How You Create an Urban Garden

 Photo of green, painted brick fireplace in an eclectic living room

Can I tell you how happy I am that plants are trendy! It's a trend I can jump on board with. I got my first plant my freshman year of college and it was a philodendron. I had that plant for 18 years but the person who sublet my house when I moved abroad for a year neglected and killed it along with some of my other plants. 

I'm talking on the podcast this week about raising plant babies.  If you are on iTunes take a listen and make sure you subscribe to receive new podcasts when they go live. 

Since then I've slowly been building up my plant stash. Plants bring so much to a home. They are green and growing and help with indoor air quality. They are also an indicator for me of my mood. When I find myself neglecting my plants, it makes me have to check in and see how I am doing. 

I only have indoor plants. I do have a back patio, but it does not get much sun. Plus I know me and if the plant isn't in front of me, I tend to neglect them! 

Here are some things I have learned over the years of taking care, and yes, in some cases, killing a plant. 

  • To thine own self be true. Yes, I just quoted Polonius in Hamlet. If you are super busy, super low-maintenance or you just don't do well with living things, then start out with something easy to take care of. It is why every kid gets a fish instead of a dog when they first ask for a pet! 
  • Go to your local nursery. These people know their stuff. Tell them what direction your windows face and if you are ready for a high maintenance pet, I mean plant. I wanted a hanging plant for my kitchen, which does not get much light. My nursery suggested a philodendron, which is doing well in its low light environment. 
 pot of succulents and wildflowers in vases

 

  • Trendy may not work in your home. If you live in the mid-west chances are you should not buy a Fiddle Leaf Fig. They are temperamental and needy little buggers and you don't have enough sunshine. Try something like a ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). This guy looks super awesome, can exist in low-light and doesn't mind if you forget to water it. Also, FYI I've killed a ton of succulents. They just don't like my house. I've moved on.... kind of. 
 My ZZ plant! 

My ZZ plant! 

  • Plant it in the right soil. Make sure you check with your nursery or all mighty google to find out what kind of soil your plant likes. Succulents and cactus' are going to want a more sandy soil and my jasmine plant (which blooms nine months out of the year) is going to want some nutritious dirt and some fertilizer. Also make sure that your pot has proper drainage. Some plants don't want any water standing around their roots. If your pot doesn't have a drainage hole make sure you put rocks at the bottom. 
  • Create a watering schedule. I check in with my plants every Sunday night. It's my Sunday night ritual, water the plants and food prep for the week ahead. I recommend touching the soil first to see if your plant needs water. If it's dry go ahead and water, but if it is still damp, give it another day or two and check it again. You can overwater plants! 
 Rabbit foot fern (super temperamental)

Rabbit foot fern (super temperamental)

  • Get cuttings from friends. Growing plants doesn't have to be super expensive. In fact it can be super cheap if you steal cuttings from friends (maybe give them a heads up first). The spider plant below is from a cutting from my mom's spider plant, which is probably a cutting from my grandmother's spider plant. 
 vintage sewing machine with a potted plant on a wood desk 
  • Keep your plants happy. If your plant is changing colors in a bad way, then google it! Chances are it isn't getting enough light, or you are overwatering it. I have one plant, a rabbit foots fern, that is picky as all get out. It likes lots of indirect light, but it doesn't like direct light, which I learned the hard way. Recognize that you'll win some, but you may lose some. 
  • Resources- First I always recommend the nursery when buying a new plant. They are going to be your best resource. My ZZ plant recently had some leaves turn yellow and I googled the heck out of that. Turns out, I was overwatering. I eased up on watering and now it's green and healthy. I love the Urban Jungle Bloggers. They have some wonderful plant inspiration. Another great blogger is Justina Blakeney. She's got great boho style and often talks about plants. Keep in mind though that she is in Cali, which means some plants may not work if you live elsewhere! 

Now go get some plants! 

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