A bohemian, plant-loving shop and blog dedicated to the houseplant community. This blog is to cater towards the houseplant-loving community that is found online and on social media. The goal is to help spread knowledge, bring more beauty into your everyday life, and experience the magic of nature through plants and a community.
It’s officially spring in Pittsburgh! My senses are all alive again and I’m in the mood to work outside nonstop. The weather is perfect right now, not too hot, not too cold. Because of our newly sunshine-filled days, I wanted to talk about one important thing that should happen to your houseplants, repotting! All houseplants need to be repotted occasionally to keep them healthy and living well, but I feel like it’s especially important after they’ve been cooped up inside all winter. Something about being blasted with forced heat seems to really put a damper on their growth haha. Think of it as a refresh, we go through it as humans, so plants should be given that right to a fresh start too! This is also your time to do a root check to clean up the base, and even possibly move your plant into a larger pot that is more suitable for summer growth. So let’s take a look at a few things to know before you up and transplant your babies.
YOU CAN PREPARE TO REPOT You can prepare your houseplant by watering it fairly well a few days prior to repotting. This will help the roots from being too dry when you go to slide it out. I’ve done this a few times but most of the time I just dive right in.
WHEN TO REPOT Most houseplants need to be repotted around a year or so of being in the same container. Potting soil tends to lose its nutrients by then. Remember, fresh potting soil = fresh nutrients. If you are changing planters because the plant looks to be outgrowing its current one, try to keep the size no more than 3-6″ larger in diameter. The size is important because when we transport our plants to a larger pot, we tend to overwater. A small plant + a giant container = future dead plants. Make sure your planter has drainage holes as well, but that’s always important.
You know it’s time to repot your babies if you notice any of these things happening:
The plant is decreased in growth or hasn’t grown at all
Plant is top heavy
Plant has become root bound, as in, you notice the roots popping out the bottom or top of your container
Your plant doesn’t seem to accept a lot of water, which tends to make it dry out easier
(Ruby Flora tip: springtime is the quintessential time for repotting in my opinion!)
HOW TO REPOT What You’ll Need:
Fresh potting mix (I don’t have a favorite and I usually change it up each time)
Watering can/cup of water
The houseplant that is being repotted (seems like a no brainer, eh?)
A new planter/pot
First, you’ll want to turn your plant sideways or upside down, hold it by the stems, and tap the bottom of the container until the plant slides out easily. You can move it along with a couple gentle pulls on the stems. (If your plant is root bound it may need a bit more finessing. See below for an extra step if that’s the case.) Loosen up the roots with your hand and cut away anything that’s stringy or dead.
If your plant is root bound: The roots will be growing in tight circles around the base, try to untwirl them as best as you can but you may need to put in a little elbow grease which could result in some torn roots. Try not to damage them but accidents do happen, give them a trim if that’s the case but try to be gentle!
Next, throw away the old potting mix and pour a new layer of pre-moistened mix onto the planter. Pack it down nicely and then place your plant on top of the fresh layer, making sure it’s centered. Then add the remainder of your potting mix until its secure. Don’t overpack it, but add enough that it doesn’t tip in any certain direction Then add a stick of fertilizer or plant food if you wish (I use these!) and water well, I normally keep watering it until I see it drain through the bottom.
Note: Some people don’t like fertilizing while repotting because roots are getting accustomed to their new surroundings, if you wish to hold off doing this, feel free, but try to not forget to come back to it later! Remember that repotting any houseplant may put it through a bit of a transition, watch it closely afterward to notice any signs of distress.
I hope this helps you if you are repotting this spring! Feel free to comment on the best ways you repot or if you have any tips/tricks!
Everyone knows about terra cotta pots, right? They're super affordable, cute and unique because they are super customizable (if you do it right)! I started realizing I had a lot of terra cotta pots around and decided I wanted to dress them up a bit. There is one step I forgot to take a picture of though, and it's actually a pretty important step, sealing the inside of the pot before you paint. But we will get to that below (don't judge me), shall we continue?
STEP 1 Start off with a clean and dust-free pot, if you are working with an older pot it's recommended that you soak it in warm water (no soap!) to really get everything off it so you have a nice clean painting surface.
STEP 2 This is the part where I forgot to take a picture of so I am borrowing one from the sea of the internet, this is not my photo but I wanted to clearly show that this step is important. The problem with painting terra cotta pots is that if you do not prepare your pot properly, your project will go downhill fairly quick. Terra cotta is clay and is super porous. It will retain moisture like nobodies business, good for plants - bad for your artwork. So spray away! (This stuff is super good!)
Thanks random google image search for this photo! *Not my hand*
STEP 3 Gather those supplies! I used acrylic paint and acrylic paintbrushes but I did notice a lot of people use foam brushes, apparently they're easier to paint with. I ended up buying paint pens as well to add some cooler handwritten details near the end of this project.
- Clean Terra Cotta Pots - Acrylic Paint + Paintbrushes - Clear Acrylic Sealer Spray - Optional: Rubber Bands or Blue Painters Tape for detailing
STEP 4 Get to painting! Use the painters tape or rubber bands as guides and/or options to section off some spots if you're into geometric shapes. I toyed around with a few designs over the course of this project, some freehand - some guided. I wasn't trying to win any drawing awards here, so just do what feels right!
STEP 5 You can choose to seal them with either a water-based spray acrylic or matte/glossy sealer. Let your pots dry for a day or two, planting in them too early may cause the paint to seep into your plants, which is a big no-no and will probably kill the little guys.
All done! (Apparently the far left pot needed a few more spritz of sealer because it ended up being a little leaky, I have since removed the plant and repot it until that planter dries out.)
Let me start this blog post out by saying this project took a little while for me to accomplish. Not gonna lie, it was a big plant and it was my very first attempt propagating something this large. It was fairly easy, but large nonetheless.
Snake plants are a new favorite in my life. I saw them on Instagram and bought one immediately. Impulse-buy much? That’s Instagram for ya. You may know them by a few other names, Mother In Law Tongue, Snake’s Tongue, Devil’s Tongue … etc. They’re known for their spikes, sword-like leaves and unique coloring. Also they're just damn trendy and I like it.
I wanted to share with you 3 different ways to propagate them, it was fairly simple!
FIRST WAY: Rooting the Snake Plant in Water Choose any kind of container tall enough to hold the leaf cuttings up. Select a good healthy leaf that isn’t too yellow or old. Place the container in an area that gets indirect light, nothing too intense for the little dudes. Change the water every couple of days, it will get gross-looking fairly soon if you don’t. Soon you will see little roots sprouting and you’ll be so excited! (Give it 3-4 weeks) Once the roots look big enough plant those suckers in some sand or good potting soil.
SECOND WAY: Propagating from Mama Bear Pull the snake plant from its pot and use some sharp scissors to cut the base apart into a bunch of sections. Plant every new section in a fresh pot with sand or soil, give it some water and place in an indirect sunlight location. You’ll be on your way to new (and free) houseplants in no time!
THIRD WAY: Rooting the Snake Plant Cuttings in Soil/Sand This way is really no different than the water method, it's pretty easy to tackle. Let the cut leaf dry out for a day or two, then insert the cut end into lightly moist sand/soil in a container. Give it a couple of weeks and the plant will grow roots on its own! Once again, free houseplants are the best houseplants.
Even though these plants are tropic-loving, they thrive in our dry homes which lack humidity. Also, pro tip: propagation is best done in the spring and summer, fall is fine too, but not winter, the plants need their beauty sleep. Overall, these little guys make mighty fine houseplants!
Most of the time, if you want to look up a certain plant, you just google it and go to town. But for a more systematic approach or for serious plant-lovers, you might need something a bit more digital. These picks below are some the best ways to find out what plant is growing on the side of a trail, your road, or in your backyard. Obviously, it helps out when perusing through a nursery as well!
PICTURE THIS (App Store and Android) Similar to the PlantSnap app below, PictureThis uses AI and captures features of the plants to easily identify. I have this app and use it on multiple occasions, I would say it guesses right 7 out of 10 times, and if they don’t guess it right a community is there to help out! And if the AI experience isn’t enough for you, they also hand pick beautiful phone wallpapers for you daily! 4.6 star rating | Free
PLANTSNAP (App Store and Android) PlantSnap claims to be the most high-tech, comprehensive and accurate plant identification app ever created. Now, I can't really argue with this because I think it deserves a top spot on my list with its AI magic. It's super user-friendly and I also love their website, their marketing message of "we want to recreate the connection between people and the amazing natural world around us" got me all heart-eyed over here. 4.3 star rating | $2.99
FLOWER CHECKER, PLANT IDENTIFY (App Store and Android) Claiming to be run by botanist experts, you can simply snap a photo of an unknown plant (or moss, fungi or lichen!) and have it identified by the team of human experts. Something unique about this app is that you pay by identification. In other words, you snap a pic-the team identifies the plant-you pay. You snap a pic-the team can't identify it-you don't pay! So if you enjoy supporting fellow plant aficionados, this app may be for you! 3.9 star rating | $0.99
GARDEN ANSWERS PLANT IDENTIFICATION (App Store and Android) Garden Answers app is a fairly revolutionary plant identification app in my opinion, it can identify up to 20,000 plants! That’s a pretty impressive number in my book. An extra feature that I found to be very useful is that it can also identify pests and diseases, which is extremely helpful when you start noticing little holes or white spots on your beloved plants. 3.8 star rating | Free
My Garden Answers: Identify Your Plant Instantly - YouTube
PLANTNET PLANT IDENTIFICATION This app works by collecting data from a community of users, so the more users that join or contribute, the better the app becomes essentially. It features a visualization software that recognizes many plant species provided. In all transparency here, I have not used this app, but it's free and has a fairly ok review. Give it a go if you want to try something new! 2.9 star rating | Free
LEAFSNAP (App Store ONLY) Leafsnap is a scholarly-style app, being developed by researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution! Yep, those three, so you know it’s legit. It uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. It even works on bark, seeds, flowers, plants, and fruits. 2.5 star rating | Free
PLANTIFIER (App Store and Android) Plantifier is a crowd-sourced app that uses its community to help you identify plants. You just simply snap a photo of the mystery plant, upload it so others may see it and suggestions start rolling in. A positive ID may come into play, but if not, the app relies heavily on its users. I put this lower on my list because it seems a bit hit-or-miss, sometimes it will guess it then other times, nada. But to be fair, there are a million plants in the world, your technology has to be fairly spot on to compete with more-sophisticated apps. 2.3 star rating | Free
Note: These tips are just my personal recommendations, plant parenthood for others can vary!
1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT POT When you bring your new plant home it probably came in a standard plastic cover, if you wish to move it out of its plastic death cage (copyright Ruby Flora), find a container that fits your plant size. In the simplest terms, the container you choose should match the size of your plant. Small plants should be in small containers and large plants in large containers. No matter what the pot is made of, just make sure it has a drainage hole. Help your counters out while you’re at it by picking up those small transparent discs that go under your pot, no one likes a wet surface!
2. WATCH FOR BUGGIES Be careful that you don’t accidentally spill a little bit of coffee or other drinks near your plants, the sugars can attract flies and make for an ideal breeding ground and no one wants that. Unfortunately, this helpful little tip was a real life scenario for me when I was apparently drinking coffee and watering at the same time.
3. FIND YOUR LIGHT (what up Tyra Banks!?) Not sure if finding the right pot should be the first tip on the list or this one to be honest. This one is super important, do your research before you place your plant near a super bright window. It may love it or it may hate it and start withering away. An easy way of noticing if a plant is not getting enough sun is if it leans to one side. Move it to another window, stat.
4. KNOW WHO IS YOUR PLANT BFF You know that saying “you can’t please everyone”, or maybe it was “there’s more fish in the sea”, nonetheless, not every plant that you like or buy will be the plant for you. You may kill it or it may commit planticide (another copyright word for the books!), either way it’s okay to have a few plant fails now and again. Don’t be too hard on yourself, but when you find a plant that both of you can look at each other and mentally say what’s up brah, you’ll be in good hands.
5. LESS IS MORE Not sure how to stress this enough, stop watering your plants every day … just stop. Do you continue to drink water when you’ve had too much for the day? Nope. You don’t. It’s better to under water your plants than to overwater. Too much water can lead to root rot. I normally stick my finger in the soil at the surface maybe an inch and 1/2 down, if the soil feels moist, your plant has enough water to continue living its best life.
6. MORE HUMIDITY PLEASE Yes, humidity is pure terror, it makes your hair frizzy and you always have a weird thin film of sweat on your forehead, but your houseplant feels differently. A diffuser or humidifier can help keep your plant feeling right at home, and it’s good for us humans too!
7. FIND THE RIGHT SOIL Placing your newly-acquired houseplant in the wrong soil can be a big bummer down the road, it may not kill it but it could definitely make it sad and limp. Make sure you pair your plant up with the appropriate soil. For example, if you bought a cactus, succulent or aloe vera, plant it in a fast-draining soil, that will reduce root rot and dry up quickly. Try adding rocks at the bottom before you put in the soil as well for extra draining!
8. KEEP IT TIGHT If you flowing foliage gets a little too “leggy”, it’s time to prune. Once plants get too long and stop growing new nodes it’s hard to get it back to a healthy state. Start by removing dead leaves and limbs on the plants. Then, cut back overgrown branches and stems on the plants. Also, make sure to use sharp scissors, dull scissors can damage the plant.
9. TO REPOT OR NOT TO REPOT The best time to normally repot a plant is in the spring, but that doesn’t mean you can’t repot any little guy or gal that looks sad in their current pot. Ask yourselves these questions (and hopefully you can answer them!).
• Do you notice the potting mix drying out super fast? • Are the roots growing out the top or bottom of the pot? • Has your plant growth been stumped?
If you said yes to any of these questions then you should definitely try repotting it.
10. HAVE PATIENCE Ever buy a plant, get really excited, and watch it die right in front of you like it wasn’t even grateful that you saved it from the store? Yeah, me too. Plants are fragile little living creatures. You and your plant need time to adjust to each other, sort of like dating I guess? Observe your plant and it will tell you when it wants water and when it doesn’t. If it’s a plant that has a lot of color in the leaves, monitor it, if the color starts to dull, move it to a west-facing window with less bright light.
As we all know, the holidays are coming up and that sometimes means multiple days away from our beloved plants. If this sounds like your life, then it’s time to prepare your urban jungle for your absence and care. Don’t stress though, I have some tips so that your houseplants will survive your holiday travel plans.
Gather all your plants in the same room to increase their chances of living and staying healthy. I've mentioned this is my previous posts about fall houseplant care, it even makes watering easier for your plant babysitter (if you have one). It also slightly increases the humidity in the air if you decide to go for a self-watering option. (See below for a video on self-absorbing plant tricks!) You can help the humidity by placing a bucket or large bowl filled with water in the room. Bring them as close as possible without having the leaves touching one another. Yes, even plants like their personal space.
Get a self-watering planter! I actually do not own one of these but if I traveled often I would probably have house brimming with them. So efficient and easy! Amazon has a lot of options but this Parrot POT is also ideal for peace of mind.
Add a water-filled tray or saucer underneath the pots. Your plants will absorb what’s needed for them to be happy and it won’t drown them. It's important to be sure that there is no water in direct contact with the soil to prevent root rot, aka don’t pour a bunch of water in your pots before you leave. You can add a layer of pebbles or small rocks in the tray to retain even more moisture, clay pebbles would be best since they evaporate slowly. Remember, the longer you are gone, the more water you will need to put in the saucer.
Don’t drop the temp in your house drastically. No need to raise the heating, but avoid turning it off completely during the winter months. That won’t be good for any living thing, especially plants.
The diaper trick. Now, this would be a little harder for anyone that doesn’t have kids but if you do have some youngins running around this one could work well! Before you leave for vacation re-pot your plant and place diapers on the sides or bottom of the pot. This will help your plant soil retain moisture for an extended period of time.
Let me remind everyone that more plants die of overwatering than then under-watering!
DIY WATER SELF-ABSORBING HACKS
If you follow my tips above you’ll probably be okay leaving your plants for a little while but if you think you’ll be gone more than the average bear, watch the video below to learn a few hacks to keep your babies alive and well this holiday season.
This Will Water Your Plants While on Vacation Works Like A Charm - YouTube
Whether you live in a tiny apartment or own your own home, space-saving techniques can always help add character and a unique atmosphere to your home. Living in my own 900 sq-ft bungalow, this is a blog post that I can 100% get behind. I decided to breakdown all the ways you can display houseplants in a stylish but smart way for smaller homes who aren’t blessed with deep window sills.
MACRAME HANGERS This option may seem like a no brainer but there are so many cool macrame hangers out there that it was a must-have in this list. They’re perfect, customizable and I love the ease of them, they can be hung anywhere!
SHELVES SHELVES AND MORE SHELVES Gift yourself a few shelves so you can start utilizing that vertical space! You can accessorize them to include cool things such as books, brass figurines, candlesticks, flowers… but we all know you’re really just going to put plants on them, and that’s okay!
HANGING WINDOW PLANT SHELF While researching products and ideas for this blog post I stumbled across these clear hanging window shelves on Etsy, and to be honest, I had no clue they existed but I am probably going to buy them. As far as space saving goes, you can’t deny how awesome and efficient these are.
VERTICAL PLANTERS For renters or people who don’t want to put giant holes in their walls, wall-mounted planters may be a good option. Most designs require just a single nail and are fairly lightweight. Just be sure to use air plants or some trailing foliage to stay on the lighter side.
STEPS Take advantage of any steps you have in your home by displaying plants alongside of each side. Even if your steps don’t get a lot of sun, place your shade-loving plants there or rotate some sun-loving in their place occasionally.
Photo via Pinterest
BASKETS I’m not sure how I can convince people how amazing baskets are, I should probably work for a wicker company for how much I talk about them. Baskets are by far one of the most transitional items you can have in your house. Put a blanket in them, put a fiddle leaf fig in them, put a bird on it! Whatever you do, understand that baskets always look chic.
Photo via my instagram!
YOUR VERY OWN BATHROOM You may be surprised to learn that the bathroom is one of the best places for houseplants. The steam and humidity provides your little planties all the comforts of home. It looks awesome and adds an oasis-factor to your bathroom for very little money.
COPPER PIPE Utilize those odd areas that get sun but are hard to place potted plants normally by hanging a copper pipe (or dowel rod) in between cabinets or two walls. I saw a photo of this on Pinterest before and immediately ran to the copper section of Home Depot to buy my own.
TOWEL/KITCHEN ORGANIZER I actually own one of these from Ikea and I can’t believe I never thought to add plants to them! Now I will be trying a few out with my smaller plants. The ease factor of this seems so simple and I’m mad I never thought about plugging my spider plant babies into those cups.
WIRE WALL GRID SHELF One piece that doesn’t look or feel super heavy in your home would be the wire grid. I like how you can create your very own 3 dimensional wall art with them, truly a customizable piece. Hanging one of these in your house creates a delicate and open atmosphere, I highly recommend this rose gold one from UO Home.
I saw a leaf come off a tree while out to breakfast with my husband so it’s full-on fall now in Pittsburgh, right? While you’re feeling the change, your houseplants will start feeling it too. Houseplants grow differently in the winter than they do during the summer, so fall can be a hard time for them. I remember when I didn’t know anything about plants, I thought for sure people just threw out houseplants in the winter. So let’s give the little fellas some extra TLC by following my fall houseplant care tips so yours won’t suffer through the transition (like mine totally did).
WATERING The first thing that’s highly important for you all to understand is that houseplants DO NOT need as much water during the fall/winter as they do during the summer months. Help ease their transition by slowing down on the amount of water you give them. This will hopefully trigger them to begin their rest period and hibernate until spring. Did she just say hibernate, you ask? Yes, I did. Consider hibernate a loose term, maybe dormant would have been a more realistic word but either way, they go down for a little nap during these times so reduce that water intake!
HUMIDITY Low humidity during the winter months, especially for me in Pittsburgh, can be a big hurdle to overcome. I know my house becomes so hot and dry that I bought 2 humidifiers last year just to add a bit of water to the air. If you don’t have a humidifier you can do it the all-natural way by clustering your plants together in your bathroom or kitchen, these rooms tend to create more moisture from showers, boiling water...etc. Another way you could try would be to place a bowl or tray of water near your heat registers and/or near your plants. But if you have dogs, they'll think it's there for them and drink all the water as mine do!
LIGHT Follow that light, baby! Obviously, during the fall/winter months the sun is less apparent and less strong, so move your plants closer to that light source to allow them to soak up as many rays as they can. Even if you have plants that like more south-facing or indirect windows, they could still be moved up. Just be careful you don’t move them to a super-drafty window! Side note: try to rotate your plants every now and again so they grow more evenly.
Oh, houseplants. They are wonderful and make an awesome addition to your zen den but choosing which plant to buy can be walking on shaky ground. Does my house get enough light? Should I go big or small? What kind of upkeep does this plant need? Can I completely neglect this thing, pour vodka in it, and still have it thrive? How can I show my friends and family that I am, in fact, an adult who can handle keeping things alive?
All the questions flood your brain, I’m sure. Obviously, what I’m getting at is that I created a handy-dandy quiz for you! And even though I’m not technically a botanist or someone who has studied plants, at the very least, I have kept a great deal of them alive SO TAKE THAT! Sorry, didn’t mean to yell. I hope when you take this quiz it gives you the confidence needed to walk into that greenhouse with attitude next time!
Oh, you are still reading after being presented that cute button? Awesome, thanks for being a loyal reader! If you took the test and you’re not really feeling your quiz result, no problemo - take it again and switch up your answers! You’ll probably be presented a whole new houseplant to look into and research. I tried to have the results different enough to satiate any plant-lover’s palate but tried to keep in mind everyone has different spaces and care levels. I know in my own 900-sq-ft bungalow I only have one east-facing window that is full of all my direct sun babies and another window in my kitchen which is west-facing for the indirect babes. I keep the harder-to-kill plants in my bedroom and bathroom where the light is partially direct and only shows up for a few hours of the day. Every space is different, whether you live on a farm in the country or an apartment in the city, be sure to choose the right plant for the right light and you’ll be on your way to being a crazy plant person soon enough!
When I first started in my plant journey, I never realized how much adding plants would add life to your house (literally!). Plants purify your air and just make your house feel alive. Here are the top 10 houseplants that I started with to consider for your next purchase.
Golden Pothos Golden pothos is a member of the philodendron family, its vines can reach up to 10 feet long! Once it gets a little too leggy though, it’s recommended to give it a hair cut every now and then. (Note, these are toxic to pets!)
Snake Plant The snake plant (Sansevieria) is a succulent with thick, waxy leaves. It thrives on being ignored - for real - you read that right. Just try to turn it every few weeks so it gets adequate light.
Maranta This is a fairly picky houseplant IMO but they make for some good-looking foliage. It’s nicknamed the prayer plant because the leaves tend to fold together at night, like a pair of praying hands. Mine prefers indirect light, high humidity and relatively damp soil.
Calathea Rattlesnake This houseplant sports some killer-looking leaves, it has amazing color and super cool shaped leaves. By the way, these guys like filtered water the best, none of that Pittsburgh city water.
English Ivy Don’t expect much from them for at least a year. These guys grow slow, but believe me after a year or two you’ll be snipping them back in no time. They’re best in a high spot so they can dangle! (Photo from Apartment Therapy)
Cactus Oh cacti, these little dudes need a lot of direct light so make sure they’re on the windowsill or some place that they get the sun they deserve. Water sparingly.
Aloe Vera Aloe vera is best known for its big juicy leaves that help heal burns but they also make for some unique houseplants. Allow the soil to dry completely in between waterings, it prefers less than more.
Spider Plant The spider plant is an extremely easy-to-grow plant that also produces small "pups”, literally all the time (aka free plants)! Each of these babies can be rooted in potting soil and/or water.
String of Pearls This cute little succulent is so damn photo-worthy with its trailing pearls! Be sure not to overwater though, it is a succulent after all. (Photo from Gardenista)
ZZ Plant Brown-thumbers unite! The ZZ plant is fairly indestructible (up there with the snake plant), it’s is a super low maintenance plant that prefers moderate indirect light. If you need to add some greenery to your bathroom, this one is a solid choice. (Photo from The Sill)