Livening Things Up

We’ve been working on a few house projects that I was hoping to share this week, including a look at how far we’ve come in updating the living room. But things are moving slightly slower than anticipated, as things often do, and we’re not quite ready to blast it to the internet. So in the interim, I thought I’d share a more micro glimpse of our space by focusing on our still relatively new houseplants.

Generally, when in need of a hit of greenery, I’ve defaulted to decorating with fake plants — though I’m VERY picky about it and only buy them if they are super realistic. Our beautiful state of California is unfortunately wildfire prone and with it comes bad air quality. Last summer and this summer have been particularly bad, and I am relatively sensitive to dry and smokey air. DJ and I thought some natural air purifiers would be a practical and aesthetic option for helping to improve our indoor air so I decided to (gulp) break away from my comfort zone of fake greenery and give the real deal a go.

In July, I posted about the first houseplant to grace our home on my personal Instagram. I probably should have posted it to our blog’s Instagram, but I was afraid I’d kill it (I mean, I’ve killed succulents) and then feel obligated to blog about doing so, haha… ha.

Turns out, after a little practice — and a techy cheat — I do pretty okay with plants. After some trial and error and a few brown tipped leaves early on that worried me, I figured out the right amount of (room temperature, filtered) water and humidity to keep it happy. Calathea are not the easiest California plants because they love moisture/humidity and it’s pretty arid here. But a daily misting to its leaves and a little tray of water beneath it seem to be keeping it happy. It has even sprouted three new leaves since it moved in with us — and none of them have developed brown tips. Small victories.

The “techy cheat” I mentioned is a water meter. It’s my synthetic green thumb. The hardest part of plants for me is figuring out when to water them, so I took the mystery out of it with this moisture meter. You just stick it in the dirt and it tells you how wet it is. It’s magic, and I’m convinced it’s the only reason my plants are still thriving. Totally worth $10.

When the calathea sprouted its first new leaf, we decided that was good enough to consider my venture into plant maintenance a success, and DJ and I went to the local Green Acres Nursery to pick out a few more. We ended up with another variety of calathea, a sansevieria, a pothos, and an itty bitty ivy.

Part of why we started with a calathea despite their finicky nature is because they are totally pet safe. Having never really had houseplants with my cats, I wasn’t sure if they were plant munchers. Turns out, unless it’s grass in the back yard, they aren’t. The rest of the plants we bought are considered toxic to cats if eaten, so we kept a close eye on things at first, but the cats have not bothered the plants at all. The ASPCA has a helpful list of toxic and nontoxic plants if you’re a pet parent and worried about whether your plants are a danger to your pets.

The hardest part of the plant buying process was finding pots that suited our taste. We ended up finding most of them at the nearby Bushnell Gardens Nursery, which is the same place we found the large pot holding our hydrangeas in front of the house (which was also after a lengthy search). We should have just started there. It would have saved us a lot of time. Lesson learned!

The the ivy’s hanging pot came from CB2 and the pothos’ plant stand is part of the Menu Wire Collection.

We’re still early into plant parenthood, but so far so good! Everything is actively growing and looking happy. The ivy has doubled in size. The sansevieria is slowly gaining height. The pothos is eager to take over the living room as quickly as possible with its vines and is the most enthusiastic of our growers. The second calathea has benefited greatly from the lessons I learned on the first one (and boy do those plants change position a LOT throughout the day). I love all our plants but, as it was my first, the original calathea we bought will hold a special place in my heart as long it lives.

One of the biggest struggles so far with my plant success is avoiding turning our house into a mini jungle. DJ sometimes has to drag me past the house plants when we walk by them at home improvement stores. Something about successfully growing plants is sort of addicting!

Where do you fall on the houseplant spectrum? Real, fake, completely plantless — or some combination?

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