The 5 hardest house plants to keep alive – and to avoid if you don't have green fingers

Are you a serial plant killer? Maybe it’s because you’ve chosen one of these tricky plants?

Hardest houseplants to keep alive orchid
(Image credit: Elena Blokhina/Shuttershock)

House plants are one of the most popular trends of the year, and this season is no exception. With so many of us spending a lot of time at home recently, it’s no surprise that we love indoor plants. That’s not to mention the mental wellbeing and air quality benefits plants can bring.

However, not all plants were created equal – many are much easier to kill than others. So, if you're looking to shop house plants soon and don't have green fingers, these are the five hardest house plants to keep alive.

See: Top 10 house plants – that every design lover should know about

1. Fiddle-leaf fig

Hardest houseplants to keep alive fiddleleaf

(Image credit: Shelsea Forward/Shutterstock)

While the fiddle-leaf fig may be trending on Instagram, it is also leads the list of the hardest houseplants to keep alive, with 61% of people failing to do so.

This pretty plant hates an environment change, so doesn't respond well to moving around the house, or when moving homes. If you're all about that shiny Insta look then make sure the fiddle-leaf stays away from direct sunlight as the exposure can brown its leaves.

2. Gardenia

Hardest houseplants to keep alive gardenia

(Image credit: Lapha.R/Shutterstock)

The lush and fragrant gardenia may be a romantic addition to the home, but around 56% of owners have killed them inadvertently.

These flowers are tricky when it comes to temperature, not forming if they find the space too hot or too cold. Watering is also quite specific, as they like around one inch of water every week.

3. Boston fern

Hardest houseplants to keep alive boston fern

(Image credit: Jade Zmith/Shutterstock)

The retro Boston fern is one of those plants you think will be an easy one to look after, but they require a surprising amount of work.

Stick to indirect light and make sure to keep the soil moist. Gardening specialist Sally Fairbrass of Seed Me Grow advises the 52% of people who have watched these wilt to 'keep the Boston fern in warmer rooms, and place a humidifier nearby to keep the air flowing to ensure the soil doesn't dry out.'  

4. Orchid

Hardest houseplants to keep alive orchid

(Image credit: Elena Blokhina/Shuttershock)

Although not the hardest houseplants to keep alive statistically, orchids are one of the most notorious.

One of the most common ways 48% of owners have killed this plants is by overwatering. Stick to a strict schedule and make sure not to water more than once a week. 

5. Zebra plant

Hardest houseplants to keep alive zebra plant

(Image credit: Puguh Yudha/Shutterstock)

The interesting and exotic Zebra plant is a gorgeous addition to a home, but as the 41% of us who have had to bin them, there are a few tings to be aware of.

As with many tropical plants, the Zebra plant loves a warm environment, plenty of sunlight and moist soil all year round.

Thea Babington-Stitt
Content Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is a Content Editor at Future. She has been an interiors journalist for nearly 10 years and has held positions at LivingEtc, Country Homes & Interiors and Homes & Gardens. Currently, she is writing for Ideal Home and Style At Home's websites and magazines.