One Year of Well-Grown Home

On March 10, 2020, I shared my first blog post on my new Well-Grown Home plant blog. I wrote about how I don’t like naming my plants and the millennial plant parent phenomenon. It’s been a full year since then with now 21 blog posts, 150 social posts, 250+ followers under my belt. I’m only excited to keep growing this journey (and my plants of course too!). Thank you for all your engagement and support!

Establishing My Blogging Roots

I had thought about starting a blog for a while and had dabbled gently years ago into some biweekly writing about what was happening in my life. Not that my life isn’t full of passion but it never really mattered to me to share it in this format. By spark of a two-term assignment, I found myself staring to the abyss of what to blog about. I have never been great at focusing at one thing, whether it’s going off on a tangent during a story or working on a hundred things at once. This is why a plant blog became a wonderful fit for me.

Plants became a front-runner of a blog theme due to their timeless ability to connect to all elements of life. Of course there is leisurely gardening but plants also connect to home decor, travel, mental health, cooking, medicine and more. I could write about the skincare uses of plants and flowers! Writing about plants has opened up my mind in so many ways to new possibilities.

My partner Angad on a trip to Bradford Greenhouses – Garden Gallery in Barrie, ON.

Others in the Garden

My relationships and interactions with other plant lovers has also grown. I’ve joined many groups on social platforms, signed up for newsletters and read the works of others both digitally and in print. More and more frequently I’ll get messages from friends and even strangers. This always brightens my day as I’m able to share what I have learned and see where someone else’s plant journey takes them.

On the other hand, one thing I’d like to note is that you don’t need dozens of plants to be a plant lover. Your appreciation for living things is enough. Despite so much positivity in the plant fanatic networks, there is seemingly so much pressure to expand one’s plant collection. Especially with the year it’s been, this demand is difficult to see. I see so many people of all ages posting in forum-style groups about where to start. Research is valuable but just pick something within your budget and try it out. Plants want to grow!

My advice to anyone interested in learning about plants is to develop connections with other people and just give it a go. Learn from each other, be it by the losses or the successes. 

Where to Grow Next

I’m excited about helping plan what to grow outside this year in my family’s garden with my mom. It’s been extremely rewarding and inspiring to have a backyard garden to explore again. After living in so many student apartments, I have been enjoying this outdoor space. Right now, I can only feed the birds with the few feet of snow still lingering. I’m also looking forward to incorporating more of my indoor plants into this home. When moving back to Barrie just after starting this blog, I had plants scattered wherever they would fit between my mom’s. They blocked many doorways and walking paths across our kitchen, dining room and living room. The mantle is my next place to organize… and take over with cascading plants and vines.

I hope to post more frequently this year, as I’m sure most bloggers do. When originally planning for my assignment, I thought I could post four times per week… wow did I ever underestimate the work that goes into it all plus how much free time I’d actually have. Even if it’s just one more post than last year, that will be sufficient for me.

I’m thankful to have this plant journey and to be able to share it with many others. If you’ve read this far, please know that I appreciate your time and interest. Your support has been incredibly generous. I hope to continually engage with you and inspire an increasing love for plant life.

Here’s to many more years of Well-Grown Home and to ever-vivacious plants!

How to Help Your Yellowing, Drooping Monstera

Plant troubles affect us all – no matter if you’re new to plants or an experienced green thumb. Most recently, my Monstera deliciosa has been looking a little rough and needed a major overhaul in terms of its care and environment. I’ll be sharing things that have gone wrong with my plants on my Instagram page as part of #PlantFailFridays but here’s a recap of what happened to my Monstera and how I (hopefully!) have fixed it.

Warning Signs

I bought my Monstera late fall 2020 as a reward for paying off all my student loans. I knew was signing up for a high maintenance plant but the dramatic highs and lows are throwing me for a loop!

After noticing draining issues, I changed the dirt and tried to poke more holes through the soil in the root ball to allow water and air flow. I should have recognized how much of a big plant I actually had shoved back into that nursery container but with the winter as a standard dormant period I figured I’d wait for warmer weather. I know now that I shouldn’t have tried to wait.

The Issues

  • Some leaves have yellowing around the edges
  • New leaves are still drooping after unfurling
  • Pot is heavy still a week after last watering
  • Roots are becoming visible

What these Symptoms Mean

The Water Issues

Droopy, yellow-edged leaves often mean the plant is overwatered. I blame cartoons for telling us drooping flowers always need water to perk up. This may be true with leaves that are crisp around the edges and darkening/browning but not those getting lighter!

We need to remove the excess water and let the plant breathe.

Some analogies for you:

When thinking of light leaves (excluding shiny, new ones!!), you can think of mixing white and red paint. The white paint is like the water. The more white you add, the lighter the shade! The more water, the lighter the leaf.

Similar to when you’re outside on a winter day, your weaker extremities are affected first as your body protects the core. The water is pushed to the edges of the leaves as the plant tries to protect the stem to stay alive.

The Environment Issues

Part of why the water isn’t draining is because of the soil and the fact that there is just too much plant in one pot! The root system was pushing its way out of the pot because it had grown too big for its current home. The heavy weight of the potted plant came from the amount of water hanging out deep inside the soil.

We need to ensure the soil can drain and have air flow.

What To Do

Here are the steps I took to help my Monstera plant.

1. Remove the plant from the current pot and soil.

I started by holding the base of the entire plant and slowly wiggling to loosen the soil around it. I removed the plant from the soil (in of course the messiest way possible on my kitchen floor) and then discarded wet, foul-smelling remnants of the rotting roots. I did not reuse any soil either – out the door it went!

2. Divide the plant.

Plants need room to grow and thrive. The next thing to do is break up the plant into segments. Dividing by the roots must be done carefully to avoid fatal harm to the plant. For me, this was a challenge because of the root rot occurring. The plant was stuck in wet soil too long. As I would pull the plant apart and untangle the roots, there would be pieces that would easily fall off.

3. Wash the roots.

If roots are black or brown, they need to go! Removing them will prevent spread to the still-healthy roots. White or bright green roots are what I was looking for in this case. I’ll take the losses to ensure the root rot disease doesn’t spread.

I washed them in my sink and by using my hands to scrape off any decay (Plant moms need to get their hands dirty!). This was an incredibly tedious task and took quite a long time. More and more roots would break but, again, most needed to as they were rotten.

4. Put them in some water.

This may sound counter-intuitive but plants still need water. I started taking my plants apart at night, so they needed to stay hydrated while I slept. I used whatever glass vases I could find from my mom’s cupboard. Due to my Monstera’s large foliage, I needed tall ones to support the stems from toppling over with the weight of the leaves.

I had my Monstera in its original nursery pot with the intention of exploiting the large drainage holes but WOW this plant was way too big for the pot. I was able to divide it into six parts.

Not all of these segments currently have big strong roots. Some actually were just like cuttings because I went a little wild and cut too much off… oops! I’m hoping they’ll propagate in water.

5. Plant the segments with strong roots.

Some of my plants still had great white roots and dark green leaves. I grabbed some nursery pots and plastic white pots with many drainage holes to put my plants in. I then put these inside of larger decorative pots for a nice home decor aesthetic. For soil, I used a mixture of 75 percent tropical soil with 25 percent perlite to help with drainage. I kept some Monstera segments in water and will continue to watch them to see if they grow roots.

6. Continue monitoring growth.

Finally, it’s time to water the plants in soil sparingly and keep an eye out for root growth for the cuttings. I’m keeping them out of direct sun too. As the cuttings grow solid roots I will plant them too. No deaths yet across any segments! It has been about a week since my Monstera fiasco – it was a dirty war scene!

I now have so many potential Monstera plants after only getting my first one in the fall! It’s exciting to see my collection grow, despite the traumatic event of ripping my plant to pieces. I’ll keep you updated on my Instagram feed.

How are your plants doing lately?

If you’re looking for advice on some troubles, then let me know! Tag me on Instagram and Facebook or chime up in the comments below. Take care!

Indoor Plants that Add a Pop of Colour (Other than Green!)

Bring some life to your home with no shortage of colour! Many plants are green and that’s okay but some vivacious blooms or vibrant foliage can really make a space brighten up with cheer. Here are some options to inspire you in your plant decorating.

Orchid // Orchidaceae

Photo by Negative Space

Stunning blooms with unique colouring and a touch of elegance, these will elevate your space. The blooms don’t last forever but give it some dormant time and you’ll get new flowers.

Polka Dot Plant // Hypoestes phyllostachya

Get the pink, red, white… or all three, they won’t take up much room! This adorable plant is dramatic between waterings, so don’t give up if it looks droopy.

Mosaic Plant // Fittonia albivenis

Photo by Anne Nygård

Closely related to the polka dot plant, this one has little rosy lines on the leaves that make it look like a piece of Ancient Grecian artwork. It stays small, so you don’t have to worry about it taking over your space.

Purple Shamrock // Oxalis triangularis

This vibrant plant has triangular, clover-like purple leaves. It even has small white flowers that can appear multiple times throughout the year. The cutest part is this plant closes its foliage and goes to sleep at night or in dim lighting!

African Violet // Saintpaulia ionantha

Photo by Carolyn V

Super easy to grow and blooming several times per year, this small plant will add some cheer to your home. Find it in indigo, pink and white at many garden centres year-round.

Purple Passion Plant // Gynura aurantiaca

This plant looks like royalty with its velvety foliage of purple over a dark green base. It can grow enough to cascade, making it a nice hanging plant. Personal story, I bought it for a fairy garden… it outgrew the little planter in a month.

Jasmine // Jasminum spp.

If you’re looking for some colour with a beautiful floral fragrance, jasmine is the answer! The pink and white blooms are gentle and delicate.

Croton // Codiaeum variegatum

Photo by Madison Inouye

This one has the warm colours of a sunset and fall leaves. It’s most easily found in August/September but you can find it in shops with tropicals throughout the year. Heads up, it’s not as easy to maintain as other plants.

Lady Valentine // Chinese Evergreen // Aglaonema anyamanee

My favourite on the list… and also called Sparkling Sarah, this plant is mid-size and had pretty pink patterns on its leaves. Be sure to give it lots of diffused sun to keep the colour prominent. The Lady Valentine is easy to care for and makes a statement.

Geranium // Pelargonium spp.

Photo by 김 대정

Several types can be grown as houseplants and they’re easy to find in garden centres, especially in early summer. These easy-to-grow plants require lots of light to keep them blooming. They give off an English-Garden feel with their blooming clusters.

Do you have any more favourites to add? Let us all know!

Tag @wellgrownhome in your photos to show off those bursts of colour and be shared.

Frost in the Forecast? Here’s How to Protect your Plants.

If you live in Ontario like me, you probably have seen a frost warning or two by now. This is the sign that cold temperatures are on their way with potential to harm plants (and break out your cute fall clothing)! I swear these warm sunny days are only a trick. Let’s learn about how to protect our gardens.

What is frost?

Frost is basically a thin layer of ice on a solid surface. It looks super cool on the blades of grass and on leaves, but can harm your delicate plants that may not be ready to face this phenomenon on their own. According to our pal Wikipedia, frost “forms from water vapor in an above freezing atmosphere coming in contact with a solid surface whose temperature is below freezing, resulting in a phase change from water vapor to ice as the water vapor reaches the freezing point.”

Alissa Nabiullina

To help your garden stay safe from frost damage, you first need to know what plants will need protection.

Who do you have at your place?

Tropicals

If you have tropical plants that you’ve brought outside for a warm summer, it’s time to bring them in. Some people (and garden centres) will move their tropicals in and out for the daytime sunlight. I think it’s easier to just make the call and bring them inside for the cold season. My mom’s large jade plant made its way inside a few weeks ago after enjoying the summertime sun on our lower patio.

This is my mom’s Jade plant.

Annuals

By the time fall comes, most annuals have finished their blooming. You can compose what’s left or use your municipal yard waste program to discard the remaining plants. It’s best to take them out now before the ground becomes too solid or your fingers become too cold to deal with the fine plants. Annuals are only intended to last one season. Their seeds may remain in the garden and you might get a lucky few surprise returns the next year, but the roots and foliage will die away. These plants don’t need protection – just get them out and accept the yearly loss.

Yousef Espanioly

Perennials

These are the plants that don’t lose their roots at the end of their growing season. They will reduce in size, lose any flowers and much of their foliage, but will grow back the following year as the weather gets warm enough. These plants may need protection outside. You can protect them in a variety of ways. Depending on their size and type, here’s some suggested ways to create a safe haven from the ice and snow. These are what you’ll want to mulch or mound. Wrapping smaller perennial plants can be helpful too if they will be near sidewalks or roadways using road maintenance supplies like salt.

The neighbourhood squirrel eats seeds by the hostas.

Trees and Shrubs

These are the most hardy of flora and often will keep their branches and leaves/needles. Protecting them from the weight of the snow can be the biggest task. Living in the snowbelt of Ontario, a region that often receives heavy snowfall as a result of lake-effect precipitation, several centimeters often accumulate rapidly when it snows here. More fragile branches, such as the newest or oldest ones, may break in the heavy wind and snow. Wrapping them together can create a nice cozy bundle of protection.

Virginia Johnson

Here is a plant finder from Gardenia that can help you learn about your plants. There are a few apps you can download to help you with identifying unknown plants by taking a photo.


Chi Girls

Things to do:

  • Water remaining plants before nighttime. While the mid-summer sun will evaporate your watering quickly, the autumn weather allows it to last a little longer. If you water at dusk, the water doesn’t have time to go in the air or be absorbed before it freezes.
  • If you cover your plants at night, be sure there’s space between the fabric and the plant for air circulation. This allows for a protective cushion between frost and the plant – it prevents harm. Avoid plastic for long term use and be extra careful with this spacing as most plastics aren’t breathable like other fabrics. Think of tenting – use wood frames or stakes to help cover larger or multiple plants at the same time. Remember that snow acts like a natural blanket in the winter.
  • Do your gardening and be sure to cover any necessary plants before the sun goes down and the temperature drops. Your plants will chill to their core just like you otherwise! Uncover during daylight so they can breathe and soak up the sunny rays.

Trying something different or innovative? Take a picture and tag @wellgrownhome on Instagram. All the best and enjoy the fall harvest!

The Magic of Making a Fairy Garden

Fairy gardens are wonderful miniature gardens that are also creative and cute! They make excellent homes and dwellings for fairies. Here you can learn how to make one and where they may have originated.

Spirits have been a part of many ancient cultural stories. Many scholars have identified a transition from spirits to fairies in European literature since the 12th century. Gervase of Tilbury was one of the first to mention fairies. There has always been a connection between fairies and nature, with legends and tales of them living in woodland areas.

While fairies have an overall positive yet mystical reputation today, they were actually blamed for the misfortunes of people such as deaths from illness or famine. These issues were not yet explainable by science, so something essentially needed to take the blame. By pleasing the fairies with places to live, people could bring their homes good fortune. They’d also plant certain plants that kept the evil spirits away.

Read more about the folklore of fairies and fairy gardens here.

If you’d like to see how I’ve created my most recent fairy garden, since moving to Barrie, then watch this tutorial-style video.

In my fairy garden, I have the following six plants:

Baby Tears

This lush plant will cascade beautifully over the sides of containers. It has a reddish purple stem and bold green leaves. They also apparently pair well with my next plant.

Asparagus Fern

This bright plant adds some height to my garden and livens it up too. It will need a lot of trimming – these plants can grow up to two feet high and six feet long according to The Spruce. Due to their feather-light, lacy foliage, they don’t propagate well but will take over if left unattended.

Pixie Fern

This fern will be very delicate with the sun and will need an extra drink of mist every once in a while. It will expand and hang over the side of the planter as it grows. Ferns are typically easy to grow, but like moist soil. As long as you don’t abandon your fern then you should be good.

Arrowhead Pixie

My arrowhead plant adds volume to my garden. It has larger light-toned leaves that will fill up more space as it grows. Mine also has variegated foliage with white patterns to make it more interesting and pretty! It has a light pink stem and matching leaf veins.

Purple Velvet Plant

A soft and colourful plant, this one might be the coolest plant in the container. It will be sensitive to watering and, therefore, one of the top two plants to watch! The other would be the pixie fern, but they would show warning signs for opposite issues so a balance between them will be key to identify over the next month. I typically like to wait until I see the leaves drooping for all my plants before I water. Root rot is the true enemy. I’ll also be looking for flower buds – which need to be snipped quickly to avoid an apparent ghastly odour.

Silver Sicilian

Also called Tradescantia or the Wandering Jew, this plant will likely need propagation the quickest. A propagated plant can make an easy, affordable and sweet gift! It will add bushy-ness and volume like the arrowhead plant. The Silver Sicilian has deep purple patterned leaves with a silvery glow.

All Together Now

All of these plants like medium levels of water and medium-bright light. I’ve kept my fairy garden by the glass door in my basement. It faces North so there isn’t any direct light that could burn the plants’ leaves and the air is more humid down there. Mischief always seems to happen in basements too… perfect for sassy fairies.

I tried to keep a colour theme of ruby tones and purples in my plants to add a bit more richness and vibrancy to my garden. It adds an extra flair and dimension, preventing my garden from being visually flat.

As these plants grow, I’ll try my best to propagate them to keep my garden growing and alive. Being small and somewhat fragile plants, they can die after only a few years. Changing up the soil to replenish nutrients and using tropical or all-purpose indoor fertilizers can help them stay as strong as can be.

I’ll leave you with an anecdote:

The Peter Pan story, concept, character or however you want to describe it is one of my favourites since childhood. In many Peter Pan plays, they say clap if you believe in fairies as a great audience interaction moment. In Peter Pan (2003), they shout it to the sky to revive tinkerbell after she takes a poison meant to kill Peter Pan. Here’s a clip sharing this iconic scene.

Personally, other than the Disney version from 1953 that I ironically “grew up” with, my favourite Peter Pan film is Hook (1991). After you tend to your plants, take a break and relax with a fairy film tonight!

Check out my list of great themes to inspire you in your own fairy garden creation.

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