10 Houseplants that Need Hardly Any Water

bright, colorful Bromeliad flowers

Drought-tolerant houseplants are a great option for people who don’t have the time to dote on their plants, or keep up with a regular watering schedule. These varieties prefer to be neglected when it comes to the watering can, and if anything, will do poorly when over-watered.

If you have a busy schedule, travel a lot, or are just a little forgetful, these 10 houseplants that need hardly any water may be just right for you!

1. Succulents

These xeric beauties are without a doubt the best variety when it comes to drought-tolerance. In fact, the main reason they die is due to root-rot from wet feet, so don’t over-water, and make sure they have well-draining soil. Allow them to thoroughly dry out for a couple weeks in summer, and longer in the winter.

various kinds of succulents on a planting table

Succulents come in many varieties: burro’s tail, aloe, jade, kalanchoe, cacti, and sedums are just a few popular names, and most people don’t know that the ponytail palm and snake plant are also in the succulent family.

They need full sun when kept indoors, but are prone to sunburn if brought outside into direct sunlight. Trendy, and popular with home decorators, succulents are an easy-to-maintain plant that come in many interesting shapes and sizes.

2. ZZ Plants

The family of “ZZ” plants come in a variety of rubbery greens.

waxy leaved zz plant in white pot

This category and includes one of the trendiest, hottest new houseplants currently on the market: "the Raven." Known for its dark, almost black foliage, and thankfully, it’s low maintenance and easy to grow, just like the other members of its family.

dark leafed houseplant with

Any ZZ plant is drought-tolerant and can withstand a variety of light conditions. In fact, they can easily go a couple weeks without water and still broadcast healthy looking, shiny, zig-zagging leaves. It’s not a fast grower, either, so you don’t have to worry that it will outgrow its space.

3. Orchids

A lot of people are intimidated by the infamous and beautiful orchid, but the truth is, they are fairly simple! They like a good watering once a week or so depending on the size and variety, and a period where their roots can fully dry out. DO NOT water your orchid with ice cubes!

pink orchid flowers in a basket pot by a window

They like humidity, and ice-y water is counter-intuitive to that. They do best in medium to bright, diffused light (not too hot, not too dark) and need regular feeding, usually once a month to keep it happy. Well-draining soil is important as they do not tolerate having wet feet.

4. Bromeliads

These exotic-looking houseplants have tropical, showy flowers atop spiky, green foliage. Easy to take care of, they do well in bright rooms with indirect sunlight, and only need a weekly watering during the growing season, and even less so in the winter.

large red Bromeliad

You can water these plants from the bottom into a tray and let them soak up what they need, just remember to discard any sitting water after 30 minutes. Fun fact: pineapples are the only fruit-bearing bromeliads, and can also be grown as drought-tolerant houseplants.

5. Sago Palm

The Sago palm is not actually a palm (it’s a prehistoric cycad!) and unlike palms, will not do well in overly moist soil. Like bromeliads, sago palms do best in a bright location with indirect sunlight, and only need a deep watering when the soil has completely dried out; usually every 2-3 weeks in the winter, and a little more during the growing season.

natural design elements, sago palm on a table in a room with a bold patterned rug

Buyer beware: sago palms are poisonous and not recommended if you have children or pets around the house.

6. Bougainvillea

Technically a shrub, this sprawling beauty can only grow outside in US zones 9 or 10, but can be kept inside near a sunny window for those who live in colder climates. The “boug” thrives in full sun, so make sure you have a southwest-facing window, and room to grow – they love wrapping their branches around trellises, and can be trained quite easily.

Bougainvillea blossoms up close

It’s highly drought-tolerant, especially in the winter when it prefers very little water like the sago palm, with well-draining, perlite-rich soil. Moving it outdoors once the summer heat comes around will help bring about some gorgeous blooms.

7. Chinese Evergreen

Also known as “aglaonema”, the Chinese Evergreen boasts beautiful, tropical foliage and is a great houseplant since it does well in low light, and needs minimal watering. This extremely sturdy plant can handle a little neglect, so only water when you notice the soil is dry.

colorful chinese evergreen plant

While it's prized for its foliage, some varieties may produce calla-lily like blooms. Easy to care for, this houseplant can add elegant beauty to your home without needing a lot of attention, especially where water is concerned.

8. Spider Plant

This common houseplant looks a little like its namesake, with long, arching, sometimes variegated leaves that fall away from the body. It’s very drought-tolerant thanks to its tuberous root system that holds water for long periods. It will do best in bright, indirect light but can handle low-light as well.

small spider plant in a pot on a table

It’s not picky about soil, but as with most houseplants, prefers well-draining soil. Once mature, they send down little baby spider plants that are easily propagated when snipped and re-potted; giving you spider plants for ever and ever and ever. Great for the home or office spaces.

9. Pothos

Pothos come in many different varieties, and are another popular house or office plant, since they are so easy to maintain. Though it prefers moist soil, these houseplants can also handle a dry out period. They tolerate low, or bright, indirect light, making them a good choice for beginners, or if you need to fill a spot in your house.

climbing pothos plant in a pot on a shelf

The vine-like plant will cascade from hanging baskets, or climb up shelves and trellises as well. You can also propagate pothos quite easily from cuttings.

10. Cast Iron Plant

Last, but not least is the cast iron plant—a species that really lives up to its moniker. They can handle neglect, and are known to live for a long time since they are so durable. They grow well in various temperatures, do best in low-light (but will be fine in brighter rooms), and like to dry out between waterings.

From the lily family, this houseplant boasts beautiful, but stately dark, green leaves that extend upright. If you're looking for a low-maintenance houseplant, this one's for you: place near a north-facing window, and forget about it.

Aspidistra elatior - cast iron plant

Watering is an important factor when it comes to a plant's needs. If you can't keep up with a daily, regular watering schedule, you still have a lot of variety and choice when it comes to these houseplants that need hardly any water. Drought-tolerance doesn't mean you're stuck with cacti, although, why not add one of those to your collection while you're at it?