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November 2016

Indoor Gardening With Houseplants

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Houseplants can be common or uncommon, and it has nothing to do with the kind of plant you choose for your space. Instead of selecting a houseplant and plunking it in a sunny spot, it’s time to rethink ways to use houseplants as part of the interior design.

Houseplants add so much to the indoors we need to treat them like the green treasures they are. They clean the inside air to help us breathe easier, they add a sense of calm, and plants help boost our happiness quotient. Houseplants can also add style to any room in the house.

Now’s the time to start shopping for houseplants at Nick’s to light up the indoors during winter. When browsing the houseplant aisles, pay attention to the different types of plants to imagine what will work best in your space. There are climbing and trailing plants, bushy and upright plants, flowering potted plants, ferns and palms, cacti and succulents, miniature trees, air plants, and pint-sized plants for dish gardens and terrariums.

No matter which kind of houseplants you choose, think about the ways you can turn the display into an indoor garden. One key to success for becoming your own plant interior decorator is by following the landscape design concepts of balance, focal point and color.

Balance means the plants are in proportion to the space and to the other houseplants. Choose plants that are similar in size, form and texture. For example, place all cactus plants together instead of mixing spiny plants with those that have smooth leaves.

Another example of balance is repeating themes of plants. Air plants are perfect for creating a set of similar, yet different-looking plants. A series of dish gardens or terrariums in different sized containers adds interest, as does a lining up plants in identical containers on a windowsill.

Balance can also mean similar shaped plants in pots of different sizes placed on a bookshelf or coffee table, as if they’re collectibles. An especially attractive display is hanging four identical houseplants on a wall in place of a single painting or framed photos.

In the landscape, a focal point is either a plant or a structure that draws you into the garden. This idea can also apply to houseplants that lend an architectural feel to your space.

A houseplant with tall tree-like foliage or a large hanging plant can be a spectacular specimen plant that adds drama to a room.

A focal point houseplant is the kind that can fill an empty space or corner to make a room feel smaller and cozier. Matching topiaries by an entry way focuses attention as soon as guests walk in the front door.

Flowering plants are typically responsible for color in the garden, and they can be placed in the indoor garden as well. Indoor blooming plants, like orchids, provide splashes of color when placed among other houseplants.

When adding flowering plants to the indoor garden, choose several of the same variety and place them together in groups. Repeating themes of plants is what makes outside gardens attractive to the eye, and that works for the indoor garden, too.

For a special decorator-like touch, look for plants with colorful foliage that complement the tones in your home. For example, take a cue from colorful throw pillows to match plants with burgundy, purple or gold-tinged foliage.

Another way to ensure color with houseplants is to mix and match the different leaf colors. Select a few plants with dark green leaves, some with light green leaves, and toss in a few with variegated leaves to bring your indoor garden to life.

Succulents Make Lovely Living Ornaments

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Small-size succulents make for some of the most interesting gardening displays these days. Succulents are adaptable to a variety of conditions, and with their thick fleshy leaves and stems they’re known for being drought-tolerant. Succulents are also popular because there are so many different kinds to choose from.

As nice as succulents are in the garden, they look equally at home indoors. Some of my favorite uses for succulents include displaying small-sized planters of mini-succulents, filling a terrarium with a selection of sculptural-looking succulents, and using them to fill a picture frame.

With the holidays approaching, succulents make for striking hostess gifts or an out-of-the-ordinary decorating choice by creating a living wreath.

A wreath made with succulents, like hens and chicks, is especially attractive and an enjoyable DIY project. To get started you’ll need a base, sphagnum moss, potting soil, plants, and some fine-gauge wire (or long pins) to hold the plants in place. You can buy a pre-made base at a craft shop or make your own from chicken wire molded over a donut-shaped plywood base and stapled into place.

Line the form or base with sphagnum moss and fill with potting mix. Start planting by arranging the largest of the plants first, then fill in with smaller succulents.

Press each plant into the soil and then cover the soil with pieces of the moss. Use the fine-gauge wire to wrap around the wreath to hold just the moss in place. Water while the wreath is lying flat. Let the water drain into a sink or tray and keep the wreath flat for a few weeks to allow the plants to root. Then hang it up. To water, take the wreath down and soak it for 10-15 minutes.

Another way to display succulents is by planting them in a miniature-garden to use as a centerpiece that lasts longer than a fresh flower arrangement.

To plant a succulent centerpiece, select a low container of any shape. Just make sure there are holes in the bottom to allow water to drain and have a saucer or tray to catch the excess water.

Succulents are plants that like soil on the dry side, so use a well-draining potting mix to fill the container. A good-quality container potting mix meant for cactus plants will work well for succulents, too.

Select succulents in sizes that are in proportion to the container and the other plants. Look for a variety of shapes and colors that work well together. One larger succulent can be the specimen plant, just like in the landscape.

Place the plants on top of the soil to find a pleasing arrangement before planting. Look at the arrangement from all angles to make sure it’s balanced without any obvious empty spaces. For each plant, dig a small planting hole, remove the plant from its container and place it as deep as it was in its container.

After all the plants are in place, water gently to give the miniature garden a good start. Add any extra decorative touches, such as small stones and miniature garden ornaments similar to those used in fairy gardens.

The best advice for caring for your succulents is to avoid overwatering. Be sure to let the soil in the container dry to several inches before watering. Another care tip is to keep your succulent garden out of direct sunlight to prevent burning the leaves.