If you love plants you want to have some in your house. Houseplants are known to improve the mood of people in rooms with them. They clean the air in homes. But the limitation that many people have is having enough space for all the houseplants they want to keep. With a few clever tricks you can double the space you have in the house to grow houseplants.
Most public buildings now incorporate indoor landscapes into their building design. You can too. Group houseplants to make them look more natural and think about varying textures and foliage colors just as you vary your outside landscaping. Weeping or hanging plants can be intertwined with upright spiky plants and full bushy ones.
Making the most of window space
Window sills just don’t have enough space for the average plant lover. You can add a table in front of the window to increase space for plants. Use tripod type plant stands on top of the table, putting plants in them and under them to double the space for plants. Aquarium stands are sturdy and about the right height to fit under windowsills without being too wide. You can often find them at garage sales. You may need to place a board across the top of them to hold plants.
You can also put a shelf half way up the window to double your houseplant space. If the window is tall two or more shelves could be added. You can add shelves by putting shelf brackets on both sides of the window and putting a shelf across them. You can use pre-painted wooden shelves or wire shelves that are often sold for bathroom or garage storage.
If you have enough plants in the window curtains for privacy probably aren’t needed. Curtains just collect dust anyway. But if you feel the need to add curtains for privacy, set your plant shelf half way up the window or higher and install the curtains below them. Since the shelf brackets will hold the shelf out from the window, blinds could be fitted inside the window frame, behind the shelves of plants to provide privacy when needed.
For door walls and picture windows where a shelf across the span wouldn’t be practical, consider plant stands or sets of plant stands that allow you to “stack” plants in the window. A step ladder can be used as a big plant stand. Paint a 5-6 foot stepladder an attractive color and place it sideways in front of a window. Use the steps for plants. Large floor plants can go in the center of the ladder or you can hang a hanging basket in the center. Two ladders back to back with the open area in the middle of the window will give you lots of attractive growing space.
You can also add a small shelf bracket to the center of the top window frame and hang a nice plant in a basket from it. The bracket moves the pot out from the window a bit. Ceiling hooks can also be installed near windows to hang plants on but make sure they are heavy duty brackets and preferably anchored in a ceiling stud. There are hooks that fit over the tracks that suspended ceiling tiles rest on but these hooks and the tracks will support only lightweight pots.
Not just the windowsill
Houseplants need sufficient light for their growth and the amount of light they need varies by the type of plant. There are many houseplants that don’t need to be restricted to the window sill. Plants that need lower light levels will also do well in spots farther from windows, on tables or stands or even in large floor pots. If you can read a book there the spot will be fine for some type of plant.
If you have a regular source of artificial light you can probably place a plant there. Office lights that are on 8-10 hours a day or more are a good example. Many plants that thrive in low light will do well in offices or on desks that aren’t near a window.
In general the closer to a source of artificial light the plants are the better they will do. Place plants on top of file cabinets and under desk lamps. Light colored walls and reflective surfaces increase the light available to plants also. You might want to consider replacing a regular light bulb in a desk lamp with a grow light bulb. As well as better light for plants the light is easy on human eyes.
Good plants for low light levels are sanseveria (snake plants), spider plants, pothos, philodendron, aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen), aspidistra ( Cast Iron Plant), dracaena, fittonia, hedera (English ivy), and asplenum (birds nest fern).
There are commercial grow light stands but these can seem unnatural looking for plants in the home. They are great for starting plants or growing hobby plants in an unused room. But you could incorporate a grow light fixture under a shelf in a bookcase and situate plants on the shelf below it. Or if you have track lighting put a grow light bulb in the light fixture closest to a plant.
Keep a grow light stand or a window in an unused room to hold plants that need a little extra time and attention to look good. This can also be a place to start seeds and cuttings. Plants can be rotated from poor light conditions to under the grow light or in the “hospital” window to keep them healthy.
Having trouble with your cat or dog destroying houseplants? Place the plant in a decorative bird cage. You can hang the caged plant or put it on a stand. You can find old cages at garage sales and resale shops. Have a drafty area where you want to place plants? Place them in a fish bowl, large glass jar or fish tank for an instant terrarium. If you have a very warm area that dries out most plants, consider cacti. If you have a plant that gets dry leaf tips because the humidity is low locate it in the bathroom, laundry room or over the kitchen sink. Locating it near an aquarium can also help. Or since dry air is also bad for you, consider adding a home humidifier.
There is always room for a houseplant in every home and office. Keep plants groomed and healthy looking. Don’t be afraid to prune houseplants that grow too large or lopsided or which have yourbecome lanky and bare. You'll love the feel of a lush indoor landscape and your family and guests will too.
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