My Favorite Houseplants

By Mary Ellen Ellis | September 4, 2022
by Mary Ellen Ellis
September 4, 2022

My houseplant collection is not as big as I would like it to be. Since I have cats who enjoy chewing on leaves, I have a limited number of specimens, and they have to be non-toxic. However, among my small group are some prized possessions.  


One of my first houseplants was this philodendron a friend gave me literally decades ago. Anyone who loves to grow plants knows that this is an easy one. It’s not easy to kill one of the many species of this tropical plant. 

Admittedly, over the years, I have neglected it, but it never fails to come back to life. As a rainforest plant, philodendron doesn’t need a lot of direct light. It does just fine on a bookshelf in my office. Even if I forget to water it for a couple weeks, it forgives me. 

Another indignity this loyal houseplant has suffered is the gnawing of four sets of kitty teeth over the years. Technically, it has some toxicity for pets, but my cats seem to be made of tough stuff. It currently lives up high where they tend to forget about it.  

Peace Lily

Another well-loved plant in our house has also been with me for 20 plus years. A gift at my grandma’s funeral, my parents let me keep it and it has thrived in two homes since then. 

Like the philodendron, peace lily is tough. It also needs only indirect light and pops back up after drooping from neglect. Since my husband started working from home, it lives in his office where it gets a window, regular water, and freedom from cat teeth. 

Orchids and African Violets

I currently have one of each of these in my house, both completely safe to cats and, of course, the only houseplants they never try to chew. These two have not been in my home for that long, but they are special because they represent what I have learned about growing plants over the years. 

Many years ago, I tried growing both as houseplants and failed. I watered them, but they bloomed once and never again, or as in the case of the violet, died back completely. 

The two I have now are thriving. I have learned how not to overwater an African violet and to use plant food to get more flowers. With the orchid, I have learned patience. After being prepared to give up on it with no new growth, a root and a leaf pushed through. I now patiently await a new set of blooms.

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