only get 10,000 lx even in summer.
  • On an overcast summer day they have to make do with 20,000 lx outdoors, on an overcast winter day it is only a pitiful 3,500 lx.
  • From the point of view of the plant in the living room it gets really terrible: Average lighting in the office 500 lx, in the cozy living room 50 lx.

Lots of theory, the reason for which you will soon understand, because a lot can be explained from these values:

Plants reduce the rate of photosynthesis when the light intensity drops, up to a light value that varies depending on the plant, at which nothing works.

  • Our indoor plants are always in danger of reaching this growth strike light value in winter, as the comparison of 100,000 lx in the garden sun to 50 lx in the wintry living room suggests.
  • This explains why some houseplants in our living rooms permanently weaken despite the most strenuous care efforts.
  • It also explains why it is recommended that houseplants be placed outside in the summer whenever possible.
  • This is the only way they can gather enough strength to survive a German winter…
  • Tropical guests from areas in the equatorial belt can be used to completely different light intensities than we are used to.
  • When these plants grow in the sun at home, we have dark bags for them
  • Exotic species that inhabit the rainforest floor at home survive better
  • Therefore, apart from the species suggested below, it is important to always explore the native growth conditions of exotic species

Robust indoor plants from our homeland

Native plants are best adapted to the native environment and can therefore survive best under adverse conditions. In view of the usual offer in the plant trade, the idea of ​​”native house plants” seems absurd.

Cultivating native houseplants has another benefit: when a plant can’t cope with the low light levels, it doesn’t just slow down its rate of photosynthesis, it starts to do the opposite, which is to breathe on its own – and use oxygen instead of producing it. If you keep houseplants to improve the air in your living space, it would actually be a better idea to only cultivate native houseplants that can photosynthesize with little light than light-hungry exotic plants that, in case of doubt, even make the air worse.

However, the culture of native houseplants has a catch: There are not very many of the native plants that cut a good figure in the room all year round. The typical plant here has adapted to the lack of light in the German winter and for this reason lets its leaves fall in winter – great idea, but doesn’t make much of an impression in the room. In case of doubt, locals only survive in winter if they can offer you cool accommodation, and even then not always.

That is why evergreen exotics gradually populated our living rooms. At least since central heating replaced coal stoves across the board in the middle of the 20th century and the selection of indoor plants was therefore no longer limited to hardy natives, azaleas and begonias, fuchsias and slipper flowers, palm trees and more moved in.

But still – if you no longer limit your view to the “typical houseplant”, your selection of robust plants will be a good deal larger. The main thing is that you free yourself from specifications that are not given for your own good, but for commercial reasons. With the locals you can experiment freely without the threat of financial loss by getting cuttings for free or paying pennies for small plants in nurseries.

Note: Make sure that the plants were grown organically. Then they have the full genetic make-up, are resistant, suitable for propagation and breeding.

Robust indoor plants do not need chemicals

Sturdy plants in the right location (beginners among indoor gardeners will be happy to advise you in the nursery) grow into strong indoor plants that are rarely attacked by aphids and the like.

If it does happen, you can usually deal with the few aphids with a shower and a plant strengthener, so with robust houseplants you can leave the poisonous cocktails of the pesticide industry on the (not without good reason locked) shelves.

What could be the actual motivation to buy robust plants, because the chronic diseases of our time are increasingly associated with the uncritical use of chemicals. Here are a few quotes from the hazardous substance labeling of the fungicides approved for indoor use: difenoconazole “promises” fatality if inhaled, myclobutanil serious eye damage, tebuconazole says “may presumably harm the unborn child”, trifloxystrobin is said to be very toxic to aquatic organisms with long-term effects be effective, all just excerpts among many other dangers. You’ll be spared the enumeration of the insecticides, but the hazardous material labels are no less frightening.

Now to the indoor plant varieties where you do not need such funds:

Hardy Houseplants – Varieties

Not all of course, but enough inspiration to green many rooms:

1. Among the native plants there are some that you can put in the room, because some evergreen plants have also developed in our latitudes:

  • Abies nordmanniana, Nordmann fir, can not only be kept as a small tree in the room at Christmas
  • Asarum europaeum, hazel root, small evergreen perennial with shiny dark leaves
  • Buxus sempervirens, boxwood
  • Cotoneaster salicifolius, Weidenblättrige Felsmispel
  • Epimedium, elfin flower, part evergreen
  • Euonymus fortunei radicans, Evergreen Creeping Spindle, can even grow into a “green wall”.
  • Herera helix, ivy, one of our oldest indoor plants, decorative in hanging baskets
  • Ilex aquifolium, Stechpalme
  • Lavandula angustifolia, However Lavender
  • Ligustrum vulgare, common privet
  • Lonicera, honeysuckle, myrtle, many of the 180 varieties are native to the northern hemisphere
  • Mahonia aquifolium, common or buckthorn mahonia
  • Matteuccia struthiopteris, ostrich fern
  • Picea abies, Norway spruce, and other Picea
  • Photinia fraseri, Glanzmispel
  • Pyracantha coccinea, Mittelmeer-Feuerdorn
  • Rhododendron tomentosum, marsh tea, and other evergreen rhododendrons
  • Sedum, Fetthenne
  • Vaccinium myrtillus, blueberries, heather family
  • Vinca minor, Small-leaved Periwinkle
  • Waldsteinia, Waldsteinie, small evergreen rhizome perennial

A problem with all of these plants is that they are used to a winter with cold temperatures. Whether they can do without “real winter chills” is definitely worth trying out if you’re aiming for a new life with hardy houseplants.

Indoor plants with utility

Herbs and the like occupy their very own field of potentially robust (not necessarily native) plants. If you are already busy with the intellectual experiment of choosing your houseplants yourself and according to your own criteria, you could also take this step, it could increase your well-being and your health. Many of our usual aromatic herbs like to thrive in our living rooms, and experimenting here usually doesn’t really hurt (financially), here are a few suggestions for harvest greens in pots:

  • Allium schoenoprasum, Chives
  • Laurus nobilis, laurel, is a surprisingly decorative pot plant, and the aroma of fresh bay leaves also surprises when cooking
  • Identification, Kresse
  • Mentha, Minze
  • Ocimum basilicum, Basilikum
  • Petroselinum crispum, parsley
  • Plectranthus amboinicus, Jamaican thyme, is said to be very frugal
  • Rosmarinus officinalis, Rosmarin
  • Salvia, sage
  • Satureja montana, winter savory
  • Thymus vulgaris, Thymian
  • Vaccinium macrocarpon, cranberry, cranberry, a type of heather with healthy, edible berries that can be used like cranberries.

The cultivation of herbs as houseplants is also unusual – but in times of urban gardening and the feeling that neither the food industry nor the pharmaceutical industry can really be trusted, it is certainly anything but illogical.

From the herbs, some of which are already native to foreign countries, to the guests who come from a warmer homeland and feel at home in heated rooms:

Uncomplicated strangers among houseplants

There are some houseplants that, while not native, are not dead, even in awkward locations:

  • Sanseveria, Bogenhanf
  • Chlorophytum, green lily, vigorous growth with little water consumption, air-improving
  • Dracaena, dragon tree
  • Epipremnum aureum, ivy, undemanding climbing plant, also for almost shady places
  • Ficus elastica, Gummibaum
  • Stephanotis floribunda, wreath loop, offers lush green tendrils, flowers, has few requirements
  • Ysander, fat man
  • Yucca, palm lily, this is the plant that is also called yucca palm
  • Zamioculcas zamiifolia, Zamie, lucky feather, fairly new insider tip of exemplary undemanding

When these undemanding foreign guests grow up, they often suffer from insufficient light intensity. If you are interested in robust houseplants precisely because you don’t have a balcony or you don’t have the strength/don’t want to move plants to the balcony in large numbers, you could look around for a plant lamp in this case. With the right choice, you can illuminate a cherished magnificent plant with little effort and very low energy costs.

Sturdy roses

The adverse conditions mentioned at the beginning are not uncommon for plants in the garden: they are supposed to grow as monocultures, without the balancing plant partners, which means that specialized soil organisms develop in unfavorable quantities, which in turn are attacked with “chemical warfare agents”, and that’s it too useful soil life in the garden history…

Again, going back to nature is the best route to relaxed gardening, in the case of roses that means saying goodbye to the overbred breeding specimens and embrace wild roses. These are roses that grow with us without any horticultural care, so they behave in your garden as well. 30 species of Central European wild roses would like to grow in our gardens, a rich treasure of colours, shapes and scents:

  • Dog rose, Rosa canina , the classic “rose hip” whose rose hips are delicious and healthy.
  • Frosted rose, Rosa glauca (rubrifolia), dark pink flowers and bluish frosted branches.
  • Alpenhagrose, Rosa pendulina, pink to deep red flowers, delicate, overhanging growth, also in shady locations.
  • Burnet rose, Rosa pimpinellifolia (spinosissima), mostly white flowers, black rose hips, fine pinnate leaves.
  • Wine rose, Rosa rubiginosa, pink flowers, orange rose hips, shiny apple-scented leaves, also climbs.
  • Felt rose, Rosa tomentosa, white flowers, velvety hairy leaves, compact habit.
  • Apple rose, Rosa villosa (pomifera), one of the most beautiful wild roses with large flowers and rose hips.

Robust balcony plants

When it comes to the balcony, it’s all about the naturally designed balcony. Because many balconies are planted with the usual balcony plants, which appear in stores punctually in spring. These are exactly the plants that you should largely say goodbye to if you want hardy plants in your environment.

You can plant all of the plants recommended above as hardy indoor plants on your balcony, including herbs, and much more. Exploring just a few things with every plant you buy will always result in hardy plants:

  • perennial
  • Hardy (here, not in Brazil)
  • Naturally bred by selection and not created in the laboratory
  • Naturally propagated or grown from non-chemically treated seeds
  • Raised near where they are supposed to grow, not in Kenya
  • The dealer can provide you with comprehensive information about the needs of the plant

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