Monday, February 7, 2011

Let's Talk About Plants, Baby!

Hello Friends!! Sorry about the wait on this post... I had about 80% of it done last week when my internet explorer froze up, shut down and all was lost. It is one of those situations where you just need to walk away and decompress to avoid a full on meltdown. But I finally regrouped and decided to attempt a second go at it.
Before we dig in (pun intended) I want to point out that these are simply the learnings of a very horticulturally un-inclined blogger. One who has both nurtured and killed her share of plants. If any of you green thumbs want to chime in and offer tips and tricks we will be grateful for the advice!
Our plant collection began when we purchased our first home about 5 years ago (dining room pictured below). At the time we were a little short on both cash and furniture so we turned to plants to fill some corners. Specifically large tropical ferns. The best part is that they are pretty affordable, usually $11-$20, and make a big impact, but for the life of us we haven't been able to keep one going for longer than a year. Sean purchased the plant on the table which is called Baby Tears when he surprised me with the antique table one day and they actually thrived for a long while, but the move to this house shocked them a little and they never recovered. But they are a plant that I would definitely purchase again (there are about 6 of them clustered in this planter).

Since we have a poor track record with ferns we decided to try a shrub inside. These boxwoods were a bit pricey ($45 each) but they have withstood our in frequent waterings like champs and easily transport to the front porch in summer.
The other thing I love about them is that they don't mind loosing a few sprigs every so often when I crave a small touch of green elsewhere in the house.
One of my all-time favorite looks is potted herbs. They grow like weeds in our yard, but sadly I have attempted them inside numerous times and they just don't like me. I am fairly certain it is due to the placement of them since there are not many windows in our house offering full sun.
The crazy, unrestrained wisps are so fun and free and if I could manage them I would have them all over the house.
I think that when it comes to greenery in the house more is definitely more. I prefer the look of groupings and clusters of one type of plant versus a mix of various species. It has such a clean, interesting look, and it makes it feel luscious while still feeling uncluttered.
When I came across this plant (sorry, I have NO idea what type it is!!) I discovered my perfect plant match. What is a perfect plant match, you ask? It is what I consider a plant that accomodates my care-style. I typically under water plants, our house isn't very humid and most windows only offer partial sun through out the day so any plants that work around these factors tend to thrive here. For example, I picked this plant up about a year ago:
And today it has doubled in size and managed to bloom even though I was told it didn't flower!
Here are some of the pointers that various horticulturists have shared with me in my hunt for greenery:
- Know whether you under or over water and purchase plants that work under those conditions
- Be aware of the amount of sun the spot you plan to place the plant offers. Partial or in-direct light plants work best for most homes, while full-sun plants are a little harder to keep.
- Check your humidity. If you live in an area that is dry or don't have a humidifier in your home you should stick to plants with large, wax covered leaves (like the one pictured above) because they do not lose moisture as easily. Wispy, thin leaves need to be misted often and require a humid environment (like a bathroom or near a kitchen sink).
But the biggest thing I have taken away from my experience is that even if you have a tendancy to kill plants, if you love greenery it is still cheaper and easier to buy houseplants and get 3, 4, or 5 months of enjoyment (hopefully even more!) out of them than buying fresh flowers every 2 or 3 weeks.
Here are my take on some of the follow plants that have come home (some to stay, others left soon after).
I LOVE bulbs. They are easy to care for, smell divine, and hold their blooms for a few weeks. Daffodils and Hyacinth are my two favorites for spring and Paper Whites and Narcissuss bulbs are my favorite for winter.
Sean knows that most girls love getting roses, but when he decides to treat me to a bundle they are usually still on the branch. I love the full look of mini-rose shrubs but I do find that they are particularly difficult to maintain. They usually end up in the trash about 5 or 6 weeks after coming home because they need a lot of sun, water and dry out quickly. I have transported one to our bathroom and while it doesn't have any blooms on it right now it seems to at least be surviving.
I LOVE orchids. They feel so sophisticated, and while I love that the blooms do last for a while they are quite pricey to be tossing out regularly. I did manage to get this particular grouping of 3 orchids to bloom twice thanks to the use of orchid food, and the wax-y leaves always look beautiful, but when there aren't any blooms I find that orchids tend to look strange. They usually run $20-$30 each if the blooms are fresh so I would only recommend them for someone who is willing to put some effort and time into them.
Speckle Leaf Tropical:
These are really easy and cute plants. They grow fast and require very little maintenance besides an occasional trim. In this pot I have a group of 5 plants clusterred.
I think the look of topiaries, pariticularly grouped, is timeless and really beautiful. Unfortunately they can be a little pricey (these 2 myrtle topiaries were $40 each) as well as high maintenance. These particular myrtles need to be watered daily and clipped regularly, so they are a bit of work, but worth it for me!
String of Pearls:
This is a really unique and interesting plant. I love the cascading drapes of pearls, and they are very easy to care for. They are reasonably priced (this one was $5) but can be difficult to track down and I have only seen them at specialty garden shops. The cloche on top is another great trick for those of us with dry homes because it creates a mini-habitat for the plant and retains the moisture as the plant photo-synthesizes.

Sometimes it is hard to figure out what type of plant you have, like this one I recently picked up without any further description besides "tropical". But at $2 each at Walmart I grabbed 5 and potted them in a soup tureen.
It feels like a mini-forest and I am hoping to catch a glimpse of a fairy amongst the boughs soon!
By far the easiest and cheapest plants I have come across are succulents. If you have a poor track record I recommend starting here, specially if you don't water often! There are a wide variety of succulents and many sizes to choose from which make them ideal for table-top accessories.
What plants have worked for you, that you would recommend to us black thumbs?
Any cool ideas for displaying plants?


Leslie said...

I just got one of those feathery fern 'tropical' plants too:)

I have also found that pothos is very hard to kill. (I am hit or miss on killing vs. keeping.) For a little height, the tropical plants with big chunky trunks are pretty tolerant of me.

Natalie Cox said...

I love orchids too! I have a bright pink one on my dining table and it makes the room.

KellyLane said...

An aloe plant! I have an aloe plant that was my grandma's (it is over 20 years old). Perfect around the kitchen for burns and extremely durable. It multiplies and can be separated into new pots frequently.

Sheri @ Design Pop Interiors said...

I totally love the plant under the cloche - divine! I just bought two orchids from Home Depot for $15 each and they each have about 15 buds that need to open, so I'm figuring they'll be looking pretty for awhile! Thanks for the lovelies!

jrene said...

So pretty! Makes me want to go out and get some succulents... as my hyacinth is quickly approaching it's last breath :(

SShaw said...

Yikes, $45/ea for those little boxwoods?! Is that a typ-o that should have read $4-5/ea or are shrubs really that pricey in your neck of the woods? If they're really that much there, that's shocking!

Jo - To a Pretty Life said...

I currently have one plant. It's a coleus that I was given for my birthday two years ago. It does well with my forgetting to water it. Whenever I notice it getting droopy, I put it in the sink and water it with a gentle spray a few times throughout the day. Then it's good for a few weeks. I also had good luck with a Christmas Cactus, until our kitten destroyed it. Once my son is old enough to listen when I tell him not to touch, I'd like to get more plants.

Amber's Notebook said...

gorgeous! This inspires me to want to try to attempt indoor plants again. I do love my flowers.

Amber's Notebook

Passionate for White said...

Thanks for sharing...made me realize I need more greenery in my life. As and should try Mozilla Firefox....WAY better than Explorer.

Rebecca@This Present Life said...

Thanks for inspiring me to add more plants around my home! As the years have gone by and one plant after another has died, I haven't replaced them. But I love the look of all the plants you have in your home so I think I'm ready to test my green thumb again!

countrycottagegirl said...

I love all your plants! Makes me long for spring! I need some of those beautiful ferns. They look so soft and pretty! Your home is so lovely!

TQ said...

I picked up a golden pothos about 5 months ago and it is still going strong. I just water it whenever it looks droopy and it always comes back...even after I abandoned it for my 2 week Christmas vacation.

carebear3117 said...

Holly, the whispy fern plant you have is an asparagus fern and the other plant you have towards the top of your post that you list is your favorite plant is called a lipstick plant. Your plants all look very healthy. You are doing a great job!

design BLISS inc said...

I can't believe how many plants you have! Congrats to keeping them all alive haha- P.S. I so admire your furniture and styling! Thanks for sharing.

Carolyn said...

I'm with you on the succulents. They are the only plants I have in my house. With 4 boys and a very high-maintenance dog, I don't need plants demanding my attention :) After several failed attempts to raise healthy houseplants, I've decided I'll do my part for the environment by not killing any more innocent plant life!

Leah said...

I have had luck with amaryllis bulbs, we've had the same one that we've divided and shared for about 13 years. We also have a Jade plant that has taken much abuse for about 15 years. I am an under- waterer as well and both of those very tolerant.


mary said...

Your blog, your style = I love it! Plants really make a home feel welcoming and interesting! I have a lot of luck since I am an under-waterer. Except I cannot keep a palm for a full year either! I just started some seedlings and did a little tutorial on my blog here :


Lee said...

Yeah!! I have been checking every day for this post! Thank you! I did not know you did the group thing with your plants. That makes them look like you said "a forest". Thank you again!

Audra said...

Great post. I also love plants but tend to kill them indoors & if they aren't dead they look like the are nearing it!
I would love some tips on photography. Your home always looks very sunny, but you mentioned you don't have direct light.......????? Great job as always!

Kelsey said...

Love your plants!!!! I've had great luck with African Violets, Christmas cactus's, and Jade. They are all pretty tolerant of my eratic attention and they are all still going strong! I need to get that string of pearls...that's GORGEOUS! Thanks so much for this majorly inspired me!

6HartsforHim said...

I believe the flowering plant that you did not know what it was called is Vinca. Aleast it looks like it,I have it in all of our flowerbeds as a ground cover.Mine blooms yellow or purple.But maybe there is a red blooming version too? It's great because it does double in size in NO time! LOVE indoor plants...once my four kids are a little older I'll branch out (no pun intended) and have more indoor plants!

Marcy said...

I love seeing all of the plant choices - but I also enjoy all of the photos of your beautiful home! I featured your blog at today.

Chelsea said...

Before you posted this I was drooling over the "tropical plants" in your home!!! I have a similar planter and am heading straight to wal-mart to buy some for myself!!! I can't believe how affordable they are.

Amanda said...

i have no idea what i'm doing when it comes to maintaining plants on our home. BUT, your previous posts have made me want more greenery in our home. and by "more" i mean, any at all. and this post has me certain i'll be hitting up Home Depot soon for something green... and we both know it won't be paint. ;)

how's that family room coming along? :)

Elisabeth said...

I love that little 6 pot planter that you have so much!! I looked at Homesense several times and never saw one, darnit! I'm still hoping to find something similar sometime, let me know if you ever see anything else like it somewhere!


ps I love the string of pearls plant. I never keep plants in my house even though I like them because they always die, but maybe I will try a simple one.

Kassi @ Truly Lovely said...

LOVED this post! I love houseplants. I only have one right now, a Peace Lilly, but it is lovely! As long as it stays fairly moist, it'll grow and bloom with little white lillys all year long... I had more but they all died the last time I moved. :( I have yet to replenish my collection, but some of the ones you suggested look like they wanna come live at my house! ;)

Lora said...

Thanks for this post. I love REAL plants... none of that fake stuff for me. I'm like you~ some plants do really well for me, some don't! Now, I'm off to read all the comments and get some ideas.

Margaret said...

I love all the plants! However, I'm commenting to tell you how CRAZY it was that the day I read this plant post, I randomly ran into a "String of Pearls" plant at, above all places, WALGREENS!! I live in Oceanside, CA, if any other commenters live nearby and decide they want one. It looks about the same size as yours, but a bit smaller...and was 4.49. I just thought that the timing was too funny. :)

Leah Moss said...

This is so helpful! I love potted plants, but I can't keep them alive to save my life. The nursery near us must think I have an awesome garden b/c I'm always buying new ones, but the reality is that most don't last beyond week 2.

Yours look totally inspiring, and have helped me think about ones that I'd love to get for my home

Terry said...

I just found you and love your photos on your blog. You must come over to my blog because my pillow giveaway would look right at home in your space.

Kimm at Reinvented said...

Oh my, just found your blog, and while I REALLY need and appreciate the plant advice, I am seriously drooling over your furniture makeovers! You have mad talent. :)

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