Brightening your winter home with houseplants

A snake plant and pothos plant in vintage planters grace a dresser in my bedroom.

I have been working on some articles for local publications - hoping to be able to see this one in print soon!  But in the meantime, thought I would share this article I wrote accompanied by some photos of plants in my home and some beautiful plants at Leitner's.  Enjoy!

Houseplants have become a major home décor trend in the last few years – greenery graces the pages of pinterest, instagram, and shelter magazines everywhere lately.

Regardless of their trendy status, plants have always been a wonderful way to decorate your home, and February is the perfect time to incorporate a plant or two into your décor. Plants add warmth and life to spaces that can feel dull and grey by this point of winter.

A collection of grey and white terracotta pots in my sunroom (the two tone ones are from Crate & Barrel - similar.)

I love this two tone pot (from Crate & Barrel a few years ago - similar), so I move it around frequently to create a new little tableau.

You don’t have to limit yourself to a pot on a windowsill. Try getting vertical – place a trailing plant on a high shelf, or hang a plant from a hook in the ceiling. (Macramé plant hangers, popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s, are back!) Find planters you love in finishes that accent your décor – vintage ceramic planters can be found in many local antique stores. Another popular way to use plants is to place air plants – which require no water –in glass containers on coffee tables or in between books and knick-knacks on shelves.

Hanging houseplant jungle at Leitner's on Randolph Avenue in St. Paul.

Maddy Westby, the always helpful houseplant specialist at Leitner's.

I talked with Maddy Westby, manager at Leitner’s Garden Center, for some tips about incorporating plants into your home. Leitner’s, at 945 Randolph Avenue, is a 100-year old family-owned business. The store is full of fresh ideas for plants indoors and out, and they sell beautiful floral arrangements.

Getting Started with Houseplants
Start big, rather than small: plants that are at least 6-8 inches in diameter tend to be more established and stable than the tiny starter plants in 3-4 inch pots. When you bring a new plant home, give it a fresh start by replanting it using good potting soil in a new pot that’s the same size or slightly larger than the plastic pot it came in. A ceramic pot, even a glazed one, provides better aeration for the roots than a plastic greenhouse pot.

Some hardy plant varieties to try: philodendron, pothos, and snake plants. If you don’t have a lot of light, try ferns or the zee zee plant (Zamioculcas Zamiifolia). Succulents are very popular in recent years, but they do best with lots of sunlight, so make sure to place them in a sunny, south facing spot.

Overwatering is a common mistake, according to Maddy, “people know when they don’t water, but they don’t always know if they’re overwatering.” Pick a regular time once each week that you will water plants to make it easier to remember. Signs of overwatering include yellow leaves, bugs, and soggy soil.

Don’t Be Afraid to Start Over
Perhaps the most helpful advice Maddy shared: don’t be afraid to toss a withering plant in the compost heap if it’s not working out. If a plant isn’t working for you, don’t feel guilty about trying another one. Have fun!

Sweet aluminum plant under a cloche at Leitner's.  I love the copper planter too.  I bought a bouquet for a client that was arranged in that same copper planter - lovely!