3 Projects to Creatively Add Plants to Your Home
It's easy being green! Well, adding a little bit of extra greenery to your home decor, that is. In their new book, House of Plants, Caro Langton and Rose Ray - the team behind the London-based urban plant design shop Ro Co - lay out a gorgeously photographed guide to incorporating succulents, cacti and air plants into your home in cool and creative ways. Adding a living decoration to a room is an interesting and different way to customize your space - and these three projects are just what you need to get started.
1. Miniature Glasshouse Terrarium
This is such a cute and fairytale-like way to make a plant display. You can use any kind of glass vessel you like and even add fun trinkets to make it more whimsical, or keep it simple with just plants. Crystals also make a cool addition to decorate a terrarium; chemically inactive forms such as quartz and pyrite work best. Terrariums are so easy to care for that they make a great bedside table or office desk decoration - just make sure to give them the proper light.
What You'll Need
- Glass vessel
- A selection of terrarium plants
- House plant compost
- 3-4mm gravel
- A little activated charcoal
- Wooden spoon and other optional tools
- Gardening gloves
Step 1: Put on your gardening gloves if you like, or wash your hands thoroughly after Step 4 (necessary?!). Begin with your base. Add around an inch of gravel for drainage and to encourage the circulation of moisture within your vessel. Next, add a fine layer of activated charcoal, mixing it into the gravel. This will prevent stagnation and the growth of fungi.
Step 2: Lay a bed of soil, the depth depending on the size of both your vessel and the plants. Generally speaking, two inches is a good amount to start with if working with fairly small plants. Level the soil with your fingers and push it down gently to remove air pockets.
Step 3: Make a hole with your fingers in the terrarium soil, deciding where you would your first plant to sit. Taking the first plant out of its pot, gently loosen the soil around its roots and insert it into the hole within the terrarium. Holding it upright with one hand, press soil around it to hold it in place, making sure there are no air pockets around its roots.
Step 4: At this stage you can use your wooden spoon to add more soil until the plant's roots are covered, with only the stem and leaves exposed. Do this gently so as not to damage the plant's roots. Once it is securely planted, repeat step 03 until all of your plants are in their chosen positions.
Step 5: Clean around inside of the vessel using a clean cloth, and carefully wipe plant leaves with some tissue or a soft brush if necessary. Water very lightly around the base of each plant with a misting bottle or pipette.
Step 6: Choosing those that aren't likely to encourage the growth of mold, add any decorations to embellish the scene, such as dried lichen, crystals and rocks. You can use stones to stabilize more delicate plants, and little pieces of mirrored glass can add another dimension to your miniature world.
2. The Desert Landscape
Open containers are the perfect way to display your fave succulents in a mini desert scene. Cacti and other succulents do not benefit from being enclosed, thriving with plenty of warm, dry air. Since the plants as a whole are slow-growing and tend to require similar care, they work very well arranged together in one container. Try including plants of different shapes, colors, and textures to give each one its own focal point. Have fun and get creative with the kind of container you use (it can be almost anything!) but make sure it's clean and watertight.
What You'll Need
- Small drainage stones
- Activated charcoal
- Wooden spoon
- Cacti and succulent compost
- Selection of cacti and succulent plants
- Decorative stones and accessories
- Gardening gloves
Step 1: Putting on your gardening gloves if you like, fill your container with drainage stones to a depth of around 5cm. Add a generous scattering of activated charcoal and mix it in to the drainage stones so that it is evenly distributed. This base will allow adequate drainage for your plants, filtering any stagnant water and protecting their roots from developing rot.
Step 2: For the next layer, add 5cm of cacti and succulent compost. At this point it is a good idea to consider the final position of the container; you may want to rotate it as you begin planting if it is going to be displayed in a central position. Otherwise, you can add more compost in different sections to begin to create a more contoured scene.
Step 3: Using your fingers, spoon or a small trowel, make a hole in the compost for your first plant to sit in. You can play around with positioning if the plant doesn't look right immediately, securing compost around the plant's roots once you are happy with how it looks. Repeat with your next plant, making sure to leave enough space between each to allow for some root growth and a good circulation of air. Gently press down the compost around each plant, removing any large air pockets and securing them in their final positions.
Step 4: Fill in any holes with extra compost, adding a final layer of drainage stones or other decorative elements to complete the scene. Once you have added all of your plants and decoration, you can clean off any soil that may have collected on the plants with a soft paintbrush.
Step 5: Finally, carefully water the entire surface with a spouted watering can or pipette, making sure not to splash the plants' leaves or stems. To check when it is time to next water the container, check the moisture level of the soil with your finger and only water once it feels completely dry.
After a few months, you may find that some plants are growing while others stay seemingly unchanged. You can prune any overgrown areas with some clean, sharp scissors is you wish, eventually replacing those that outgrow the container. If any plants start to suffer, simply remove them and replace them with a new plant.
3. The Foraged Wall Hanging
This is a great way to show off cool elements from adventures or trips you've had - like shells, sea glass, or just interesting looking rocks. Don't worry if you find yourself improvising with other available materials - this project's all about simplicity and creativity. Thread, fabric or string can be used in the place of rope, and, if you prefer, you can replace the driftwood with a piece of store-bought wooden doweling or a length of hollow copper metal piping.
What You'll Need
- Rope, string of thread
- Nail or picture hook
- Drill, optional
- Air plants
- Foraged objects
Step 1: If you are going to use a drill to make holes for your rope, use a pencil to mark a spot at either end of the piece of wood where you would like the rope to be positioned. Drilling holes is not essential for this design, so if you do not have access to one, or have never used a drill before, ignore this step and move straight to step 3. Particularly if it is warped or curved, before drilling any holes it may help hold the wood against the wall to decide which way you would like it to hang.
Step 2: Depending on the thickness of the rope or thread you are using, choose a suitable size drill bit for wood. Ideally, find an outdoor surface you can rest the driftwood on. With the edge you are drilling sticking out over the edge of the surface, hold the driftwood firmly with one hand, keeping hand and fingers well away from the area you are abut to drill. Carefully drill the first hole, and then repeat on the other side. Once finished, thread each end of your rope through the holes and tie a knot, giving each one a tug to check it will hold.
Step 3: If you are choosing not to make holes in the wood, simply tie your rope to either side of the wood, keeping in mind how low you would like it to hang below the nail. Have a play with different ways to tie the rope; you can make the knots as simple or detailed as you like. Give the knots a tug after you finish tying them to make sure they will hold.
Step 4: Once the rope is tied securely to both ends of the wood, your wall hanging can be suspended from a simple hook or nail. Once hung, you can begin to add the air plants and other objects of your choice, positioning them along the wood in your own unique design.
If you are struggling to balance your air plants or foraged objects, simply use some clear fish wire or delicate thread to gently attach each one to the hanging. Remember, you can mist your air plants weekly to keep them healthy, but they will benefit from an occasional soaking, so best not to tie them on too tightly.
To buy this book, click here.
Instructions and images excerpted from House of Plants: Living with Succulents, Air Plants and Cacti, by Caro Langton and Rose Ray (Frances Lincoln Limited | Quarto Publishing Group, 2016).