Around here, I intend to share my houseplant journey, as well as the things I learn along the way – things that work and things that don’t. I hope you’ll stick around to see what we can learn together!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Plants have changed my life. I’d love to help them change yours!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…)
Are they fighting or loving each other? You’ll never know…
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!
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!)
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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!)
Finally, I selected the perfect spot to put my itty-bitty red mushrooms, and carefully pushed them into the moss and soil.
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.