We’re back again, this time to talk about how to make your plants feel the most welcome when you bring them home. We’ll talk about some basics for placement and care, as well as how to create a few vignettes that keep your plants happy and healthy, and your shelves extremely Instagrammable.
In my last post Shylah and I took time to walk through my Sherman Hill apartment, so I had a good idea of where each plant should be placed. However, we live in the age of Fixer Upper, Pinterest, and endless online inspiration, so I knew that I wouldn’t just plop my pots down and be satisfied.
We’ve lived in this apartment for four years and I’ve spent that time creating a little space that is filled with art by amazing Des Moines women, furniture that I’ve thrifted, scavenged, or reworked, and a wardrobe full of clothing - my favorite form of self-expression. I wanted to ensure that my new plants would look and feel styled and intentional, but still get enough light (a.k.a. food!) to thrive.
Since all four plants - a parlor palm, a snake plant, a philodendron, and a chinese evergreen - have low light requirements, I opted to keep them in our second bedroom. The room faces South, and its large window is shaded by the mature trees that stake down our neighborhood. As a result, the light is low, indirect, and filtered through leaves and branches. It is also less of a spare bedroom, and more of a large walk-in closet for me and all of my self-expressive plain white t-shirts.
Adding life and greenery to this space felt natural, and would also ensure that I had daily contact with each plant. Their care needs are similar, needing water only about once each week, or when the top layer of soil begins to feel dry and loose.
The exception is my snake plant. He only needs watered every week and a half or so, which sounds convenient because you can wait so long in between each watering, but is in fact much more confusing because you can’t select a day of the week (like Tuesday, which has always been a day that I like very much, but with only seven options you can’t be too picky) and mark that as watering day. Since I am an overall forgetful waterer, having daily contact with my new plants was an important safeguard. (Also, it feels like a small failing as a writer to only use “water, watering, waterer” over and over again. There must be better words, but even a thesaurus search yielded no satisfactory substitute. Damn.)
When I moved in to my very first college apartment, I was eager to make it my own by hanging art on the walls from day one. I shoved the furniture wherever it would easily fit in my tiny bedroom and started rifling through boxes to find a hammer and nails. My mom was there, helping me move and unpack, and she shared a piece of advice that I didn’t care for much then, but have since come to value very greatly. She looked at my slightly haphazard furniture placement and said, “You know, why don’t you just live with this for a few days. You may want to move things around, and then the picture frames will look out of place and you’ll have a chore shifting all those books again.”
19-year-old me huffed a little at this idea, but it turned out that the advice was helpful: I moved my bed, desk, and bookshelf four separate times before landing on the arrangement that worked best. Since then, I’ve thought about her advice every time I’ve moved, or even just introduced something new in to our home. Live with it for a few days. It inevitably proves out. (As an aside, this advice is also sound when it comes to big emotions, job changes, financial decisions, important questions, and feeling distraught over a new haircut.)
(My snake plant and Chinese evergreen live above my shoes on the West wall, among artwork from Tia Rodemeyer, Anna Frederick, Amanda Rhodes, and Ephemera.)
I had a very specific vision for how to incorporate my plants in to our home. Since space is limited, especially in the spare bedroom, each one had to act as a decor piece without taking up too much precious functional real estate. I arranged and rearranged things in advance and, brimming with joy, paraded in with my newly potted jungle and lovingly placed each plant. Stepping back to admire my work, I was suddenly uncertain. I rotated the plants, moved them to other surfaces, staggered their arrangement, and then decided to just live with it all for a few days.
It was a good thing I did, too, because my original placement did not work well for my plants and they started to get sick. We’ll talk more about new plant parent panic in my next post (we’ve all been there), but for now, let’s take a look at where each botanical baby landed to live happily ever after (I hope). I love blogs that give you a glimpse inside of someone’s home because I am a deeply nosey person. If this describes you too, you’re welcome, and also, you will not see any untidy messes on my floors because I made sure to crop them out of the photos.
(My parlor palm lives in a spunky GroupPartner planter alongside a portrait of my husband and I by Tia Rodemeyer and a small print of 111 Archer Avenue from The Royal Tennebaums.)
I hope you found some inspiration on how to style your plants in a way that is functional, beautiful, and healthy for them and for your home. My next post will be about what to do when you think you might have killed your plants, and whether or not all four green babies have survived this long in my care. Place your bets now and tune in next time!