I’ll be honest, caring for plants has never been my thing. In fact, I’ve spent the better part of the past 10 years doing a pretty good job at killing them. I fell in love with dried flowers, an obsession which meant any bouquet I purchased or received (swoon!) was quickly hung upside down and required to wrinkle into a fragile lifeless version of what it once was. So, when a girlfriend asked me to do a piece on best practices for growing greenery indoors, I had to turn to an expert…
Fortunately, one freezing Sunday morning strolling through the Dairy Block in Downtown Denver, I stumbled upon the most patient and knowledgeable human. I was immediately drawn to The Perfect Petal boutique (just inside The Maven Hotel) because of its vibrant display of fresh flowers, greenery, jewelry and home goods - and after about 30 minutes peppering my wonderful new friend Tara with questions about how to care for the little baby succulents I was about to walk away with, I knew I had found my expert!
We agreed to meet about a week later, and ever since our conversation, I have developed SUCH a greater appreciation for the power of plants and the artistic creativity they inspire. Not only do they improve air quality and brighten up interiors, but they have also been known to have mood-boosting and healing qualities.
Here are a few key takeaways from my time with Tara, the OGG (Original Greenery Goddess)….
Relax… Experimenting with different plants should be fun
Plants are living, breathing creatures with a few fundamental needs. The level of care needed to sustain them varies by type, but in the end, they have life cycles just as humans and animals do - some will flourish more than others, and some may expire more quickly. Either way, if you can look past feelings of intimidation and do a little research as you set out, caring for greenery can be very rewarding!
Consideration #1: Environment
To the extent a space aligns with a plant’s native habitat, the better off you’ll be. For example, plants found in the tropics tend to prefer humidity and require less light, whereas types commonly found in the desert thrive in dry climates with endless exposure to sunlight. Evaluate the space you plan to position your greenery - is it exposed to a lot of sunlight? Or only a little? Does it feel dry or humid? Does it receive good airflow? Avoid spots where temperature is likely to fluctuate a lot (ie. near heating and air conditioning ducts), and avoid putting them on top of a radiator, between curtains or right next to a drafty window.
Consideration #2: Nutrients
Water and fertilizer breathe life into plants, but can often be overdone… so remember, everything in moderation. There are general rules for how frequently a plant should be watered and fertilized based on their type, but let the soil be your guide. Does it feel moist to the touch or dry and flaky? Are the roots beginning to show or break apart? Consistent watering (and fertilizing as appropriate for your plant type) is key - if you’ve forgotten to do it one week, don’t double up next time because it can lead to root rot.
Signs of over-hydration include discolored leaves, lack of leaf growth, loss of leaves, and soft rotten patches. Signs of dehydration include slow leaf growth, brown and dried leaf edges, and and lower leaves becoming yellow and curled.
Consideration #3: Potting, Drainage & Repotting
When determining how to pot your plant, make sure there is at least one hole in the bottom of your container to allow water to flow out freely. Drainage rocks or other absorbent material can help wick away extra moisture and eliminate the potential for standing water to accumulate, which can cause the roots to drown and the plant to die prematurely. Some plants will require you to repot them occasionally over time as their roots outgrow their current environment. Consider the longer-term requirements as you go to make your choice.
Then, when you’re ready…
Here are a few low, medium and high-maintenance options to begin your own Greenery Goddess journey!
Until Next Time!