17 Drought-Tolerant Houseplants You Can't Kill

ponytail palm houseplant
Photo: Jacob Fox

Skip the guilt of forgetting to water by growing these drought-resistant indoor plants. All of these easy-care species tolerate a little neglect (and many of them even prefer to be kept on the dry side), so you can enjoy their green good looks without the stress of keeping them watered all the time.

01 of 17

Snake Plant

Houseplants on floor stools shelf hanging
Jacob Fox

The sword-like, dark green leaves of snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) give them a bold look, often enhanced by silver, cream, white, or yellow variegation. Even better, these low-water houseplants can go for weeks without so much as a drizzle of moisture, making them perfect for forgetful gardeners. Snake plants tolerate low to bright light and can grow up to four feet tall.

02 of 17

Ponytail Palm

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Jacob Fox

Thanks to its thick, trunk-like stem, ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) can store moisture long-term, so it can easily survive a missed watering or two. It gets its name from the long, narrow leaves that grow from the end of its single stem, making it look like a peppy, cascading ponytail. This drought-tolerant indoor plant may need a drink every couple of weeks during the warmer months, but during the winter, you can stretch it to only watering every three or four weeks. Ponytail palms tolerate low to bright light, and can eventually reach 10 feet tall (but you can limit their growth by keeping them in a smaller pot).

03 of 17

Aloe

Aloe plants near window
Marty Baldwin

A spiky succulent with toothed leaves, gray-green aloe (Aloe vera) is famous for its ability to help burns heal. It's also an easy-care indoor plant that doesn't need much water so you can let the soil dry out between waterings. Aloe grows slowly, like most succulents, but with patience, it can reach three feet tall and wide. Keep it in bright light, but don't place it in direct sunlight, or this soothing plant could end up with its own sunburn.

04 of 17

Burro's Tail

Burro’s tail plant wood stand
Marty Baldwin

With one look at burro's tail (Sedum morganianum), you can easily see how this gray-green succulent got its name. A member of the sedum genus, burro's tail has lush, almost jelly bean-shape leaves that overlap on trailing stems. The tiny leaves easily drop off, and if you want, you can pot them to start new plants. Water this houseplant like you would any other succulent (let the soil dry before giving it more water), and keep it in bright light. With the right care, burro's tail can eventually reach a couple of feet long.

05 of 17

Sago Palm

Sago palm in pot on white background
Peter Krumhardt

Slow-growing sago palm (Cycas revoluta) is a popular, durable houseplant that's easy to care for and adds a touch of the tropics to any room. On a mature plant, the leathery, dark green fronds can stretch up to three feet long. Sago palms like well-drained soil, so while forgetting to water this plant won't kill it, overwatering will. Give your palm a drink when it's just on the verge of drying out, and keep it in medium to bright light—eventually, it can grow up to five feet tall.

06 of 17

Pothos

golden pothos in hanging white planter
Adam Albright

A popular choice for households and offices, pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a tough, drought-resistant houseplant with attractive, glossy foliage. Its vines can spread up to eight feet or more, and you can find varieties with variegated (look for 'Marble Queen') and bright green leaves (like 'Neon'). Pothos earned its popularity by being practically indestructible—it tolerates low to bright light and drying out between waterings. It's also super easy to start new plants from cuttings.

07 of 17

Haworthia

Haworthia potted plant
Marty Baldwin

Commonly known as zebra plant because of its white-striped foliage, Haworthia fasciata is great for dressing up a windowsill. An indoor plant that thrives with minimal care, it tends to stay less than a foot tall and wide, and it's usually even more compact than that. Like most succulents, zebra plant does best in bright light and it prefers when the soil in its pot dries out a bit between waterings. Because of its unique spikes and striped coloring, it's a favorite for modern decor.

08 of 17

Cast Iron Plant

aspidistra elatior cast iron houseplant
Marty Baldwin

As you might guess from its common name, cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is practically indestructible. If you've struggled to keep plants alive before, this hearty houseplant tolerates low light, low humidity, and infrequent waterings. It has broad, dark green leaves, and some varieties have variegated foliage. Cast iron plants are also popular in outdoor gardens where temperatures stay above freezing. They tend to grow about two feet tall and wide.

09 of 17

Ox Tongue

Ox Tongue Plant
Jason Donnelly

The rough-textured, gray-green leaves of ox tongue (Gasteria bicolor) make a unique addition to your collection of indoor plants. This drought-tolerant houseplant needs bright light to thrive, and when it gets enough of it, ox tongue produces spikes of pinkish-red flowers in the spring. In the winter, this durable plant can go for weeks without water. It tends to stay on the small side, but it can reach three feet tall in the right conditions.

10 of 17

ZZ Plant

ZZ Plant
Jason Donnelly

The leathery leaves of ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) almost look plastic because they are so stiff and shiny. ZZ plants only need a little more care than their faux counterparts—the occasional watering is all it takes to keep them going. This drought-resistant houseplant is happiest in bright light, but it'll also tolerate low-light areas of your home. All ZZ plant varieties are slow growers, but they can eventually grow three feet tall and wide.

11 of 17

Jade Plant

Jade plant table centerpiece
Marty Baldwin

The thick stems and plump leaves of jade plant (Crassula ovata) can grow to look like a small tree over time. However, it's really a drought-resistant succulent that doesn't mind a bit if you let the soil in its pot almost completely dry out before you water it again. If you move it outside during the summer, the extra sun and warmer temperatures can help trigger a growth spurt, which can help your plant get closer to its maximum six-foot height.

12 of 17

Bunny Ear Cactus

Bunny Ear Cactus
Marty Baldwin

True to its name, bunny ear cactus (Opuntia microdasys) grows long, flat pads that resemble a rabbit's ears. This cute, drought-resistant cactus doesn't have any sharp spines but its pads are dotted with hairy barbs that can irritate your skin if you brush up against them. When given plenty of bright light, bunny ear cactus can produce lemon-yellow flowers in the spring and grow up to two feet tall.

13 of 17

Bishop's Cap Cactus

bishop's cap cactus
ChViroj/Getty Images

Besides being nearly spineless, bishop's cap cactus (Astrophytum myriostigma) distinguishes itself with its interesting star shape and blue-green color. Set it in a south-facing window and it might even produce tiny yellow flowers in the spring. Like most cacti, bishop's cap is a very drought-tolerant indoor plant that only needs occasional watering whenever the soil in its pot feels completely dry. It will stay small, especially in a little container, but this cactus can eventually grow up to four feet tall.

14 of 17

Panda Plant

Panda plant
Marty Baldwin

Aside from being fun to look at, panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa) is fun to touch, too. Its silvery leaves have a soft, furry texture almost like felt. Make sure this hearty houseplant gets plenty of bright light, and let the soil dry between waterings. Over time, panda plants can get up to three feet tall.

15 of 17

Living Stones

pot of lithops
Getty Images

Not only are living stones (Lithops spp.) very drought-tolerant, but they are among the most unique succulents you can grow indoors. They look almost like pebbles, and they need about as much attention as actual rocks. Keep them in bright light, and water them sparingly—give them a drink every few weeks during late spring into summer, and stop watering them completely during their dormancy in the winter. Living stones won't grow more than an inch or two tall, but it's still best to keep them in a pot with plenty of space because they have large root systems.

16 of 17

Corn Plant

Three varieties of dracaena in pots sitting in room near window
Jacob Fox

Though commonly known as corn plant, Dracaena fragrans is not related to the food crop it's named after—its strap-like green leaves do bear a resemblance to corn, though. You can find varieties with silver and chartreuse variegation, too. This easy-care houseplant will tolerate a little neglect in terms of how much you water, bouncing back quickly if it does happen to dry out too much. It can reach three feet tall if it's grown in bright light (though it'll tolerate low light).

17 of 17

Golden Barrel Cactus

golden barrel cactus
Thaddeus Zajdowicz/Getty Images

If you live in an area that stays warm all year long, you might've seen the popular golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) included in outdoor gardens. But luckily, those of us who have to deal with snow and ice every year can also grow it as a houseplant. This drought-tolerant plant distinguishes itself from other cacti with long, golden-yellow spines. It's a slow grower, but eventually, it can stretch up to one foot tall as long as it gets plenty of bright light.

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