Houseplant Spa Day


Houseplant Spa Day

Hello friends! Did you survive the arctic blast?

I laid in plenty of food and we broke out the old book of card games to help stave off cabin fever.

Honestly, I think we were in such great need of down-time after the holidays. We really relished the unexpected gift of time together – cleared of school, activities, and even church. 

Despite the freezing cold (-50 to -60 counting wind chill), the sun came out each day.

Sonny was quick to go outside to do his business. But, like us, he took this time to completely unwind.

Sonny by the deck door

To me, January has always been a month for houseplants.

When the Christmas tree comes down, I replace the loss of greenery by infusing new life into my houseplants.

So, with the unexpected gift of time, I gathered up all my houseplants for their annual Houseplant Spa Day.

To quote PJ, “The party was on“.

Yesterday morning, the kids had to share the breakfast table with the houseplants…

houseplant breakfast

Is there anything like a glass of OJ among freshly pampered plants?

I mean, truly… doesn’t toast and jam taste better next to sparkling clean houseplants?

houseplant with toast

And, I love taking care of my houseplants as an entire collection.

It takes a few hours, but I find it completely relaxing and life-giving.

It’s an opportunity to mix and match – for some to go back to their original place, while others get put in entirely new spots around the house.

Sadly, this little guy had an insect issue.

A thorough wash helps keep infestations under control.

houseplant aphids

I like to fill the sink with luke warm water and a little mild dish soap. (I really think the key is luke warm water).

Then, it’s dunkin’ time.

If the plant shows signs of insects, I fully submerge it for a minute or two.

houseplants bath in the sink

As I learned from Greenhouse Guru Shane Smith, sharp streams of water go a long way to eradicating pests.

houseplants sharp streams of water

Don’t forget to hit the pots, saucers and baskets as well.

dont forget saucers

Check out the thorns on this Crown of Thorns plant. Ouch.

washing crown of thorns

I let everybody drip dry (right next to my jelly roll pan, I see…)

houseplants drip dry

After some haircuts, these guys look good as new.  

(I thought I’d keep the dusty-leafed BEFORE PHOTOS private. It’s just too humiliating for them… and me.)

glorious green

Even the cloche’s get a rinse…

polish up cloches

And, the plant accessories, rocks, and figures – like this wee, little, froggy

wash garden art

Honey, can you check in the paper to see if anyone needs some Christmas cactus cuttings?

(Phil’s trying to pretend the kitchen isn’t overrun with plants.)

You should see the floor.

The front of my shirt doesn’t look too smashing right now, either.

january plant exchange

Folks in cold climates love succulents and cactus of all kinds.

But, don’t forget that no plant can flourish if they’re caked in dust or if you never water them….  

Look at this beauty now that she’s all spiffed up.  (Mini-urns are perfect for these types of plants!)

small urns

And, no spa day is complete without taking cuttings for friends.

I don’t like my plants to get too leggy or overgrown.

The Christmas Cactus and my African Violets are getting pruned and the cuttings are going to friends this Friday.

sunshine on houseplants

When it comes to containers, smaller is better.

A 3-4″ pot with some character is my preference.

We’ve all nurtured plants past their prime.

I’ve had a 10 foot ficus, a pathos wrapped thrice around the top of my entertainment center, and an aloe that had leaves bigger than my arm.

Who has that kind of space?

Those overgrown plants are energy zapping, cumbersome, decorating no-no’s.

Instead, here’s a beautiful 3″ crackle pot that cost under $5 at a nursery.

Hard to beat the beauty or the price on this baby.

Heck, you can even repurpose it when you’re done planting in it.

love crackle pots

I can’t decide what I like better… the succulent houseplant or the powdered sugar donut holes? Thoughts?

succulent houseplant

I do love cactus.

But, after my plant thorn surgery, I really fear getting stuck.

My solution? I prune off the thorns near the base of the plant so that I can handle it more safely.

scones and houseplants

Here’s another tip for houseplants – pot them in teams of two.

Usually, I find the competition in the pot to be a little incentive for one to take over the other. Call it plant psychology.

The runt gets culled out and the winning plant seems to have more swagger than if she’d started off alone.

To the victor goes the spoils – or, in this case – the container.

team of two plantings

One of my favorite houseplants is my hoya.

I’ve had my hoya for nearly 20 years. I got her as a gift from a co-worker (Rita) who was battling cancer. Rita gifted all her plants during her last week on the job.

So, Rita (my hoya) is pretty special to me.

Hoya’s really benefit from a thorough soak and spray down.

hoya far shot

The blooms are so spectacular.

I mean, come on. Does this even look real?

hoya closeup

This is another hoya variety I bought in the fall. I love the yellow flowers on the end of the stems.

yellow hoya soak

The folds make the blooms and the leaves look like little green and yellow bananas.

yellow bloom closeup

Fifteen years into motherhood, I’m totally enchanted with the way succulents grow – with the babies next to the parents and the grandparents.

succulents in winter

I just know this little guy will really appreciate the sunshine on the sill of the South window right behind Phil’s chair.

houseplants on Phil's windowsill

I realize it’s super cold – but I can’t help enjoying the change of seasons.

I embrace the respite from the demands of a large outdoor garden.

Besides, there’s still plenty of gardening that can be done – even on the coldest winter day.

I doubt if I would appreciate my houseplants as much as I do without the cold and snow of January…new growth

For that, I am grateful.

Still growing...

Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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1 Comment

  1. CSG on January 9, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Inspired tobe more attentive to my houseplants.

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