We have plants everywhere in our 100-year-old house — mainly on the third floor, where there are three large skylights plus north- and south-facing windows and even a small window facing east. There is so much light up there and the plants love it so much that it’s beginning to look a lot like a jungle! But the rest of our house is pretty full of greenery as well. It’s one of the first things people comment on when they come into our home for the first time, so I thought I’d do a post about keeping plants alive and healthy (especially in the darker winter months).
For five years, we’ve had the same succulents on a rolling cart on our landing, which happens to have huge floor-to-ceiling east-facing windows. It’s a spot that gets good morning sun, but not intense direct light. Most indoor plants do not do well with too much direct light. It can burn their leaves and dry things out too fast. I water these guys about once every week (or two weeks, more often). I water an amount that will soak them and leave a bit of water in the clear trays underneath them. *It is very important to get pots with drainage holes in the bottom. I have tried ones without and fail every time, no matter what the type of plant. Drainage is very important.
In the winter months, it’s really fun for kids to grow flowers inside. These marigolds have been going strong, continuing to bloom and re-bloom since Thanksgiving! Milo planted them from seeds and we keep the soil moist. They are in a south-facing window which gets a lot of direct sunlight (flowers typically need plenty of direct sunlight, just like the veggies we grow in our garden).
We tried our luck with a fiddle-leaf fig (shown above, left) and it has doubled in size since I picked it up a year ago. It will be ready for a bigger pot soon. One tip I’d like to share is that you will have the best luck with plants grown at a professional nursery rather than a place like Home Depot or Lowes. In the past, I’ve tried to save money by buying plants from these places, but they always end up dead long before their time. They are often diseased or malnourished. Go to your local nursery and ask the people who work there to help you choose something — they really do know what they are talking about, and can often give great suggestions or advice about growing plants indoors. Plus, if you go in the winter, the greenhouses are warm and humid and remind me of summer. It’s like a breath of fresh air.
Air plants are also a good thing! They need to be soaked in a glass or bowl of water, completely submerged, for about 20 minutes once a week. I usually set a timer and do this while I’m cooking dinner so I don’t forget and let the thing drown. I love air plants because you can get creative with whatever vessel you choose to put them in. This one is hanging in our living room (a room that doesn’t get a whole lot of light, so we’re testing it out) in a beautiful glass globe a friend got me for my birthday. I love the color and shape of it.
Because our living room doesn’t get a lot of natural light, I’ve resorted to fresh flowers. It really cheers things up and I think it’s worth it if you can find them for cheap. Trader Joe’s sells calla lilies for $6 per bunch and they can last for up to two weeks if you keep the water fresh. Totally worth it!
These spray roses are also from Trader Joe’s, same price. I fancied them up by putting them in a short glass of water, then inside this brass vessel that I found antiquing.
If you love plants but don’t have a very light and bright house, or aren’t sure if you’re going to kill them, I suggest changing how you think about indoor plants. I read once that if you think about a small house plant as just a bunch of flowers that last a bit longer, you can get over the guilt you feel if the plant doesn’t make it in the long run. Toss it into the compost and try again with a different variety.