Health Benefits of House Plants & DIY Artistic Potting
I love plants. I am a nature fanatic and always find myself most at ease when I am surrounded by something green. However I have one problem. I am lacking any resemblance to a green thumb. Growing up in Michigan, my mom and I gardened together all the time, and we always had beautiful flower beds and fruitful gardens. So it came as a complete surprise to me when I attempted to start growing plants on my own and failed miserably! Apparently my mom’s radiant green thumb was prominent enough to compensate for my touch of death.
Now that you are completely confident in my ability to give planting advice let’s jump in…. haha! Just kidding.
The road from my realization of my gardening inadequacies to now, has been long, winding, and with substantial vegetative collateral damage, but I am now excited to say that I am finally a proud plant mama! Not only have I been able to keep over 30 house plants alive, but I have even been able to propagate a variety of them! Good-bye touch of death! I am still not anywhere close to the gardening guru my mom is, but I at least know enough to confidently help you get started with bringing some beautiful greenery into your home. So let’s get started!
The first step with anything is asking ourselves the question why. Why should you want plants in your home?
Here are 3 HUGE benefits to having plants in your home:
1. Plants reduce stress levels, improve concentration, improve productivity, and overall just make you happier.
- Studies have shown that simply seeing greenery will help reduce our cortisol levels, making us feel more relaxed and calm. There is also an aspect of mental health improvement and satisfaction simply from caring for a living, thriving thing. Not only do plants conclusively improve productivity and lower blood pressure, but having plants in your environment has, also, been proven to help people handle pain better in a hospital, complain less, and even significantly improve students test scores in spelling, math, and science! There is a wonderful infographic, “The Power of Plants in the Workplace”, that depicts the results of many of the most notable studies.
2. According to a study done by NASA, in just 24 hours, houseplants can remove up to 87% of air toxins.
- Exposure to air toxins have been linked to respiratory diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and even death. In a world filled with pollutants it is absolutely imperative that we do everything in our power to reduce our contact with these deadly toxins as much as possible.
3. Plants help to reduce background noise to create a more tranquil environment.
- The leaves, stems, branches, and even the dirt your plant is sitting in all absorb sound. Reducing the sound of nearby roads, footsteps, children playing, and so on will help to create a more comfortable environment. Turning your house into a calm, relaxing refuge from life’s constant hustle and bustle will help you to enjoy a more stress-free life.
OK now that you are thoroughly convinced that houseplants are of vital importance to improving your life, let’s get started with the fun part: PLANTING!
Through my many misadventures with plants I figured out all the ways to do this plant rearing thing wrong. Which, of course, was painful and frustrating, but it also was the necessary groundwork I needed in figuring out how to do this right! One of my biggest mistakes was over-watering my plants. I REALLY love my plants, so it felt really good watering them. Until, of course, I realized that I was actually just drowning them. That was a sad day. So let’s help you to avoid the pain of that lesson by learning from my mistakes!
Here are 3 key lessons I learned in how to avoid drowning plants / root rot:
1. More water is not always better.
- Each type of plant has different watering needs. Do your homework and figure out what kind of plant you are interested in working with and what kind of water needs they require. A simple google search goes a long way.
2. Not all soil is created equal.
- This is the area I still struggle with the most. Soil provides nutrients for your plant to grow, and while different plants do have preferences on the nutrient density of the soil they are in, that is not the problem I typically run into. The snafus I’ve encountered are the soil not retaining enough water or the soil retaining too much water. Again the water requirement is different for each type of plant, so the soil that works great for one type of plant may be a death sentence for another. My best advise is to chat with the people at your local gardening store to figure out which soil mixture is going to work best for the type of plants you are going to be planting.
3. DRAINAGE is vital!
- If you watch the YouTube video associated with this blog post you will hear me repeat this lesson over and over again. I cannot stress how important drainage is enough! Especially when it comes to succulents and other arid or desert plants. Proper drainage, or lack there of, can quickly decide whether your plant is going to live or die.
If you follow those 3 bits of advice you are already leaps and bounds ahead of where I began.
Now I am going to walk you through how to apply all of that knowledge and create your own super cute, unique potting arrangement! With this guidance you can take any container and create your own indoor jungle! The best part is, this project is very versatile. It makes for a great kid-friendly craft, a fun girls night in (wine and snacks encouraged), a relaxing creative outlet for you, or even a great DIY wedding table centerpiece decoration!
In this example I chose to plant succulents. Succulents are not only super interesting and versatile, but they are very hardy and fun to propagate! Let’s jump right in! Check out the YOUTUBE VIDEO for this post or use the instructions below!
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to create your own DIY artistic potting arrangements:
(tip: Before you begin, if you are doing this indoors, avoid the mess by using a large flat Tupperware container, a baking sheet, or even a plastic sheet if you are working with kiddos.)
1. Select an interesting container.
- I really like the look of the clear containers. It adds a fun, unique dimension that you typically don’t get to experience when it comes to plants. Here are some great ideas for different containers, click the pictures below for more great options:
2. Select a sediment to create a drainage layer.
- This is where you can get really creative. This sediment will provide the oh-so-important drainage layer, and it will also provide a beautiful design quality if you have chosen a clear container. You can fill the container anywhere from 1/4 to 3/4 of the way full depending on the look you want and the size of your plants roots. Here are some different ideas you could use for sediment, click the pictures below for more great options:
3. Create a water permeable, barrier with screen.
- In order to keep the drainage layer from being infiltrated by the soil we need to create a barrier that keeps the soil out but still allows the water to flow through. My solution for this was screening! It is cheap, flexible, and easy to use. You simply cut out a piece that will fit the shape of your container and then place it down on top of the rock layer. To really ensure that you are minimizing the amount of soil getting through to your sediment layer, I recommend cutting a second piece of screening with the grid design going at a diagonal. This will create a criss-cross pattern with the other piece of screening making the holes smaller. See the picture below for an example.
4. Select the appropriate soil for your plant.
- Fill the remaining available space about 1/3-1/2 of the way full with soil. Here are the 2 types of soil I recommend using for this potting design with succulents. Click the pictures for more information:
5. Select the plant you want.
- There are so many different options when it comes to plants. Have fun with it and choose something that you absolutely love! Remove the plant from it’s original container and remove any debris or excess dirt. Place the plant where you want it and add some more soil around it. Here are some great options for succulents and other hardy house plants. Click the pictures below for more great options:
6. Water the plant.
- Water your newly housed plant and add more soil if needed. I tap the container lightly on the ground to settle the soil and ensure my plant is nicely secured in its new home. Then just clean off the container and you are all done!
I hope you enjoy your new little plant buddies! I’d love to see them if you end up using this information and make something interesting! Tag me in the pictures you share of your gorgeous creations- @BrittanyLee_SD! If you have any questions pop them in the comment section below, or if you have any tips or tricks of your own please share your knowledge in the comments!
Much love from Health, Puppies & World Peace!