Monday, July 27, 2015

Adding Life to Your Rooms with Low-Maintenance Houseplants

Have you ever seen how cold and barren a room can look if there are no plants in it? Fresh flowers and green houseplants can add much-needed life and coziness to a stark space.

There are people who have such a knack for encouraging their plants to grow into voluminous masterpieces. They have blooming orchid collections and botanical gardens on their properties that can rival any horticulturalist's efforts.

I am not one of those people.

I have killed orchids each and every time my poor son has eagerly gifted them to me. I have killed succulents (I know...it takes true talent to put those to death.) I have killed houseplants in a matter of a few short months of bringing them home. OK, there has probably been some overwatering, use of soft water, poor lighting conditions, inadequate and under-fertilized soil. You name it, I'm sure I have been an offender. But seriously, even when I try really, really hard, it just falls flat (sometimes literally.)

So, I had all but given up. I rationalized my failures by convincing myself that faux plants and flowers were superior anyway. (You know, they always look healthy, they require no maintenance, etc.) But it turns out that's baloney. Don't get me wrong...there are some beautiful and natural-looking faux plants and flowers available, and I do still use them in certain situations. But recently, as I looked at my rooms with a fresh and objective eye, they looked so flat, sad...dead.

It was time to get back on that horse and try again! Only this time, I knew my limitations and wasn't going to try to be a hero. After doing a little Googling, this is what I came up with.


1. Air plants - NO talent (or soil) required!

Recommended care: Soak air plants in a water bath when you get them home. Let them dry out, then place in bright, indirect sunlight. Water by repeating this process about once a week. They can be misted, if necessary, in between waterings and fertilized to improve growth (this is optional.)

I have mine in a tabletop greenhouse atop a bed of deer moss.


2. Pothos and Philodendron - Very little skill needed...yay!

Recommended care: Pothos can be grown in either soil or water and can tolerate low light. For potted plants, water when soil dries out. Clip back long runners above a leaf node to discourage spindly trailers.


Let's pause for a brief moment to celebrate one of my few-and-far-between plant successes. I have kept this pothos plant alive for over a decade (give or take a year or two...my memory fails me here.) These, I can grow!


3. ZZ plant (short for zamioculcas zamifolia...say that ten times fast!) - Again, very little skill needed.

Recommended care: ZZ plants grow best in moderate, indirect light but can tolerate extremely low light. Water only when dry (they thrive on neglect.) They do not need to be fertilized but can be given half-strenth fertilizer in summer months only. The key here is not to fuss over them...treat them like adolescents who want you to "leave me alone".


Well, there you have it...low-maintenance texture, color and life injected into your rooms. And let's not forget about houseplants' ability to clean the air.

I'm feeling better already :)



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