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Green Guide for a Brown Thumb

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Beach Medium Planter by Helen Levi

The once lowly houseplant has been in the midst of a full-on moment for the past, oh, decade or so. Maybe it's our collective existential dread about the environment, or maybe they just make solid companions both for social butterflies and those who turn their phones off Friday nights. Either way, houseplants look pretty, clean the air around us and can be a calming presence.

Still, as most of us city dwellers seem to be cursed with brown thumbs. And in the face of Pinterest plant walls and your friend's impossibly perfect collection of tropical ferns, it's easy to feel like a failure when your first monstera deliciosa dies a slow, unceremonious death at your unskilled hands. Alas! Don't lose hope, though. We're playing with some easy plants in the studio — botanical training wheels, if you will — that look great and can help you hone your plant parent skills.

EASY BREEZY

If you've ever ventured through the countryside near Phoenix in the summer months, you know the weather can be inhospitable, to put it mildly. Still in this waterless, terrestrial inferno, one miraculous green organism springs from the desert landscape in great abundance: the cactus. If this species of desert mainstay can survive the Mojave, it can probably survive you: pot properly with a dry cactus mix soil (your local nursery will have readymade bags for sale), give them sunshine, keep the soil relatively dry, and enjoy years of companionship. In addition to the minimal care they require, cacti are also majestic and mysterious and rather than show you don't know how to garden, lend your place an air of western chic.

For maximum effect, we recommend planting several in a large pot like the Hip Haven bowl planter.

Short Black Stand with Rattan Bowl by Hip Haven

CASUAL DATING

Now, we're not suggesting any plant is a throwaway, but several flowering varietals come with a short-ish lifespan built in. Ergo, you don't have to feel that bad if they perish. Good supermarkets sell nice, low maintenance varietals that vary from season to season in myriad colors that require moderate watering and can last longer than you might think. If you're feeling bold, try tulip bulbs: if you buy them at the right time (very early spring), you can watch them grow quickly (it's magical), then clip them to put in a vase just before they bloom. Then, dig up the bulbs and store in a cool, dry place. If you do it right, you can use the bulbs again next year and basically feel like a life-giving master gardener.

Helen Levi is one of our favorite ceramicists. More plants gives us an excuse to keep more of them around, and their bold colors look fantastic topped with vibrant leaves and petals.

Beach Medium Planter by Helen Levi

LIGHT GREEN THUMB

We like to think of jade plants as novice versions of bonsai. They're pretty hardy and can grow outdoors in abundance in places like Southern California, but they can also be fickle and are easy to over-water. Still, they're almost the perfect learning plant in the sense that they do require attention and maintenance (pinch off dead leaves, check hydration levels and monitor the soil), but can also go long stretches without attention and generally don't succumb to negligence overnight. They can live for many years and grow to be majestic indoor garden centerpieces and also are more resilient after moving house than many other species.

Once your jade's grown a bit, clip off a branch and start another plant in a Melanie Abrantes Designs cork planter.

Medium 6" Cork Planter by Melanie Abrantes Design

 

 

 

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