Monday, December 19, 2011

When you can't go outside

I've made a realisation recently - I feel 99% better whenever I can go outside and potter around the garden. It doesn't matter what is on my plate, any particular worries or stresses can be taken outside and worked out amongst the greenery. I can't explain why, it just works for me. My garden is my therapy.

But what happens when you can't go outside because of bad weather or you're feeling sick? It's taken me far too long to realise the remedy, and that is to bring the outside, indoors. Of course I don't want to spend a lot of money in the process, so I started looking around the house for containers I could use. Here's an old vase or Saki bottle (I'm not sure which) with an unusual plant saved from a garden clean-up at Sarah's school.

All I've done is fill the bottle with water and the plant's roots are growing inside. Not very difficult to maintain either. I've grown many plants successfully like this before. I will have to find the name of this plant as it's very beautiful and loves the light position next to the window.

I also have another plant I've given similar treatment too, only this one is green. It was also rescued from a garden clean-up effort and quite likes the light it has in this position. Summer brings wonderful light into the house.

It sits in another rustic bottle - oh dear, I have to admit to collecting quite a few (bottles that is) and you can even see more in the background. But I'm happy to have found a lovely use for them. All you need is a plant that will strike roots in water and doesn't mind low nutrients. It's embarrassing how simple it is. But I also had a few other plants I wanted to find new homes for. Again, I consulted my brick-a-brac tucked away in the cupboards and stumbled across a dainty ceramic container.

Do you think I could find a plastic pot small enough to sit in it though? I didn't want to plant straight into the ceramic dish, as it didn't have any drainage holes - solution, put one inside that does have them. I searched all my containers outside but everything was either too tall or too wide. I even resorted to searching my daughter's room, as she's known to use old yogurt containers for storage. Anything I did find however, didn't fit either. As you can see in the picture above, I found the solution inside my kitchen pantry - the plastic container our muffin cases come in. A few holes poked in the base, and it was ready to go!

I planted a fern in it, rescued from the renovations at my husband's work place. The roof and gutters were being replaced, and when the workmen lifted the old gutters down, there were ferns growing happily inside them. Dave rescued some and they're now living on my kitchen bench - along with another plant I collected from our garden: Hostas. I had to cut them back because they were leggy being in a shaded position outside. They should re shoot fairly quickly though. I didn't even have to buy the ceramic pot plant for the Hostas either - that came with a free cutting I received from my mum. The saucer was from a promotional cup and saucer I rarely use.

Gosh, I'm starting to sound like an old plant lady I remember visiting when I was growing up. She had plants in everything from metal cans to old tea pots with broken handles. All these indoor plants have actually brought back a lot of memories from my childhood. We used to live in flats growing up and when it was too wet or cold to go play outside, I remember playing with my mother's pot plants. She use to have palms with little ornaments adorning a few. I would use them to play under the palms, imagining I was outside playing in a jungle.

Would you believe I still have one of those wonderful ornaments? Of course, it's a frog, what else? My mum gave it to me one day and it's come on many adventures with me since. Even my own daughter has been known to play with old froggy. Boy that little ornament has been very adventurous - I think I'll resume frog back to pot plant duty, as was his original calling.

My favourite arrangement at the moment would have to be these native gingers and a little ground cover I don't know the name of. It's very prolific around Brisbane and other parts of South-East Queensland. I think Dave grabbed a handful from his sister's place (in Brisbane) and it loves the shady places in our garden - spreading well and covering the soil.

I did buy the native gingers, but they were actually destined for the garden. I hadn't managed to get them all planted however, and thought why not try them indoors instead? They're actually growing bigger inside than outside.

What I like about bringing all these new plants in doors, is they can help purify the air. I don't have many plants at this stage and many of them are still small, but I've enjoyed the process of recycling storage containers and propagating plants in a new way. It's not that hard, it's relatively cheap and there are plants that don't need much attention at all. I did buy a bag of potting mix to do much of this, but I also added some home grown compost to make it go further.

Do you like bringing plants indoors and have you used some unusual containers to plant them in?


  1. I love your rustic bottles and all the plants. I've seen that purple one before and can't remember its name.

    Not much luck with houseplants I'm afraid! I have an aloe and a mother in laws tongue and a pathos- all gifts. All struggling to stay alive!

  2. Plants indoors have mold spores in the dirt that suffocate me, along with the dirt, fine particulates. I guess the unclean air is better than wheezing. Froggy is really cute. I thought I could not grow indoors. Husband was always harassing me about my never taking care of plants. Finally, in a rage toward the end of our marriage, he said he always watered all the plants each day because I was letting them die, but no matter how hard he tried, he could not water them enough to overcome my neglect...LOL.,.so he drowned all my plants over the years. Anything green--I can make it grow indoors or out.

  3. I have decided we will call that plant, the purple one. ;)

    Mother in laws tongue is a reputed "unkillable" in the plant world. Do you think it's struggling with the lower inside temperatures?

    The biggest killer of pot plants I've had in the past was either over or under watering. I actually remember a really good tip my mum used to use in the flat. She put put all the pot plants in the shower once a week and left it on for a few minutes.

    It cleaned the dust off the leafs so they could photosynesis and stopped the soil from drying up. She had a remedy for completely dry pots too: soaking the entire pot in a bucket of water for an hour. The water had to cover all the soil surface.

    We had lovely plants in the flat. :) I hope I can carry on the tradition, but I wish I could help more with your plants. I wonder if they need a new spot?

    I'm still new at keeping pot plants

  4. I hear you with the dirt particles Linda. The trick is to have a good bark based potting mix - there are even ones you can buy that have no soil at all. The only problem with those ones is you can never let them go dry, or they set like concrete!

    We get mould spores inside the house anyway, because we need to improve our house's ventilation. It helped when we put vents on top of the roof, but we also need some in the walls to improve air circulation.

    Always a work in progress isn't it. I can understand if the spores are bad enough to trigger allergies in you though. Best to prevent them. :)

  5. Chris, right now they are in the kitchen which is the only place that isn't under construction. They get adequate light but seem to dislike the dry heat that we humans need to survive this winter. I looked again at the aloe. I think it needs to be repotted in fresh soil. I bet they all need to be fed but we don't have anything on hand. I will look to see if I can buy a bag of potting soil but this time of year, these things are scarce around here!
    I will keep watering too. I underwater if anything.

  6. Hi Chris, thanks for commenting on my blog. I feel the same when I miss out on gardening time, especially in winter. I don't know if I mentioned it anywhere, but we used to live in Hatton Vale before we moved to Nanango. I miss the Lockyer Valley, it was so convenient to Brisbane, but nice and rural, however we were both commuting to work 1 hr each way, so that wasn't very nice! Now at least we're close to work. I have similar issue to you with our bizarre climate in Nanango, in summer we get the heat and humidity and in winter we get heavy frosts, its hard to know what to grow! Cheers, Liz

  7. Hi Farmer Liz, yes Hatton Vale is one of those hot spot areas which are growing fast. We're actually closer to Toowoomba than Brisbane, but a lot of the land in between share similar features.

    I know what you mean about the travelling though, as Dave has a 30 minute drive into Toowoomba for work. When he use to work near Plainlands, it was a 40 minute drive!

    I admire your cow keeping skills and hope your farming aspirations keep growing. Thanks for stopping by. :)

  8. Hi again LindaM, it would be good if you could re-pot them but your mother in laws tonuge may surprise you if it does die, because they can reshoot even when they look dead.

    Finger's crossed it makes it through the winter, so you can repot and pamper it then. :)


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