Updated: Aug 6, 2020
For this week's design tip I wanted to talk about house plants (DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert! Just a person trying to keep my plant babies alive and sharing my experience so you don't go through what I did). I'll admit I don't have the greenest of thumbs but I'm learning! My only experience with plants was growing up during the summer I'd help my mom with her flowers around the outside of the house. She only had one plant inside which was a propagated Christmas cactus passed down from her side of the family. However, I quickly learned that indoor plants are very different than summer time outdoor plants.
I'm sure you've scrolled through social media such as Instagram or Pinterest and seen lovely remodels and plants all throughout the room as decor pieces. I wanted that in my own home because I'd be in awe at how wonderful a simple plant can help add color and textures into a room that fake plants couldn't achieve.
This plant journey didn't start until my sister moved into her own place this past January and I don't mean that lightly! Three pots of succulents turned into 14 in about a month for me. As for my sister, well, hers went from a little less than ten to I think she's up to about 90. Yes, 90 different plants in her home, it's a jungle but at least the air is well filtered!
Things to Keep in Mind...
Before you go out to your local hardware store, I highly recommend walking around your house at different times of the day to see where you get the most sun and the least and your zone. And I mean really look! For me, my house only gets direct sunlight in the mornings since my house is north east/east facing (if you aren't sure you can download a compass app on your phone). This means that I needed plants that require mostly shade to moderate sunlight or only morning sunlight. However, my sister gets tons of light since her house is south facing.
During the plant buying process I was convinced I could buy plants that needed full sun and be okay since I got direct sunlight in the mornings. WRONG! My first plants were succulents and I bought full sun succulents. It was very detering trying to keep them alive in the winter when we hardly get sunlight for weeks in Minnesota and my exposure of direct sunlight was limited. Two of my succulents did unfortunately die and somehow the rest of them, while they may not look good, are pulling through and are starting to grow back now that it's summer. The only reason they're surviving now is because I put them on my deck for a few hours/days (if it doesn't rain) where they'll get as much sun/heat as possible. My hope is that they'll grow stronger before winter hits and fingers crossed they'll make it but I'm prepared for the worst.
Remember my sister and her house facing south? Her succulents which we bought and planted at the same time are thriving, even through the winter when mine were struggling. And it all has to do with sunlight!
More things to keep in mind...
Do you have pets? Kids?
Pets, especially cats, love to chew on house plants. Certain plants are mildly toxic while others can make your pet very ill. The big factor with cats is unlike dogs they can jump onto surfaces that are higher up, cats can get into anything if they're determined. Dogs can also get into plants if it's a floor plant, or if they're allowed on the furniture and you have a plant on a side table there's a possibility they could get into it. Doing a quick google search can provide tons of information on whether the plant(s) you like are safe for your fur babies.
Same thing can go for kids. Littler kids also can get into anything if you turn away for a few seconds. It's good to be aware that some plants are toxic to the skin and can cause irritation when handled and damaged. Again, a quick google search can give you piece of mind before you buy.
Let's Start Easy
You've done your research, you've decided where you want a plant and determined how much sunlight that area of your home gets, now what?
Most of my plants are from Home Depot, and Lowe's (sometimes you can buy some at Target, Walmart, and grocery stores). I recommend walking around their greenhouse and see what you do and don't like. You can buy single plants that you pot yourself or you can buy already pre-potted arrangements and it takes the guessing game of what looks good with what.
I choose to buy individual plants so I could pick my pot and make my own arrangements. You'll quickly find out that pots aren't cheap and not all of them come with drainage holes. If you plan to make your own arrangement of succulents/other types of plants that require good drainage, drainage holes are very important! I'm going to say that again, drainage holes are VERY important! Why? Two words... Root rot. You can buy pots with already pre drilled drainage holes or some may have areas where you drill your own holes but some pots don't have any holes and you can't drill your own, make sure you double check before buying.
Another important part of plant buying is buying the correct soil. When you buy a plant they come with a little piece of paper that tells you what that plant requires. From there you can determine what soil is best. Going back to pots not having drainage holes. If you're in love with a pot that doesn't have drainage holes but your plant requires good drainage, you can buy perlite. Perlite is a porous substance that offers both excellent water retention and drainage capabilities. I have potted some succulents in a pot without drainage holes and used a mixture of succulent soil and perlite for the added drainage. Some people use sand, gravel and others substitutes, make sure you do research before because all options have pros and cons.
If you're looking for a specific plant you may have better odds buying through Etsy, or a greenhouse online or at your local shop. My sister bought a ton through Etsy since local hardware stores have your basic succulents/house plants. Keep in mind Etsy and greenhouses whether online or local may be more expensive.
You can buy pots at a hardware store, Target, Walmart, Etsy, Amazon etc. I recommend looking at reviews before you buy because some of my sisters pots are actually molding from the inside out. And like I said earlier pots aren't cheap!
Part 2 Next Week
Next week I'll talk about certains plants and leave some helpful websites about houseplants that you can use to help make your plant research a bit easier!
Thank you for joining in and reading! I hope you got an insight into what we do, who we work with, the reality behind making old spaces new, and how awesome are clients are!