The cascading asparagus fern that draped down from a hanging basket in our living room when I was a kid moved with us from place to place. My mom was and is so good with plants that I never wondered whether plants belong indoors. Of course they do. What’s strange is a home that is devoid of plant life.
When I say my mother was good with plants, I mean that she wasn’t afraid to grow them, which is the bottom line for successful house plantery. “But I don’t have a green thumb,” I hear people say. Here are the facts: house plants, which are really shade-loving tropicals, need only low levels of light and proper watering techniques to survive.
Like pets and pictures on the wall, house plants mean someone really lives here. They signify nesting in its finest form. Consider that the cultivation of life puts you in an amazing frame of mind for personal and relational growth.
A few tips when buying house plants:
1. Shop at a local garden center (I shop at this one) rather than a big box store. Even though Lowe’s and Home Depot usually offer better prices, it’s less likely you’ll make friends with someone there who can advise you in your first growing forays. That is not always the case–I’ve had luck at one Home Depot in particular. But Eric and Lisa, who own the nursery where I usually shop, are much more invested in my plant-growing success than the part-timers at the big box.
2. Try foliage plants. Blooming plants like orchids are incredible, no doubt. But they can be tricky if you expect them to repeatedly bloom. My approach is to accept these plants as beautiful whether or not they are flowering, but so many people I know consider themselves a failure if their house plants don’t rebloom. If that could be you, try easy-care plants like a schefflera (fantastic leaves) or a little ficus.
3. Don’t buy root-bound plants. Remove the plastic “liner” (that’s what the el cheapo container the plant comes in is called) and take a look at the roots. Are they so in-grown that there is hardly any soil, and the roots have filled out the pot and taken on its shape? Not good. Buy a plant that is growing in dark, rich, loose soil and whose roots hang down long when you pull the plant from the pot.
Once you’ve brought your baby home, follow the directions. Place it somewhere it will get the appropriate amount of light as directed on the plant tag, and water it according to the plant tag’s guidance as well. Make plant care part of your regular routine and you will be rewarded with beauty unmatched by non-living things, and the good feeling that comes with nurturing.
Need more house plant advice? Ask Sarah in the comments!