Friday, 7 July 2017

beginners guide to trendy houseplants

Hi friends!

Who can't keep a house plant alive to save... their... lives? Don't lie, put you're hands up. Plants can be difficult to take care of, and that's because we don't truly know how to properly take care of them. 

Each plant is different which means we need to take care of them differently. House plants are extremely in style these days, and a lot of them not only look incredible and give the home a very loving and welcoming environment, but there are types of plants that can actually purify and improve the air in your home! They're also extremely easy to take care of.

Let me elaborate.

Air purifying plants aren't only gorgeous, but they're extremely beneficial for the home as well. The three plants I'm going to talk about are really pretty and very easy to take care of as well.

The rubber plantFicus Elastica. The correct ratio of water and light is crucial, bright, indirect light that isn't too hot is perfect for these guys, and during the growing season you also want to water it enough to keep the potting soil (not gardening soil) relatively moist (who else hates that word), but not too much or the leaves will turn yellow, brown and fall off. Use room temperature distilled or rain water if possible. It's also good to wipe down the leaves gently with a damp cloth or sprits with water. During the dormant season you may only need to water it a couple of times a month. Rubber plants also need good drainage at the bottom of the pot. Fertilizing once a year in late March or early April with house plant fertilizer is recommended. 

The spider plantChlorophytum Comosum, also known as airplane plants, are one of the most easiest houseplants to care for, and no, this does not mean that your house will become infested with spiders. They live in planting medium, not garden soil, which keeps things less messy when potting our sweet new spidery friend. Each spring you re-plant your spider plant in a large pot with fresh potting medium. Your spider plant will need to be placed in a north, east or west facing window during the winter months of the year, and a south facing window during late spring and summer months. Basically, these guys love tons of light. As far as watering goes, you'll want to use room temperature, distilled or purified water, and make sure the surface of the potting medium is dry to the touch before watering. Spider plants also love to be fertilized once a month in the spring and summer with basic houseplant fertilizer. Last but not least, to keep your spidery friend looking lovely, trim dry, dead ends with scissors.

English Ivy, or Hedera Helix, is a climbing or ground covering evergreen vine. It can be grown indoors or outdoors, but indoor ivy does prove to be a slightly greater challenge. If Ivy vines become a tad overgrown or unruly, you might be interested in giving your plant a stylish haircut every now and then. Keep in mind that when you cut an ivy stem, it tends to grow back thicker, so it's a nice way to rejuvenate your plant. Cool tip, cut leaves can be removed from the stem, revitalized in water and then planted to make new stems, so you'll only ever have to buy one English Ivy plant, or swipe a leaf from a friend's plant, but don't tell them I sent you. Just like our friend the Rubber Plant, you'll want to mist the leaves to keep them looking bright and fresh. Water your Ivy a couple of times a week to keep the soil moist but not soaking. They also thrive in slightly cooler rooms, too warm can cause the leaves to dry out and wilt. Ivy plants can also grow in low light but will not thrive in low light; bright, indirect light is best for these guys. Looking into good insecticides is important with Ivy plants because they're susceptible to infestation of spider mites, not cool. 

Moving onto some more gorgeous plants that are fun and easy to keep, and are incredibly trendy right now. (Everybody has these guys, come on).

Aloe veraBarbadensis Mill, is a very beautiful and beneficial plant to keep in your home. Aloe naturally thrives in the desert, so it's important to mimic this climate through lighting and watering. Aloe vera prefers to have 8-10 hours of sunlight per day, so your aloe plant will definitely thrive better in warmer months, however it will survive in a dormant state during winter months. Keep them in a west or south facing window for the most light. Despite being able to survive in hot conditions, if leaves begin to turn brown, be sure to move your aloe plant into a shadier place. Make sure to use a cactus potting soil, because aloe sitting in too wet of soil, may cause the plant to rot. If you can't find cactus potting soil, you can create your own by mixing equal parts potting soil and gravel and make sure the pot that you're using has a draining hole at the bottom. You'll also want to make sure that the root ball is covered in your soil mixture, but to not let the leaves touch the soil, use small rocks to cover the surface of the soil to protect the leaves so they do not rot. Another cool tip, using white rocks on top of the soil will reflect from the sun to the base of the plant, which can be a good idea if you don't live in a hot climate. Water your Aloe Plant regularly during the hot seasons. It's important not to overwater, so check that the first three inches of soil underneath the stones is dry before re-watering. During the dormant winter months, only water once or twice a month. Plant fertilizer is not necessary with aloe vera plants. Their leaves should grow upwards and outwards, so if they're looking low and dull, increase light, and if it's staying in the sunniest area of your home, consider keeping it outside during the summer months. If leaves are thin and curled, increase water. Comment down below if you would like me to do a post all about different ways you can use the aloe vera from your plant, around your house and in beauty!

Jade plant, also known as Crassula Ovata, is another form of succulent just like the aloe. Jade plants also don't need a ton of water, just enough is perfect for them. Make sure that the soil is dry up to your first knuckle before watering. Just like the aloe plant, it will need less water in the dormant, colder months, so always check the soil before watering. It's always important to avoid the leaves getting wet when watering. Although jade plants are succulents, and succulents like lots of sun, be sure to not keep your jade baby in a south facing window or the leaves will burn, instead, look for a place where your plant will get about 3-5 hours of sun each day. Jade plants are very sensitive to change, so if it's sitting in a shadowy corner, don't just move it to a bright windowsill right away, movements need to happen gradually. For an example, bring it to a place with a hour of sunlight per day for a few days, and then move it somewhere that gets a couple of hours of sunlight per day for a couple of days, until you get to your 3-5 hours of sunlight home for your beautiful jade baby. 

Snake plant, or Sansevieria Trifasciata, has a beautiful shape and colouring that bring life to any space.  The difference in colour and "striping" on it's leaves gives the snake plant it's name. These plants are very easy to care for, so let's go over some basics. Always use indoor plant potting soil, not gardening soil. Only re-pot once the roots start to break the pot or grow through the draining hole at the bottom. East, west or north facing windows are ideal for snake plants. If a south facing window is your only option, place the pot one foot away from the window, and provide bright artificial light for your snake baby as well. Just to reassure you, this plant will not sprout baby snakes that will run wild in your house nipping at your dog's heels, just wanted to clear that up). If you can use sheer drapes to filter the light from the window, your plant will like that too. Turn the pot 90 degrees every week to even out sun exposure. Let the surface of the soil feel dry to the touch before watering in warmer months, and in cooler months be sure to water much less until you notice the leaves looking a tad droopy and sad. Use room temperature, distilled or rain water when watering. Water around the sides of the plant, avoid the leaf clump and fertilize once a spring with 20-20-20 household plant fertilizer.  Last but certainly not least, if leaves get dusty, wipe gently with a damp cloth.

Fiddle leaf fig treeFicus Lyrata. These are the post popular and trending houseplants right now, and for good reason, they're gorgeous! They love bright, consistent light, and need to be turned every few months as they lean toward the sun. Fig trees naturally grow in the rainforest, so they thrive in still hot climates, make sure the window your fig baby is sitting pretty by doesn't have any drafts. Plan on repotting your fig tree in peaty soil about once a year to prevent root circulation issues and root rot. Water your fig tree when the soil is dry to the touch and feed with water-soluble plant food throughout the growing season according to directions. Simple as that! No excuse to get a fig baby!

Cactus, or Cactaceae, are super fun plants to keep in your home because they're so unexpected! Make sure you get a planting soil suitable especially for cactus plants. Apply a layer of sand or gravel on top of the soil, just like the succulents, I prefer sand because it keeps with the whole desert theme. Obviously cactus plants love sunlight, so make sure you place it in a sunny location where it can get 4-6 hours of sun per day. Water your cactus as needed, about once a month and fertilize once or twice a year in the spring or summer months with nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer, but make sure to dilute the fertilizer to half, with water. Again, easy peasy! Go get a cactus and name him Spike.

Mint, rosemary, bay leaf, oregano, basil, cilantro and thyme are some of the easiest herbs to grow indoors in a sunny window, and they're some of the tastiest that everyone needs in their kitchen too! 

The goal to growing herbs is a vegetative cycle of at least 18 hours of light and 8 hours of direct sunlight. Some herbs grow better in poor soil, as they can develop stronger flavour in their oils.  Doing research about how to grow herbs in your home successfully, I came across this section about the soil needed, so I will quote it for you below. 

"To keep initial growth rates in control, use a soil mix with just enough nutrients. Mix 2 parts coir (coconut fibre) compost to 1 part perlite, and then add 20 percent worm castings. Test the pH of any mix, and if it is acidic, add one gram of hydrated lime for every litre of soil mix. Or, you can substitute with vermiculite, which does not need pH adjusting. Finally, add 1 tablespoon of kelp meal for each gallon of soil to add plant hormones and to give beneficial micro-organisms something to feed on. Use this mix whenever you transplant."
Sounds ridiculously confusing, I know, I recommend doing your own research to growing herbs yourself if you're a little bit iffy about the soil situation.

Just like any plant, you want to water when the soil feels dry, throughly but less often. Water herbs around the base, some herbs like basil do not like water on their leaves. Plant herbs in a container with small holes at the bottom, and also layer the bottom with small flat stones or a centimetre or so of gravel, (broken slate roof tiles work perfectly as well if you just so happen to have those lying around). Feed your herbs ten days after planting with half-strength nutrient such as Maxsea (16-16-16) every two weeks. Even another super cool tip, if you want to give your herbs a boost, use 10 ml/gallon B1 plant mix and liquid seaweed in every drop of water you give to your plants. This will help with essential oil production. You can use your herbs as soon as they're ready, which takes about 4-6 weeks after being planted!

What did you think of this style of post? I'm really curious, so let me know in the comments down below! I love plants, they're so popular right now, so I'm excited to see if you find this helpful!

What kind of plants do you love and have in your home already?

Joyfully Jordyn, xo