Stump

Before my family and I were even thinking of moving to Columbus, Ohio, I had already scoped out the plant scene here. As part of my search, I stumbled upon Stump’s Italian Village location. The moment I walked into the store, I was surrounded by what can only be described as “art.” The dark walls and carefully placed lighting accentuated the incredible greenery and handmade ceramics all around. I could instantly tell this was a special place.

While I have visited Stump on multiple occasions, including a workshop I took in the fall, I had only had a chance to chat briefly with owners Emily and Brian Kellett. It was a pleasure to sit down with them several weeks ago and learn more about Stump. With Ray, the sweetest shop “mascot” you will ever meet, lying sleepily on the floor at their feet, Emily and Brian shared their story with me.

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Ray was thoroughly unimpressed with my attempts to take her picture…

Before Emily and Brian met, Emily went to school for industrial design with a focus on design research; as part of one of her projects, she researched what the future of garden retail could potentially look like. At the time, many garden centers across the country were having difficulty remaining relevant year-round, as almost all of their sales were made in the spring. Additionally, many garden centers struggled with appealing to people of different generations, ethnicities, etc. Emily traveled around the country, visiting different garden centers, and interviewed owners, employees, and customers about their experiences.

Around that time, Emily and Brian met when some mutual friends invited them both out for drinks. Brian was teaching full-time, going to Ohio State University for his doctorate, and was working to help with the design of Rockmill Brewery. However despite both being insanely busy, the two hit it off and began dating. With their corresponding backgrounds, they dreamed of starting a plant business together.

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At first, Emily and Brian considered running a plant booth at a farmer’s market or owning a plant truck that would host pop-ups in the Columbus area. However, when a retail space became available about two and a half years ago – the space where they are now located in Italian Village – they took a leap of faith and decided to launch their business as a brick and mortar space instead.

“The outside [of the building] was kind of a mess, but it had potential” Emily says, laughing. The building was light gray with green trim, and had lots of cracks in the exterior finish. The inside featured lime green walls and fluorescent lights. (Sounds lovely, right?!) After some TLC from Emily and Brian, along with their friends and family, they transformed the space, and within a month, they opened the shop. (Fun fact: Stump opened its doors exactly one year to the day from when Emily and Brian met.) Less than two years later in February 2017, Stump opened its second location in German Village.

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Stump’s German Village Location

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Working together at Stump only brought Emily and Brian closer together. (Let me tell you how LUCKY they are…because I’m not so sure I could work in such close proximity to someone I also lived with…ha!). Last month, in March 2018, Emily and Brian eloped to Rocky Mountain National Park!

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Woohoo! Congratulations Emily and Brian! (Image courtesy of Stump)

Something else that makes Stump really special is that they carry an ever-rotating collection of curated, handmade ceramics. When they first started, they facilitated several artist residencies, where ceramic artists came into the shop and created pieces of art on the premises. These pieces of art bring something special to the shop, and work to compliment the beautiful plants that they hold.

Emily and Brian are currently expanding Stump with the recent purchase of 10 acres of land outside of Columbus. They are planning to build a greenhouse on there so that they can keep extra inventory on hand, as well as grow some of their own plants. They also plan to reinstate the artist residency program once they build a ceramic studio on that property.

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Before ending our time together, I asked Emily and Brian if they had any tips for those just beginning their plant journey. One tip they had was to select a forgiving plant to start. Stump always keeps ZZ plants and snake plants in stock, as they are some of the best plants for beginners. They also have extremely knowledgeable staff members on hand that are able to advise customers on the right plant for their own, personal space.

Another thing that Stump does to make their customers have a successful plant experience is that they fill out a plant care card for every plant they sell. The card indicates the name of the plant, how often the plant should be watered, and the type of light the plant needs. This is fantastic for any plant owner – especially new ones!

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Emily and Brian are seriously some of the nicest people I have met during my time in Columbus. Case in point: Emily ended our interview together with a hug. I love getting to know the people behind the plant stores I love, and getting to know Emily and Brian a little has only made me want to shop at Stump even more.

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If you are from the Columbus area or are ever visiting, you must check out one of Stump’s locations! They are located in Italian Village at 305 E. 5th Avenue (Monday thru Saturday, 11:00-6:00 and Sunday, 12:00-5:00) and German Village at 220 Thurman Avenue (Monday thru Friday, 11:00-6:00 and Saturday/Sunday, 10:00-5:00). If you stop by, be sure to tell them that the {house}plant momma sent you!

To learn more about Stump…
Website: http://stumpplants.com
Instagram: @stumpplants
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stumpplants/

– the {house}plant momma

Products I {Heart}: Water Propagation Stations

If you’ve been following along with my plant journey, you know that I find the propagation process to be absolutely magical – especially water propagation. (You can read my thoughts about it here.) However, I also find the process beautiful. I love sticking little snippets of greenery into different water-filled vessels, and watching the roots emerge.

Another reason I think that water propagation is so lovely is because I enjoy adding propagation vessels to my home. There are so many options out there – bottles, jars, vases, test tubes – and each one adds something special to your space. The options are virtually limitless. As long as the stem and roots of your plant are able to get light, then you should be able to use almost any container for water propagation.

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My favorite water propagation station in my house…

If you are new to the propagation process and want some inspiration for a water propagation station, then look no further! Here are some of my favorites found ‘round the internet.

Test Tube Water Propagation Station

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Image via Etsy

Round Bud Vases 

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Image via Amazon

Glass Orb Vase Himmeli Water Propagation Station 

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Image via Etsy

Milk Bottles – Vintage milk bottles make great water propagation stations! My momma gifted me with these from her childhood, and I love the nostalgia they add to my house house, coupled with the beauty of my plants. You can find similar ones here.

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Vintage milk bottles from my momma

Wooden Water Propagation Station Cylinders 

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Image via Etsy

Square Bud Vases 

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Image via Amazon

Hanging Succulent Water Propagation Station 

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Image via Etsy

Hanging Cylinder Vase – I have several of these hanging cylinder vases hanging around the house that I use for propagation. I love how they showcase my clippings, but using them also makes it easy to change up little portions of my décor when I switch out the clippings.

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Hanging cylinder vase, located in the entryway of my home

Quad Cradle Water Propagation Station 

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Image via Things by HC

Beaker Water Propagation Station

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Image via Etsy

If you would like to learn more about propagation in general, please check out these two fantastic articles.

Do you feel inspired yet??

I would love to see what YOU are using for your own water propagation stations! Please tag me – @thehouseplantmomma – on Instagram to show me your propagation stations. I will be featuring some of my favorites on an upcoming version of my #FeaturedFriday Instagram Stories!

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I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

– the {house}plant momma

My Favorite Plant People

If you’re part of the plant community, then you already know…plant people are literally the best! I have been part of a lot of groups, clubs, and organizations throughout the years – be it church groups, mommy groups, music groups, etc. – but never have I seen the level of openness and kindness that I see in this community.

Being part of the plant community has opened me up to many new friendships, found around the world. With that in mind, I wanted to share some of my favorite plant people with you. Please take a few minutes to read about these amazing folks; then give them a follow on social media, check out their websites, buy their amazing products – just give them some love!


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Favorite thing about plants: Propagating! There is something so magical about being able to create new plants from cuttings. It makes me feel like a plant-magician!

Fun facts:
– I wear many hats owning my own business, but my favorite part across all aspects of my content is photography. Challenging myself to be a better photographer always brings me joy and excitement.
– I love playing video games and my favorite is League of Legends!

Why she made my list: When I first started my plant journey, Alessia was super-encouraging; she even sent me some clippings from her own urban jungle! Her Instagram account is absolute eye-candy, and she is really engaged with her followers. This is a plant lover you definitely want to get to know!


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Favorite thing about plants: I am obsessed with beautiful foliage and plants that interact with the environment (e.g. Oxalis triangularis). They bring joy and serenity to me; a green space reminds me of nature and how it gives generously.

Fun fact: I’ve always been a fan of Biology (it’s my favorite subject) and fancy plants a great deal. My love for them grew exponentially when I received a succulent from my mum. From there, things sky-rocketed. I deeply enjoy planting and interacting with the plant community on Instagram.

Why he made my list: Marvin is not has a beautiful Instagram feed and a fellow plant lover, but he is also a top-notch guy! He frequently gives me positive feedback and advice about my own plant experiences. I have also really enjoyed watching his plant journey – even if it’s halfway around the world!


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Favorite thing about plants: I love how it seems like they each have their own personalities and quirks. There’s always new things to learn about each one!

Fun facts: 
– I actually have my masters in Interior Architecture & Design, but soon after college my love for plants and my need to help others with their plant journeys took over. I was way happier inside with the change.
– I’m pretty obsessed with Corgis. I follow about 20 different ones on my personal Instagram account. The day I finally bring one home will literally be the best. day. ever.

Why she made my list: I initially met Alicia through a group of plant lovers on Instagram, and was thrilled to discover that she sells plants on Etsy. Her store, Land of Alice Studio, sells excellent-quality plants at fair prices; plus, Alicia is able to get ahold of plants that I am not able to get locally in Ohio. Oh, and did I mention she’s a total sweetheart??



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Favorite thing about plants: How much they have taught me – patience, mindfulness + intentionality, and letting go.

Fun fact: I was born on Valentine’s Day!

Why she made my list: I also met Eliza through a group of plant lovers on Instagram. She is a wealth of plant knowledge, and has an awesome blog. (You should totally check it out!) Another thing I love about her is that she is a mom, so we can sympathize with #momlife things together.


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Favorite thing about plants: Learning, exploring, sometimes failing, the bewilderment and magic, sharing and connecting with others doing the same. Not to mention the beauty it brings to any environment!

Fun fact: I make pretty decent sushi.

Why he made my list: Jonathan manages a an absolutely gorgeous Instagram feed. If you are not following him, you should be! He also has been a big encouragement to me throughout my plant journey. So thankful for this Insta-friend!


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Favorite thing about plants: Watching them grow and nurturing something so innocent and pure, and they way they bring life to any space!

Fun facts about me: I’m an only child. I have MANY creative outlets and started my blog so that I could honor them all instead of choosing just one. I love working with crystals to bring more balance and serenity into my life. Currently saving up for some new tattoos and a puppy.

Why she made my list: If you have had any interactions with Joi, you know that she absolutely radiates positivity and kindness. In my early Instagram days, Joi and I forged a friendship as newbies to the Instagram world and “beginning bloggers;” I am so thankful that we have formed a fast friendship since then. It’s amazing when online friends become REAL friends!


Have you met any amazing people in the plant community? How have they impacted you? Please tell me about it in the comments below!

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And if there’s a new Instagram account, Facebook account, or blog that I should be following – let me know! I’m always excited to meet new friends, learn new things, and invest even more in the #plantlife!

– the {house}plant momma

Spring Awakening

I’m baaaaaaaaack!

After a winter away from the world of blogging, I have returned! Spring is a time of restoration and renewal – not just in the natural world, but also for individuals. The gloom that winter brings – gray days, ice and snow, tree skeletons framing the sky – prevents not only plants from growing, but people, too.

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This winter, I have been buried. Not under depression, as I have spent many winters before, but under “life.” I am currently working two part-time jobs, working to renovate my house, and trying to balance all the aspects of being a good wife and mother. We’ve also battled sickness after sickness this winter. (Um, hand-foot-mouth is LITERALLY the most disgusting thing to ever happen in the history of ever.) It’s honestly been overwhelming. I keep waiting for life to “calm down,” but it seems that never happens. There’s been no time for me to breathe, no time for me to pursue my hobbies, no time for myself.

Real talk: winter has been hard.

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But warmer days are coming. Days filled with blue skies and balmy breezes. Days with sunshine from sun up to sundown. Days without feeling quite so “buried.” I feel winter lifting.

My plants can feel it, too. This winter has been hard on them. I have lost at least 15 plants for various reasons. Some of them died from lack of sun, as they couldn’t seem to thrive no matter where I tried to move them in the house. Others needed more moisture than I could provide (let me tell you that running a heater almost 24/7 makes a house as dry as can be!). Still others died just because…well, I really can’t figure out what happened. They just gave up the ghost.

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However, across the last few weeks, I see signs of spring bursting from my plants. My monstera – who is still pouting from our move last September – is starting to put out some new shoots. All of my tradescantia varieties are growing new baby leaves, and are reaching out their vines. Two of my snake plants have brand new shoots pushing out of the soil.

Spring signifies hope in so many ways.

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I know I have been absent for quite some time, but I hope that you will come along with me as I continue blogging about my plant journey. I know there is still tons left to experience in this {house}plant world, and I have a whole list of new blog topics to share with you.

What do you say? Will you join me?

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– the {house}plant momma

HandHeld & Co.: Beautiful Art, Beautiful Heart

I moved to Dayton, Ohio eight years to be closer to my then-boyfriend/now-husband, and ended up falling in love with everything about the city. It was the city where I got married, where I became a mom to my step-son Alex, where we bought our first house, where my two babies August and Ana were born.

However, my family and I recently moved from Dayton to Columbus, Ohio. Even though Columbus is only about an hour and a half from Dayton, moving was H-A-R-D. Leaving all of those sweet memories behind, packing up our belongings, and saying goodbye to friends was, honestly, heartbreaking. As we pulled away from the house for the last time, I vowed I wouldn’t cry…but found myself blinking back tears anyway.

The first weekend we were in Columbus, I was lonely but determined to stay busy and not allow myself be miserable or sad. I saw on Instagram that an account I followed – HandHeld & Co. – was going to be part of a local street bazaar. I was thrilled that I might be able to make a connection in my new town, and messaged the owner that I would be stopping by.

The day of the bazaar, though in early September, was cold and rainy. All of my warm clothes were still packed away in boxes, as I thought I wouldn’t need them for a long time. However, I bundled up the best I could, threw on some rain boots, and headed to the bazaar.

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FREEZING, but thrilled to meet Isabella at the street bazaar!

It was there that I had my first interaction with Isabella Cartolano, owner and artist of HandHeld & Co. Not only did she have an awesome booth at the bazaar – which was evident in spite of the rain – but it was also immediately clear that this girl has a sweet spirit.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Isabella and learn more about her journey with HandHeld.

Isabella has been making cards since she was twelve; at that time, she made scrapbooking-style cards, which were carried at several local stores in Columbus.  “And I’ve been painting since…forever,” Isabella says with a smile during our time together.

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

However, “life” happened, and making each card individually became too cumbersome. After taking a break from card-making for several years and attending an 30-week class focused on entrepreneurial skills, the idea was sparked for Isabella to start her own business. As a result HandHeld & Co. was born at the beginning of 2017.

Isabella says she gains much of the inspiration for her cards from one of the local nurseries, where she works fulltime. “I love working there,” Isabella tells me. (And I have to admit…the nursery where she works is my absolute favorite in the area!)

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

Each card design is hand-painted by Isabella using a combination of watercolors and gouache (which is basically an opaque watercolor), then is reproduced and beautifully packaged before being sold. She also sells place cards, gift tags, clothing patches, and pins.

But Isabella isn’t just a talented artist; she also has an amazing heart. As she was kicking off HandHeld & Co, she decided that she wanted to donate a portion of each of her sales to a cause. Through some friends, she learned of an organization in Columbus called She Has a Name, which combats human trafficking right here in Columbus.

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Image via She Has a Name

According to their mission statement, She Has a Name is “committed to engaging the community, strengthening partner organizations, and equipping survivors through workforce development.” They do this in three ways: by educating communities about human trafficking, by serving as a resource and support for survivors, and by collaborating with practitioners in order to provide the best possible care to survivors. They strongly believe that “survivors of human trafficking have a name, a nobility, and a narrative.”

Ten percent of Isabella’s profits go to the organization to further the efforts of She Has a Name in our very own community!

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

Succulents and cacti are Isabella’s “thing,” which is evident when looking at her work. Many of her cards feature beautiful succulent and cacti subjects.  When asked what her favorite houseplant was, Isabella responds, “Probably silver Philodendron and most types of Euphorbia.”

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

You can find HandHeld & Co. products on their website and at various festivals, bazaars, and pop-ups. (Check out the HandHeld Instagram account for updated information on events!) You can also find her products in some boutiques and stores in both Columbus and Dayton.

As a seasonal side note, I also want to add that right now HandHeld & Co. is offering some gorgeous Christmas-themed cards, shown below. If you haven’t bought your seasonal cards yet, be sure to check out the website!

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Image via HandHeld & Co.

Not only is Isabella of HandHeld an amazing artist, but she also is a kind and wonderful person.  It is a pleasure to not only live in the same community as her, but to share her amazing work here on my blog!

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Check out HandHeld & Co. here:
Website: https://www.handheldandco.com
Instagram: @handheldandco

– the {house}plant momma

A Touch of Magic: All About Propagation

I have to confess something: I am a huge Harry Potter fan. When my husband and I first started dating, I noticed that he had the entire series of books in his closet. Now, not to say anything bad about my sweet hubby but…he’s not really a reader. He’d rather sit down and play his guitar for hours on end or play a video game.

When I asked him about the books, he enthusiastically told me that I absolutely had to read them because they were amazing. I had read the first book – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – in college and liked it well enough, but not enough to pursue reading the other books. However, upon his high praise and recommendation, I dove into the series.

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Image via Warner Brothers

He was right. The books were fantastic. I fell in love with each of the characters in their own right, absolutely dying inside when one of them was killed, cheering on Dumbledore’s army, swooning over the love story interwoven into the action. After reading the second book, I couldn’t stop…until I read the entire series. I was devastated when I finished the last book because there was no more. And so, I decided to start back at the very beginning again.

Further proof of my obsession: I almost named my daughter “Luna” because I love Luna Lovegood so much…

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Seriously my favorite… (Image via Warner Brothers)
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Can we say #freespirit? (Image via Warner Brothers)

In my opinion, one of the most enticing parts of Harry Potter is the idea of magic. We see the concept all around us – from Disney movies to video games, fantasy computer games to books like the Harry Potter series. How many times I have wished I could say, “Accio water!” from bed, and a glass of water would magically float into my room, or “Silencio!” when my three-year-old has asked me “why” 30000000 times in one hour.

Unfortunately, in the world outside of J.K. Rowling’s imagination is far less magical. If I want a glass of water, I have to march down to the kitchen to get it myself…and I have to answer “why” 30000001 times.

But there is one area of life that I consider to be simply magical, and that is propagation. It is simply amazing to me that one day, I put a seemingly nondescript plant cutting into water and when I check on it later – even sometimes as few as several days later – there are roots emerging from the stem.

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I know it’s not magic, but to me the experience is magical.

My dining room gets awesome afternoon sun, and is where I have my little propagation station set up right now. I use a variety of jars and bottles for propagation, pretty much anything that will hold water and properly support the cuttings (i.e. I don’t use a tiny jar for a big cutting).

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My favorite plant by far to propagate is Tradescantia, sometimes known as spiderwort. I have propagated various varitities of this plant, including Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ (Wandering Jew Zebrina), Tradescantia ‘green and white’ (a green and white variegated Wandering Jew), and Bolivian Wandering Jew (Callisia Repens). I have had great luck with getting all three varieties to root in water. Many times, I have taken cuttings off my Wandering Jew Zebrina, have water propagated the cuttings, and have given friends these cuttings once they’ve rooted.

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Once, I tried propagating Tradescantia cuttings in soil only. They did not do well like this, and the stems ended up rotting out.

Another easy plant to propagate is Pothos. I have experimented with propagating several different varieties of Pothos, including Golden Pothos and Marble Pothos. These have done very well for me when I place them in water. In a matter of days, I notice little roots pushing out of the nodes on their stem and in what seems like no time at all, they are ready to place in soil.

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Other plants that I have successfully rooted in water include Ficus benjamina, Syngonium, and Philodendron (although I should say that I have tried multiple varieties and only my Philodendron ‘brasil’ has rooted).

I have also tried propagating my Snake Plant. I have tried using both water propagation and putting cuttings in soil, but neither of these produced any results. The cuttings I put in water just turned to mush, and the cuttings I put into soil ended up drying out. I was very disappointed about these unsuccessful propagations, as Snake Plants are one of my absolute favorite plants!

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I tried propagating some English Ivy and some Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ once in some beautiful hanging wall vases I had. While the Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ rooted, the English Ivy did not and eventually died. Knowing what I know now, I believe it was because that wall didn’t get enough sun. (The Tradescantia ‘zebrina’ rooted much more slowly there than they have rooted when I put them in a more sunny location.)

I have read up on succulent propagation, but have only just recently had a bit of luck with it. I threw some succulent leaves into soil and have been trying to leave them alone (i.e. not water them, poke at them – ha!). I have been lucky enough to see some tiny roots emerge from the leaves, so I am hopeful that they will grow into viable plants eventually.

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I should add that I have never worked with rooting hormones. I know that many of the fellow plant growers/collectors I follow on Instagram use that for more successful propagation. I myself have not experimented with it…yet. I’m sure in the future I’ll want to try something new and will give it a go!

Propagation is such an amazing, magical thing to be a part of. It allows me to expand my plant collection for free, but it also allows me to share my plants with friends – which really is one of my favorite parts the whole plant experience!

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Have you ever experienced the magic of propagation? If so, please tell me about your experiences. Also, if you have tips for me as I move forward with propagating, please feel free to share! I’m always eager to learn more!

– the {house}plant momma

 

 

Products I {Heart}: Metallic Planters

Growing up, I never really thought much of metallic tones. Maybe it was because my parents didn’t use many of them to decorate our home (aside from brass lamps in our living room), or maybe it was because my mom didn’t wear jewelry; either way, metals never really did anything for me.

When I got older and started wearing jewelry, I only liked to wear silver. I remember when I was in the 8th grade, my best friend went to London and brought me back a real silver necklace with a blue glass teardrop charm. I thought it was the most gorgeous thing I’d ever seen!

However, when I got still older, I began to appreciate metallic tones more – especially when it came to important things like my engagement ring and wedding band. You better believe I wasn’t UNinterested in metal when it came to that!

As my husband and I have worked to decorate our home, I have noticed more and more metallic items sneaking their way in. When we decorated our first home together, we only used brushed nickel and stainless steel. However, as we have been working on our new home (which has needed pretty much EVERYTHING replaced and updated), lots of gold and brass tones are making an appearance…and I’m not mad about it!

Metals are a great way to add a certain richness, depth, and shine to your space. There are so many different options to choose from – shiny to brushed finishes, gold to silver to bronze, and even rose gold is becoming popular.

Metallic planters are also a great way to accentuate your plants, as they really draw the eye. They easily take a lovely plant and make it into a statement piece. I have a few metallic planters in my home now, but here are some that have caught my eye recently.

Industrial Metal Planter 

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Image via Etsy

Rossum Metallic Plant Stand (various sizes)

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Image via Anthropologie

Sahara Brass Planter

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Image CB2

Chrome Satin Foil Planter

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Image via Amazon 

Hammered Trio Plant Hanger

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Image via Anthropologie

Eden Cross Base Standing Planter

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Image via West Elm

Metallic Pineapple Air Plant Magnet

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Image via Etsy

Cross Base Terrarium

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Image via West Elm

Sparkly Trio Air Plant Holders

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Image via Etsy

Antiqued Silver Planter

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Image via Amazon

Do you like using metallic tones in your home? Which of these planters most caught your eye? I hope you’ll tell me about it in the comments section below!

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– the {house}plant momma

Momma’s Evening Out

My husband loves me. I mean, I know he loves me all the time, but sometimes he goes above and beyond to make me happy.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we recently moved into a new house; what I haven’t shared, though, is that the house has been one issue after another – from carpenter ants infesting the walls to water damage to leaking pipes. The cost of moving plus the cost of all of the unexpected repairs has made us a little more financially careful right now.  It has also been emotionally exhausting.

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Love him.

About a month ago, I received an e-mail from Stump, a local plant boutique, about their upcoming workshops. One of these workshops really caught my eye – a workshop focused on creating cactus and succulent planters. I immediately wanted to go, but was hesitant to spend the money. When I mentioned it to my husband, he had one word, “Go.” That’s it. He knew how happy attending this workshop would make me, and he made my happiness a top priority.

He’s so good to me. *swoon* <Ok, I’ll stop with the mushy stuff…>

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I arrived to Stump the evening of the workshop, excited to get my hands dirty! The lovely owners, Emily and Brian, had the shop all set up for the workshop – including delicious snacks and drinks. For the first half an hour or so, we snacked, chatted, and admired all of the gorgeous plants Stump has to offer.

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The cactus and succulent room at Stump is kinda my favorite…

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And then, the real fun began! Before we began, Emily explained how to successfully make a cactus or succulent planter – first add dirt, carefully remove your plants (including how to avoid losing a finger if you were working with cacti!), set your plants carefully in the soil, and cover with a decorative soil cover. She also discussed how to care for the planters, including water and light requirements.

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The lovely Emily giving directions
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Aren’t these bowls lovely?

As soon as Emily was done demonstrating and giving instructions, she invited us to pick our plants and begin creating our planters. I meticulously poured over the plants, opting to create a cactus planter. There were so many unique options – big and small – that it was really difficult to choose the plants I wanted to use. Finally, though, I decided on five little pots of cacti, a terracotta bowl, and a light-colored soil cover.

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So many amazing options!
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My selections

I began by looking carefully at my cacti and mentally figuring out how I wanted to arrange them in the planter. I moved them around in a variety of ways on the counter, trying to gauge how they would look best in my bowl. After I had an idea of how I wanted to arrange the cacti, I filled my terracotta bowl with soil.

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Concentrating…

Next, I carefully removed the cacti from their planters. I did this by first gently squeezing the outside of planter to loosen the soil. Then, I dumped out the soil and cactus gently on the counter. I removed much of the soil from the roots, trying all the while not to get pricked! I made a small hole in the dirt in my planter and carefully set the cactus down in the hole. I used my fingers, as well as the blunt end of a paintbrush, to pack down the soil around the bottom of the cactus. I then used the brush end of the paintbrush to remove excess dirt that got caught in the spikes.

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Time to brush off the cacti!

Despite my best attempts, I got some pretty good pricks on the finger! Emily and Brian provided leather gloves for handling the cacti, but me – being ridiculous and stubborn – didn’t put them on.

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After all of my cacti were in the bowl and had adequate dirt around their roots, I used a light color decorative soil cover on top of the soil and perlite. I used the paintbrush again to push the soil cover into the little nooks and crannies under the cacti.

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Ta-da!  Finished product!

At the end of the workshop, Emily provided a care card for my planter, which will be helpful if I have any questions on how much water or light my planter needs. (I’m sure this was especially helpful for those who attended the workshop that were relatively new to plants…but as my last post discussed, I keep drowning my cacti, so I’m sure this will help me, too!)

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As I prepared to leave…my eye caught a gorgeous string of hearts plant for sale. I have had this on my plant wish list for AGES, so naturally I couldn’t leave without it.

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My evening spent at Stump was amazing, and I left with some beautiful plants to add to my collection. Sometimes being a stay-at-home mom gets monotonous; the everyday routine can become cumbersome. I am so thankful for the opportunity to step outside of the norm and enjoy a night out!

– the {house}plant momma

Just Like My Gaga: Growing My Love of Cacti

When I was little, I remember visiting my great-grandmother’s house. My Gaga grew up in Arizona, and always said it was her favorite place in the whole world. Around the house, she had various cactus-themed items – pictures, decorative pots (somehow always devoid of cacti, though?), etc.

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I love this picture of my Gaga.  Even though this picture was taken way before I was born, it totally captures her spirit the way I remember her!
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Striking a pose while visiting her beloved Arizona.

I vividly remember that in her kitchen, she had a framed photo of a landscape featuring giant cacti. I thought that picture was the ugliest thing I had ever seen…but she loved it. I completely didn’t “get” her love of the desert and cacti.

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The infamous “ugly picture,” which now resides with my mom.

However, as I continue on my plant journey, I find myself being drawn to cacti more and more. I don’t know what it is about them – their stark outlines, the novelty of their “dangerous” spikes, or the earthy look of cacti combined with terra cotta pots; but suddenly, I am completely in love with cacti.

When I first got into plants, everyone told me that cacti and succulents were the “easiest” plants to keep alive because they required so little care. However, those who told me that didn’t take into consideration my “helicopter-plant-mom” tendencies.

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I have slowly been adding cacti to my plant collection, but…I keep killing them. (There, I said it! I admit it! Wahhh!) I have killed three or four cacti in the last few months by over-watering them. They’ll look great at first, but then slowly get a yellowish hue and begin to tip over. When I try to get them to stand up straight, without fail, they fall apart in my hand and I see that I have completely rotted out the roots.

I was recently taught a couple of tips that I have been trying when it comes to keeping cacti. Thus far, they have been working for the few cacti I have managed not to kill, so I thought I would share them here.

Tip #1: Use a fast-draining soil.

Standard potting soil is meant to help hold in moisture, but for cacti, this is a death sentence. Purchase a soil blend that is specifically formulated for cacti and succulents. By using a soil that drains quickly, the excess water can drain out and your cacti roots won’t sit in water, causing the roots to rot.

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Another great way to keep soil from being too wet is to add perlite into the soil. Perlite helps keep the soil nice and “fluffy,” allowing more air around the roots. (Many times if you purchase a cactus from a nursery or plant boutique, you’ll notice it comes potted with a lot of perlite or even some sand in the soil.)

Tip #2: Pot your cacti in terracotta or unglazed clay pots.

Plastic planters, as well as ceramic planters that are glazed, hold in moisture. For many houseplants, that is a good thing. However, once again, cacti like it dry. Terracotta and unglazed clay pots tend to be more dry and allow the excess moisture to escape more quickly. The faster evaporation is another way to prevent your roots from rotting.

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Most of my cacti (and succulents) currently reside in plastic pots, but I am in the process of moving them all to terracotta planters.  I am hoping that this will help them live longer, happier lives!

Tip #3: “When in doubt, drought.”

This little saying was recently taught to me, and it’s been an easy way to remember that cacti like it dry. As my Gaga’s favorite picture showed, cacti grow naturally in hot, sunny, desert-y places. They aren’t used to rain coming regularly ; they actually thrive on less water. For that reason, if you are wondering if your cacti need water, wait a bit longer before watering. I promise – they’ll like the neglect!

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My sweet Gaga is no longer with us, but I like to think that she would be excited by my new love of cacti. If she were still alive, I’m sure she would get that wistful look in her eye at the mention of cacti, and begin telling me stories about her years growing up in Arizona.

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Me and my Gaga (And yes, I have always been this sassy…)

(Who knows – she might even have some tips for me on how to stop killing my cacti!) This connection to my family – and my heritage – makes falling in love with cacti all the sweeter.

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– the {house}plant momma

 

Essential Oils: The Lifeblood of Plants

Today, I’m super excited that my friend, Laurie, is sharing some unique information about plants – their use in essential oils!  I hope you enjoy the information she shares.  Please also be sure to check out her blog – One Mom and a Blog.

– the {house}plant momma

There’s something so refreshing about adding a plant to your indoor living environment. Perhaps it’s the colors and textures of nature juxtaposed with man-made things. Maybe it’s their “living” presence in the room or the fresh air they provide. Although not all plants are suitable to be brought indoors, the ones that are allow us to grow our love for these fragile creatures by tending to their needs. The simple act of caring for a houseplant can teach the patience, persistence and perseverance needed to nurture nature. Just like tending a garden, the hard work of sowing, watering, and providing a favorable environment will reap reward over time.

Whatever the reason you enjoy the presence of plants, allow me to enrich your appreciation by expanding on their hidden beauty – a beauty that flows deep inside the leaves, stems, flowers, roots, or bark of certain plants and provides something more than meets eye – something that dates back through ancient history.

What Are Essential Oils?

For thousands of years people have been using the aromatic, volatile liquid that’s within many shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and seeds. These liquids are known as essential oils and are usually extracted through steam distillation, hydrodistillation, or cold-pressed extraction. Highly concentrated, and far more potent than dried herbs, large volumes of plant material produce small amounts of a distilled essential oil. For example, it takes 5,000 pounds of rose petals to produce 1 Kilo (2.2 pounds) of valuable rose essential oil.

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Through the process of photosynthesis, certain plants can produce more than food! They also convert nutrients into essential oils in order to protect themselves from sickness and insect damage.

Plant parts used to distill essential oils include flowers like the ones used to make the lovely fragranced essential oil Ylang Ylang. Flowering tops are used for Clary Sage, fruit is used to produce Bergamot, grasses make Xiang Mao, gum or resin makes valuable Frankincense, leaves and stems make Basil, roots produce Ginger, seeds make Anise and lastly, wood, bark, twigs and needles make essential oils like Cedarwood, Pine, and Spruce.

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These are just a few examples of hundreds of different essential oils that can be found on the market today. Known as “the lifeblood of plants,” essential oils are said to be the immune system of the plant – the building blocks of the plant’s DNA. This analogy helps us understand how essential oils carry vital nutrients throughout a plant so that it stays healthy and strong just like our gut hosts billions of microbes and beneficial bacteria that act as a primary defense against disease in our bodies.

How to Use Essential Oils

Essential oils can support the health and wellness of humans the same way they support the health and wellness of the original plant they were distilled from – oxygenating and detoxifying where needed most. Working to support every body system, their therapeutic properties promote healthy brain function, healthy weight, and even emotional support. Fragrance is said the be the substance of memories and research shows that when the pure constituents in essential oils are inhaled it can activate regions of the brain associated with memory, state of mind, and emotion. When inhaled, it only takes 22 seconds for an essential oils to reach the brain!

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Using essential oils to support healthy body function through topical or internal use are just a few of the many ways these versatile substances can be appreciated. Like houseplants, essential oils can also clean and purify the air! Houseplants do this by absorbing gases through pores on the surface of their leaves, but essential oils not only replace toxic fragrances like those in sprays, candles, and plug-in’s, they can also neutralize toxic molecules when diffused or sprayed into the air. Can your odor-eliminating spray do that?

Quality Matters

As we reach the understanding that nutrients, beneficial microbes, and bacteria are key to fending off disease in our bodies, it is important to recognize that the health of plants works much the same way. When we stuff our bodies full of food that is void of nutrition or we kill beneficial microbes and bacteria with the overuse of antibiotics or obsessive cleanliness, we can expect a weak immune system. It can also be noted that when we experience chronic stress our immune system is also weakened.

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You might be thinking, “Wait a minute, plants don’t eat or take antibiotics.” But those of you who understand the liveliness of plants know that providing your plants with fertilizer and growing them in the right type of soil and sunlight is the equivalent of a healthy, well-balanced meal in a human being. Likewise, when plants experience stress they are more vulnerable to experiencing pest or disease issues. Poisonous pesticides and synthetic fertilizers can be considered “junk food” for plants rendering them unhealthy.

The reason it is important to care about the soil and nutrients that are provided to the plants that will eventually be distilled into essential oils is that the quality of the plants being used matters! Lots of variables determine the growth and health of the plants and thus the quality of the essential oil. Purchasing and using essential oils from a trusted source is an important first step in safe and effective use.

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Another factor to take into consideration when choosing what essential oils to buy is purity. Unfortunately many companies today adulterate or extend their essential oils with the use of synthetic-made compounds that are added to the oil. The only way to tell if an oil has been adulterated is through analytical testing using gas chromatography, mass spectroscopy, and an optical refractometer.

Grow Your Love for Plants

I have been so blessed by reading Allison’s blog and watching her Instagram posts breathe life into my feed from nature which we all so desperately need – even if we choose to deny it. Adding houseplants to my life has been an enriching experience and has only enhanced my love and appreciation for essential oils. I’m so thankful for the care that goes into growing the plants that are later distilled into essential oils and frequently used in my home and on my family. Plants remind me of the beauty of nature and the smell of its essential oil is like a salve for my soul.

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Resources:
Gary Young The World Leader in Essential Oils pg. 114
Essential Oils Desk Reference: Sixth Edition pg. 43, pg. 26, pg. 3
Soil is the Immune System of the Garden
youngliving.com/blog

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website. This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. For more information, please see Laurie’s disclosure page.  Also, learn more about essential oils by joining her VIP Essential Oil Facebook group here. Thanks! 

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