Monday, October 22, 2012

guest post: “I bought a plant once, but I killed”

Today, I admitted to myself that the palm in my living room, which I got at Ikea for $12, is dying an ugly death. I’ve only had this guy for 7 months! I suppose I should be embarrassed, and if we’re all friends here, I’ll admit that I'm a little surprised it didn't get thrown in the dumpster ages ago.

But I'm not embarrassed in the slightest! For 7 months and $12, this plant has filled a large gap in a corner of my living room and provided some much needed height and balance.

Lately I've noticed that people have a lot of preconceived notions about indoor plants. One of the biggest of them all is this belief that your plants should live for years and years and that if you kill your plant, then you’ve somehow failed miserably and you should give up on ever keeping them.

This is a ludicrous notion.
Plants, both large and small, are relatively inexpensive design elements that bring natural beauty, color, and architectural elements to any room. You can go big and can make a powerful statement...

Or you can go clean and simple...

Even the addition of one plant, one streak of vibrant green, adds dimension, life, and color to your room. Large plants can be a bit intimidating, so I suggest starting with some small potted plants that you can purchase on the cheap and toss if/when they die.

Think of a potted plant as flowers with an extended life. Next time you’re hosting a brunch and you reach for a bouquet, check out the potted fellows --- often they cost only slightly more (and sometimes less) than a bunch of flowers. Get the smallest plants they offer - they will be the cheapest and easiest to manipulate into a container.

Herbs are very inexpensive, easy to find, and are pleasing to both the eye and nose. If given the right conditions (drainage, water, and light), the grouping above could provide you with fresh herbs for months in addition to being decorative.

Consider arranging a grouping of plants (perhaps in similar colors or textures) in an interesting and unexpected container. Afterwards, you can either replant them someplace more suitable indoors or outside or toss them after they die (which will be long after those flowers).  

Here, some colorful pepper plants are housed in a mercury box without the lid. After the dinner, I transferred them to a glass bowl (I like that you can see the mud and roots!) and put them in a sunnier location. I might replant them in a container with holes so that they will live longer, or I'll just replace them when they die.  

Already have plants? Change it up. For your next brunch or dinner party, borrow some of your existing plants and use them as the centerpiece. 

Most plants will tolerate a few days of lower sunlight. After your guests leave, put the plant back in its more favorable place or container.

Your succulents may prefer a sunny window, but they don't have to live there all of the time!  

Final food for thought --- try plants in less traditional places orchid in the bathroom.

Orchids will thrive off the humidity in your bathroom!

Or a series of pots in the bedroom for some romance...

see related post on apartment therapy

And I would be remiss if I didn't mentioned terrariums. I just love terrariums --- so easy and stylish, everyone should have one. Or three. Check out the very clever Twig Terrariums out of Brooklyn (below) or make one of your own.

Where to find fantastic plants in DC:
Johnson's Florist and Garden Center (Tenleytown's HUGE retailer, offers nearly everything)

Old City Green (A great outdoor garden center in Shaw - also has the best compost I've used)

Frager's Hardware (Very knowledgeable staff at this Capitol Hill favorite)

Surroundings Flowers & Events (Limited retail space, but I always find fun items to pick up when I walk by) 

Home Depot (Not the most glamorous place to shop but often the best prices - the Rhode Island Ave location is very convenient)

This post brought to you by Nancy Tujague

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