Tough to Grow Houseplants

Many avoid high-maintenance plants, but the truth is, with a few top tips, keeping them doesn’t have to be too difficult! Even indestructible houseplants can fall prey to ailments every now and again, especially if neglected. But with the correct care, they can often thrive.

The majority of challenging plants are native to environments such as tropical rainforests, and often struggle in the dimmer, drier, environments offered by most homes in the U.K.

Thankfully, you don’t need to transform your home into a jungle to grow these plants in a successful manner. You will however have to give them a little more attention than their native counterparts.

When you do, they will reward you with stunning blooms and leaves, making all the effort seem worthwhile! Here are just some of the tough-to-grow houseplants that are worth the challenge…

Moth Orchid

Often referred to as Phalaenopsis, Moth Orchids require a little extra care and patience. After flowering, these shrubs necessitate more time than others to regenerate, especially if you’re hoping for an extra round of flowers.

To give all of its energy to new flowers, an orchid will drop its previous blooms. With the correct care, you can often get these plants to re-flower two or three times per year, though the blooms may appear a little slighter.

During their regeneration period, the leaves will look a little lackluster and this is perfectly acceptable. If however, you notice the roots or leaves beginning to shrivel, this is a sure-fire sign you’re not watering your plant enough.

To fix this problem, lower the entire pot into a basin or sink that is full of water. You should do this for 15 minutes before allowing it to drain. You can repeat this process whenever the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch.


Orchids are renowned for being fussy houseplants, but can we blame them? After all, they are tropical plants used for warmer climates. Our indoor homes are a far cry from these climates.

For best results, pot in a potting mix of loose bark and place in indirect sunlight. They should never be overwatered and should always be provided with the correct amount of humidity.


Vibrant, glossy, thick, multi-coloured leaves are what crotons (botanical name: Codiaeum variegatum) are renowned for. However, they’re also renowned for being difficult to grow. But why is that the case? Simply put, they’re a fussy species!

If you spot the leaves changing to a shade of yellow after placing your croton in a new location in your home, it is likely they’ll throw a temper tantrum.

But fear not, as they will acclimatize to their new spot in little to no time, growing new leaves in a matter of weeks. For best results, water this plant on a regular basis as too little water can cause the leaves to fall off. On the other hand, too much water can cause root rot.

For this reason alone, you should never keep your croton in a plant without a drainage hole. Need to know when to repot your plant? Your croton will tell you by showcasing a white, crusty substance on the top layer of the soil.

Bird’s Nest Fern

The glossy, bright green leaves of this fern species boast a curly edge and delicate appeal that promises to add an interesting texture to your indoor garden. Plenty of moisture is a must if you wish to keep your bird’s nest fern (botanical name: Asplenium nidus) in tip-top condition.

For best results, water it every few days, making sure any excess liquid drains out of the base of the pot. You should also mist the leaves every day to ensure humidity levels stay high. For best results, place the pot onto a plastic tray or dish lined with a layer of pebbles.

Without allowing moisture to touch the base of the pot (you don’t want the roots to get wet), fill the dish with water. As the water evaporates, a humid micro-style climate will be created around the fern. To ensure even higher humidity, group your fern with other plants.

Elephant’s Ear

This tropical species (botanical name: Colocasia) of the plant is renowned for its exotic-style leaves and its ability to grow in wet conditions. If you notice the stalks beginning to droop, this is a sign your plant needs water.

Each stalk resembles a straw, and if the stalk isn’t brimming with liquid, the leaf at the end of the stalk will become too heavy for it. This is when it may begin to turn yellow. For best results, always keep the soil damp to the touch.

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Tree

One of the most prevalent indoor trees is the picture-perfect fiddle-leaf fig, which comes from the Ficus family. With its bold, paddle-shaped leaves, it boasts dramatic foliage. To thrive, it requires filtered, indirect light. Most opt to place this shrub near an east or west-facing window.

Watering should be limited but not so much that the soil dries out completely. Too much water can cause yellowing of the leaves and is a warning sign to look out for.


Some species of tradescantia boast variegated purple and green leaves that can transform into a brighter hue when the plant is placed outdoors. Other species of this shrub are velvety to the touch. If you wish to fill a hanging planter, these trailing plants are ideal.

They can also be placed in traditional containers. These shrubs thrive when given plenty of water, so make sure the soil is wet to the touch at all times.

All of these plants require plenty of care and attention, but the end results are more than worth the effort. If you fancy a challenge and want to enjoy the bold hues of these plants, make sure you can devote some time to them. If you run into any problems, search online for more tips and tricks as there’s plenty of ways to help them thrive.



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Lily Calyx is our in-house flower whisperer, an expert on all things botanical and an enthusiastic orchids collector. She loves discussing the insights of the secret world of flowers, shares her gardening tips and hacks and moons over the latest additions to Serenata Flowers flower range. Ask Lily anything about flowers and we can guarantee she will have the answer.

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