Posted April 18, 2020
by Anne Grice
Have you noticed how having plants around us make us feel happier? What about making them happy too? Take a look at this article that will guide you in keeping your houseplants happy.
Houseplants have been in and out of my life – balancing my environment – depending on my living situation and how much time I spent at home. When I attended the University of Texas in Austin, my home was practically a greenhouse, since I spent a lot of time at home when not in class and, I had enough room in a condo I shared with my 2 girlfriends.
I later went through phases of my early career when either a) I had no time to care for plants due to commuting time and work, or b) I was moving around or in too small of a space to accommodate plants.
Over the past several years, having enough room, I have really enjoyed having plants around and enjoyed taking care of them. It’s part of my morning ritual and makes me feel good to see them thriving. I even have lots of plants at our design studio, including many orchids that have bloomed repeatedly over the years. Living in the Rocky Mountains, I think it’s especially nice to have some indoor plants. It’s a nice way to use some of that bright sun that comes in our windows during the long winters.
Here is what I have learned:
1. Plan where to display your plant
Know exactly where you plan to put the plant first, taking into account amount of sunlight, amount of space (allow extra for growth – no crowding against walls, etc.), height you want, etc.
I prefer easy to care for plants. Here are some of my favorites:
SPATHIPHYLLUM or PEACE LILY – these love indirect sunlight and the best part is – they start to droop when they need water – and do fine as long as you pay attention. Watering once a week is usually sufficient. Keep out of direct sunlight. Mine continue to bloom with pretty white flowers throughout the year. NASA found that this is one of the top indoor plants for cleaning the air.
POTHOS IVY PLANTS – these are very easy to care for. They love bright, indirect light and well drained soil. It’s fun to grow some for friends by putting cuttings in water until you see established roots forming.
GERANIUMS – Because I have a south facing window that provides great light, I am able to keep geraniums inside in the winter, and I keep them on my deck during the summer. The intense color of the blooms that continue all winter long is what I love about these, although, there are a few downsides that you need to consider:
- They need well drained soil and quite a bit of water
- Geraniums can be poisonous if pets try to eat them
- Constant dropping of the petals and small dry leaves make them a bit messy
2. Think about the container
There are 2 ways to approach this:
PLANT DIRECTLY IN THE CONTAINER
- Select a decorative container you like and select a smaller plant in a plastic pot and re-pot in the decorative container (as long as it has a drain hole).
- Purchase a clear plastic dish slightly larger than the container. I recommend the 3” plus high ones just in case you accidentally over water. It’s important that the pot sits tight to the bottom of the plastic dish – this allows for the roots to get additional moisture if needed – Jill and her team at Mountain Greenery in Basalt taught me the importance of this. It helps keep some of my plants from drying out so much in our arid climate.
USE THE CONTAINER AS A DECORATIVE “COVER
- Select a much larger decorative container – it can be much larger and taller than your plant needs.
- Either use the plastic pot your plant came in or if it looks “root bound” (roots coming out of the bottom), repot in a larger and deeper plastic pot.
- Purchase a clear plastic dish that is big enough for your plastic pot.
- Now stack pieces of wood, Styrofoam or an upside down plastic pot (almost anything, really) in the bottom to get the planted pot even with the top of your container.
- Cover the top with moss so that it appears that the plant is potted in the container.
- Be careful when watering that you only pour the water into the “planted pot” to avoid spills!
If you need more height, purchase an appropriate sized plant stand. I love small, unobtrusive ones. In fact, I highly recommend a stand to protect your floors.
3. Feed Your Plants
This – Schultz Plant Food Plus – has been my plant food of choice for years, it keeps all of my houseplants happy. It’s really easy to use, just add 7 drops per quart of water every time you water your plants!
The bottom line: A Guide on Keeping Your Houseplants Happy
Stay happy by keeping your plants happy:
- Plan where to display your plants – choose plants that work for you
- Think about the container – form and function are important
- Feed your plants – make sure your plants are getting more than just water
- For more about the joy of plant keeping check out this article from trees.com.
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About the Author
Anne is the principal of Anne Grice Interiors, award-winning interior design and remodeling experts since 1996.