Let's Talk About Plants, Baby!

Hello Friends!! Sorry about the wait on this post... I had about 80% of it done last week when my internet explorer froze up, shut down and all was lost. It is one of those situations where you just need to walk away and decompress to avoid a full on meltdown. But I finally regrouped and decided to attempt a second go at it.
Before we dig in (pun intended) I want to point out that these are simply the learnings of a very horticulturally un-inclined blogger. One who has both nurtured and killed her share of plants. If any of you green thumbs want to chime in and offer tips and tricks we will be grateful for the advice!
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Our plant collection began when we purchased our first home about 5 years ago (dining room pictured below). At the time we were a little short on both cash and furniture so we turned to plants to fill some corners. Specifically large tropical ferns. The best part is that they are pretty affordable, usually $11-$20, and make a big impact, but for the life of us we haven't been able to keep one going for longer than a year. Sean purchased the plant on the table which is called Baby Tears when he surprised me with the antique table one day and they actually thrived for a long while, but the move to this house shocked them a little and they never recovered. But they are a plant that I would definitely purchase again (there are about 6 of them clustered in this planter).
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Since we have a poor track record with ferns we decided to try a shrub inside. These boxwoods were a bit pricey ($45 each) but they have withstood our in frequent waterings like champs and easily transport to the front porch in summer.
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The other thing I love about them is that they don't mind loosing a few sprigs every so often when I crave a small touch of green elsewhere in the house.
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One of my all-time favorite looks is potted herbs. They grow like weeds in our yard, but sadly I have attempted them inside numerous times and they just don't like me. I am fairly certain it is due to the placement of them since there are not many windows in our house offering full sun.
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The crazy, unrestrained wisps are so fun and free and if I could manage them I would have them all over the house.
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I think that when it comes to greenery in the house more is definitely more. I prefer the look of groupings and clusters of one type of plant versus a mix of various species. It has such a clean, interesting look, and it makes it feel luscious while still feeling uncluttered.
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When I came across this plant (sorry, I have NO idea what type it is!!) I discovered my perfect plant match. What is a perfect plant match, you ask? It is what I consider a plant that accomodates my care-style. I typically under water plants, our house isn't very humid and most windows only offer partial sun through out the day so any plants that work around these factors tend to thrive here. For example, I picked this plant up about a year ago:
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And today it has doubled in size and managed to bloom even though I was told it didn't flower!
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Here are some of the pointers that various horticulturists have shared with me in my hunt for greenery:
- Know whether you under or over water and purchase plants that work under those conditions
- Be aware of the amount of sun the spot you plan to place the plant offers. Partial or in-direct light plants work best for most homes, while full-sun plants are a little harder to keep.
- Check your humidity. If you live in an area that is dry or don't have a humidifier in your home you should stick to plants with large, wax covered leaves (like the one pictured above) because they do not lose moisture as easily. Wispy, thin leaves need to be misted often and require a humid environment (like a bathroom or near a kitchen sink).
But the biggest thing I have taken away from my experience is that even if you have a tendancy to kill plants, if you love greenery it is still cheaper and easier to buy houseplants and get 3, 4, or 5 months of enjoyment (hopefully even more!) out of them than buying fresh flowers every 2 or 3 weeks.
Here are my take on some of the follow plants that have come home (some to stay, others left soon after).
Bulbs:
I LOVE bulbs. They are easy to care for, smell divine, and hold their blooms for a few weeks. Daffodils and Hyacinth are my two favorites for spring and Paper Whites and Narcissuss bulbs are my favorite for winter.
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Roses:
Sean knows that most girls love getting roses, but when he decides to treat me to a bundle they are usually still on the branch. I love the full look of mini-rose shrubs but I do find that they are particularly difficult to maintain. They usually end up in the trash about 5 or 6 weeks after coming home because they need a lot of sun, water and dry out quickly. I have transported one to our bathroom and while it doesn't have any blooms on it right now it seems to at least be surviving.
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Orchids:
I LOVE orchids. They feel so sophisticated, and while I love that the blooms do last for a while they are quite pricey to be tossing out regularly. I did manage to get this particular grouping of 3 orchids to bloom twice thanks to the use of orchid food, and the wax-y leaves always look beautiful, but when there aren't any blooms I find that orchids tend to look strange. They usually run $20-$30 each if the blooms are fresh so I would only recommend them for someone who is willing to put some effort and time into them.
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Speckle Leaf Tropical:
These are really easy and cute plants. They grow fast and require very little maintenance besides an occasional trim. In this pot I have a group of 5 plants clusterred.
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Topiaries:
I think the look of topiaries, pariticularly grouped, is timeless and really beautiful. Unfortunately they can be a little pricey (these 2 myrtle topiaries were $40 each) as well as high maintenance. These particular myrtles need to be watered daily and clipped regularly, so they are a bit of work, but worth it for me!
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String of Pearls:
This is a really unique and interesting plant. I love the cascading drapes of pearls, and they are very easy to care for. They are reasonably priced (this one was $5) but can be difficult to track down and I have only seen them at specialty garden shops. The cloche on top is another great trick for those of us with dry homes because it creates a mini-habitat for the plant and retains the moisture as the plant photo-synthesizes.
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Sometimes it is hard to figure out what type of plant you have, like this one I recently picked up without any further description besides "tropical". But at $2 each at Walmart I grabbed 5 and potted them in a soup tureen.
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It feels like a mini-forest and I am hoping to catch a glimpse of a fairy amongst the boughs soon!
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Succulents:
By far the easiest and cheapest plants I have come across are succulents. If you have a poor track record I recommend starting here, specially if you don't water often! There are a wide variety of succulents and many sizes to choose from which make them ideal for table-top accessories.
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What plants have worked for you, that you would recommend to us black thumbs?
Any cool ideas for displaying plants?