Sheri Ann Richerson's exotic gardening, elegant cooking, crafty creations, food preservation and animal husbandry... all on two and a half acres in Marion, Indiana!

Houseplants

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Two pineapple plants and a small Worsleya rayneri inside a rustic looking metal birdcage.

Fall is here which means winter isn’t far off and it’s time – once again – to bring your  tropical plants indoors. We all know the drill – move the plants out in spring, redecorate, then panic once the nights begin to cool down. If you’re like me, not only have the plants you moved outdoors last spring grown drastically but you’ve added more plants to the list. Space is tight here and sometimes I truly wonder how the heck I managed the winter before – even with a greenhouse – because as we all know, in cold climates like Indiana you just can’t rely on keeping your greenhouse hot enough to keep the really tropical plants alive. Never mind the ice and heavy snowfalls that often knock the power out – and believe me, a greenhouse cools down real fast when it’s dark outside and the heater quit working.

So, what’s a plant lover to do? Make room of course. Donate or store the stuff you can’t use or don’t need. After all, the plants deserve a place in your house. The other option is to get creative. Choose indoor decor that looks good with or without plants. Now, you may be thinking what the heck does she mean. Bird cages are a great example.  You can decorate with them by themselves or fill them with live plants, nicknacks, candles or even silk flowers.

I chose to put some of my smaller plants into some rustic looking metal birdcages this year. I found them at an end of the season clearance sale for 90% off. That’s a fantastic deal in itself. I then went to our local hardware store with the greenhouse attached and found plastic square shaped plant saucers that fit perfectly in the bottom of the bird cages. Best of all, the ones I chose were just 62 cents each and had star indents in the bottom to hold a little water for extra humidity. We all know plants like humidity and the house can be a little dry over winter. These plant saucers were a perfect choice and ideally priced.

Once I was home, I set two plant saucers in the bottom of the metal bird cages, watered my plants well, let them drain and then set them on top of the saucers. I closed the lid and set my birdcage in front of a window. Besides looking really cool, the cage has a fastener on it. What a great way to keep tiny hands and pets away from my smaller plants.

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Plants clean the indoor air and add a touch of elegance to indoor decor. The holidays are a wonderful time to incorporate a few extra plants into your living areas. Plants make ideal centerpieces. They liven up a corner of a room – just make sure you have enough light for the plants you choose – and don’t forget to mist or water them as needed to keep them looking good. It’s so easy to create a festive Christmas terrarium. Even after the holidays are long gone, the terrarium and the plants inside it will continue to bring you joy.

Poinsettia are a typical holiday plant. They come in all colors, shapes and sizes. My personal favorite is the rose poinsettia because the bright red flowers – which are really bracts – resemble a rose. Unfortunately the poinsettia is not fragrant, however placing a few scented pinecones throughout the room certainly makes up for that.

 

These days you can find poinsettias in all sizes from miniatures that will grow into full size plants over time to large plants that make a statement on their own. For a terrarium, choose the size that best fits inside the one you own. My terrariums are rather small so a miniature rose poinsettia was the perfect size for it.

A single plant typically isn’t enough to make a grand statement in a terrarium, so you will need to choose a second plant that compliments the first one. I chose the frosted fern, Selaginella krausianna variegatus because I loved the cream and pink “frosting” on the edge of the green leaves. To me, the variegation added a very festive look and complimented the rose poinsettia perfectly.

Once the plants were in the terrarium it seemed something was missing. Holiday decor! That was it! Colorful balls in shades of silver or gold would have worked perfectly. However since I didn’t decorate the house for the holidays this year I did not have any Christmas ornaments to pick and choose from, so I chose the next best thing – a crystal ball from my curio cabinet. The clear color picked up the red and silver from the foil that I used to line the bottom of the terrarium with.

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Keep house plants healthy by inspecting them for pest and disease.

When summer quickly starts coming to an end, many of you will be bringing your plants back into the house or to go in search of houseplants that you would like to grow this winter. If you are bringing your plants back indoors, it is a good idea to put some new dirt in their pots, possibly trim their roots a bit, fertilize and thoroughly water them before bringing them in.

Even if you don’t put new dirt in your plants this year, it is a good idea to pull each plant out of their pot, trim their roots and break the soil up a bit. This helps them grow, plus it will give you a good idea of whether they are root bound or not.

Doing this will also give you the chance to sell off some of those extra starts before winter sets in.

This a good time to buy those last minute exotic house plants that may need to be shipped. Many greenhouses stop shipping right around October, depending on the weather, so although you can still purchase the plants, you can’t get them until spring. What plant nut wants to wait all winter to get their plants?

Another thing you may want to do is check your existing plant lights to make sure they are working or buy new grow lights before winter sets in.

Before bringing plants into the house for the winter, check them for pests and disease. If you find a problem, try to rid the plant of the problem before bringing it indoors for the winter. The healthier the plant is when you bring it in, the better the chance of it over wintering.

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