High Maintenance Houseplants

Ready to challenge your green thumb? Check out these difficult (but so worth it) houseplants for your living or working space.

These demanding tropical plants require daily to weekly check-ins to make sure they have enough moisture in the air and soil. They are a little needy. However, with some extra TLC, these plants will thrive.


Artistically two-toned foliage paired with deep purple underside creates a dazzling statement to tables and countertops. Calathea grows in areas with medium light, but be sure to shield it from direct sun to prevent burning on the leaves.

One key note of care is to keep the soil evenly moist but never soaking – these plants are far from drought tolerant. If you notice brown leaves or tips, it is a sign that your plant has experienced dryness for too long. They are sensitive to salt so filtered water is always best.

Calathea Medallion


This family of plants have a range of colours which includes pink, red, dark and bright greens. The long leaves and upright growth is picture-perfect for adding height to an area with adequate sun. Placing the plant in an area that has medium to bright sunlight will allow the plant to showcase its’ vibrant colours.

Plant cordyline in a container with rich, quality potting mix. Avoid letting the soil dry out completely between watering. We suggest giving the plant water when the top surface (two to three inches) feels dry. If you are using tap water, allow the water to sit for a few days before using to let the chlorine escape.

Misting this plant on a regular basis will keep it looking great because they enjoy areas with high humidity.


Exotic shiny foliage with hues of pink, green and cream. The underside of each leaf is a deep burgundy. This plant requires evenly moist soil at all times. The more sunlight stromanthe gets, the more impact the variegation will be. They are slow growers and make a great desk or floor plant.

Be cautious of placing anywhere near vents or drafts that can cause drier air. Similar to calathea, if you notice any browning on the tips or edges, it’s a sign to increase humidity around the plant.


When you need architectural impact from a plant, look no further than the alocasia genus of plants. With dozens of hybrid and over 70 species, there is one to suit your colour and style needs. Commonly known as elephant ears.

They need to be kept moist and thrive in an environment with high humidity. Be sure to check the variety you purchased because some varieties need more sun and some will outgrow their containers quickly.

You can re-pot these plants annually to maintain shape; this is also an opportunity to divide plants by cutting off rhizomes and planting into a separate container with a loose, well-draining potting mix.


We love ferns to create contrast in outdoor shade gardens. Tropical ferns add texture to indoor spaces where indirect sunlight or partial shade is available. To prevent burnt foliage, always keep ferns away from direct sun.

One of the biggest challenges with ferns is the keeping their soil moisture and humidity levels at a comfortable level; they need an average humidity around 60% during winter. The soil should also be moist at all times.

When choosing a fern, look for healthy green plants and avoid any with severe wilting or yellow foliage.


By: Kayla-Jane Barrie