How to Add Greenery to a Space

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Back in October, I was on the explore page of Instagram and ended up on the account of the cutest L.A.-based couple, Molly and Daniel (aka Pop Up Greens), who hand paint gorgeous pots for plants (plant included). Their awesome designs are featured at local businesses all around L.A., and I was immediately smitten. I knew I'd want to do some custom pieces for the Cupcakes and Cashmere offices downtown, which, as an industrial loft layout, is in desperate need of some plant life to warm up the space. We're still chugging along with getting the office fully furnished and decorated (we'll be sharing the reveal later this year), but we had Molly stop by for a consult and learned a ton in just in a few minutes - she was full of fascinating facts you might not consider as it pertains to indoor plants.

I personally don't know much about the topic - including what the options even are beyond the ubiquitous Fiddle Leaf Fig, how to best care for them, and more - so we thought it would be helpful to have Molly share some of her tips and tidbits. Consider this your cheat sheet to bringing greenery into your place. 

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Hi guys! Molly from Pop Up Greens here. Daniel and I recently got back from Unique L.A., a massive market where we sold our potted plants, and we were asked the same questions by people again and again. It might seem fairly basic - the kind of thing you learn in elementary school science class - that plants need water and light, but there are some smaller details you might not think of (like how important the size of the pot is) that can help keep your plants thriving for the long haul, no green thumb required. 

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TOP THREE REASONS TO ADD PLANTS TO YOUR PLACE

1. It enhances your décor. Adding greenery to any room instantly livens up the space and adds color and texture. If your casa is full of neutrals, place the plant in a bright pot for a fun pop of color.

2. They purify the air. Indoor air pollution is actually a huge hazard to our health. Plants increase oxygen levels and remove toxins from the air from furnishings, finishes and household cleaners.

3. Plants make people happy! Having indoor plants can provide a calmer environment making you feel more optimistic, and contribute to your overall well being.

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PLANTS WITH BENEFITS

Split Leaf Philodendron
Purifies air and removes formaldehyde. 
Tip: Place near crafting areas or in new or renovated homes with fresh paint, new floors, etc.

Snake Plant
Purifies air and removes nitrogen oxide produced by fuel-burning appliances.
Tip: Place in kitchens or rooms with wood stoves. 

Peace Lily
Removes mold from air.
Tip: Place in bathrooms or damp areas of the home.

Aloe Vera
Gel inside the plant soothes skin inflammation caused by sunburn. Tip: Cut a long stem off, cut in half and squeeze the gel directly on the skin. Place remaining stem into the freezer for an extra cooling effect.

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A PLANT'S HAPPY PLACE

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BRIGHT LIGHT | South Facing Room with Lots of Windows|

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MEDIUM LIGHT | East or West Facing Room|

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LOW LIGHT | North Facing Room |

WHERE TO BUY

Purchase houseplants from your local nursery rather than at a big box retailer. They often offer healthier plants, usually pesticide free, and have been taking care of them for some time. They are usually fully acclimated to the region rather than just having been shipped from another state and put out onto the sales floor. The staff at your local nursery will be educated in any plant-related questions and can help teach you about your new plant. Sure, the nursery's prices may be a bit higher, but in the long run it’s a much smarter investment.

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CHOOSING A POT FOR YOUR PLANT

Size does matter! If the pot is too small for your indoor plant, it will dry out more quickly and become root-bound without extra room to grow. If the pot is too large, it requires more dirt and water than it needs which can lead to root rot. To find the pot that’s juuuust right, choose a pot that is one size larger in diameter than the existing pot. For example, if the plant is in an 8-inch plastic container, upsize to a 10-inch pot.
 
Make sure you choose a pot with a hole in bottom for excess water to drain out. If water collects at the bottom of the pot, it can cause root rot- a sure way to kill your plant. Because of the drainage hole, you will need a saucer for your pot to protect your wood floor or carpet. We recommend using a clay saucer that matches your pot. If you don’t like the way that looks, or you don’t want to spend the extra cash, you can purchase a clear plastic tray to place under the plant during each watering.

Of course you may come across the pot of your dreams with no drainage hole. If you are hell-bent on still purchasing, try putting rocks at the bottom before the soil to help soak up the extra water.

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COMMON PLANT PROBLEMS + THE ANSWER 

Your plant is leaning.

If it’s leaning toward the window or the light source, it’s craving some sunshine. Push it closer to the window and spin it around so it balances out.

Your plant’s leaves are wilting.

It’s thirsty! Give that bad boy some good ol’ H20; just be careful not to drown it. Start with small amounts of watering every other day or so and it should perk back up although it may take a few days to notice a difference. Make sure to empty the saucer in between waterings. 

Your plant’s leaves are falling off.

If the leaves are at the bottom, this is usually normal. Often times, the oldest leaves are now at the bottom and it may be getting too heavy, so it drops the extra weight. Unless multiple leaves are dropping at a time, there’s no need to worry. If a handful of leaves are dropping, it can mean the plant is too dry or overwatered. Make sure it’s not near the A/C or heater, which can dry it out, or that the saucer isn’t full of water. 

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EXTRA CREDIT

If possible, capture rainwater in a bucket outside to water your plants. Plants thrive best with natural sources of water.

Every so often, wipe down the leaves of each plant with a damp cloth to ensure its best absorption of air particles and toxins. Plus it keeps them bright and shiny!
 
If you have pets, keep your furry friends safe by researching what types of plants are toxic for your animal before making any purchases, and just in general, consider keeping plants on higher tables or shelves so they’re out of reach for those pesky paws.

POP UP GREENS
@popupgreens
popupgreens.co

Illustrations by Kayla Coleman of A Wilder Kind