5 Things You Can Put Plants in That You Already Own!

plants

Upcycling is a great way to find new uses for old things and cut down on waste at the same time. So, why not upcycle some things you have lying around and increase the amount of fresh oxygen in your apartment, too? If you’re hankering for some more green life in your place, but don’t want to fork out a bunch of money for new planters these are some simple substitutions you can make.

Depending on what kind of plants you have, you may want to consider: how much water and drainage the plant needs (to base your container choice on), how hot the container will get, i.e., metal vs. ceramic, and if the container will warp with moisture in it, i.e., wood. Some types of containers will work better for certain plants than others – keep these things in mind when making your choices!

Old teacups or mugs – If you’ve broken the handle off a mug or chipped a cup, it can still make an attractive planter like these here. Since the containers are small and don’t have drainage holes, it’s best to plant succulents or cacti in these.

  1. Tin cans – this is a great way to recycle canned food cans and make something useful. Thoroughly clean cans and poke a hole in the bottom for drainage. These work great for mini herb gardens in the kitchen. You can even decorate the cans to match your decor. If you want something bigger, try using an empty paint can instead!
  2. Colanders – these make great planters as they are full of holes! This lets the soil drain and breathe so your plants don’t get root rot. You can even suspend them from a chain like a hanging planter.
  3. Old boots – you’d be surprised how great these are for cute little planters! They give a whimsical look to a porch or patio.
  4. Cookware – baking pans, old mixing bowls, and all that jazz make attractive little planters for your apartment. So instead of throwing out your old stuff when you replace it with new, see what else you can do with it!

Eastern Style: Bonsai Trees

bonsai

Japanese culture and style has fascinated me for years – I’m enchanted by Japanese woodblock prints, paper lanterns and screens, beautiful tea sets, and everything in between. One of my absolute favorite facets of Japanese culture is the cultivation of miniature trees, or bonsai trees. I will not pretend to be an authority on caring for bonsai trees. I can only claim to be a fervent enthusiast at best, but I have a serious interest and the intention of improving my caregiving skills! RIP those bonsai trees that have already met their end at my hands…

Bonsai literally means “tray-plant”, aptly named because the miniature trees are planted in very shallow trays, which restrict the tree’s root growth. As the trees grow, their branches are shaped, or “trained” with wire to create the desired visual effect. Bonsai trees have been grown in Asia for over a thousand years and there are many avid connoisseurs today. These miniature trees provide an incredible aesthetic element to an apartment if you’re up for the challenge. I say challenge because, as one of my bonsai books stated, they are like the show poodle of the plant world. They require consistent daily care and careful attention to surroundings. However the end result is fascinating and rewarding, lasting years if taken care of properly. Amazingly, some bonsai trees even outlived their owners.

There are many different types of bonsai trees – basically any type of tree can be miniaturized, but there are specific popular breeds. Junipers are the most readily available, probably because they are the easiest to take care of. They are hardy and do well in most climates. Other evergreens are also popular, but some of the most beautiful ones are red maple trees and flowering varieties. The best way to find a good starter bonsai is to contact a local nursery or bonsai club and talk to someone about it. Larger nurseries may have a horticulturist who specializes in bonsai care. I also recommend doing some research online and in the library. Each type of tree requires different soil and daily care, so it is best to know what you are getting yourself into.

With the right care and attention, bonsai trees create beautiful silhouettes in any apartment and are even good conversation starters. For care and information on breeds, check out this website.

For some seriously impressive bonsai inspiration (these are some of the most impressive bonsais in the world!) look here.

Your New Best [Plant] Friend

plant

If your apartment has windows that get a decent amount of light, I’m here to campaign that you get a new addition to your apartment… an orchid! For some reason, I grew up with the notion that orchids are some mysterious variety of species, which short of witchcraft and voodoo is impossible to keep alive. It turns out that was completely wrong (crazy, right?!), and this sentiment was probably perpetuated by people who overwatered their poor little orchids. I was further spurned by my abominable black thumb which has been the death sentence for many a houseplant. However, I got my first orchid several months ago and lo and behold, it is still alive. I’ve since added a second one to the group and they’re doing beautifully. I might even go so far as to say they are one of the absolute best plants for a renter to get. Here’s why.

Orchids love being inside, in a window. They don’t need to be outside. They are remarkably low maintenance! They like being cramped up in their pots as long as they have a well-draining orchid mix soil. There are about 27,000 kinds of orchid, but unless you’re a real connoisseur, you’ll probably end up with one of the grocery store varieties of Phalaenopsis, or Moth Orchid. They love indirect sunlight and humidity, so they are virtually perfect for Florida where vegetation is dense and the humidity is enough to make any sane person give up on their hair. We’ve established the conditions are good, now the maintenance: they require a watering about once a week. The main cause of death in potted orchids is root rot due to overwatering and poor drainage. Those two factors are key in keeping your little green friend alive. Don’t worry if the blooms drop off, as long as the leaves are green and the roots look good, the blooms will come and go periodically.

Each time I come home to my apartment, I’m still mesmerized by my ability to keep my orchids alive and well. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can.

 

For additional information on growing orchids, check out this entertaining and informative article from the Guardian.

 

Plants to the Rescue!

plant

 

The average person spends the majority of their time indoors. Most of us are guilty of not throwing open the windows and letting in fresh air as much as we should, which helps cleanse the air and disperse harmful and toxic pollutants. Air pollutants build up over time in our apartments; they keep us from breathing easy and can even cause illnesses.

Thankfully, one of the simplest solutions to help combat nasty little particulates in your air, is house plants! Our little green buddies take in carbon dioxide (and inadvertently some of those particulates) and filter the air, producing cleaner oxygen for us to breathe. Pretty spectacular. A while back, NASA did a study to find the most helpful air-purifying plants and put together a long list to help people breathe more easily.

If this all sounds wonderful, but you’re sighing right now because you’re not particularly good with plants, have no fear!

The following plants are the most difficult to kill from NASA’s list of air purifying plants:

  1. Garden Mum
  2. Spider Plant
  3. Dracaena
  4. Ficus
  5. Peace Lily
  6. Boston Fern
  7. Snake Plant
  8. Bamboo Palm
  9. Aloe Vera

 

For more information on NASA’s study and to see the full list of air purifying plants, click here!

 

 

(photo credit: supremeinteriors.tumblr.com)

Succulent Garden Obsession!

Apartment living can mean severely limiting your ability to garden. Not all apartments get the best amount of sunlight and very few have the extra square footage for a garden, so if you love plants it can be a rude awakening. Succulent gardens are a great way to keep the green in your apartment!

Succulents require very little maintenance due to their ability to retain water and live in a small quantity of soil and rocks. This makes them ideal for apartments! Transparent glass hanging planters, vertical garden fixtures, and small tabletop dishes are perfect for the little plants. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors as well, making them beautiful decorations.

Since these plants store so much water, it’s important to remember to provide the right type of soil. A soil mixed with gravel or small rocks is ideal for drainage. Some succulent lovers also use what is called diatomaceous earth which helps the plant drain extra water while retaining a very small amount. Terra cotta pots are good choices to plant in since the material wicks away extra moisture from the succulents. Remember that just because they need little water and like it dry, does not mean they always enjoy full Florida sun all day!

For succulent garden inspiration, look here.

Add some brightness to your apartment/home with sunflowers

Winter is almost over, especially here in Florida, and these sunny rays are perfect for planting flowers. With the New Year, a perfect way to add a bit of brightness to your apartment/home is by decorating tins and planting your very own sunflowers. Gardening and growing plants are fun projects that you can enjoy with your family, roommates, or even alone and all you need is:

  • Quart cans
  • Enamel paints
  • Vaseline
  • Polyethylene bag
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Watering can
  • Pencil or pointed stick

Check out the link below and follow the instructions so that you can grow your own mini garden of sunny sunflowers.

http://www.hgtv.com/design/outdoor-design/landscaping-and-hardscaping/how-to-plant-sunflowers-in-decorative-pots

Getting Those Pesky Weeds Out of Your Yard

Living in Gainesville, one thing you will be sure to find is nature.  Grass, trees, plants, bushes; we have it all and then some.  One part of nature that no one likes though, are weeds.  A quick, easy and natural way to get rid of those uninvited guests is to pour boiling water on them.  Fill up a kettle, bring it up to a nice, hot boil and pour that hot water directly on the weeds.  The scalding hot water will kill the weeds from the inside out without having any harmful effects on any nearby plants.  No need for harmful chemical killers now!

http://faq.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/weeds/2002105058024260.html

How to give your balcony a little life

If your balcony is a bit bare, then a perfect way to give it a bit of life and put it to good use is to make your balcony your own, personal garden. Add a little spice to your life by growing your own peppers, next thing you know you’ll have your own Mexican restaurant going in no time. You can also grow your own herbs. You won’t believe how much different fresh, homegrown herbs taste compared to store bought ones. Your herbs will taste crisp and delightful while adding a perfect pop of color to any pasta dish.  If that doesn’t appeal to you, you can just plant an array of beautiful plants and flowers along your balcony. The colors will really brighten up the space and make your balcony a pleasure to use. No more drab balconies here!