The Christmas decorations are taken down and put away. Does the house feel oddly empty and not as bright? Bitter temperatures and wild winds have left their artifacts. Limbs of all sizes litter the yard. Tiresome Covid is still with us.
If this scenario sounds familiar, pack up that negativity and put it out to the curb. You are the Queen/King of your castle. It is time to reclaim your throne. Use houseplants to create an oasis of beauty and welcome the return of your joie de vivre.
For indoor decorating using houseplants, these are some things I have done in the past to boost the effect of the display.
— Match the plants to their purpose. Is the plant display for your own enjoyment, or are you hosting a wedding or another social event? If it is for you, use your favorites. If it is for a social occasion, use plant materials that go with the occasion, or go by what the "honorees" want. A wedding may not be all white any more. Pastels, even brights and darks, are now popular with some folks. Unless they say “you choose,” allowing for their desires is the wise way to go. When the event is over you can change the display to whatever suits you.
— To get the most effect from the least amount of plant material, set the plants on small, flat mirrors. If there is a large mirror in back of the plants, or a wall full of mirrors in assorted sizes, this will also help in making the display appear larger and it will reflect light. Tea lights around the bases of individual plants will show each plant's structure and bring an added dimension to the display.
— Artificial silk flowers may be added to plants to enhance the desired color scheme. I prefer real flowers in water tubes, inserted into the potting soil. It is hard to beat real flowers.
— Potted plants and cut flowers in clear or colored glass vases blend well in a display. Underwater lights can be inserted into the vases, making a lovely, unique presentation.
— Buy quality plant and flower materials. They will have extended life and beauty and are generally very healthy. Don’t skimp when you buy for yourself. Remember, you are outfitting your castle. You are worth it.
— Using plants and flowers of all the same type and size makes a statement. Using a variety of thoughtfully planned plants and flowers can do the same thing. Take your time and see how they work well together, or do not. You decide.
— Displaying multiple areas of plant and flower materials around the home is very luxurious. If you have the room and funds, go for it. It will be fun and you will certainly get lots of compliments. You can even camouflage some bad areas with plants. Remember, plants and flowers are still cheaper than paint or wallpaper; they're easier to change, too.
— On the practical side: Use saucers or other items — plastic placemats, newsprint, whatever — under the plants to catch excess water and protect furniture surfaces; change the water feeding cut flowers every day, if possible; provide a good natural light source, or artificial light if necessary; rotate plants to keep the growth even and prevent them growing toward the light source; try to group plants that have similar cultural requirements; feed plants per the instructions on the labels they had at purchase and if there are no labels, ask a florist, your local extension service or an experienced garden club member for advice.
— On the healthy side: Plants are excellent air exchangers. They take out many bad things and return oxygen. The more plants you have, the more air exchange you have. Green leaves are very soothing and are a great change from hours in front of a TV or computer screen. The more we use the screen and leave nature out of our lives, the more we need to be with plants and nature. Plants are good for our soul. People have lived with plants since there were people. They are a part of our environment. We need each other.
Lessons in gardening — or lessons in life? I don’t know the answer, since for some of us they are interchangeable.
The bulbs will soon be coming up! Think positive! Garden on!
Master gardener Fredi Stangland resides in Medina.