Monday, January 7, 2013

Decorating with Houseplants

I came to the realization recently that just about every room in my house contains three common elements: (1) something shiny, (2) something old (usually from the antique auction we frequent), and (3) a houseplant. 

The shiny things and the antiques can probably be chalked up to my love of "pretty things," but there's actually some decent practicality behind the houseplants! Everyone loves the look of fresh flowers, but fresh flowers are expensive, and they die quickly, so I've started to use potted plants instead! Plants in pots live as long as you keep watering them, and they're usually less expensive than a bunch of fresh flowers. They're the perfect solution! Next time you go to buy some fresh flowers to decorate your house (or to bring as a hostess gift), consider grabbing a potted plant instead!

These flowers cost $10ish, and they died. 

This plant cost $5ish (plus a $5ish pot), and he's been alive for years! 

Want to see some of my houseplants? I've got this little guy in the living room:

I didn't want a plant in the living room at first because there isn't any green at all in that room's decor, but once I put this little plant on my coffee table, it just seemed to work. 

In the dining room, I have a lovely leafy ivy on the console table:

This is another room with very little green elsewhere, but I think the plant just makes everything feel a little more bright and fresh! 

I've had the little ivy surrounded with pinecones for the holidays! 

I even have a green plant in my ivory-and-black piano room:

See the little succulent on the table? I love how it breaks up the neutrality of the rest of the room!

I put it in a classy, shiny black pot, and I think it fits right in! 

In the kitchen we have a window seat, which holds a little collection of potted herbs. 

Herbs are wonderful. They smell good, they look good, and they're SO delicious and useful! 

I have two basil plants and a mint, but I'm hoping to add some rosemary and thyme soon!

There's nothing quite like a little caprese bite with freshly picked basil! 

(grape tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil!)

In my craft room, I have a big leafy plant by the window: 

This little shadow box is going to get hung on the wall soon (the craft room is a work in progress), and I love the little succulents sitting on top! 

For places where there just isn't a lot of light, fake plants are almost as good as the real thing! 

Looks pretty real, right?

My law school office is in a basement (so no sunlight AT ALL), so I have a fake plant there too. People always assume it's real and ask me how I get it to stay alive down there! 

I guess it does look pretty real! 

Sometimes your plants will wilt a little, or shrivel up a bit, or just look a little sad. When that happens, you just have to embrace it and give your plants some TLC! I over-watered one of our plants, which caused it to get some sort of fungus or something in the roots. It's all taken care of now, but the plant still looks pretty scrawny. We made the most of it by surrounding it with berries and decorating it with ornaments for Christmas! We called it our "Charlie Brown tree," and people kept telling me it was their favorite Christmas decoration in our entire house! Haha. 

Here are my tips for caring for houseplants:
  1. Think Before You Buy. Some plants need very little light, but some need to be right by a window to survive. Read the labels and think about where you'll place the plant before you buy it! Also, make sure you don't buy an "outdoor" plant for inside your house (plants that need direct sunlight just can't survive indoors). 
  2. Don't Forget to Water AND Feed the Plants! I water all of my houseplants every weekend (I just fill up a watering can and run around the house sprinkling them all like a plant fairy). Every three weeks or so, I mix in some Miracle Grow with the water. This gives the plants the nutrients they need, which makes them grow nice and full! 
  3. Prevent Over-Watering! I don't like to buy pots with drainage holes. If the pot has holes, you either have to move it to the sink every time you water, or you have to risk drenching your pretty wood furniture. So I buy pots without holes. To avoid the plants being totally soaked in their no-hole pots (because the water has no way out), I put a layer of small rocks at the bottom of the pot (you can buy pebbles at hardware stores). Each pot has a few inches of rocks, and then the plant in it's soil. When there's extra water, it drains down into the rock layer (and doesn't stay stuck in the soil). 
  4. Find Which Plants Work for You. I've had the most success with green leafy plants (especially ivy-type plants), crotons, and succulents. I've found that those types are pretty hard to kill.
  5. Where to Buy: I find almost all of my real plants at Home Depot, and my fake ones at Ikea. Almost all of my pots come from Ikea or HomeGoods (and a few from Wal-Mart or Home Depot). 
Now go out and buy yourself some plants! I promise they'll last WAY longer than fresh flowers, and it's not that hard to keep them alive!

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This post also appears on IKEA Houston's website, Inspiring Life at Home. I received an IKEA Gift Card in return for this post. All opinions on the product and company are that of my own. 


  1. We bought a potted plant on our honeymoon as a "love fern" and almost killed within two weeks. I like your indoor plants.

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