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

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

 

Fern: Where Dreams Create Magic

Many of the greatest things in life begin with a dream, and Megan Strasser, owner of Fern, is one of the best type of dreamers.  She’s the type of person who dreams big, works hard, and when her vision comes to life, it’s magic.

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Fern Storefront {6040 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45224}

That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of Fern: magic.  The moment I pulled open the door, I was met with bursts of green on each side.  Gorgeous natural light flooded through the large, garage-style doors on the front of the building, illuminating plants of every shape, size, and variety.  Handmade pots and other vessels lined the carefully arranged shelves.

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Look at that gorgeous lighting!

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I had the privilege of sitting down with Megan, who is truly one of the nicest people you could ever meet, to learn about her story and her experience with Fern.

Megan comes from a varied background – not necessarily specific to plants.  Before opening Fern, Megan started several other businesses.  Her first venture was a vintage clothing business; with this business, she hosted popup sales and maintained an Etsy store.  For her next endeavor, she took a 1960’s popup camper and converted it into a mobile coffee cart.  She has also dabbled in doing styling on the side for craft books and even did some food styling.

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Megan Strasser {owner}, in her element

In 2010, she left everything in Ohio and moved to Switzerland to be with her now-husband.  She left her coffee cart on her grandparents’ farm, not knowing if she would be back to resume her business or if life held something else for her.  She ended up staying in Switzerland and was married there.  Soon after, she and her husband welcomed a daughter into her new family.

Megan and her family returned to the States, and moved to Michigan where her son was born.  “I spent years not really working, and dreaming up what the next idea was going to be, because I have no shortage of dreams,” Megan says.

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While she was living in Michigan, the building that now houses Fern – which used to be a car wash – became available.  Megan’s parents lived next door, and therefore had a large interest in what business would move into the space.  Initially, Megan’s father rented the space and turned it into an art collective.  When the building went up for sale, Megan’s father was given first dibs on buying the building.

Megan says that she can remember specifically sitting in her living room in Michigan, nursing her son, dreaming of what would turn into Fern – a curated plant shop.  She says with a smile, “If I have an idea, I just do it.”

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I absolutely love this cactus, and am kicking myself for not bringing him home with me!

In May of 2013, Megan, her husband, and their children moved back to Cincinnati.  In September of that same year, Megan started Fern.  She began small by selling succulent gardens, terrariums, and a few handmade ceramics sourced from around the country at the City Flea (a curated urban flea market) in Cincinnati.

In May of 2014, Fern opened in its current space, albeit a smaller portion of the building.  Megan says the shop selection was super-sparse initially – just a few re-purposed shelves, a table from Ikea, and a vintage cart she found at an antique shop.  Also, Megan says that she did not have a lot of plants at first, but focused more on the type of designs that she had been creating for the City Flea. However, customers began to show more interest in the plants, so Megan quickly adapted her business to meet the demand.  Megan also continued focusing on artisan-made ceramics and vessels.

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Since opening, plants have become more and more trendy.  Megan says she is “riding the wave” of the plant trend, most of the time in disbelief at how her dream has taken off.  Fern was also featured in the book “Urban Jungle: Living and Styling with Plants” as a favorite plant shop around the world.

Fern is a family business – which it’s clear that Megan takes great pride in.  Her dad built up the space.  Her children have been in the shop since it’s conception, and still help her shop for plants frequently. Megan and her brother partner on business endeavors, and he actually lives on the other side of the building.

Megan feels the point of her shop is to offer not only carefully cared-for and hand-selected plants, but that each of the ceramic vessels she sells is interesting and beautiful.  Each one is handmade by independent artists.  As you walk around the shop, you can see different placards by each display, explaining about the artist who created the pieces.  For Megan, the vessel is almost more important than the plant itself; she likes to treat each piece as if it is part of an art gallery.  When you see these pieces in your home, she feels you have a different connection to the item because you value the time and personal creativity that went into each piece.  This focus on beautiful, handcrafted pieces of art is one of the things that sets Fern apart from other plant stores and boutiques.

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Fern carries handmade ceramics by many different artists, such as this one by Kari Von Lehman.

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Fern sources its plants from two wholesalers who work with growers in Florida and California.  One of the biggest benefits of buying from a wholesaler is that they generally take the plants through an acclimation process before they are sold; this allows them to adapt more easily to life within a home or office instead of taking them directly from a greenhouse or grow-light environment, giving them a better chance of survival.  Each week, Megan hand selects each plant that comes into her store; she says that this is probably one of her favorite parts of owning Fern and makes her feel like a kid in a candy store.  (Her face completely lights up when she talks about this!)

I asked Megan if she had any helpful tips for plant owners.  She told about a great trick that I had never heard of!  If you have a plant that is crispy and looks like it’s on the way out, try submerging it in water.  Don’t just give it a good drink with a watering can, but actually dunk the whole plastic garden pot – being sure to cover the soil and roots – in water; let it sit for about 15 minutes.  Once that time is up, drain it well. A few may leaves may fall off or need trimmed back, but most of the time, this will revive your plant.  (Megan specified that this shouldn’t be done to succulents.)

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As I wrapped up my time at Fern, I did one more pass around the store and came across a gorgeous Hoya plant that has been on my wish list…and you know what happened next! (Apparently, I can’t visit a store without buying a new plant baby!)

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You can visit Fern at 6040 Hamilton Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45224.  Their hours of operation are Wednesday through Saturday, 11:00 to 6:00.  If you go check them out, don’t forget to tell them the {house}plant momma sent you!

To learn more about Fern…
Website: https://www.fern-shop.com
Instagram: @fernshopcincinnati
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fernstudiocincinnati/

– the {house}plant momma