Using Plants in Your Home Part 1

A few of you have asked about some of the plants I have sitting around so let’s talk about them.  I thought we’d split this post into two parts, today I’ll show entirely too many photos of how I use plants around our downstairs (I hardly have any upstairs right now) and then in the next post we’ll talk about specifics like how I make sure they stay alive and where I buy my plants, why you will love having plants in your home, and which plants are my favorite.

Two Kimberly ferns greet you as you walk into our home.  I’d like to be the kind of person that pulls them inside in the winter and they flourish but instead I’m the kind of person who lets them die every November and then sit in the blue urns looking all decrepit until the day our Christmas guests come and then I pull them out and try to put something Christmasy there and then come January they sit empty until I first spot some fresh green ferns at my local Home Depot every March.    My next door neighbor’s mother just told me that she has a 39-year-old Boston fern that she bought from Kmart–she keeps it inside of course.  That’s what I love about plants, they can last a long time.

Sometimes I use plants to solve a problem.  If you scroll back up to the first photo you can see the view when you walk into our house.  You are looking right down the back side of our TV and it’s not pretty.  So to camouflage the wires I placed that plant (I always called it a Ponytail Plant) strategically to help hide all the guts and wires coming of the back.  I found that plant at either Home Depot or Lowe’s.  I need to pick up a little terracotta tray thing to put under the plant to protect the DVD player from any extra water.  But I always take that one to the kitchen and let it drain anyway.

It doesn’t make quiet as much sense from the front view but it’s worth it to hide the wires.  From this angle I noticed the wires coming out between the TV and the dresser and of  course that drives me batty so I grabbed some painter’s tape and taped those two wires against the TV stand.

PHEW, see, no more wires between the TV and dresser.  Forgive the wires under the TV.  That’s why I have that basket there.  There’s a HUGE NASA sized outlet strip with lights and plugs and it’s just horrible u so that basket is my current solution to hiding them.  I tried attaching the strip to the back inside apron of the dresser (they even put holes on the back of the strip so you can hang it) but we use it so often that it’s easier to leave it on the floor.

Oh I even found a year old photo on my old computer to show you how I attached it-I just hammered in some nails on the back inside wall or apron of the dresser to keep the wires off the floor.  But I could still see it a little from the sofa and any time we fiddled with it to plug something in it fell. The basket is my compromise and usually I make sure the wires are hidden behind it.  So now my plant post has turned into a “how to hide wires post” just count that as a little bonus.

I have another Pony Tail on the mantle.  This one’s from IKEA.

Apparently it’s called an Elephant Foot Palm.  I just bought these plants within the last few months so I can’t vouch for how easy they are to take care of.  And clearly I’m still looking for just the right planter for his home.

There’s a Snake Plant (I’ve always heard it  called it Mother-In-Law’s Tongue) in front of the fireplace.  We’ve had him for over a year now and he’s done fine even when we turned on our pretend fireplace.

The homework table is right in front of the window and gets great light.  So I put the light loving plants in my big planter.  I LOVE this greenish planter, I found it on clearance at Pier 1 last year for $20.  It’s 13 inches tall and 15 inches across and I’ve used it in just about every room in our house for every season…

On the coffee table…

In a grouping last year with different plants.  I always keep this big planter either on the little wooden stool or on a ceramic tray because he’s too heavy to bring into the kitchen to water so having something underneath to help stop the water leakage is a must.

During the fall…

In my office…

…and currently in the planter are some succulents, creeping fig and a few things that I forget what they are called that I just picked up because of the color.


I also like to be playful with my plants.  These mini foo dogs travel from plant to plant marking their territory.

As you can see, I move all my plants around all the time.  I found that Bonsai tree at IKEA last year.  It was a splurge at $25 but it’s served us well.

Right now we have a lot of green in our family room and I love it, it feels fresh and springy without having to get out a bin of plastic chickens and then put them back next week.  Although I’m positive my boys would like the plastic chickens and they would probably look so fun perched in my plants.

I love the planter on that shelf. Target sold them last year and if I can find them for cheap I’d buy more.  That one leaf is driving me batty because it looks like a big green tongue. It’s full of succulents that I’ll tell you about in the next post.

I’ve also just started experimenting with tiny terrariums.  This one was a Joss & Main steal from Twig from a few months ago.  I’ve made a few on my own but I’ll wait to see if they live before I try to tell you how I made them.

Of course I can’t show off my plants without mentioning my bust planter.  He’s wearing a mask because he was here for my big girl’s sleepover weekend and it just didn’t seem right.  Funny, I used to think it was a lady, but clearly sometime along the way I’ve decided it’s a fella.  And now I just like the mask because it’s unexpected and purposeless.

Lastly I’ve got this fine fella in the laundry room.  He’s some kind of curly fern.

Stay tuned for Part Two of Using Plants in Your Home where we’ll talk about:

  • where to purchase plants
  • where to purchase planters
  • how to care for you plants (lazy girl’s way)
  • and of course my discourse on why I think you would love having plants in your home

Now come on, I know you want to leave a comment telling us that you love plants but that you have a brown thumb, how many of you are out there?  And for you green thumbs, tell us your best tip!

Read Using Plants in Your Home Part 2 here

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  1. I have made it my mission to replace as many silk and plastic plants as I can in my home with real ones. Quite a challenge because I don’t have a green thumb. My favorite things to grow are herbs and ivies. I adore topiaries. I just bought my first orchid (3 weeks and still alive :)) and am thinking about experimenting with succulents. (I’m thinking this comment makes me sound like a drug user.) Great post. I love the bust with the mask!

  2. I think my thumb has passed up brown and went to black. So bring on the advice.

  3. your home is so beautiful! I guess the issue I have had with plants is that I have issues with water and dirt leaking and making a mess.

  4. Homes come alive with a little greenier! I’ve managed to keep a couple large plants alive for several years…my house is thankful. Janell

  5. Quick question, why don’t you just install the television onto your wall? That would eliminate the weird cord/view problem, no?

    • we rent, it just doesn’t seem worth it, but yes, it would be a better choice and if my husband wanted to do it I would be all for it!

  6. You have found some unique plants that I have not seen before….they all add to the fresh pretty look your home has. Funny you posted this today, I happen to have a new baby ivy plant still sitting in the bag from my Home Depot shopping trip this morning.

  7. Just in time! I need those tips ASAP. I received a bonsai tree in November and it’s starting to look a bit worse for the wear. I’ve always been great with pets, but plants…not so much. And they bring some much life into your home!

  8. I cannot WAIT for part 2 of this post. I’ve been really itching to add more greenery to our tiny little apartment to freshen things up, but haven’t found a great place to buy/am a little hesitant to murder those poor innocent plants. They don’t deserve me. I once killed a cactus. A cactus! I am officially less nurturing than a desert. Are there any plants that will flourish under situations of horrendous neglect? I need those ones.

  9. Most of my plants are in the laundry room because there is more sun there than any other room. The overhanging roof from our front porch does not allow in much light so I would have to find plants that can survive on little light. Right now I’m looking for an orchid. They say that they’re easy to grow and SO beautiful!
    Love your plants.

  10. Love this series!
    I just posted a tutorial on springtime terrariums this past Friday.
    Come by and take a peek.

  11. I tend to overwater succulents, but you’ve found the magic formula that keeps them going and that’s terrific! You mentioned placing “a terracotta tray thing” beneath your plant near your TV. Terracotta will absorb water and do as much damage to your paint finish as the pot, so I suggest you select plastic or paint several coats of Thompson Waterseal inside terracotta if that’s your choice. I’ve divided my Kimberly ferns in half each Spring and now have 8. Try it.

  12. I buy palm trees from Lowe’s every year for our front porch. And they are seriously $13.00 a piece. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT??? I have also bought them for a surprise makeover I did on my sister’s bedroom, just re-potted it into a beautiful basket. She says it’s twice a big now and almost taking over their room. So I know anyone could get them to live, very low-maintenance!
    I think real plants bring so much life to any home, big or small!

  13. I love, love, love plants! I think they can make that final little touch in a room. You have a beautiful home.

  14. Yay! I’m so glad you wrote this post. My thumb is so brown its ridiculous. I’ve gotten plants as gifts before and the poor things died on me. And now that it’s march I’ve been itching to get some more but afraid I will just kill them. This year will be different tho! After seeing your post im more determined to own living plants. I will try to make my thumb a pretty green color :-)

  15. Pride and Prejudice! Nice choice. :D And oh, um, I like having plants in my house. Most of them live in my kitchen where I remember to water them. I have a green thumb unless I’m pregnant in which case it’s the brownest of browniest shades.

  16. I love this post. I’m in the mood to add more plants to our house, but want to do it in a way that they compliment the space…not add clutter. Can’t wait to see where you get all your pots! I like to give my plants hair cuts. It seems to keep them stronger, fuller and healthier.

  17. Every home needs plants, they just add so much. I have noticed that of the different blogs I go to about home/DIY and the like, not many have plants. It’s odd.

  18. I love love love this post! I have NO greenery in our house. I’m scared to be honest. I love the plants from IKEA. I think I’ll be adding some green in our decor thanks to this post! Can’t wait for the next post….

  19. ashleigh says

    Hey – I love plants as well! I have been trying to find on your site how you repainted your blue/white table in the living room. I have a dining table that is the same “butcherblock” and want to refinish it. Do you have tips or an old post on that? Thanks!

  20. I go through plant phases. My sister has lots around her house and encouraged me to try. She said, “Plants are much cheaper than flowers.” He trick was to buy a plant and then buy a fancy pot that is just the right size as the new pot. For little to no investment, I can swap out the plants if I happen to choose ones that are not as hearty. I’m a big fan of peace lilies. Those plants respond well to neglect (IMO). I have forgotten to water and all the leaves droop. I add water and they perk right up.

  21. Let’s pretend for a moment…
    that I didn’t have a head-on car crash with a recovery which prevented me from walking upstairs to water – or even think about – the plants.

    We’ll just pretend that didn’t happen…
    And, all the plants didn’t die.

    You see, I had the following, flourishing and even needing to be split:
    – a plant my sis sent me for my tonsilectomy in 1993
    – the two plants I bought for the office of my first “real job” in 1994
    – a plant a co-worker found in the trash and brought over to my cubicle
    – and, my Mom’s plants…and she’s been gone for over a decade.

    Oh, well.
    The great news is I survived the car accident. (Thank you, God.)
    Now, I’m thinking about starting an herb garden :)
    ~ Dana

  22. I have been waiting for this post! Yes! I can’t wait to add touches of “life” to our home!

  23. Great topic, I’ve been thinking about platns lately. How I have only 3 and need more. How I’ll keep them alive, since I have known to be a plant killer.

    I am in need of much advice!

  24. GAH! I Love seeing all of the peeks into your home…what a FUN casa! I’m new here, so don’t mind me!

  25. I have collected all sorts of vintage Hager planters in earth tones from the thrift stores and keep them all over my home filled with plants. Simple, inexpensive, and keeps me content with my decor because they are alive and growing.

  26. I used to have lots of plants all over my home and then when we moved, somehow we got rid of them and I never replaced them. I only have a few now. I have been thinking of getting some new plants and then you posted this and I feel really inspired to get back my green thumb. I have been “houseplanting” since I was little. I used to bring home plants all the time for my mom. (I think I drove her crazy with them all) but I think she actually learned to like them. They are good for the air quality in your home also. A great bonus! Thank you for this.

  27. MR. DARCY!

    Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. That’s my favorite scene from the movie.

    I’m working on adding more plants to our house. One of my dogs is a chewer, and I have to plan around her habit of de-forestation. Philodendrons placed on tall things work well at our house.

    • Crystal S says

      I am glad I am not the only one who noticed that, lol. I am all about then houseplants until I saw Keira Knightly and the Bennet’s in the background. MR. DARCY, indeed ;) The Nester loves Napoleon Dynomite AND P&P? I swear she is my long-lost twin ;)

  28. I love plants, but my cats eat them and then yack them back up all over the house. Specifically the carpet. In fact, they will RUN from the laminate to the carpet to leave their little deposits. Yuck! I haven’t had plants in the house for the last 12 years. *soverysad*

  29. I have had two plants in my home. The first one got eaten by my cat…seriously, When i went to bed there was a plant and when I awoke there was no plant, just a pot of dirt (& later discovered poor kitty had gotten sick on the bathroom floor…yuck).
    Plant number two, I found my toddler uprooting it while I was making dinner.
    So I’ve decided to save myself the stress and wait until a different time.

  30. I’m willing to admit that I have a green thumb. I started with plants that were ‘hard to kill’ and worked up from there. It’s easiest for me when I mark out one day a week (Monday for me,) when I group certain chores together. On Mondays, I dust, vacuum, and water my plants. They get water once a week, faithfully, and lots of light. And sometimes, I talk to them….ok, I know, that’s a little creepy….but it got to be a habit. HAHA

  31. I love how many plants you have in your home! I noticed that you had lots of plants…but when you put them all into one post…you have A LOT of plants! Over the past year, your home and use of plants has inspired me to bring some indoor plants into my home. I love plants in our yard…but they were being kept alive by automatic sprinklers! I am happy to now know that indoor plants don’t take nearly as much work as long as I water every few weeks/months.

    I love having some real life in the house, besides me and hubby! But what I really love is that green is an otherwise color I do not always gravitate towards too when decorating my home…but with the plants it has sort of forced me to embrace it a little more and I really love it! It adds good contrast to my normal ways of gravitating towards blues and pinks {like you!}.

    I have found that an easy way to keep the plants alive and happy is to put them near sunlight. Some are by windows but I also put many of my plants by lamps. They love the extra exposure to light!

    Now I might sound like a green thumb snob here, but just a few years ago, I knew nothing about plants! But through time and learning, it really isn’t that hard! I think it is like anything…say cooking. Many people say they do not know how…but given the time and resources, anyone can learn! Now if you don’t want to have a green thumb…or cook…that is a different story!

    Very much looking forward to reading more about your plants and tips!!! xo

  32. Don’t know if you’ll get to this comment seeing as you have so many! But I was just wondering what the height of your dresser was silly question I know. However i just got an old dresser for 5 dollars and so I thought it was worth it to try and repaint it, I brought it in and it just seems so short. Trying to think of ways to make it taller?

    • if you love it, keep it, I have dressers in every height and I’m sure you can find a great place for it–if it’s not on legs home improvement centers actually sell legs that you can attach. My dresser for where the TV is is the same height as an average table that you eat at.

  33. I have a ponytail tree! I love it! I have had it since my sophomore year of college, which would make it 7 years old. So I think they have a long life span. I rarely water him. He’s pretty forgiving. :)

  34. I love your comment about making it feel like spring without the plastic chickens… plants are the best way to do that and I’m so inspired to go pick up a couple! Thanks Nester!

  35. Yep. Black thumb here. I can’t even keep aloe vera alive. To be honest, I haven’t even tried for years since I killed a giant peace plant my husband was given when he pastored his first church. After reading your post, though, I’m feeling like giving it a try again. :)

  36. Don’t you hate it when you bring home a plant and then end up with little flying bugs in the house?
    What is the solution for that?

  37. I scour Lowes for their clearance “I’m too pitiful for anyone to actually buy me” plants, and bring them home. They seem to thrive on neglect which is a good thing. It is so nice having living things (besides the boys and the occasional spider) around. Can’t wait for post 2!
    Thanks for the cord ideas, my husband makes fun of my cord aversion. :)

  38. I love this subject and so glad you are posting about it….I have been making an effort to put plants in each room of our home….still working on it….>I have found the trick is the plant chooses the room and spot…….I have killed a number of ivy plants…Love them…..I am proud to say I still have one growing on a topiary form… loves the spot it is in…..I don’t dare move it! My two favorites are a succulent wreath I started 30 minutes before we left for our family trip to Florida last year (a days drive)….I I few bit the dust but I am just going to grab a few more and stick them in the dead spots…. My second favorite is a Christmas cactus that i received 2 …maybe 3 years ago for a Christmas exchange……..the more I necglect it the prettier it gets… is blooming now!

  39. I love having real greenery in my home, all year long. It’s just so fun watching them grow and little babies popping up. I am dying to try terrariums. I just bought a new orchid, we will see how it goes. I can’t wait to see part duex!

  40. Wow. That’s a lot of plants. Can’t wait to hear:
    1. how not to kill every plant I bring home.
    2. how to have plants and small children happily coexisting in our home. I think a potted plant on the floor would look great but know it would get dug up continually by my 2 year old, 3 year old, and their baby brother who is on the way.

    Of course, I don’t baby-proof our house so maybe I could apply the same principles to the plant… just teach them to leave it the heck alone.

    Anyway. Looking forward to part 2.

  41. My son was peering over my shoulder as I read this post. When I got to the picture of your “fella”, he piped up:
    “Mom, that’s weird. Maybe if they take off the mask that would make it less weird. Yeah, that would be better. Is that your friend? You should tell her.”
    He’s FOUR.

  42. Miracle gro, half strength when you water. Water the plants in the tub and let the water flow out the bottom of the pots so you don’t get salt build up. Mist or rinse off the leaves gently while they are in the tub. Leave for an hour or so to drain/dry and always use a cachepot or saucers to protect your furnishings. Re-pot when you bring home and yearly there after. I love all of the miracle gro soil mixes too. Philodendrons, angel wing begonias, christmas cactus, spider plants, succulents, are all easy and ferns if you have some humidity in the house. That is my adivice for making everyone believe you have a green thumb.

  43. I love real live plants in a home! Creeping fig and succulents are some of my faves. AND I’m a firm believer that you can buy plants on the cheap just like anything else – the Lowe’s clearance racks are awesome :) Can’t wait to read your next post on this! Thanks for sharing.

  44. Amanda H. says

    I’ve tried to keep different plants around the house. They have all met an unfortunate demise. I feel like “Darla” in Finding Nemo… All of the plants are hoping to not come home with me. My mother once “bought me” a violet plant, but then never sent it home with me because it was too pretty to kill. Looking forward to your tips!

  45. I love this post. I love plants. In the work environment, I have no problem growing them- well, when I had an office job. Now I teach and have tried growing plants in my room, but there’s little natural light. They don’t fair too well. :(

    In my home, I’ve tried and had a great pachyra (Money tree) that grew pretty tall until the cat started to pee in it and the dog ate the leaves. I love spider plants and ferns. I actually have hung them from the ceiling in my kitchen (saves room on the wall and floor for other things) in front of the window. I just stink at watering and hubby really doesn’t like live plants. However, I am growing my herb garden with my 2 year old in the kitchen. I just bought the seeds and today is planting day (perfect timing Nester). We’ll see how this goes. I would love to do a terrarium (we have old aquariums that could be fun to do this with! Succulents would be good too. The other problems – toddler who pulls on plants, dogs who eat plants, and hubby who hates them. Yes, there is the dirt and water problem too. I look forward to post 2.. :)

    • for some reason my herb gardens always die, but that doesn’t stop me from trying again this year, it’s next on my list, hope yours flourishes!

  46. Fabulous post and beautiful home. I have green living plants in our family room. They add so much texture and life to a room. The Peace Lily has gotten so big and I have repotted it three times. It’s in the largest pot they make. Wonder if I can divide it? And you can never go wrong with philodendrons. They almost live in the dark. And I have taken cuttings off of mine and started more. I don’t always comment but visit often. I enjoy your blog so much.

  47. I just finished creating Resurrection Eggs for my kiddos. I made one in your honor. Thank you for inspiring me.

  48. For us “brown thumbs” Lucky Bamboo is a great option. Minimal care with great green color and interesting texture!

  49. I have made a valiant attempt to replace silk plants with real-live plants. I have lost leaves every day on a $75 plant, near death and have a new bug on another big guy. I’m ready to throw in the towel!

  50. We used to be HORRIBLE at keeping plants alive. Now if they die we just throw them out and don’t buy that kind :)

    I love peace lilies because they thrive in low light and can bring life to a dark corner.

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