If there were plant police, I would have been arrested for murder in my 20s. Luckily for all that is green and good, I learned how to sustain more than hardy succulents. It’s an education that pays off. Not only do houseplants improve air quality, they are an essential element of home decorating.
Aesthetically pleasing, they add sculptural shape, color and texture to rooms. Add them in to soften a room’s hard edges and to provide a sense of welcoming. Despite all the perks, plants are often M.I.A. in many homes. Let me assure the commitment shy that most only take minimal care. In fact, overwatering is the number one killer.
Here are my five ways to fake a green thumb.
1 – Let the top inch of soil in the pot dry before re-watering and pour out water that seeps into the saucer after watering.
2 – Don’t use outdoor soil. It won’t drain properly and might contain plant-killing pathogens.
3- Use rainwater or untreated tap water for best results.
4 – Cut back on fertilizer in fall and winter.
5 – Keep care instructions handy and follow them.
Now that you can keep them alive, here’s how to decorate with your plants.
- Small trees bring life and visual interest to an empty and lonely corner. Consider dramatic uplighting.
- Decorative rock, moss or semi-precious stones are a beautiful way to cover dirt.
- Choose pots or lined baskets that work with your decor.
- Place plants in your foyer, in the bathroom, on your dresser in the bedroom, on kitchen counters, on mantels, end tables or coffee tables.
- Match plant type to the style of the room. I love orchids in my formal living room and in my master bath.
- Cluster a collection of plants for more impact on a window sill or create an indoor garden.
- Take note of plant placement in shelter magazines for more decorating ideas.
Some plants just can’t be saved, despite your best efforts. Others may just need a little first aid.
- If it has speckled leaves covered with webbing it’s probably been infested with spider mites. Pull the plug.
- Spots on leaves can be the result of disease. Quarantine it from other plants and remove contaminated leaves. Only water at base to determine if the spots are merely water spots. They could also be caused by counter sprays or cooking grease. If that’s the case, a new location will clear up the problem.
- Icky sticky leaves with fuzzy spots are caused by mealy bugs and aphids. Time to toss.
- A thirsty plants will wilt. If watering doesn’t perk it back up, root rot could be the culprit. They will be blackened and smelly. Say a quick good-bye.
- Yellowing leaves signal that it’s time to re-pot or that you’re over-watering.
My houseplant survivor hall of fame:
1 – Croton
2 – Kalanchoe
3 – African Violet
4 – Peace Lily
5 – Lucky Bamboo
6 – Money Tree
7 – Dracaena
8 – Orchids
9 – Kitchen Herbs
10 – Ivy
Now get going with the greenery!
Kitchen organizers can be pricey and hard to find, but your local office supply offers inexpensive storage solutions for under $5. Here’s a trio to try.
Use the typical file organizer shown above to stash your baking sheets and cutting boards. No more hard to sift through stacks!
Store your freezer wrap, foils and sandwich bag boxes upright in a magazine box like the ones shown below. It’s so space smart!
Use colorful pen and pencil cups to organize flatware for a party buffet.
Please share some of your office to kitchen ideas.
If your pillows are more than four years old, take advantage of January’s white sales. But how much should you invest?
It depends on the type of pillow you prefer. According to consumer testing, there’s very little quality difference between high and low priced memory foam pillows. So you might as well save in this category. Try Target and QVC.
Most reports indicated testers preferred luxury down-filled or polyester-filled pillows over budget brand counterparts. This is worth the splurge. Try Soft Surroundings, Frontgate and Cuddledown.