Rooney Bloom: The Joy of “Greens”

Some time ago, I shared a bit about my personal journey with mental health. I have always been an anxious person. However, when my daughter Ana was born in 2016, I began battling postpartum anxiety

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My little cutie at two months – too bad being cute doesn’t stop postpartum depression or anxiety from rearing its ugly head!

It didn’t help that my youngest son August – not even three-years-old at the time – was hospitalized due to uncontrollable febrile seizures just two months after her birth. The postpartum anxiety, coupled with very real concerns about August’s health, turned me into a giant hot mess.

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Holding my sweet boy during his hospital stay

I like to think that I held it together pretty well on the outside, but looking back, I’m not sure…because inside, I was completely falling apart. Anything and everything caused me excess anxiety, and as a result, I began experiencing other issues with my health.

Finally, I reached the point where I knew I needed to do something – anything – to make things better. So I did two things that changed my path: I went to my doctor and was prescribed medication to manage my anxiety; and I pursued a hobby that would allow me to unwind and find rest for my mind and body – namely, working with houseplants.

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Today, I am still medicated and still battle anxiety, but it is nowhere near as serious as it was two years ago. Also, I continue to work with my plants on a daily basis; they still bring me the same sense of “internal quiet” that they did when I first began my plant journey.

Today I am honored to feature a guest post by Eric Rooney, of Rooney Bloom. Previously a teacher in more formal settings, Eric is passionate about teaching and sharing the benefits plants to people’s physical and emotional bodies.

- the {house}plant momma.png

I began my early career as a teacher, predominantly teaching science in middle grade education. I dabbled in formal teaching, technology in San Francisco, and retail work but my creativity and, as some would call it, ADHD had me going somewhere else. I didn’t feel content.  I wasn’t consciously aware of it, but I hadn’t yet found what made me “tick”.

In 2015, I lived in San Francisco, and was let go from my highest paying job ever. As you probably know, living in San Francisco (where rent is the highest in the USA) with no job meant, well, hurry the F up and start making money, or move along.  Rent alone was over 3k a month, and I had a background in education. California doesn’t make it easy to become certified to teach in their public schools, and I was NOT about to go back to making a mere 28k a year teaching young adolescents, nor could I afford to. I felt as though I was slowly losing my sanity, my connection to the earth, and people!

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Image courtesy of Rooney Bloom

To stay motivated, I’d get up early and head to the flower mart, continually filling my windows with plants and fresh cuts. I’d design and create with flowers, offering them to neighbors as a gift. I’d buy cheap plants at the Wednesday farmers markets, repot them, and bring them home.  I’d freak out when I had a new bloom, a new leaf, yelling to my partner “LOOK! There’s a new leaf! She loves it in our apartment.”  He often told me, “No more plants, we don’t have the room.”  But still, I’d come home with fresh cuts, waiting to be styled, or a new plant, looking for a new, upcycled pot!

I loved it.  I loved seeing plants change, and react to my touch and care.  I loved knowing their care was dependent on me, their next bloom was reliant on if I remembered to water.  I was intrigued by their ability to break down carbon dioxide and produce clean, fresh, oxygen that my body needed.  I got excited to see a new bloom or a little tiny teeny baby leaf that wasn’t even a leaf yet. Slowly I, myself, began to transform and to find significant pieces of peace and tranquility allowing my soul to rest. My plant “disease” was quickly spreading.

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Image courtesy of Rooney Bloom

I learned a deeper foundation of care.  Knowing that not any two plants smell, grow, or produce the same, kind of like humans. I was taught about patience as I waited for my plants to product the next blooms or my cacti to grow (because golly, grow slowly!)  Japanese Maple bonsai trees from seed take weeks to germinate alone, and the joy I felt when they finally broke the soil is indescribable.  I didn’t at first feel and notice these things; it took time, repetition, and a little coaxing. It took paying attention and slowing down, and I really have learned it’s a must to “stop and smell the roses.”

I will forever be learning from and with plants. They continually allow me to grow up and learn. They also provide a fount of connection, worth, and community. Plants have connected civilizations since the beginning of time, and I now venture to connect people with horticultural and plants, discovering what they offer for each personal individually.

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Image courtesy of Rooney Bloom

I now work full time, lifting humans’ subconscious love and “underground” connection to plants to a conscience level for full benefit. With my roots being anchored in education, I know it’s my role to make plant knowledge and horticultural benefits known, sharing and teaching them to others.  I am now involved with plants in a variety of ways, including organic, pesticide-free farming, floral design, free home foliage advice, native landscape design, heirloom gardening, and even classes on floral crowns; these lovely “greens” are changing lives.

I owe much of my own personal happiness to plants, as do we all: our clean oxygen, the colors we see, the smells we enjoy, all that our sun allows to flourish. The benefits of plants are real: they reduce stress, increase motivation, promote better sleep, clean the air, enhance creativity, promote relaxation, give you more energy – the list goes on and on!

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Image courtesy of Rooney Bloom

My personal desire is share this love of plants with anyone and everyone. Not only do I have a store located in Denver, CO, but I also offer consultations if you just need some plant-related help. If you have general questions about how to properly care for your plants, check out the “Common Questions” link on my page. Also, you can give me a follow on Instagram (@rooney_bloom) to indulge in the magic and healing of plants.

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Plants have changed my life. I’d love to help them change yours!

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The 8 Best Plants for Your Space: Bright Light

This summer, I traded some cuttings with a fellow plant enthusiast. She gave me a couple of new succulent and cactus varieties, and told me, “Just throw them outside in the sun. They’ll be fine.” I wasn’t sure, based on my experiences with my own ever-going succulent/cactus collection, but against my better judgment I followed her instructions.

The direct sun on my back porch burned the living daylights out of those poor plants! First they turned white and showed major signs of sunburn (and as a fair-skinned person who is extremely prone to sunburn, I sympathized with them). Then, they turned brown and died.

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The brightest spot in my house is a large window seat in my kitchen…I pack as many plants on there as I can!

And thus I should clarify: when talking about bright light for houseplants, I do not mean putting them outside in direct sun for the whole day. What is meant by bright light is that these plants will do well receiving a bit of direct sun throughout the day. They are great picks for conservatories, south-facing windows, and sitting on windowsills.

Something you will notice as you look through this list is that many of the plants that do well in bright light have variegation on their leaves OR are the types of plants that grow in deserts/dry places. Keep in mind when growing them indoors that they will be happiest when you are basically replicating their growing conditions outdoors.

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Aloe vera is a common houseplant, as it has medicinal qualities. I remember one time when I was a kid, my mom was helping a friend cook and she burned her hand on a pan. Her friend grabbed some aloe vera, broke a piece off, and put the aloe sap on the wound. My mom immediately experience relief – which I thought that was CRAZY cool, even at a young age! Aloe vera is a type of succulent and will do best when planted in quick-draining/cactus soil in a terracotta pot. All of this will keep the roots from rotting out.

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Jade is another common succulent, although there are many types of jade available. Jade grow best when they receive at least four hours of direct sunlight a day, ideally from a south-facing window. Although it is drought-tolerant, water jade plants when the soil surface is dry. They will also grown best in quick-draining/cactus soil in a terracotta pot.

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Croton plants are easily recognized by their brilliantly colored leaves – proving that leaves can be just as beautiful and appealing as flowers! Keep in mind that direct sunlight will actually brighten up the coloration in croton leaves. Crotons should not be overwatered, but should receive a drink when their soil surface feels dry.

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Jasmine vines are known for the sweet-smelling flowers they produce, and always remind me of a trip I took to India when I was 16 years old. Every time I smell them, I am immediately transported! Although jasmine like bright light, it should be noted that they do not like directlight. They need humidity, and it is recommended that they spend their summers outside, if possible, to increase their lifespan.

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String of pearls is another succulent that enjoys bright, indirect sunlight, but is unique in that it is a vining succulent. It should be watered when the surface soil is dry – just like other succulents. It is easy to propagate (either in water or by just poking pieces of the strings back into the soil), so it is a great plant to share with friends. I have a large pot of string of pearls, and I have to frequently give it a “haircut,” as it grows very quickly.

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Many varieties of dracaena do well in bright light and as a result, have beautiful variegation on their leaves. Most varieties enjoy bright, indirect light. Their soil should be moist in the growing season (summer) but waterings should be less frequent in the dormant season (winter). I just got a large dracaena for my birthday in August, and it is in a planter near a south-facing window. So far, it seems pretty happy!

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Snake plants thrive in bright light. (Whoa, wait. Didn’t we just see those on the low-light list a few blogs back? Yes, you did!) Snake plants are very versatile and can survive in almost any light conditions. Some varieties that do especially well in bright light are: Sansevieria kirkii, Sansevieria metallica, and Sansevieria zeylanica. As said before, snake plants do well when allowed to dry out completely between waterings.

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African milk bushes (formally known as Euphorbia trigona) are plants that looks like a cactus, but actually are succulents with spines. Be careful if you get one of these as their spikes are merciless! As with most succulents, be sure to water only when the surface soil is dry. (I also recommend potting in a terracotta planter.)

Now it’s time to survey your space, taking into account where you want to put plants and the type of lighting you have in those areas. Once you have done that, you will have a much better chance of selecting plants that won’t just stay alive, but will thrive in your space!

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As always, thanks for joining me on this journey!

- the {house}plant momma.png

The 8 Best Plants for Your Space: Medium Light

If you read my last blog, you know that I am currently going through a series about the best plants for your space based on their light requirements. The last blog covered the best plants for spaces with low light. Today’s blog is going to look at plants that will do well in medium light.

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My living room gets medium light throughout the day, but ironically does not house almost ANY of the plants on my medium-light list! Hmmmm…time to re-think my setup!

Sometimes when you purchase a plant, it will say on the tag “indirect light;” this is the same as saying “medium light.” Plants who require medium light will die if they are put in dark places, but also will likely burn if they are put in direct sun.

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Begonias are a plant that does well in indirect light. I have seen them listed on low-light lists before, but because of my personal experience, I would definitely keep them in this medium light category. (I once put a begonia in a low-light area and within a few weeks, it was dropping leaves like crazy!) Begonias like evenly moist soil. If properly cared for, many varieties produce flowers.

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African violets are not a plant that I am personally drawn to, and therefore do not have any in my home. However, they are a plant that does well in medium light; they enjoy moist soil, but it should be noted that water should not get on their leaves. They, like begonias, are a flower-producing plant.

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While some types of ferns do well in low light, other types – specifically bird’s nest, staghorn, and Boston ferns – are considered medium light plants. Both of these varieties like moist soil and thrive in humid conditions, such as bathrooms.

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Aluminum plants are another common medium-light plant. They grow most quickly in warm temperatures and high humidity (which is basically Ohio in the summer!), but should dry out between waterings. I like mine to grown tall, but many people pinch off growth to create a fuller, bushier plant.

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Although as a general rule, pothos are low-light plants, marble queen pothos do better in medium light due to the variegation in their leaves. However, like their counterparts, they should be allowed to dry out between waterings. Also, I personally have found marble queens to grow more slowly than my other pothos verities.

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Flamingo lilies are a plant that is known to help clean the air (link) but they also do well in medium light conditions. Their long-lasting pink or red flowers and their glossy foliage make them easily recognizable. They thrive in warm conditions with high humidity/soil moisture.

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Marantas (also known as prayer plants) are a gorgeous plant that is relatively easy to grow. These plants do well in medium light, but their markings actually begin fading if they get too much direct light. Their soil should not be allowed to dry out. And, for some reason, these plants seem to attract a ton of dust! Keep their leaves clean in order for the leaves to photosynthesize properly.

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Silver philodendrons do better in medium light than many other varieties of the same species. They thrive when their soil is kept moist. If the plant is not getting enough light, it will be evident because it’s trademark silver spots will begin to fade. I have had two of these plants now, and have found that they are pretty picky as far as philodendron go.

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Most homes have a large number of low or medium light spaces. However, what about bright spaces or windows that get direct afternoon sun? Be sure to check out the last blog in this series, which will take a look at plants that like bright light.

Until next time!

- the {house}plant momma.png

The 8 Best Plants for Your Space: Low Light

Recently, I have been adding to my side-hustle ventures (because I needed one more thing to do, right??), and have been selling some baby plants. As I have interacted with customers through this process, I have learned that most people don’t know which plants will do well in their spaces. This makes me think that perhaps there isn’t enough information out there (or people don’t know where to look) about what plants do well in different types of light.

And thus this three-part series – The Best Plants for Your Space – was born. Together, we will look at some of the best plants for your space based on the plant’s light requirement. I hope this will be helpful information!

When I first got started with houseplants, I had a cute little hanging planter that was designed to mount on the wall. I planted a succulent (which needed bright light) in the planter…and promptly hung it on a wall that was far from a window. I couldn’t figure out why my plant wasn’t thriving – that is, until I learned more about plants.

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Low light planters in my house – now holding the CORRECT plants for their location!

Today, we are going to look at plants that enjoy low light – the type of plant that would have been perfect in my little wall planter!

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ZZ plants do great in low light. In fact, once I was told that they could even survive in florescent light ONLY. (Dang, these guys are resilient!) ZZ plants also enjoy a dry environment. They are a great plant for beginners, as they basically thrive on neglect!

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Snake plants are another plant that does well in low light. I have seen in my own home, though, that while they will survive in low light, they will produce more growth when they are in moderate light. However, I have several stuck in dark corners because they look so dang cool there, and the plants are doing great. Keep in mind that snake plants need to dry out completely between waterings.

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Ivy – specifically English ivy – does well in low light settings. I have kept several varieties in my own home, and they are pretty hardy all-around. Just keep in mind they are another variety that likes to dry out between waterings.

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Pothos is a great go-to plant for beginners. Not only is it easy to find and relatively cheap to buy, but it is super forgiving. Pothos does best in low to moderate light and should be allowed to dry out between waterings to prevent root-rot. If you are new to houseplants, this is definitely a plant that you should try out!

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Philodendrons, similarly to pothos, are great for beginners as many of the varieties are very forgiving. They do well in low to moderate light and like to be allowed to dry out between waterings. Plus, there are so many different varieties – some that trail/vine, others that are more “bushy” – that it’s impossible to get bored.

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Ferns – specifically button, rabbit’s foot, and maidenhair ferns – are great for low-light spaces; however, I will warn you – they are a little less user-friendly than some of the plants on this list. Typically, ferns like to have their soil kept moist and don’t like any direct light.

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Peace lilies are not only great for keeping the air in your home clean but are also a plant that does well in low light. They like having soil that is consistently moist; if allowed to dry out, they will dramatically “wilt,” although they can usually be revived with a good drink of water.

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Calatheas are another plant that thrives in low light, but they can be finicky. (I, personally, have lost several calatheas by not providing the correct conditions for them.) They thrive in soil that is constantly moist, and they also appreciate high air humidity.

If you are new to houseplants and have low-light spaces, I would definitely recommend starting off with a pothos or philodendron. If you are more experienced with houseplants but are looking to fill a dark corner, you may feel brave enough to take on a fern or calathea.

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What if you have areas that get a medium amount of light? Check back next time to learn about plants that would be perfect in that space!

- the {house}plant momma.png

A Birthday Terrarium

My life has been insane lately, with very little time for creativity. I am currently working two part-time jobs, as well as being a full-time stay-at-home mom to three kids (ages 13, 4, and 2). In addition, my husband and I have been working hard to remodel our house since moving in about a year ago. Most nights, I fall into bed with barely enough brainpower to watch a mindless show on Netflix or flip through my Instagram feed.

Last week, I celebrated my 33rdbirthday – woohoo! I decided that for my birthday, I was going to take the day “off” from work and responsibility, and was going to make time for creativity. That was literally the BEST gift I could have given myself!

The morning of my birthday, the little kids and I went to my favorite local nursery. I had told the kids that for my birthday, all I wanted from them was for them not to fight all day – HA! Oddly enough, though, they listened and were really well behaved while we were plant shopping. (Well…mostly well behaved…)

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Are they fighting or loving each other? You’ll never know…
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I love this place!

As I pushed through the greenhouse, I remembered that I had a gorgeous fishbowl at home, just waiting to be turned a terrarium – and suddenly my birthday project took shape!

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Hoping my plants survives better in this vessel than this little guy did…RIP Albus Dumbledore.

My local nursery has a big section of fairy garden/terrarium plants and, while I haven’t had much luck with ferns in the past, I decided to take a risk and make my terrarium hold ferns exclusively. I selected three itty-bitty varieties of ferns and excitedly added them to my cart.

I also picked up some other supplies for my terrarium that I didn’t have at home. I already had potting soil on hand (because I always do – of course), but I bought some horticulture charcoal and some decorative moss. I also went to the nursery’s little fairy garden section and picked out two bright red mushrooms to add – just to add cute, novel touch. (Plus, my kids were absolutely obsessed all of the little fairy garden items, so when I picked out the mushrooms, they were thrilled!)

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I had to wait until the kids went down for their naps to begin working on my terrarium, but as soon as they were in bed, I hustled downstairs and began my project!

The first thing I did was add a layer of charcoal to the bottom of my terrarium. If my vessel had been larger, I would have added a layer of gravel and then the charcoal. However, the bowl is not too big or tall, and I wanted to be sure my plants had adequate room to sit on top of the soil, so I just opted for charcoal.

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Since terrariums do not have any drainage, adding this layer of charcoal (and gravel, if you use it) allows for excess water to drain to the bottom and keeps the soil from being too soggy, which can cause root rot. Charcoal is great to use, too, because it is absorbent and soaks up excess water.

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Please note that while you can use grilling charcoal at the bottom of a plant pot, most grilling charcoal includes chemical additives. These additives are not good for plants, so that type of charcoal should typically be avoided. I personally recommend finding horticulture charcoal either at your local nursery (like I did) or online. (Amazon has options available such as this and this.)

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Oops!

After the charcoal was in place, I added a generous layer of dirt. Then, I used my finger to hollow out little wells for each of my ferns. I gently removed each fern from its tiny pot, broke up the root ball a bit, and carefully set it in the well I had made in the soil. Then I added extra soil around each of the stems and smoothed it out.

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Next, I added in the decorative elements. I had bought a bunch of moss – way more than I actually needed – so I broke it into pieces and carefully added the smaller pieces around the bases of the ferns. While this moss is honestly mostly just to make the terrarium look more lush and green, it will serve to hold in some of the soil’s moisture. (Fingers crossed that this extra help with keeping in moisture will help me have a successful fern-growing experience!)

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Finally, I selected the perfect spot to put my itty-bitty red mushrooms, and carefully pushed them into the moss and soil.

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Just about the time I was finishing up my terrarium, my kids woke up from their naps, and it was back to being a momma. But let me tell you how good this creative time was for my soul! I felt so refreshed after some time focused on me, feeding into the side of my personality that frequently is neglected.

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The finished product!

My birthday ended with a delicious dinner with my entire family, and a humongous ice cream sundae (not pictured, because it was gone in a second!).

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Have you ever made a terrarium? If not, do you think you might be ready to tackle it now? Tell me in the comments below!

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- the {house}plant momma.png

 

A Tale of Two Grandmas: Houseplants and COPD

Growing up, I had the privilege of having two, wonderful grandmas. They were as different as night and day, but both of them were special ladies.

My Mimi was a firecracker. She was always teaching my brother and I to do things that my mom hated (i.e. flipping off my grandpa behind a menu at a restaurant or letting us watch TV shows that my mom would NEVER let us watch). We loved it, and thought she was the coolest grandma ever!

Whenever my Mimi would visit, I would drag her to my room for some “talk time,” and would share my little world with her: boys, trainer bras, best friend drama – you name it. When I got older, I would talk to her every Sunday on the phone like clockwork.

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A sweet moment between my Mimi and I (circa 1987)

My Grandma Joyce was the complete opposite. While she was sassy in her own right, she enjoyed teaching my brother and I church songs while she played the piano or would make (terribly inaccurate) birdcalls for us. When we would go visit her, we would enjoy roaming around her property in Indiana, looking for fossils in her creek bed and fishing in her pond.

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My Grandma Joyce and I (circle 1988)

Despite these women’s differences, they both were hit by the same affliction at the end of their lives: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Mimi had COPD from her life-long smoking habit – an addiction that she just couldn’t kick. Grandma Joyce smoked when she was younger, but stopped when she was older. Yet the damage was done.

Both of my grandmothers died with COPD; because of this, COPD is a topic that is close to my heart. I am honored today to have guest writer Erin Lowry of 1stClass Medical sharing how houseplants can have a positive impact on those who struggle with COPD.

– the {house}plant momma

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a progressive disease that makes breathing continually harder to do. COPD is a broad term that covers multiple lung diseases, such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma. These diseases can trigger coughing, which in turn causes an excess amount of mucus, wheezing, chest tightness, as well as other similar symptoms.

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Image from British Lung Foundation

While cigarette smoke is a main cause of COPD, you do not necessarily need to smoke a day in your life to get COPD. Any harmful pollutant in the air can also cause COPD; additionally, constant exposure to those pollutants (smoke included) can worsen the effects of COPD. Minimizing these triggers means doing what you can to avoid the irritant or keeping your home clean to lower the amount of pollutants in your home.

Many respiratory patients spend roughly 90% of their time indoors, as outside air has been believed to cause COPD flare-ups. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there may actually be more indoor air pollutants than outdoor air pollutants. One reason is that many homes now have a better seals against the outside, which helps them be more energy efficient. However, this process also locks in pollutants. Also, pollutants such as harsh fumes from cleaners, dust, and pollen can get inside and embed themselves into carpets and upholstery. All of this may mean the home is not as safe for COPD patients as they might think.

A safe and relatively easy way to reduce these pollutants in your home is to invest in houseplants. Indoor plants are known to reduce harmful pollutants from the air by up to 87% in only 24 hours! How, you might ask? Plants use the process of photosynthesis to take in carbon dioxide and other pollutants in the air, and in turn, release clean oxygen. By absorbing the unhealthy gases and releasing clean gases, plants can help clean the air; this is much easier – and cheaper – than paying for an expensive machine to clean the air for you!

In 1989, NASA put together a list of plants they believe to help clean indoor air the most efficiently. English ivy, peace lilies, flamingo lilies, variegated snake plants, chrysanthemums, and bamboo palms are all great plants to remove many pollutants in the air.

If you aren’t familiar with these plants, here is some basic information about them.

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English Ivy: English ivy needs to be grow in a shaded area with rich soil; it should be watered enough to keep the soil moist. It’s vines can grow up to 50 feet long – or more – over time.

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Peace Lily: Peace lilies need partial shade, but can survive off virtually no sun at all. They should be watered when they start to droop.

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Flamingo Lily: Flamingo lilies are from the rainforest, so they enjoy growing in a humid area, in a pot of moss-based soil. This lily requires enough water to keep the soil moist; however, do not allow the soil to get overly wet and make sure the pot has a way to drain.

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Snake Plants: Snake plants grow best in a pot with good drainage or in a soilless potting mix, so that it does not get overly moist. These plants can handle indirect sunlight, and only need to be watered when the soil dries out.

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Chrysanthemums: These plants need regular watering, poured under their leaves to avoid any fungus growth. Chrysanthemums do not like humidity and only bloom for 3-4 weeks total, leaving behind their beautiful leaves.

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Bamboo Palm: Bamboo palms only need indirect or filtered light. They like to have their soil kept moist, but be careful not to overwater, as it can lead to root rot.

All of the best plants for the air quality are also fairly low maintenance. This makes it easier for those with COPD and other respiratory diseases to maintain a plant without having to constantly provide care for it. Many of the plants listed only require enough water to keep the soil moist and a minimal amount of indirect light.

It should be noted that many of these plants are not pet friendly. If you have pets, make sure you get non-toxic plants or keep your plants in places you are confident your pet cannot reach. (To learn more about plants that are pet safe, click here).

Before bringing home any plant, I recommend making sure you are well educated about the plant you are buying. Speaking with a specialist at your local nursery or garden store, or doing research online, can help ensure you know how to care for the plant in your climate and region.

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A note of caution: If you aren’t careful, an over-watered plant can produce mold; this will have the exact opposite effect of the plants air cleaning purpose.

Houseplants have many benefits for their owners, but for those with COPD, those benefits can be life – and health – altering!

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How to Send a Plant Care Package & Why You Should Try It

This is a joint blog post that will be featured on both Joi-Knows-How.com and TheHousePlantMomma.com. As there are two voices, we have included our names to show who is speaking. We both thank you for reading and hope you enjoy our post!

Allison: Every once in a while the universe places someone very special in your path. It is never happenstance, but it might feel that way. However, when you meet that person, you can tell right away that they are going to have a positive impact on your life.

That’s how it was when I met Joi of Joi-Knows-How.com.We both began our blogging adventure last summer (2017), and connected via Instagram. Right away, we could tell that while we had many differences, we had a lot in common – specifically, our hearts and our love for plants. We instantly hit it off!

How to Send Plant Clippings in the Mail

Joi: I wish I could remember the exact post where I first discovered Allison on Instagram. I found her feed to be so inspiring and as a fellow plant-lover, it took no time at all for us to connect. We quickly began liking and commenting on each other’s posts and having side chats where we learned more about one another. I suppose it was only a matter of time before our digital friendship would turn into something more tangible. You know that saying “plant people are the best people”? One of the reasons I know that to be true is because of kindness and genuine friendship I have found in Allison.

Allison: After a few months of getting to know each other, Joi and I decided it would be fun to send each other a “plant care package.” This package was destined to be full of plant-related goodies, a handwritten note, and best of all – some plant clippings from our own plant babies.

How To Send Plant Clippings in the Mail

I had so much fun taking cuttings from my small (at that time!) plant collection, watching them propagate in water, just waiting for them to be ready to send to Joi. I also had a blast collecting goodies to add to Joi’s package. It seemed like everywhere I went, I kept seeing little plant-related things I want to add – I had to reign myself in!

Finally, it was time to send the box! With excitement, I took Joi’s box to UPS, and with fingers crossed that everything would arrive in perfect shape, sent the box off. I was going to try to surprise Joi with her package, but as soon as I sent it, I texted her that she should be expecting a box within a few days. I counted down until the expected delivery day, and was thrilled when I got the text that the package had arrived!

How to Send a Plant Care Package in the Mail

Joi: “Just shipped your package!” Imagine my excitement when I received this text from Allison! A few days later a box was waiting for me on my doorstep. I braced myself, grabbed my phone (one must document these things!), and opened my box. I moved aside some tissue paper to reveal several clippings, starter plants, a vintage plant book, plant sticky tabs, and several other goodies. The best part though? Allison’s handwritten notes.

How to Send a Plant Care Package & Why You Should Try It
Note cards I made for Joi

Seeing the thought and effort Allison put into making these notes for me (she even did the watercolor technique on the paper herself) moved me to tears. I immediately sent Allison a long text expressing my gratitude and proceeded to carefully remove the clippings from the package and placed them in water so that that they could continue to grow. The notes still hang up on the wall in my office next to my desk.

Although I had received Allison’s package, I was not finished getting hers together. I had this grand idea of decorating a shoe box with some botanical paper and adding a giant paper Monstera leaf on top. It came out even cuter than I imagined it would!

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The box Joi decorated to send to me – isn’t it adorable?!

While I was waiting on my clippings to root, I visited the dollar store (and the dollar section at Target) to find some cute stationary to add. For my own handmade touch, I made Allison a set of cactus greeting cards. Because Allison’s package to me had been so thoughtful, I wanted to be sure that I showed my appreciation in the package I sent in return. Putting all the clippings together to ship was a very simple process (we’ll tell you how to do that in a moment), and the payoff of returning the feeling of happiness she had brought to me was priceless.

How to Send a Plant Care Package & Why You Should Try It
Clippings growing in water before being sent

Allison: When my package from Joi arrived, I was over-the-moon thrilled! All of her hard work to make the outside of the box beautiful did not go unnoticed, and made the arrival of the package that much more exciting! I carefully went through each item Joi had included – each leaf clipping and succulent leaf, stationary item, and the amazing handmade greeting cards – with a smile on my face. However, the item that touched me most was the narcissus bulb that Joi included. Several weeks before she sent my box, she had seen a post on my IG feed of some gorgeous narcissus blooms that I had spotted at my local nursery. With this in mind, she bought me my very own bulb so that I could add this beauty to my home! This attention to detail and level of thoughtfulness truly touched me, and made our plant exchange just THAT much more special!

Exchanging plant clippings with friends can be a fun way to expand your own plant collection. However, my favorite part of exchanging clippings this is the sentimental value that each new plant takes. I love looking around my home and seeing special plants that have traveled from afar to join my plant family.

How to Send Plant Clippings in the Mail
A few of the clippings Joi sent in my care package, thriving in their new home.
How to Send Plant Clippings in the Mail
Clippings that I sent to Joi, sharing a pot and living happily on her nightstand.

Now that we’ve shared the joys of sending a plant care package, let’s talk about how you can send one of your own.

HOW TO SEND A PLANT CARE PACKAGE

1. Gather Clippings

How to Send Plant Clippings in the Mail

The first step in sending a plant care package is to gather clippings from plants that you would like to share with friends. We would suggest taking clippings from plants that are hardier, as sometimes the more delicate plants (especially ones with very specific needs for light and water) do not survive the journey to a new home.

Once you have gathered your clippings, put them into water to begin growing roots. (If you are unfamiliar with water propagation, check out Allison’s blog here.)

Why You Should Try Water Propagation | Joi-Knows-How.com

Plants propagate at different rates, so if you feel as if it’s taking forever, don’t be discouraged. More hardy varieties (Pothos, Spider Plant, as well as many succulents) will root quickly, while those that are less hardy (String of Hearts, Hoya) may take longer. Until your plant cutting is completely dead, do not lose heart! Roots are very likely to appear if you’re patient.

How to Send Plant Clippings in the Mail

2. Package Your Clippings

Before packing your clippings, you’ll need to make sure they are ready to send. How do you know when your clippings are ready? Look for well-established roots and foliage that looks healthy and strong. If your roots have not yet developed, there’s a good chance that the plant will not survive the trip or will not be able to survive once placed in soil. Also, if you plant is struggling in water, the shock of being transported could be too much, and your plant may not make it. We suggest placing multiple clippings in water to increase the chances of having at least one with strong healthy roots that will be ready to send.

When packaging up your plant clippings keep in mind these important elements:

  • Do everything you can to keep your plants moist, but not wet. For plants that are taken out of water propagation to send, a great technique to ensure that they remain moist is to wrap the roots in a wet paper towel and then wrap the paper towel in a piece of saran wrap or a Ziplock baggie. Secure the plastic around the base of the plant (with enough room that you aren’t damaging the roots themselves) with a small rubber band or a twisty-tie, or simply zip the bag up around the stem.

How to Send Plant Clippings in the Mail

How to Send Plant Clippings in the Mail

Ship out your plant packages as soon as they have been prepared; you don’t want to waste any precious moisture by delaying your shipment.

Once you have put your moistened plants into bags and into a box, be sure to use soft packing matter – crumpled up tissue paper or newspaper works great – to ensure that your plants don’t shift in transit. On the other hand, don’t pack your plants so tightly that the leaves could be damaged. Think of it as creating a nice, soft pillow around your plants, rather than wrapping them tightly.

3. Add Some Plant Swag

How to Send a Plant Care Package in the Mail

One of the best parts of sending a plant care package is finding fun little add-ins. Plants are super trending right now, and it’s easy to find awesome little plant-related items to include with your cuttings. The Target Dollar Spot, Dollar/$.99 Store, etc. are even great places to look! Being thoughtful and finding fun little gifts doesn’t have to break the bank.

Celestial Monstera Enamel Pin
Celestial Monstera pin by @apartmentbotanist

If you want to include something that costs a little more, there are many unique plant-related gifts available, especially on Etsy. Hemleva and the Apartment Botanist have beautiful plant themed enamel pins. Handheld and Co. sells lovely botanical-themed note cards and adorable pins and patches! Joi just launched her Etsy shop, full of gorgeous botanical photography prints.

Botanical Art Prints available via Etsy
Joi’s Botanical gorgeous prints available via Etsy.

4. Include a Personal Touch

Don’t forget to add a personal touch to your package with the addition of a handwritten note! This practice is a forgotten art in today’s world, but this simple gesture can be so fun and meaningful. Both of us have been working on our own hand-lettering techniques, so we have used packages as an opportunity to practice!

How to Send a Plant Care Package In the Mail & Why You Should

5. Ship Your Package

Here in the US, there are two main options for shipping: either the United States Postal Service (USPS) or UPS. Tracking is available through both services, and pricing is very competitive.

Allison: The only upper hand that UPS has over USPS is that in certain parts of the States (for example, where I live in Central Ohio) the USPS has a terrible reputation for meeting their delivery dates. I bought a plant from someone in Florida, who mailed me the plant via USPS. While the Post Office said the plant had been delivered to me, it never arrived. It took over a week for my order to arrive. Amazingly, the plants have survived and are in good condition, but depending on the hardiness of what you are shipping, this wouldn’t always be the case.

How to Send a Plant Care Package

Joi: Also be mindful of what you choose to package your items in. Remember that super cute box that I decorated for Allison’s package? Welp, it didn’t fit into a flat rate box and I ended up paying way more than intended to send it out! I had to use a bigger box and then purchase a second box to put in to fill up the empty space, which could have been avoided if I used a smaller box. Instead of decorating a shoe box that is difficult to ship, consider reusing an Amazon box or purchase a flat rate box to fill so that you don’t run into major fees.

6. When Your Package Arrives

As soon as your package arrives, OPEN IT! (As if you’d do anything else – HA!)

But seriously, you will want to get your cuttings out of the box and into sunlight/water as soon as possible. We, personally, recommend putting them back into water for a week or so to get them acclimated to their new climate and humidity conditions. You can always put rooted plants directly into soil, but keep in mind this might cause them more shock.

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Allison: My favorite part of the whole plant care package process is waiting in eager anticipation for my package to arrive at its destination. Finding meaningful gifts for friends, and knowing that they are going to LOVE what I sent, is the best feeling ever!

Joi: Making meaningful connections via platforms like Instagram is becoming more and more common. In the plant community, people tend to be so warm and friendly. Connecting with a fellow plant-lover by sending a plant care package is a unique and fun way to make even stronger connections. You really ought to try it!

How to Send a Plant Care Package & Why You Should Try It

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (@joi.knows.how and @the.houseplant.momma) because we will be hosting an AMAZING giveaway – starting next Monday, July 16! – to celebrate this blog post. You won’t want to miss it!

Thank you so much for reading our post, we hope you enjoyed it! Please feel free to comment with any further questions. Are you thinking of sending a plant care package of your own? We would love to hear all about it!

Until next time,

Related Blog Posts:

12 Tips for Happy Houseplants

How to Style Pothos Plant Clippings

All About Propagation

The Right Plants for Your Space

 

Spring Cleaning: Plant Edition

Spring is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. After a gray, cold winter, spring comes in with warm breezes, brightly colored flowers, and longer days full of sun. (Oh, sweet, sweet sunshine!) This winter has seemed to drag on especially long, with snow coming to Ohio all the way into April.

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April showers bring May flowers…

Another aspect of spring that I love is spring-cleaning. I am a self-professed neat freak and a serious germaphob. Add those two together with my Type A personality and…well, you get the picture. Every spring, I look forward to purging unneeded junk we have acquired over the winter, washing every single sheet and towel in sight, and organizing all of our closets, dressers, and cabinets.

There’s another aspect of spring-cleaning that has been on my mind this year – especially after all of the home renovations we have done over the winter – and that is cleaning my plants. Despite my best efforts to dust them off here and there during the winter, or occasionally give them a good rinse in the sink, many of my plants have a fine layer of drywall dust covering their sweet leaves. With the dust blocking the sun’s rays from the leaves, the plants can’t properly photosynthesize, which inhibits their development and could even cause them to die.

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Poor, dusty leaf…

**I’d like to add that I never thought I would use the word “photosynthesize” in my life – ever – so shout out to Mrs. C, my sophomore year biology teacher, for enduring all of my attitude, eye rolls, and attempted manipulation to not do any work. Turns out I learned something after all!

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Here I am at age 16 with the infamous Mrs. C (dressed as “Proton Woman”), and my BFF – a picture of a picture right out of my high school scrapbook!
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Another shot of “Proton Woman”

Well, that was a fun little aside. *clears throat* ANYWAY….

Needless to say, spring-cleaning my plants has been at the forefront of my mind. However, as this is my first spring with plants, I wasn’t quite sure of the best method(s) to clean them. I read up on many different products and methods, and thought I would give some of them a try!

Spraying with Water

Have you ever watched a four-year-old wash their hands unattended? I watch it – literally – everyday. My son is the worst at WASHING his hands. He thinks that by putting one squirt of soap on his hands and instantly washing it off, he has done his due diligence and his hands are “clean.” (Guys, kids are gross. If you have them, then you understand. If you don’t, then you should be forewarned. Gross. Gross. Gross.)

This is what I feel like happens when I spray my plants with water to clean them. All the water does is move around a little of the dust and dirt on the leaves, but as soon as the water dries, the dust is still there, just dried in the shape of water droplets.

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Old dust and dirt dried in the shape of water droplets on my peace lily

While this method feels easiest and might give you the vibe that something good is happening, I don’t really think it’s very effective in actually cleaning the leaves.

Washing with Water

I have, however, found that washing my plants with water is an effective way to clean the leaves. Typically, I put some water on my fingers or a soft cloth; then gently rub the leaf – both top and bottom – clean. When I’m done with all the leaves, I spray the plant down with the sprayer on my sink, just to rinse off any extra dust or dirt that I might have loosened.

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Peace lily much cleaner and happier after an actual WASH in the water!

I would like to add that both of the water cleaning methods are best done in conjunction with watering. If you wash them in addition to watering your plants, there’s a good chance that they will get overwatered and/or possibly flood.

Dusting Glove

For Christmas, my mom got me a microfiber dusting glove as a joke. She forgot, however, with whom she was dealing. I love the glove, and I actually use it frequently when cleaning around the house. My kids think it’s hilarious, and since the glove is big and blue, we refer to it as the “Cookie Monster Hand.”

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Poor monstera…all covered in dust…

I decided to try the microfiber side of the dusting glove on my plants to see if it might effectively remove dust. I feel like this method is preferable to many of the other methods I tried, and it doesn’t include any products that might potentially block the leaves pores, which clearly does more damage than good.

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All ready to soak in that gorgeous spring sunshine!

Overall, I felt like this method was effective – especially on my plants with bigger leaves such as my monstera, snake plants, or pothos. However, for any plants that have smaller leaves, I’m not sure that the big, bulky glove is as effective, as it can’t get into small crevasses. For smaller leaves, I have found that a microfiber cloth does a great job!

Milk and Water

This is a method that I read about on Instagram. One of the accounts I follow (and please forgive me, I cannot remember whose account I saw this on!) said that she was cleaning her leaves with a mixture that was equal parts water and milk. I had never heard of this (and was also pretty skeptical, as I didn’t want my entire house smelling like sour milk), so I decided to do a little research.

Turns out that this is actually a thing called foliar feeding. Apparently, if you have an empty milk container, you can add water to it before throwing it away and can water your plants with that. Or, you can dilute the milk and spray it on the leaves. (If you have skim milk, you can supposedly put that directly on the leaves.) This process is said to give the plants a nutritional boost; additionally, the milk can serve as an antifungal, and and can even potentially cure some of the fungal issues to which some plants are susceptible. (I found this information here.)

However, there is conflicting opinions about this method. Some people contend that using this method might attract pests and potentially make your house smell like sour milk. (NO THANKS!) Another argument against foliar feeding is that, while using food products like milk might make your plant have shiny leaves, it’s not actually doing anything helpful for the plant itself.

I debated trying this process of cleaning/shining leaves with the milk/water solution, but decided against it. I couldn’t run the risk of my house smelling like sour milk or attracting any unwanted pests. (We are currently facing a “lovely” invasion of springtime ants…so I am currently focused on making my house as un-bug-friendly as possible.)

Vinegar and Water

According to the Garden Report website, a good way to remove hard water stains from leaves is to use a weak vinegar solution (1 part vinegar to 5 parts water). This site claims that if you spray the hard water stains and wipe them away with a soft cloth, this will remove the stains.

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Hard water stains on my Christmas Cactus

I have a Christmas Cactus that I purchased at IKEA that has hard water spots (plus dust on top of that!), so I decided to give it a try. I was really nervous to spray something as acidic as vinegar – even in a diluted form – onto my plants (plus it doesn’t smell great), but I went for it.

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A much cleaner and happier Christmas Cactus

I sprayed the solution on my cactus, and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I was pleasantly surprised to see the hard water spots disappear! I’m honestly not sure if the spots disappeared because of the pressure I used when wiping the leaves , or because of the solution. However, this is definitely a method I would try again.

Treating Scale

I currently have a rubber tree that is fighting scale. It is so sad to watch the spots appear on the under sides of the leaves and then watch the life slowly drain from the leaf. I read online that you can use rubbing alcohol to treat the scale spots, which I have been doing for about a month now. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any improvement.

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Scale up close – GROSS! (Image via BugGuide.net)

My next idea for treating scale was to give neem oil a try. If you haven’t heard of it, neem oil is well known around the plant community, and according to the Today’s Homeowner website:

Neem oil is made from the seeds of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), which is native to India. Since ancient times, the neem tree has been prized as a sacred remedy and important ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine. In the garden, neem oil boasts a powerful insecticidal ingredient, azadirachtin, which makes it a great organic choice for controlling a variety of problems.

Because of all of these fantastic properties, neem oil can be used to combat insects, fungus, and even some kinds of plant disease. Additionally, it’s nontoxic (meaning that it won’t hurt predatory wasps, honeybees, earthworms, ants, spiders, ladybugs, and adult butterflies, as well as being nontoxic to humans, birds, and other animals), organic (meaning it’s plant-based and it’s easy to find a brand that is organically grown), and biodegradable (meaning it breaks down easily and has no lasting residue).

The jury is still out on if the neem oil is going to help with the scale…I’m going to keep applying, though, and will see if I can save my poor little rubber tree!

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After all of these cleaning experiments, I’m pretty sure I have the cleanest plants in Columbus, Ohio. (HA!) But seriously, I have learned a lot, and have gathered some new methods of keeping my plants healthy and happy. I am hoping that all of the cleaning I have done will  help all of my plants have a healthy, happy summer!

What methods do you use to clean your plants? Is there a product that I didn’t try that you swear by? I hope that you’ll take the time to tell me about it in the comments below.

– 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