Monday, September 10, 2012

Space filler

Hello there! How was your weekend? Mine was great but I got very little done on my project list. A nap, yes. Projects…not much.

Over the years I’ve discovered an answer to one of the biggies when it comes to decorating – filling odd, empty spaces in our home. I’m all for letting a room “breathe” and not putting stuff everywhere, but there are times when a spot just needs something…and I’ve finally figured out a solution that looks pretty and is functional.

If you consider cleaner air functional. ;)

Awhile back I moved a few things around in the living room and knew I wanted something tall and full that would take up some visual space next to the sofa. I took off to our local nursery to see if I could find one of those fiddle leaf ficus trees I’ve seen all over blogland. They are awesome…but I couldn’t find one. And I hear they are not cheap either.

fiddle leaf fig

WOW! Talk about filling some space. ;) I later learned they can be toxic to cats (there is some conflicting info on that), so it’s probably best I didn’t find that one anyway.

Soooo…I happened upon one called a money tree (also known as the jade plant), and LOVED it’s beautiful braided trunk:

plants in baskets

Isn’t that awesome? I did a quick search with my phone to make sure it was non-toxic to cats (check!) and then checked out the price tag -- $35 and it was half off.

Dude. So there:money tree jade plant

I’ve had this one for months now and it’s doing SO well. I used to have it right next to the sofa but then I found that awesome lamp at Lowe’s, so it’s scooched over a tad.

It fills what is an odd space that felt too empty to ignore, but it’s not something like a piece of furniture that overwhelms the space.

I don’t have the greenest of thumbs, but this thing is SO easy to take care of. It needs very little water, and once you find a spot where it likes the light, it’s good to go. This doesn’t get any direct light and it does great.

I found another half off tree that day that I had planned to use behind our family room sofa, but it threw a plant fit in that spot. :) It’s leaves were falling off left and right (the folks at the nursery told me that would happen if it wasn’t happy).

So I moved it over to the bay window in the kitchen and it does MUCH better in full sunlight:

decorating with plants

I didn’t plan on it going there, but I really love it. (No, it doesn’t interfere with the door opening at all. And excuse the Halloween window clings -- we get started up in here.) I’ve realized plants give life to a space like accessories and furniture can’t. (I can’t remember what this one is called, anyone know? It’s got long skinny leaves.)

I try to use different “pots” for each one – they are all planted in regular pots but then I place them in baskets or in this case, an antique crock. They can look a little top heavy otherwise, and I like how this balances them out.

Back when I shared the final office redo, I had a tall fern-type plant next to the chair, and it lasted all of a couple weeks. Sad face. I’ve learned I’m not good with anything even slightly tropical – ferns (which are supposed to be soooooo easy) die on me. Every. time. Maybe my house isn’t warm enough? I don’t know.

That spot was just off without something there, so last weekend I headed back to the nursery and found another money tree and…wait for it…it was half off. Score!:

money tree jade plant

He’s in bad shape so I’m pretty sure that’s why it was half off. I’m nursing him back. :) I put the planter in an old basket I wasn’t using and I love the added texture.

OK, I lied – ALL ferns don’t hate me. I’ve had one on our kitchen sink for more than a year now:

fern in kitchen

This one serves a purpose though – it hides the spot on the beadboard backsplash where I totally screwed up:

No one sees it now. :)

I’m finding plants are really useful when filling dead spaces while decorating the built ins – the fluffiness of this little guy had me right away and it was such a great touch of color and LIFE:

plants in decorating

Wait…I think that one is a fern too. I’ve only had it for a few days, so we’ll see if this one likes me. ;)

Sometimes plants can be a bit of an investment up front, so I’ve purposely gone for ones that were clearanced out so I could see if I could keep them alive. Now I know that money tree works well in our house, (and I don’t kill them) I’m looking for at least one more. Love them!

For years I didn’t use plants in the house because of the cats. I talked about some animal-friendly plants I found in this post last year.

So are you a plant lover? Can you keep them alive? Have you found one that does well (with little work) and care to share? Anyone have the elusive fiddle leaf fig that I wanted in the first place? :)

*P.S. I blogged about what I keep in my purse over at my friend Tauni’s  place…go here to see what’s inside. ;)

47 comments:

  1. Thanks for a very good reminder about the great reasons plants can enhance our spaces. :) I have a black thumb, but I'm willing to give it a shot. I'm pretty sure plants cringe and wilt when they see me....

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  2. We just bought our first real live houseplant a few weeks ago. Its a palm tree because I dream of living somewhere warm. My four year old named it Zoe. And now she is a huge part of our family. :)

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  3. I've been thinking about putting a money tree in my dining room - maybe I should finally get one and give it a try. I am a serial plant killer - but I've managed to keep 2 alive for a few months now. I just might be ready to make the jump to a tree ;)

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  4. I love plants . . . they are always my go to for any decorating spot, and I love adding life to my home. Your plants look wonderful - I may have to search for a money tree myself!

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  5. Every time I try to introduce a living plant into my home, it dies a miserable death. I love you tree. :)

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  6. I love the plants put in the baskets and especially the crock! I would have never thought of that - great idea! I think I even have an empty one I can use... :)

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  7. I do like the plants you have going on. We don't have any right now.

    My main issue is that my toddler would be into it all the time and that would make me crazy!

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  8. I just counted in my head - I have 8 house plants, large and small, and I want MORE, but I'm out of space, literally. Plants are awesome for everything - breathing in life, looking pretty (but yes, some are toxic to animals :( ) There are websites that list which ones are. I was happy to see this post of yours on plants. :)
    I hope you'll check out my new blog. Maybe one day a post on plants will pop up there too!

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  9. I love plants. Unfortunately, so do my cats. :-( Therefore, the only plant in the house right now is in a terrarium...but you're right about them filling some voids!

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  10. Mostly faux, and a couple of ivy's. I can't keep a real fern alive either. Love all your new trees, they look fabulous. Hugs, Marty

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  11. Wow! love the post, but really loved your Donna Geissler print "wonderland"!! I have it in a 20x30 over me formal loving room white velvet sofa! LOVE IT!! I redid the whole room around that print! Julie

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  12. Real plants do great for about 10 seconds inside the house, then the cat thinks its buffet time. Followed by cat puking time. Good times all around. So, I pretty much stick to silk and change them out whenever and wherever depending on the season. The ones I have in pots outside come live in the garage in the winter. The best one is a ficus I paid $5 for that decided it loves me (:

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  13. I love using plants, but have a hard time keeping ferns alive. I think for ferns to thrive you need a humid climate (and to remember to water them). Plants that are more forgiving of a bit of neglect: Christmas cactus, ficus benjamina, peace lily, philodendron.

    Besides buying on clearance, another way to obtain plants affordably is to purchase them small, especially if you aren't sure they will do well in your house. If it is a fast-growing plant, it will soon make the impact you seek.

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  14. I LOVE having houseplants too! But like you, the tropical variety don't care for me (I have almost successfully killed a peace lily too). I always have tons of Pothos everywhere because it is so easy and propagates easily, but it cascades, so you don't get the nice height. I haven't killed a snake plant cutting that my mom gave me and it has been several years (but not a huge amount of growth either).

    I am working on not killing a spider plant from my grandmother-in-law - they are supposed to be stupid easy to care for. Also, I am starting my fourth year with an African violet (lost a 2nd one in year 2) on the west side of the house with sheer curtains filtering the sun, but it only bloomed the first year :(

    I also recently bought a (smaller) money tree because of the braided trunk, but you make me want a big one like yours! Mine has grown a lot at the top, but I don't know how to get the trunk to keep growing and braid it more.

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  15. My daughter can't tolerate fresh flowers in the house because of her allergies (very hard when you have a hubby that loves to buy you flowers every week!) so I have developed a love of plants inside. I have killed a few in my time but I have some favourites that I can keep alive now. I know they aren't in fashion anymore but I love a big full planter of a spider plant. I have one of those money plants as well as a parlour palm. Then I have some others I got at Ikea that I have no clue what they are called but they grow like anything so I love them. The hardest part for me is finding bigger planters all the time - I don't like to spend much so I try and get them at the thrift store whenever I can. I need to look at baskets more after seeing how good these look.

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  16. I would really like to add plants to my home. My only concern is that my cat would eat them! Crazy cat has tried to eat every. single. fake. plant. in my house multiple times (what does he think that they grow into real ones overnight?) and it drives me nuts! Not to mention he knocks them over so I know if I got real ones I would spend most of my days cleaning dirt off the floor. Does your cat leave yours alone?

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  17. Your new plants look so pretty!! I feel like every room needs at least one plant to give it some life! A bloggy friend of mine (of Mix & Chic) just posted a couple days ago that she found a fiddle leaf fig at Ikea for like $12 or something crazy. I want to go see if I can get lucky and find one for that price at my Ikea too!

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  18. I grew up in a home that had the best windows for live plants (East & South)...so much so that my Dad told me he was tired of the rainforest in the kitchen. Now don't have as many windows period and it stinks for keeping anything but my Christmas cactus alive! Just recently bought a low-light plant for the half-bath...now to remember to raise the shade! Your doing great! A lot has to do with proper sun exposure.

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  19. Love the plants! I would have more, but our little Cairn considers them a playground if she can reach them!!

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  20. Do you get knats? I've added houseplants here and there but we always end up with knats flying around, so out the plants go.

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  21. I used to have a ton of plants until we got our first cat 21 years ago. He chewed all the "grassy" leaf type plants down to stubs (dragon plants and spider plants were his favorites). He left my peace lily alone, thankfully. I bought it when I lived with my parents and 25 years later it's still going strong. I catch Oliver, my cat, chewing on the leaves every now and then and he's lucky he hasn't gotten sick yet. I have a handful of plants now but I have to place them strategically so Oliver doesn't chew on them. Floor plants aren't an option in my house, which is too bad because they can be kind of cool.

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  22. Another plus about plants that makes me want more, is they help clean the air we breathe. I found out that peace lilies are especially good, as are aloe veras (keep one by the iron? hehe) and those fiddle leaf ferns. Currently I have a palm tree and a philodendron ~ those are hard to kill.. oh and an airplane plant. But I love your variety of plants and containers (especially the baskets). Nice idea!

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  23. I have so many inside house plants. :) 3 in our library, 1 in the dining room, and one in the living room. Oh, and the teeniest tiniest little hen and chick in a teeny tiny glass votive candle holder. The hubby told me to bring dessert home, but he spelled it desert - so he got a "desert" on his desk. We used to have a huge tree in the living room as well, but it was starting to get too big for the space, and so we donated it to the local library. I love my plants. The only one I have some difficulty with is my hibiscus, but I moved it two weeks ago, and it's looking so much better now. So I think all these years, it's been in the wrong spot.

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  24. Ayyy, they hate me! I just love the life they give to a room, but it has never lasted long for me, so I usually put up a few silk ones, which hubby HATES! It's been a few years since I've had a live one, so maybe I'll give it another go =)

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  25. I think ferns like humidity; the one by the sink probably loves when you run hot steamy water. The one on the shelf with the birds would probably like living in a bathroom with shower steam.

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  26. Yes, you can find some great plants on clearance and with a little love, they come back to life. It's so rewarding and better on the budget!

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  27. Um, I've KILLED on of your beloved fiddle-leaf figs; does that count? I found them very finicky (as with the ficus allii; looks like you have one of those with the longer, skinny, pointy leaves). I may try one again in the future, though. My dad had a couple of figs when I was growing up that towered over me (and him!). They were incredible. Huge ficus trees indoors, too (lots of light in that house).

    I went from having one houseplant a couple of months ago to having 14 and counting now. We're blessed with lots of light in this house, whereas the old house had light, but not where I'd put a plant.

    Thanks for reminding me that I need to look for more large plants on clearance right now! Brought home a $5 palm the other day that is now cleaned up and on top of an entry way table. Love the look of a palm on a table!

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  28. I kill ferns and ivy like it's my job. Employee of the year!

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  29. I love plants, however I kill them every time. My husband has the green thumb around here! Thanks for sharing on how great they can fill spaces and bring life to a room!

    Barbara at Chase the Star

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  30. I only have a few plants these days all philodendrons. Easy to grow and hardy. I did have a big beautiful fern in the bathroom for years but it died a while back. Great post,a s always. Hugs

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  31. First let me start with I DO NOT HAVE A GREEN Thumb, not even a speck of Green in my, yet I still have a Spider plant that my son brought home to me when he was in the 3rd grade....he's 26 now! It was being rooted in a styrofoam cup when he gave it to me. I have rooted the babies from this Spider Plant and given out to friends and family. I have also rooted a couple for myself, so I would say this is the easiest plant to maintain!
    Laura - lau99ra@aol.com

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  32. I too love plants but haven't had real indoor ones for years...we have two dogs ;-)

    I would wonder about the one you have in your built in. Enough light there? One also has to consider air movement...it might be a little cramped in there (?) Hope it works though! It's a really pretty plant and the little birds seem to love it ;-)

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  33. My house is positively turning in to a nursery...I just love the fresh green and height they bring! I have a money tree too (http://hisugarplum.blogspot.com/2012/08/smitten-west-elm-basket-planter.html), and in just a few months it's as tall as me. (Not saying a lot). I found a fiddle leaf (http://hisugarplum.blogspot.com/2012/03/say-hello-to-my-little-fig-friend.html), but have since killed it. I just got another, and I pinky promised him he'd be safe with us. And just because, here's another post I did about the easiest houseplants (http://hisugarplum.blogspot.com/2012/05/plants-planters.html)

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  34. What nursery are you going to? I live in Indy as well so was curious. love the money plant and looks good.
    Erica

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  35. Money Trees are the easiest and they grow like wildfire! Love them.
    Lucky bamboo is just as easy...maybe easier. Rocks or glass stones & water, no soil needed. Heck, no rocks needed if you prefer. A glass vase, a little water & voila! B.

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  36. LOVE plants inside! I grew up in a warm state and now that I'm somewhere it snows, I get grumpy if I don't have a little greenery around. I keep herbs planted in the kitchen so they're pretty and functional but I'm gonna look for a ficus for our living room, too.

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  37. I love plants, but right now we're in an apt. with absolutely no light so all I have are my ivys. I had lots of outside plants, but the darn TX heat killed them all last year. I was even growing my own rosemary, basil and thyme that I cooked with - all in terracotta pots. Your fern is loving it by the sink because of the humidity. If your tiny fern in the library becomes a little droopy, just move it into the bathroom for a little spa time and it will pick right up, too. Those tropical-type plants just love humid conditions.

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  38. I started feeding my cats Purina Indoor Cat Formula, and that seemed to stop most of the plant-munching. They rarely bother my plants now!

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  39. Where is a good place to buy real trees for the home? We checked a few places in the past and they are just down right ugly and expensive!!! Thanks for any ideas!!

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  40. I adore these pictures! The braided trunks are gorgeous and I am absolutely in love with the idea of using an antique crock as a planter! That is perfect! I love that you were able to add 'greenery' to your home without making it seem fake! :) I am not the best "green thumb" either but finding this post encourages me to try once more! You've done a beautiful job, and I definitely think I'd like to visit a couple of local nurseries on my next long weekend! Love this!

    Shirley
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/ABowForMama

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  41. I have had the same spider plant for over ten years now. I brought a little cutting from a plant home one day when I was working for a garden center while in college. He never dies, even when he's dried out! He just wilts a bit. He earned a name, Joe, and has been used as a Christmas tree and space occupier over the span of more than a decade. I also have an African violet that took three years to bloom after I brought it home from the store. The violet never looked bad, just never bloomed until this spring. Unfortunately, those are the only plants I have room for!

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  42. How do I find the article about the gumball machine turned fish bowl??

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  43. There are very few houseplants I can keep alive (I even killed an aloe plant!), but those ferns look so pretty, I'm tempted to give them a shot.

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  44. Great find on the money tree! I have a question about your floor lamp you got at Lowes. I was actually looking at that the other day.. Are you finding it nice and sturdy? Love your blog...one of my daily reads!

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  45. I have one of those fig trees you want. I didn't know they were bad for cats, but our cats okay, so...We got it and a prayer plant{some kind of lily} when my MIL passed in January. Both plants love our house, and are growing like crazy. Unfortunately, fig trees lose their leaves easily. Like if anyone touches them, they're moved around, etc. We had one years ago and had to give it away because it grew taller than our ceiling. Same with a rubber tree. We got one of those after the funeral too, but it's only maybe 2 feet tall and unfortunately growing fast. I should get another fern, as my house likes those too, but I have no room for one. Good luck with your plants!

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  46. Louise, the lamp is GREAT! I actually found one just like it at Target, but passed on it because it (the display lamp) felt like it would fall apart when I touched it. This one was $10 more but MUCH sturdier. Love it!

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  47. My braided trunk money tree was left for staging in the house we were selling. We had to repair the furnace during cold weather and the house was cold for over a week. The tree dropped tons of leaves and looked horrible - but I brought it to our new house and it came right back. They are known for taking some abuse like irregular watering.

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