3 Houseplants for Water Conservationists

© Ramon Gonzalez

The drought and water conservation isn’t just a concern for outdoor gardeners. If you want to do your part in conserving water, but don’t have a garden, you can elect to grow houseplants that don’t need as frequent watering. Plantscaping your home, office, dorm, or apartment with succulent plants will not only brighten up your living quarters, but you’ll grow plants that don’t mind being grown a little on the dry side.

1 Desert Rose

Adenium obesum is one of my all time favorite succulent houseplants. When grown to highlight the fat bottom, the stems emerging from the caudex give this plant the appearance of a miniature tree. The many hybrid and grafted forms of this plant produce trumpet-shaped blooms in red, pink, white. You can also find some where all three colors are grafted onto one plant.

2. ZZ Plant

Suzanne Marije Cornelissen/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Zamioculcas zamiifolia may seem hard to pronounce, but it’s extremely easy to grow. If you’ve been in a mall or office you may have seen these planted in mass and never noticed them. Their structural form is accentuated when grown as a single plant in modern containers like the one Suzanne chose for her plant. Although, I like to grow them a little higher in a container to accentuate the caudex the stems emerge from.

3. Ponytail Palm

Christa Burns/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Beaucarnea recurvata is not a true palm, but it does look like a ponytail on steroids. When the top isn’t cut, the single stem can reach several feet in height like Christa’s 4-foot-tall plant. The caudex, resembling the foot of a pachyderm, takes on an interesting, crackled texture.

Did you spot what all three of these plants have in common? They’re caudiciform plants, also known as Fat Plants. A caudex is a short, thick, stem that may be swollen because that’s where it stores water. These are just three examples, but there are many more interesting caudiciform plants that you can grow. Plants that normally store water in a caudex don’t need as frequent watering, and are likely to survive prolonged periods of dryness when you go on vacation, or just simply forget to water.

I’ve killed all three of these plants by withholding water on purpose as an experiment. It took the ponytail palm six months to die, and the ZZ plant, and adenium up to a year to die in a west-facing window.

What houseplants do you recommend for indoor gardeners who don’t want to waste water?

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Tags: Conservation | Gardening | Water Conservation | Water Crisis

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