What’s green, growing and worth an estimated $1.7 billion in annual sales?
Houseplants in every size, shape, texture and color.
Millennials wanting to bring the outdoors inside are driving the growth of indoor gardening. Houseplants provide a connection to nature, they improve indoor air quality and they’re great for decorating every room in the house.
There are many houseplant how-to books on the shelves these days, but Jenny Peterson and Kylee Baumle were ahead of the trend when they wrote Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013). The book beautifully illustrates how to use houseplants as part of a personal decorating style.
“I think houseplants are to gardening what chickens are to urban farming — they’re the gateway plant!” said Peterson, a landscape designer, author and speaker based in Austin, Texas (JennyNybroPeterson.com).
“They’re easy to grow, in general, and give first-time plant parents a feeling of success and accomplishment. And I also think that houseplants add a coziness and realness to our homes that really help if your life is stressful or anxious.”
Provided by Kylee Baumle and Jenny PetersonCork planters.
Peterson is an expert at decorating with plants in both large and small spaces. Her houseplant collection started on a third-story balcony after she moved from a house into an apartment. That’s where she experimented with vertical plantings and growing a variety of houseplants. Even though she now lives on a one-acre urban farm, her love of houseplants continues.
Her advice for new plant parents is to start out small and build from there.
“Don’t buy too many plants all at once or a bunch of different kinds of plants. Choose one or two that you really like, become familiar with them and their care and then add other plants to the mix,” she said.
Some easy-to-grow houseplants for beginners include pothos (a vine with heart-shaped leaves), ZZ plant (an upright plant with dark green waxy leaves), Sansevieria (tall tough-as-nails foliage), Christmas or Easter cactus (flowers bloom on long segmented stems), tillandsias (spiky-looking air plants) and bird’s nest fern (bright green fern with curvy leaves).Provided by Kylee Baumle and Jenny PetersonTillandsias in hanging moss. (Photo provided by Kylee Baumle and Jenny Peterson)
Succulents like aloe vera, jade and zebra plants are having a moment, too. Their natural architectural quality adds texture, color and different leaf shapes to the indoor garden. They typically need less care than other houseplants.
Although Peterson loves all plants, her houseplants need to be tough and low maintenance to fit into her busy life. She understands that sometimes houseplants die because they’ve been loved to death.
“There’s no such thing as a black thumb, even though I hear that all the time. When people say that, what they mean is they don’t understand how to care for plants. That’s why I always recommend to start slow and learn a houseplant as you go before adding to your collection.”
The three most important tips for houseplant health include not watering them too much, making sure water is allowed to drain so the plants aren’t sitting in water and giving them the light they need. Most like bright, indirect light but others prefer lower light conditions.
For those wanting to make their plant décor Instagram ready, Peterson said to concentrate on textures and get the lighting right. “Photograph by a natural light source, like a bright window, and you’ll have a gorgeous pic.”
The arrangements can be simple, too.
“You don’t have to create the most intricate planting in the world,” she said. “Just use a Sansevieria in a brightly colored pot and place polished gray rock over the soil surface. Always cover the soil with moss for moisture-loving plants and rocks or pebbles for arid plants” for a professional and finished look.
Peterson knows the benefits of having houseplants extend beyond being part of one’s decorating style. Based on her own experience, she wrote the award-winning book titled The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion: Cultivating Hope, Healing and Joy in the Ground Beneath Your Feet (St. Lynn’s Press, 2016).
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