I love a houseplant. Some (my husband) might say I have a problem. Most women throw in a new nail polish or a magazine while getting everything on their list for the week; I throw in a houseplant.
Here’s how I rationalize it (because I try to rationalize everything):
1. Houseplants are good for you. They provide fresh air, help filter the air, and studies have shown they can help boost your mood.
2. They are often cheaper than flowers. I can buy a bundle of decent flowers for $10 and enjoy them for a week at best, or I can get a houseplant and enjoy it for as long as I can take care of it.
3. They really make a big difference in the appearance of a space! Your home needs life. Rooms feel static and stale without life. Take a look at any image in a magazine and I guarantee there will be some sort of foliage or living thing in it.
Now, let me begin by saying this is not something I come about naturally. I should, but I don’t. My parents are rather avid gardeners and have always spent a lot of time outside tending to plants. You can show my mom just about any plant, and she can tell you what it is and how to take care of it. I avoided helping with their yard work at all costs growing up. My brother and sister would be sweating their butts off while I was practicing piano or working on a project for my sewing class. Prissy? Who me?
So, for those of you who are still houseplant virgins, let’s begin where I began: with some faux foliage. It’s not the best, but when it comes to decorating your home, it’s better than nothing. Faux has a bad rap, and rightfully so because there are some rather hideous things out there. I think topiaries are the best looking option when it comes to fake plants, and I started with these that are now on the kids’ piano. Here is a similar set. Preserved boxwood looks much nicer, but with the quality comes a higher price.
As a disclaimer, I want to say that I don’t have any knowledge on houseplants other than my own experience. We happen to live in a house with no big trees around. Bad for our electric bill in the summer, good for keeping our home light and bright and plant friendly. If your home doesn’t get much light, many of the plants I have might not be a fit for you. Your dry, desert climate is going to affect plants differently than my humid, Midwest climate. I will, however, start by recommending this:
My mom kindly gave this moisture meter to me after I had started to amass quite the collection of plants. It’s like a thermometer, but it reads moisture and comes with a chart of the most common plants and what their levels should be before watering. This thing really helped me figure out how often I should be watering everything. I don’t use it much anymore (unless I get a new plant that is giving me trouble) but it was great for setting my watering schedule.
The first houseplant I ever purchased was an orchid. I saw someone post about them on instagram one day and when I saw them at Aldi for $9, I thought, “for $9 I can give this a shot.” Housing 3 of them at the moment, they have definitely become my favorite houseplant. They need a good amount of sunlight, so place them in a bright room, and keep them away from drafts -doorways, air vents. I give mine 3 ice cubes once a week and that’s it! Simple and beautiful and mine keep their flowers for several months. The one in our living room flowered for 3 months!
The plant on the mantle is a Bromeliad. I picked it up at Walmart for under $10. I give it 1/2 cup of water once a week and it seems happy.
After the orchids, Aldi had a small assortment of housepants for $2-3, so I purchased one of each. The plant on the left is a dracaena ‘janet craig compacta’ and the snake plant (right) have done well with very little watering. The aloe vera plant in the back was $3 at Walmart.
Aldi had small hydrangeas for $4 this last spring and I picked up a pink one (it’s the plant in the white pot). It has not rebloomed yet, but I probably need to move it outside for it to do that. Some more aloe: I have actually used it on a burn and it worked like a charm!
The fiddle leaf fig tree was my biggest splurge (about $40) and the plant I was most worried about. I bought it last year at Heartland Nursery and was nervous after hearing so many mixed reviews on them. At first this little guy seemed a bit finicky, but I was persistent with watering (trying not to get too excited and over water) and I left him in one sunny spot, and now he seems to be thriving. He’s grown at least a foot and I hope one day he’ll be huge – they can grow to be 10′ tall!
On Xander’s dresser sits a ficus. We got it at Heartland and it was in the section with the “fairy garden” plants. I think every nursery has one of those now. He gets up late and takes a long nap, so the shades in here are drawn a lot during the day. It was important to find something that didn’t require a ton of light. The cloche on top allows the plant to almost water itself…Xander just spritzes it with a spray bottle about once a month.
I’ve always loved my mom’s asparagus fern, and picked up this moisture loving one at Heartland.
I had such great luck with the smaller snake plant, I kept my eye out for a larger one. Walmart had this one on sale for $11.
The jade plant in the black pot is from Home Depot. For $10, it makes a great addition to our dining table and it’s another one that only needs a small drink about once a week.
Clearly I’m still learning myself. This senecio vitalis (serpant’s blue chalk fingers) is obviously not too happy that I just transplanted him into such a pretty gold bowl, but I’m doing my best to not flood him with water and kill him.
A few dont’s that are common killers:
Don’t move plants around a lot. Like people, they like to feel at home. They get adjusted to a particular place and they don’t like change.
Don’t over water! This is probably the number one killer of plants. Most houseplants want to dry out before you give them another drink, especially any kind of succulent. Let the top inch of soil be bone dry (yes, you have to stick your finger down in there…a little dirt isn’t going to hurt your nails. I say this as someone who didn’t want to do that at first myself.)
To add to an already lengthy post, I can’t sign off without wishing a happy birthday to my favorite boy. Xander turns 4 today! I can’t believe how the time flies and how big he has become. I cherish this gift from God and am so blessed to be his mom. He brings me delight and challenges me in ways I never imagined. We are more alike than I care to admit, and it is humbling and beautiful to see that.
I hope you enjoy this Freaky Friday! We’ll be partying Friday the 13th style tonight, and I look forward to sharing it all with you!
So, what houseplants have you tried your hand at?