The houseplants the Real Homes team failed to keep alive

These are the plants we just couldn't get on with

houseplants on windowsill, chinese money plant
(Image credit: Leaf Envy)

Houseplants have been proven to reduce stress levels and boost mood – but looking after them takes a certain degree of skill. At Real Homes, we're a team of plant lovers, but there are some species that we just couldn't keep alive...

When it comes to how to care for houseplants, it's always disappointing when a new addition doesn't seem happy despite our best efforts. If you're feeling the plant-parent guilt due to drooping, shrivelled leaves, read on to hear our own house plant mistakes.

living room will with houseplants

(Image credit: Leaf Envy)

Lindsey, Homes Ecommerce Editor

'I have killed an aspidistra that was a cutting from a 50+-year-old plant,' admits serial houseplant killer Lindsey. 'Supposedly, they are bombproof and I kept it for about three years, then started paying it more attention. 

'I think I killed it with love by overwatering.' Then, there was the jade plant. 'I think that was overwatering too,' Lindsey continues. 'I also killed a maidenhair fern, but those are notoriously hard.'

She says that she misted the maidenhair fern 'all the time,' but thinks she might have been forcing it to live in a spot it didn't like - by hanging it in the kitchen. 'Plants thrive where they want to go, and you have to accept it isn't always the place you have deemed most aesthetically pleasing,' she says.

jade plant

(Image credit: Alamy)

But it's not all bad, because Lindsey has learned from her houseplant mistakes. 'I have now learned not to plant into pots, but to put in a pot inside the pot, resting on a bed of gravel so that the roots don't get waterlogged. 

'A plant can bounce back from underwatering, but if you drench the roots, it is done hon.'

Annie, UK shopping editor

string of pearls in hanging pots

(Image credit: Alamy)

'I bought a string of pearls plant from a local flower market and couldn't wait to take it home and watch it grow from a teeny trailing plant to something that could reach from the top of my bookcase to my floor. After all, I saw them all over my Instagram feed so how hard could it be?' says Annie. 

'Although I am possibly the least green-thumbed person out there, I was shocked just how fast this plant did the opposite of grow – it essentially shrunk within days. I really tried to keep this beauty alive, but unfortunately it didn't want to live its days out in Casa Annie.' 

She says that next time, she'll try placing her string of pearls in a different spot and pay lots of attention to it.

Camille, Digital Editor of Real Homes

Sansevieria potted plant against pink background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

For Camille, it's the Snake Plant Sansevieria. She says that hers died due to a lethal combination of cat pee, overwatering, and over-faffing with it. 

'These are pretty hardy as far as houseplants go but we got a cat who took a liking to this pot and no houseplant needs that.'

'I basically panicked because if that plant died on me, the Insta-bedroom look was over so I repotted it, overwatered it and kept moving it about whenever I saw that it wasn't looking that great.' 

'Now with the little houseplant wisdom that I have, I would say a less hands-on approach is better with most species, as is considering where they originate from of course, to help you get their climate right. Houseplants can usually recover from a short dry spell, but you can't turn back root rot.'

Other members of the team also mentioned issues with spider plants, that sometimes they don't do well in the kitchen which could be because they're exposed to droplets of disinfectant spray that we use when cleaning our kitchen worktops.

The best indoor plants bring all the happy vibes to your space. Sure, it's a case of trial and error, but we wouldn't be without them.

Millie joined Real Homes in early 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.