Luscious Living: Starting with Mini Houseplants
Starting with Mini Houseplants
The chances are if you’re already a well established ‘plant parent’ you probably won’t be reading this. Long may these people enjoy their well nurtured plants. But for the rest of us who may struggle with the challenge of keeping a plant alive (like I did!) then this article on starting with mini houseplants aims to provide care and information on starting with mini houseplants, by introducing a selection of easy care plants to grow, nourish and enjoy in your home and workspace.
Over-watering… under-watering… too dry… not enough light, or… it just died (…no explanation and nothing I could do to save it). These may all be familiar thoughts to you. If so then look no further for a few friendly easy to look after choices.
This is more than simply looking after mini houseplants though. It’s also about the wellness and ‘feel good’ that comes with having a few plants around to cheer up a space, nurture and love. Plants can also help remove toxins from modern living (from carpets, walls and paints, to other noxious compounds found in the home). NASA did extensive research into plants and the improvements they make to air quality. The results were very positive for the power of plants for purifying the air around your work and living spaces.
There’s never a wrong time to become a ‘plant mother / father’.
I wasn’t always into houseplants. Far from it..I’d periodically see a gorgeous plant in the shops and pick it up, already with a guilty look in my eyes as I headed for home with it. From there I found a nice space for it and promptly watered it a few times, then forgot its existence, only to water it again (as it looked droopy) and then watch it slowly die no matter how much food/ water/ sun I gave it from there. I was convinced I just didn’t have green fingers when it came to indoor plants.
But then I reached the tender age of my late 30’s and suddenly mother nature kicked in and told me I needed to have houseplants to nourish and nurture, to freshen my home and studio with colour and that all important oxygen transfer from those luscious green leaves to my living spaces. I knew I didn’t have the perfect space for growing… a home with rooms like a cave where there are windows only at each end and narrow window ledges. But I persevered with narrower pots and the right choice of easy low maintenance plants.
So here we will take a look at a few (fairly fail-safe) plants that I have tried. You too can grow these mini houseplants easily at home with very little care and attention (or space) required. As a bonus they are also abundant with baby offspring once they start growing. A favourite of mine is to put them in those teeny tiny pottery pots to give to friends and family. Imagine the sweetest tiny succulent in a teeny terracotta pot as a gift for a good friend, family member, schoolteachers, work colleagues.. the list is endless.
There are three particular plants I’m going to recommend for you to start your mini houseplant nursery off with. Two will give you endless baby plants once they get established (perfect for gift giving, as mentioned above). The other will provide good structure and interest by growing a little taller and having gorgeous leaves that provide a great focal point to look at. The first two will also plant easily in terrariums (those tiny indoor greenhouses for plants, or big transparent glass dome style pots that you fill part way with soil and then all sorts of shiny and beautiful stones), or in small pots to look pretty and dainty (and fit on narrower ledges like mine at home). These plants tolerate dryness well but they do require light, so they will need to be close to a window.
Think of all the fun you can have with plant accessories too… like gorgeously coloured pots for the home or workspace, either bought with a pattern or decorated yourself. Will you go Mediterranean, African, lots of colour, neutrals, or (like me) a simple dark cream (definitely not beige… ok a little bit beige… with a rose gold dipped effect around the rim). The best bit is that if you change the colour scheme of a room you can easily change the pot to match- instant accessorising. How about the surface you will keep it on… shelf, plant stand, hanging basket, macrame hanger? The choice is yours.
A great plant to help purify the air. you’ll need bright indirect sunlight for this plant. This means you will want to avoid the suns rays hitting it directly.
It needs a good draining potting mix not soil to grow in. Ideally it should contain perlite and course sand.
Water once a week (once a fortnight in winter). Let the soil go completely dry before watering. Re-pot every 2 years if needed.
Aloe vera babies are called pups.
Potting on pups…
- The offsets of the aloe vera plants that grow can be potted on to create a new plant. Separate them using a sharp knife from the mother leaving at least an inch of stem.
- Keep them out of the soil for several days until a callus forms over the separated end. keep them in warm indirect sunlight at this time.
- Pot the pups in a well draining potting mix (ideally meant for succulents). Then put in a sunny location and wait at least a week before watering.
‘Lucky’ Jade Plant
The name alone made me want to own one of these small leathery leaved plants associated with abundance and good fortune thanks to their luscious oval leaves that resemble jade coins or stones.
Jade plants look like mini trees, and can live for a long time, being passed down from one generation to the next. They do well in the warm dry atmosphere of most homes.
They need at least 4 hours of good sunlight and grow best at a room temperature of 18C in the day, but will also tolerate cooler winter temperatures. However they are not frost tolerant.
Water just once a week in summer and less in winter.
Feng Shui: the money attractor plant
There are a few theories in where to place the plant to attract good fortune. For example… the S/E is believed to be associated with money and business success. The plant nourishes chi (life energy).
Let Jade dry out between watering as it is susceptible to rot (remember my former struggles with forgetting to water, then over-watering? This led to root rot. I you pull the plant out you can see the roots are literally brown and rotten when this happens. Occasionally you can revive a plant by cutting of these rotten roots and giving the healthy roots a chance to grow. Don’t water for a week or two after cutting and replanting).
Starting new Jade plants from a cutting…
- Take a leaf cutting or stem cutting from a healthy plant. Ideally 2-3 inches long with a pair of leaves. Put in a warm place for a few days allowing a thin layer to seal over the cut end.
- Use slightly moist, well-draining potting soil and place the leaf on the soil with cut end just below the soil, or if a stem then put stem into soil.
- Place in a warm light area but do not water.
- In 7-14 days roots should start growing. Wait another week or so and tug gently to see if roots have taken hold.
- Once roots seem to be holding then water deeply without disturbing the roots, so the roots are encouraged to grow deep for water.
- Maintain by allowing the soil to dry out completely between watering and keep out of direct sunlight until well established.
This plant isn’t so much a plant that will give you lots of babies (you can take cuttings to grow on with root hormone powder), but rather I’ve included it as a plant to give a little height and interest to your mini plant collection. Think of it as a good plant to add some structure to your mini array.
The leaves are a beautiful bi-colour of green and white and it’s an easy plant to maintain in most house conditions.
Draconia has a preference for bright indirect light. Water when the top of the soil feels dry.
Another great air purifier.
Thinking of other plants…how about lavender in the bedroom? The list of plants is endless once you start. Happy living with your mini plants.
That concludes our mini houseplant selection. I hope you have lots of fun with pots and stands and colour, there are little ornaments you can put in with them, or how about leaving a little card on a stick with a positive mantra in them. You can group them together in a tray to make a mini houseplant ‘garden’, or have them spread out around your home in different sized pots. One of my favourite things to do at the moment is to plant mine in mason type clear glass jars without the lid and enjoy watching the roots grow in the soil below. It feels very earthy and organic and helps me feel even closer to nature whilst at home or in the studio.
Have fun with your new plants and remember it should always be enjoyable, never stressful. At its simplest you can just keep a few low maintenance plants that only need watering every week or two, that help purify your space. Or… go wild!
Lindsay B x
Want to find out more? Try ‘The New Plant Parent‘- by Daryl Chang. he also has an inspiring Instagram post for budding plant parents.
I mentioned colouring your own pots. Whereas there are many ways to do this, for an easy start you might like to try some Acrylic paints on your pots. You can get some great bright colours, or softer ones to blend with your home.
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