Good plant care for indoor houseplants doesn’t mean buying expensive tools and products. A lot of the best supplies can be found in your kitchen cupboard, in your bathroom, or even on your head!
We made a list of all the household items you could be using to boost your gardening skills:
Honey makes for a great rooting hormone for propagation cuttings. Dip the end of the stem or leaf into some honey before planting in soil.
Cinnamon can also be used as a rooting hormone! Dip the end of the cutting into some ground cinnamon before planting and this will promote root growth. And yes, you can use both honey and cinnamon on the same cutting if you like.
Putting coffee grounds into the soil will supply your plant with antioxidants, potassium, phosphor and nitrogen – all the good stuff! It is best to put dry coffee grounds in the soil as wet coffee can lead to fungus growth.
Coffee Filter Paper
Use coffee filter paper to line the bottom of the planter before adding the soil and the plant. When it comes to watering time, the paper will prevent soil from coming out the drainage hole and making a mess.
The classic egg shell trick: either use them as seedling starters, or crush the shells up to use in compost.
Apple Cider Vinegar & Dishwashing Liquid
Combine these two kitchen staples to create a bug trap for your houseplants! Check out this blog post on how to catch fungus gnats using this recipe.
Chopsticks or Matchsticks
Chopsticks can be used for many things! Such as creating air pockets in soil, as a support stake for climbing plants, and for checking moisture in the soil.
You can also use matchsticks – and you can even leave them buried in the soil because they are rich in magnesium.
Save your peels, as these can be reused as pest repellent or in compost.
Glass Jars and Bottles
Upcycle your glass jars and bottles for hydroponic gardening or to propagate cuttings.
Green tea contains iron, which plants will absorb if you put into the soil.
Yep! Even your hair can encourage more growth in your plants. Your hair contains magnesium, which plants love. Be mindful if your hair contains dye or other chemicals which could be toxic.
Turn toilet rolls into seedling starters – they are already the perfect size and cost you practically nothing! Toilet rolls are completely biodegradable, so when it’s time to transplant your seedlings into a bigger container or into the garden bed, the cardboard will decompose into the soil. This reduces waste, as well as the transplantation shock and potential root damage.
Full of potassium, banana peels make a great addition to your compost.
Use the ash from your burnt firewood in your plant’s soil. There is plenty of potassium, magnesium and calcium carbonate left in the ash which your plant will soak up and enjoy. The calcium carbonate is especially good as a pH balancer for acidic soil.
How many household items did you tick off this list?
What are fungus gnats? These pests are tiny, dark colored flies that look very similar to a fruit fly or mosquito. They are attracted to rich, moist soil – particularly with organic matter in it.
Adult pests only live up to a week, but in that time they can lay about 300 eggs.. yuck!
Are fungus gnats harmful to houseplants?
There are mixed responses about whether or not fungus gnats are harmful, but some sources say the larvae feed off the roots in the soil, which can lead to root rot. No thanks! Other signs your plant might be suffering from fungus gnats include sudden wilting and yellow leaves.
While they are not harmful to humans, I think I’d prefer not seeing a small cloud of bugs flying around my plant babies. So, how do you get rid of fungus gnats?
This is the easiest homemade pesticide recipe I’ve found on the internet, and it only has 2 ingredients:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dishwashing liquid
I found that those measurements don’t have to be exact. I usually do a splash of the vinegar and a few drops of dishwashing liquid.
Sit the bug trap among your houseplants to easily attract the pests. The sweet smell will draw them in, and they will drown once entering the trap.
You can get a trap full of dead bugs as quickly as overnight, but sometimes it can take up to a week for the fungus gnats to build up.
Set up a few of these bug traps and place them anywhere you see a dense presence of pests. Sometimes just one trap won’t be enough.
A couple of days after placing the bug trap:
This post is for all the cat & plant parents out there! Pets and plants are two elements which can make your house feel like a home, but sometimes the two don’t quite get along.
You’re probably reading this because:
a) you want your plant babies to flourish in peace
b) you want to give your cat the freedom to explore
c) your heart is conflicted because it feels like you can’t have both
I know the feeling.
So how do plants and cats live harmoniously under the same roof?
More specifically, how do you keep your cat from eating your plants?
This is Alfie. We adopted him in May 2019 and he joined our urban jungle. After giving away my toxic plants, I was still nervous about what he would do to the remaining plants. To be honest, I had my fingers crossed he was the type of cat that just didn’t care about plants.
For the most part, it was true!
While he would do a daily round of sniffing the leaves, most plants didn’t appeal to him at all, except for one: the Spider Plant.
Now, the spider plant (chlorophytum comosum) is listed as a non-toxic plant. But I think you’ll agree when I say I would rather this plant live a happy, long life.
I had the feeling he liked this plant so much because its leaves resemble grass. As soon as I realized that, I went and bought seeds to start growing cat grass.
My other spider plant sits on a table among other various indoor plants, so to prevent Alfie from chewing that one too, I simply moved it to the back of the table where he couldn’t reach it, and he seems to leave it alone now.
These two solutions worked out okay for me. But if your cat is cheekier than Alfie, here are some more tips from other cat & plant parents.
Check it out:
- If you can tolerate the smell of vinegar, mix three parts water to one part vinegar and spray this on the leaves. Citrus is also said to be effective.
- Keep all your plants up high in a hanging planter, or a high shelf with no room for a cat to jump onto.
- Give them access to cat grass or catnip plants that they can chew (and enjoy!)
- Keep them busy enough to not even consider plants – such as lots of climbing and scratching posts, toys and access to window sills or the porch.
- Buy fake plants for them to play with, and keep your real plants in a more hidden and secure spot.
- Mix cayenne pepper in water and spray it over the plants. The smell can be strong enough to keep the cat away and it’s safe for your plants.
- Put pine cones on top of the soil
- Or lemon/lime/orange peel
- Use a spray bottle and spritz the cat with water (while they’re in the act of eating a plant) and eventually they will associate their bad behavior with getting sprayed.
- Keep the pathways to window sills and perches clear, so your cat doesn’t knock any plants over on their way to their favorite spot.
So which plants are toxic to cats?
This database by the ASPCA is the most thorough list on the internet, and I use it every time I consider adding a new plant to the collection. Plus, they list both the scientific name and the household name!
If you’re looking for pet-friendly plants to add to your collection (perhaps you need to replace some toxic ones), these are a couple of my favorite Pinterest graphics:
An important note: any plant can make your pet sick if it is consumed too much, as well as the possible consumption of soil and fertilizer. Use this article as a guide only and see your local vet if your pet shows any signs of agitation.
Succulents come in a huge range of shapes and sizes and we have collected some of the weirdest and most fantastic looking in this list. We also did a little research and found some places to purchase them if you live in the USA.
These mysterious little guys are native to Southern Africa. Sometimes called pebble plants or living stones, Lithops have evolved to look like stones as camouflage against hungry pests.
Via Hans Harreveld / Flickr
The leaf markings of any one particular lithop plant change very little from year to year, and no two plants have markings exactly alike!
Where to buy lithops:
These adorable succulents have been growing in popularity recently and for a good reason – the leaves look like tiny jumping dolphins! This plant is a hybrid of the string of pearls plant and the hot dog cactus.
The dolphin succulent originated in Japan and are a little harder to find than the others on this list but many growers have them available.
Where to buy dolphin succulents:
Crassus is a genus of plant that has produced many striking varieties of succulent – one of them is the Crassus Umbella, also known as the ‘wine cup’ succulent. Its main characteristic is the perfoliate leaves which gives it the cup shape. ‘Perfoliate’ is a latin term which literally translates to “with leaves that are pierced.”
They are quite easy to maintain as an indoor houseplant; give it plenty of light and water moderately.
Despite our best efforts we haven’t found any online sources to buy the amazing Crassula Umbella so our advice is to try local growers and plant swap meets. If you find one online let us know!
Haworthia Cooperi Truncata
This juicy little succulent is a favorite among plant parents, mainly due to its translucent, grape-like leaves that grow in a cluster on the top of the plant. These unique leaves are fenestrate leaves (aka window leaf) which allow more light to flow into the center of the plant and increase the photosynthesis area.
Where to buy Haworthia Cooperi Truncata:
Moraea Tortillis or Spiral Grass or is easily recognized by the curly, twisting forms of its leaves. Native only to regions in Namibia and South Africa, this succulent stays low to the ground and is suitable for both indoor pots and outdoor planting. It’s not actually grass, so remember to care for it like a container plant! Granular soil mix, lots of sun and moderate water is what it needs to prevent spiraling out of control!
Where to buy spiral grass:
Which plant can grow up to 150 leaves in a spiral formation? The Aloe Polyphylla! Also known as the Spiral Aloe, this evergreen succulent is also native to South Africa.
Its foliage can grow either clockwise or counterclockwise, and this spiral shape gives the leaves maximum light in a small amount of space. It loves full sun and prefers well draining soil with a sandy or gravelly mixture (such as pumice rock or lava rock).
Where to buy Aloe Polyphylla:
Euphorbia Obesa (Baseball Plant)
This strange succulent doesn’t have a spine or leaves – it’s a solitary plant that grows into a big round ball shape, and sometimes produces odd little flower clusters on the top.
Their origin is in Great Karoo, South Africa, usually 300 to 900 meters above sea level, although over-harvesting is bringing them close to extinction in the wild. To look after this ball of joy, keep it in a sunny position in well draining soil. It likes an occasional drink but keep it dry during the winter.
Where to buy Euphorbia Obesa:
Monilaria obconica (Bunny Succulents)
We’d be hopping mad if we didn’t include the Monilaria obconica in our list! These succulent plants went viral on social media when people realized they look a lot like bunnies. As they grow, the ‘ears’ get longer and they also produce small flowers when they bloom! You might’ve noticed the leaves have small glittering droplets on them, which are storage cells for water during the dry months.
Just like real bunnies, these succulents can be reproduced rapidly. You can either take a cutting or grow from seed. If you’re taking a cutting, make sure it contains at least one branch and a fraction of root from the main body of the plant.
Where to buy bunny succulents:
This little succer is one of three types of succulents from the “Volcanic Echeveria” genus. While its blue and green hues are enough to captivate any plant lover, it also changes color and shape throughout the seasons!
With some TLC, this echeveria can grow up to 18 inches (45 cm) in diameter. To keep this plant happy, be careful not to trap any water in the leaves after watering and remove dead leaves from the bottom when you can.
Where to buy Echeveria Barbillion:
Crassula ‘Buddha’s Temple’
This garden succulent grows in columns, containing thin square-shaped leaves tightly packed together. Its scaly full grown appearance resembles a Chinese temple, which is where it gets its name. Its beautiful silvery green leaves have a white powdery surface to retain moisture as well as protect itself from strong sunlight.
It’s native to South Africa and Mozambique, but you can grow them as indoor houseplants by using cactus compost and placing them in bright, airy conditions. They can grow to 15cm tall, and in summer, they’ll bloom pink flowers on the top!
Where to buy Crassula Buddha’s Temple:
Greenovia dodrentalis (Rose Succulents)
Can’t decide between the beauty of a rose or the everlasting life-span of a succulent? Why not have both! The greenovia dodrentalis, or more commonly named ‘rose succulents’, bloom frequently in clusters and mimic the appearance of rosebuds.
The advantage to these fairytale-esque plants is that they can survive with minimal water in a sunny spot, much like their native habitat in the Canary Islands. To propagate these small succulents, you can take the pups or offsets that are produced over time and plant them in new soil.
Where to buy Greenovia dodrentalis:
Sedum Rubrotinctum ‘Aurora’ (Pink Jelly Bean Succulent)
Possibly one of the easiest succulent plants to grow (no really, you can drop one of the leaves on the ground and it will take care of itself), the Sedum Rubrotinctum ‘Aurora’ is appropriately nicknamed the ‘pink jellybean succulent’ due to its shiny bean appearance.
Its name comes from the vibrant colors witnessed in the aurora borealis (northern lights) and aurora australis (southern lights). Another common name is “Stonecrop”, which stemmed from the joke that only stones need less care than this plant.
How do you get rid of mold growing on the surface of your houseplant soil?
I gotta admit, I’m one of those smothering plant parents that gives a little too much TLC (that is, I have a bad habit of over watering).
This morning I got up to do my usual weekly watering routine, only to find a layer of white mold on the soil of my calathea orbifolia!
Heart broken and distraught (well, for the first 6 seconds), I did some research and found the answer.
So what’s happening?
The white fluffy layer of mold that sits on top of the soil is saprophytic fungus. It’s harmless to both you and your plants, but it’s an indication that your plant needs help with moisture, sunlight and air circulation.
“Only a very small proportion of the thousands of species of fungi in the world can cause disease in plants or animals – these are the pathogenic fungi. The vast majority of fungi are saprophytic, feeding on dead organic material, and as such are harmless and often beneficial. Just occasionally, however, the growth of saprophytic fungi can be a nuisance to the gardener.” – The Royal Horticultural Society
Over watering is usually the culprit for mold on potting soil. When it’s too moist and struggles to dry out quickly enough, the mold will form. It can also appear if your plant isn’t positioned to get enough sunlight and air circulation.
At this point you’re probably asking yourself: is it too late? Am I the worst plant parent ever?
And the answer is, no of course not!
How do I fix it?
Simply grab a spoon and scrape the top of the soil off, and throw it straight into the trash.
Stick your finger an inch or two into the soil to see if it’s still damp. If it is, you might want to check for root rot. Treat rotted roots immediately and repot your plant.
If there’s no root rot but the soil is a bit damp, move your plant to an area where it can dry out – preferably outside in bright and indirect sunlight with air circulation.
And we don’t stop there:
When you bring back inside, there are a couple more things you can do to prevent mold from coming back.
I mixed some apple cider vinegar with water and lightly sprayed the top of the soil. The acetic acid content is what makes vinegar an effective mold killer, however too much can kill your plant.
3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 1 gallon of water is a good ratio.
Be sure to only spray the soil – don’t get any on the leaves!
You can also sprinkle ground cinnamon or baking soda on the top of the soil as a natural anti-fungal treatment.
How do you deal with mold? Leave a comment if you have a different method, or if you tried the solutions above and got some clear results!