Horticulture Sweet Home
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
My background as a floral designer definitely influences my love of nature & all things botanical. In fact, it got me the nickname "Mr. Fancy Plants". I guess it's really not surprising that I would advocate for botany in the home. The benefits of live plants & flowers in the domestic sphere are seemingly endless. From accenting home decor to creating beautiful food presentations (see below), increasing oxygen & helping to regulate temperature, & creating feelings of joy, happiness, peace, relaxation & pride, plants can have a huge impact on both our personal well-being & aesthetic. I know many people appreciate & enjoy cut flowers & recognize how important they can be in creating a beautiful domicile. However, recently I've noticed a lot of times people often forget about live plants when choosing their home sweet horticulture & it's a real missed opportunity.
With so many different varieties of plants, there really is a perfect plant for every skill level & environment. For example, Snake plants or Dracaena trifasciata enjoy low-light and sporadic watering. Pothos & Philodendron are also low light lovers, but need a little more attention in the watering department. If you have sun in spades, succulents are spectacular & cacti is king, just keep them fairly dry (like dad jokes). Air Plants are amazing and don't even need soil to grow. Ferns can be fantastic, but they are finicky, they like it humid and not too hot so keep them from the scorching sun. The list goes on and on and includes many resilient specimens. In fact, I have many a plant from the above list that I have nearly lost while traveling but then nursed back from the brink of death that are still with me today. Which brings me to a point. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that in my experience, the MOST common problem I encounter by plant parents by far is overwatering. People seem to think all plant woes come from under watering OR they forget about their plant for a month and then try to make up for it by drowning the poor thing when they finally remember it hasn't been watered in a month. (Just think about that the next time you are standing over your plants watering them for the 3rd day in a row after a 2 week vacation!)
As you can see, there are a lot of different choices when it comes to plants which can make it fun, but it can also make it a little intimidating for some people who are plant novices. People are often SO afraid of killing their plants that they let it discourage them from committing to becoming a plant parent in the first place. I get it. You don't want to murder some poor, helpless, defenseless plant. (And I'm not advocating for that either!) You've been burned in the past. You stood there, hovering over the trash can unsure of how to proceed, feeling defeated, unable to bring yourself to throw away your shame. I'm here to suggest framing the situation differently may be in order. For example, if you think about the price & life span of live plants versus cut flowers, there really is no comparison. Even the poorest of plant parents can usually keep their botanical baby alive for twice as long as a cut flower arrangement will last. Live plants are also much hardier and can take a lot more abuse than their cut flower counterparts. They help filter the air & can even have a natural cooling effect through their biological process of transpiration which moves water from the root of the plant, through the plant, and finally back into the atmosphere.
You can find plants everywhere from high end plant stores to grocery stores. I'll be honest, I buy many of my houseplants from the grocery store. In fact, every plant you see in the pictures in this post came from the grocery store. The specimens are well priced & often from the same growers one may find in higher end floral boutiques. If you are looking for a specific plant, obviously a specialty store has better selection. But if you just want something verdant to brighten up your space, don't forget your local grocery or home improvement store! Another amazing place to look for plants is your local farmer's market. They usually offer local plants from local people at a good price. Farmer's Markets are especially good for acquiring plants that are appropriate for the climate, zone, and soil composition of a specific area. This allows for an easier transition for the plant, since it's already accustom to the temperature, light & other overall growing conditions in that same specific geographical region.
Now, I love all plants, but my all time favorite indoor plants are probably orchids. They bloom a couple times a year, come in a seemingly endless array of colors, shapes, and sizes, last for weeks (or even months depending on the environment), and OH YEAH......THEY ARE GORGEOUS. As a photographer, I often integrate botanical specimens into my work and orchids are perfect in so many different applications because of their many varieties. I also love them because they are all considered edible, though some are better tasting & easier to digest than others, so they work great for event design & food photography. In fact, Vanilla Bean is actually a product of a specific type of orchid, which helps to further narrate the connection between food & botanicals, specifically flowers.
The picture above is from a food photoshoot I did with an amazing local chef, Cheryl of Acher Diner, https://acherdiner.com utilizing some of the orchids from my home collection. It's a great example of how you can use botanicals to dress up & accentuate an idea or image. When an aesthetic is clean and simple, like this beautiful (and deliciousssss) naked cake, sometimes you just need a little something to give it some additional visual appeal. Orchids were a perfect choice in this situation. I just cut the two oldest blooms off the plant and presto! The viewer still get's the aesthetic of the naked cake, but they also get some visual interest & movement with the dynamic shape of the orchid. Choosing a white orchid also helps allude to the delicious, warm vanilla tones present in this tasty creation. Even after cutting these two flowers for my photoshoot, my orchid still had numerous blooms that lasted for months. You couldn't tell there were any flowers missing or that I had pruned the other blossoms off at all. This is a great example of environmentally friendly design and how one can still enjoy their plant, even after utilizing some of it's flowers for a project.
Finally, the most important thing about being a botanical booster is knowing when to let go. Plants are often great metaphors for life. Sometimes no matter what amount of water, sunlight, care, & love you give a plant, it just won't thrive. It may feel like you have done something wrong, failed in some way, or killed something beautiful.......and maybe you did. OR, maybe the environment wasn't appropriate for that specific plant. Maybe the plant already had some other issue you aren't aware of. Even if it was entirely your fault, missteps & mistakes are how one learns to be a better plant parent, and a better overall human being for that matter. Life isn't always simple as we'd like it to be & sometimes things don't work out the way we hoped they would. That's life. Letting go of anything can be difficult, but as hard as it is, it is necessary. Holding onto something dead & withered just reminds you of that dead, withered thing. This is especially true you are forced to look at it constantly in your home. Holding onto something withered & dead takes up space in life that could be used for something that is alive & vibrant. It takes the space that could be used for something that could be there increasing your joy & happiness. That's why it's so important to let go of the things in your life that aren't making it more beautiful. Instead, why not use any space in your life for living, vibrant, growing things? I think your home, hearth, and heart will thank you.
So, the next time you are looking for something to brighten up your abode, I hope you'll think of integrating some Home Sweet Horticulture into your life. These beautiful botanicals are blooming amazing & are looking for a plant parent just like you!