Home and Garden

How To (NOT) Kill Your Houseplants 101

I don’t consider myself a houseplant whisperer, however, have been lucky enough to keep the few that I have alive. I have much more confidence in my abilities when it comes to outdoor gardening. This didn’t happen overnight, as I’ve killed my fair share of plants along the way. Growing up, we had a few indoor plants and I can remember thinking ‘why do we have these and what’s with all the hype?” Well, having indoor plants can actually improve air quality, boost your immune system, improve mental health, increase productivity and increase the humidity in your home.

Over the past year, I’ve stuck by these principles to help my indoor plants thrive. My parents (particularly my dad, who is a Riparian Ecologist) would be so proud..

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  • Do your research. This is essential, regardless if your plants are indoors or outdoors. Don’t stroll down to your local nursery and buy a plant before you have done your homework. Research the types of plants you are interested in. What kind of light do they need? How much water do they require? Do you have pets and are these plants toxic to pets? Knowing the basic needs of your plant will help immensely in the long run.

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  • Set a watering routine. Put an alarm in your phone or set aside day(s) of the week to water, according to their needs. Stick to it. Keep a spray bottle where its easily visible to help remind you and spritz their leaves throughout the week, if needed. Some environments such as bathrooms will help retain more moisture, therefore, less spraying. Keep an eye on the dryness of the soil and their leaves to determine if more or less water is required.

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  • Rotate. Think about it this way; if you stood in the sun the same way for months on end, you would get fried too. Plants also grow towards the light, so if left in the same position for too long the plant will adapt accordingly. Rotate your plants 90 degrees, especially the ones next to a window, every week or two.

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  • Pay attention to them. Yes, plants need love too. Don’t just water and walk away. Get to know what their “normal” looks like and feels like. Is it continuing to grow or has it become stagnant? Trim away any dead foliage as it could be taking energy and nutrients away from the plant. Take a damp washcloth and clean off any dust that could be limiting the amount of light the plant can uptake.

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  • Lastly, don’t overwhelm your plants. If a plant isn’t thriving, don’t panic. But also, don’t decide to move it to another room, rotate it, increase or decrease the amount of water and fertilize it all at once. This could be too much, causing your plant to freak. Plus, if it still isn’t doing well, you may not know which strategy didn’t work. Think of it like baking; if you change one ingredient and don’t end up liking the outcome, you know what caused to fail. However if you try an entirely new recipe and think it tastes like garbage, you will probably throw in the towel and go back to your “oldie but goodie” recipe instead. If the plant is struggling, adjust ONE factor at a time to see what it needs.

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This has been a slow, trial and error process. I’ve picked many of my indoor plant-loving friend’s brains in addition to perusing through our local Green Acres nursery, asking questions, showing photos of the space I’m planning for my plant to live. Thanks again for stopping by!

Backyard Garden

Welcome! Our backyard is finally done! It has been a slow, steady project over the past year since we moved in. When we bought our house, the backyard / side yard was complete dirt and the builder was just finishing putting up the fence. Because of Tucker, we wanted to get the basics done and worry about the rest later. Initially we had artificial turf put in the center of the yard while the perimeter, next to the fence and our neighbors home, remained dirt. We also extended the concrete from the patio to include additional sitting and grilling areas.

I am in no means an expert when it comes to gardening and plants, but I have learned a lot while finishing this project. I spent hours perusing around our local nursery. getting inspiration from Pinterest / Instagram and studying the water and sunlight requirements for various plants. Once I had a design in mind, I sketched it out on paper and we slowly started chipping away.

These Nikko Blue Hydrangeas were the first plants we put in! They were planted in June of last year and I am proud to say they are now, finally, going strong. Amateur tip: do not plant hydrangeas in the heat of the summer. I almost fried them. In the Sacramento region, zone 9, these guys need water and shade in the hot afternoons. They are planted on the north side of this fence and only get about 3 hours of sun in the late morning / early afternoon. Hydrangea color can also vary based on soil acidity (blue = acidic soil, pink = alkaline soil), which is why some have a hint of purple to them.

We planted the Camellia (Nuccio’s Gem), which is to the right of the hydrangeas, in January, just in time for it to bloom. This particular variety is filled with beautiful white flowers in the winter / early spring and keeps its green foliage year-round. Camellias also prefer partial shade (morning sun and afternoon shade) especially when the plants are young. Plus, they need slightly acidic soil or can show signs of stress. This makes them a great fit to plant next to blue hydrangeas.

We have a very long stretch against our neighbors’ home that gets varying amounts of sunlight due to the pitch of our roof. This made it a bit tricky during the planning process but I wanted to keep things feeling very cohesive so… Surprise! More hydrangeas! This white variety will stay white with varying soil pH and bloom all summer long. Although these are considered White Oakleaf Hydrangeas, some flowers have a very slight pink or light green tint to them. These are also planted in an area that gets late morning sun and afternoon shade.

Since the view out from our patio consists largely of the side of our neighbors home, we wanted to have a focal point that added height. Insert this fountain! I love its simplicity and the patina detail. Plus the sound of the fountain is so relaxing.

Overall, I wanted a cottage / classic feel to our yard, while still embracing a California style since these plants need to survive the hot Sacramento summers. We opted for Iceberg Roses and French Lavender to fill most of the perimeter. Roses require pruning but will yield blooms from spring into the fall (based on your zone and when frost occurs). We also added a Lady Orchid Peony near the hydrangeas in partial shade. The Lady Orchid produces light pink blooms, and although we only had three flowers this year, that is very normal for its first year in the ground. The only downside to peonies is their blooms don’t last too long, which is why we didn’t add more in our garden. I love that the majority of spring, summer and early into fall, our garden will be bursting with blooms.

Thanks again for stopping by!