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Aglaonema Plant Profile

Aglaonema Plant Profile

A colourful houseplant originating in China, the Aglaonema species is part of the Arecaceae family of plants. Commonly called the Chinese evergreen the Aglaonema is a perfect beginner houseplant, tolerating a wide range of light conditions and home environments. 

See some fast facts about the Aglaonema below. 

Size: Height 40cm-1.2m & width 25-30cm 

Foliage description: Foliage can be bright mottled variations of white, greens, pinks, silver, yellow and cream

Flower description: small spathes may appear on short stems, light green spathes with a white spadix in the centre  

Flowering period: in ideal conditions in summer 

Maintenance: Yellow leaves should be investigated and removed, usually caused by over or under watering or pests. Water your Aglaonema deeply, but allow the soil to dry out between drinks. Suitable for low light positions, a very low maintenance plant.

Preferred climate conditions: Tropical and subtropical to temperate. Mild, protect from frost. 

Susceptibility to pests & diseases & control: Aglaonemas are tough plants but may be susceptible to mealybug, spider mites and scale. Treat with horticultural oils or systemic insecticides. 

Preferred aspects for plant: Shade in the garden or bright indirect light indoors. Aglaonemas will tolerate lower light conditions than other houseplants, they will not tolerate direct sun

Preferred soil: well drained soil or good quality premium potting mix, I mix perlite in with premium potting mix for indoor plants. 

Planting spacing: When planting, space 50 centimetres apart. For pots, one with a 25-30cm diameter should be sufficient.

Varieties of Aglaonema:

  • Aglaonema siam aurora
  • Aglaonema commutatum
  • Aglaonema red valentine
  • Aglaonema silver king 
  • Aglaonema tricolour
  • Aglaonema marantifolium
  • Aglaonema pictum
  • Aglaonema nitidum

Just to name a few! 

Do you have a favourite variety of Aglaonema plant? Tell us in the comments below!

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Uncategorized

How to TRANSFORM your garden in 10 steps

Is your garden looking tired and unloved? Perhaps you haven't had time or have just moved into a new space. Depending on what you’re starting with, some or all of these steps may apply to transform your garden. I’ll share below the 10 exact ways we transformed our Sydney courtyard garden .

How to transform your garden

When my husband Scott and I moved into our current townhouse the garden was running wild. It hadn’t been touched in about 6 months, and the weeds had well and truly taken over. Fortunately for us most of the plants were still alive, but boy was there a lot of work to do.

Lucky for me, Scott works as a landscaper so we attacked the project with a plan in mind. We managed to transform our garden in 10 simple steps. and create a green space we love and enjoy. 

1. Weed & Prune

garden before, full of weeds
a few established plants and weeds!

The first thing you need to do to transform your garden is remove any weeds and prune back any dead leaves or branches. Wear gloves and use a bucket to collect weeds before disposing of them in green waste. Be sure to dig deep to remove all the roots of the weeds. Hand weeding is the best way to remove weeds in an overgrown space so no damage is caused to surrounding plants that you may wish to keep.

More challenging weeds may need a chemical treatment. I’d suggest trying an organic weed killer over glyphosate based products (where possible). Be sure to follow any label instructions carefully when preparing weed killer chemicals and wear protective attire. Be mindful of spraying in windy weather, as spray drift could cause damage to surrounding plants. Painting on weed killer chemicals is preferable (where suitable).

It’s important to note that a weed is simply, any unwanted plant. If there is a plant or group of plants that you think don’t belong or suit the space, remove them and put them aside. You may find a spot for these plants later, otherwise they can be composted or placed into green waste.

When pruning, it best to prune back to a node or branch of new growth. You'll want to use clean and sharp secateurs or shears. Never remove more than ⅓ of a plant to ensure sufficient foliage remains for photosynthesis. Pruning should be done after fruiting and flowering has ceased unless the size of the plant warrants an immediate prune. Weeding and pruning promotes growth and encourages healthy plants.

2. Improve the soil

level the soil
level the garden & freshen the soil

Uneven soil, slopes and sinkholes can make a small garden look very messy and unkempt and overgrown spaces may have depleted soil nutrients. Once the weeds have been removed it’s a good idea to level the soil in the garden by adding more to areas that have weathered away or where plants have been removed.

Use a premium garden soil mix or compost to freshen the soil nutrients and fill holes and gaps. Soil may sink or settle once watered so if possible allow new soil to settle in the garden bed overnight before finishing the job.

3. Planting & Transplanting

Transplanting and adding a few new plants is a simple way to transform your garden. We removed a clump of spider plants that were filling up a sinkhole. We use them to create an entirely new border along the retaining wall rocks. Spider plants are often referred to as “weeds” because of their ability to reproduce quickly, however they are not currently listed on the noxious weeds list for our area (at the time of writing this post). We ensure to maintain them regularly by removing pups and either propagating or discarding them. Now these plants have established themselves we have created a beautiful outline for our tropical garden.

transplant, plant and spider plant border

During our clean up of the garden we also found a philodendron hiding in the back corner behind the compost bins that we thought was worth showing off. The plant only had one leaf so we transplanted it to the other side of the garden where there was a gap and now it’s got plenty of room it has sprung to life!

Be sure to consider the light and heat from the sun when moving plants to ensure their survival. We transplanted a few of our pot plants from our previous balcony garden. This immediately transformed the garden filling gaps so it looked more lush. Since then we have had added more plants and cuttings from friends gardens and plant swaps. In my opinion, a garden is never finished and will change and evolve with the gardener.

Once the garden started to come back to life we discovered a few challenges, including growing our veggies in the raised garden bed. Our improvements to the soil and maintenance of the garden helped many of the plants find their vigor and therefore shaded this area significantly. Instead of trying to relocate the entire raised garden bed, we just changed what we planted there and now its a thriving herb garden. 

the garden comes back to life

4. Screening

Want to cover up an ugly wall or fence? Need more privacy from your neighbours? Screening is a simple and cost effective way to transform the look of your garden. We opted for bamboo screening at 1.8m to cover up our old and ugly fence. It also served to help stop our inquisitive cat from jumping the fence or sneaking out through gaps in the old palings.

screen the fence

The impact you get from screening is astounding! We fixed the screen to the fence using a few nails and cut off excess screen using wire cutters. As we are renting, adding a bamboo screen was the best way to temporarily transform the look of the fence. If your budget allows you could also try a new coat of paint, stain or new fence entirely!

5. Mulch

Mulching your garden is important for two main reasons, the first is to help stop new weeds from surfacing (ensuring you hard work pays off!). The second is, mulch will help hold moisture in your garden soil. Another great thing about mulch is the variety of options available that can help transform your garden.

mulch

We chose to mulch with red wood chips for a contrast in colour. The red wood mulch really makes the beautiful green foliage pop against the bamboo backdrop now covering the fence, if we were to mulch this area again I would probably change and opt for a more neutral colour and something that would add additional nutrients to the soil like cypress wood chips.

You want to add a thick layer of mulch at least 50mm to ensure no light reaches the soil, any gaps where light can still get in will allow weeds to form. You may need to add additional mulch yearly or more as it will eventually break down and provide nutrients to your plants. Depending on the mulch you use and your garden some mulch may also get blown away in windy weather or kicked off by pets or wildlife.

If you'd like to learn more about mulch specifically, check out this link: https://www.akhomeshow.com/mulch-information-guide.php

6. Containers, Pots & Baskets

avid container gardener

Being an avid container gardener, I still had a number of pot plants to find homes for. Just because you have garden beds doesn’t mean you can’t add pot plants to your garden. Containers in the garden bed can add interest, height, variation and contrast depending on the colour, style and plant. With so much extra space we added a raised veggie garden and a few of our larger pots along the fence line. We also added a number of hanging baskets along the awning of the house for another dimension to the garden.

containers in the garden

The great thing about containers is they can be moved and rearranged with ease. Meaning you can change up the look of your space as you get new pots or plants. This garden has changed a lot since we first started, with new plants being added, more containers and regular rearranging. The main thing to remember with container gardening is that you are responsible for maintaining the nutrients and water. Container plants can’t access groundwater or microorganisms found in the garden, so it's important to use premium quality potting mix, fertilise and water regularly.

7. Stepping stones & Pathways 

Mulch directly under foot isn’t always the most comfortable thing to walk on, and as we built the raised garden bed towards the back of the garden close to the fence line, we decided stepping stone pavers would make it more easily accessible. We used 3 travertine pavers, dug into the mulch for stability. One of the challenges we eventually found was the Camellia Sasanqua overhead would drop huge amounts of petals when in flower, which covered the pavers making them very slippery. We decided a wooden deck walkway would be easier to maintain, and this is the pathway now.

pavers to the vege patch
wooden deck to the vege patch

The rest of the courtyard is covered in brick pavers, we are yet to transform these but a few choices could be; pull up the pavers and install wooden decking over the top, painting the pavers, or completely re-paving. We used a gurney to clean the pavers right up and then applied a path weeder to stop new weeds from forming in the cracks. If you have slippery areas in your paving that might be more damp or moss covered, wet and forget is a great product to help solve this challenge. 

8. Furniture

outdoor furniture is essential to enjoy your outdoor space

Outdoor furniture is a must have for any garden to be enjoyed. Our bench seats and table begun centered in the largest open space of our garden. I also use a plant stand shelf to house many of our  succulent pots and a bench Scott made to add height for smaller pots and planters.

Recently, we added a fire pit to this space and moved the benches and table. This has helped us enjoy the garden even in winter. With the seats now under cover, it also means I don’t have to worry so much about wet seat cushions. The view from the bench seats allows us to enjoy the whole garden. These benches will move in different seasons and when we are entertaining.

9. Lights 

lights in the garden

Enjoy your garden at any time of day by lighting it up with solar garden lights, either stuck into the soil to light up your favourite plants or hang fairy lights from above for alfresco dining or that evening drink. I’ve also added a few candle lanterns, hanging in the trees. You could try a combination like I have for a bright outdoor oasis. Adding lights can really transform your garden at night. 

light up the garden with fairy lights, lanterns and a firepit

10. Statues, Ornaments, Wall Art & Wall Planters 

wall planters
ornaments, wall art and wall planters

Statues and ornaments can add whimsy and interest to your garden and create a theme for your space. Choose earthy colours and tones, or liven things up with bright and bold items. The theme in our garden started earthy and eastern, accented by a Buddha statue.

buddah in the garden

We recently were gifted some frangipani wall art which has added a pop of colour to the fence, but ties in nicely with our tropical theme. Scott has also constructed several timber frames which I have affixed plants to and hung on various walls. These really help to green the whole space and the timber helps to tie everything together.

the garden grows
a summer afternoon in the garden
a full and lush garden in autumn

And that’s it, our garden has continued to transform over the year and a half we have lived here. These 10 ways to transform your garden are exactly what we did to create our green sanctuary. What do you think? Tell me in the comments below how you have transformed your small space garden. 

Let me help you create a green space you will love. 

Did you know Our Green Sanctuary now offers Plant Consulting? We can help you create a green space you will love. What is a Plant consult? I'll ask you questions related to the area you'd like to plant out, like; sunlight, climate & size of the space. Then I'll ask you questions about your lifestyle, desire for upkeep & functionality for your family & pets. I'll then select plants that I think fit within these requirements and offer you a detailed list. From there, I offer additional services including; plant sourcing, design & installation. 

I work with your budget and style, offering advice to help create your green sanctuary.Click below to book your Plant Consult today!

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Advice Uncategorized

Top 10 tropical plants for around the pool

Top 10 tropical plants for around the pool

Top 10 tropical plants for around the pool

Understanding which tropical plants to choose for your pool area means understanding the environment. The pool creates a warmer microclimate but in Sydney you still need cold-tolerant plants. Around a pool area, plants should be tidy, low maintenance and people-friendly.

New Zealand flax (Phormium)

New Zealand flax (Phormium)

Featuring striking colours from light green to russet bronze and sometimes striped, Phormium have long broad strappy leaves, these tropical grassy plants are low maintenance and drought tolerant once established. Remove older leaves as required and cut back halfway every 4 years. Suitable for full sun positions Phormium can be used as a feature plant with varieties growing up to 1m, and is very well suited to our Sydney climate.

Origin: New Zealand and Norfolk Island

Size: H 1-3m W 1m

Light: Full sun to part shade

Soil: fertile & very well draining soil is required

Cost: $29.95 per 200mm pot

Cordylines

Cordyline is a genus of about 15 species of woody stemmed grassy plants. Available in striking colours & patterns, these strappy leafed plants have sun tolerant and shade loving varieties suitable for most tropical gardens. Shade varieties such as cordyline rubra compliments palms beautifully with contrasting colours adding interest to a tropical landscape. Sun tolerant cordyline varieties such as “Electric Flash” and “electric pink” add bright pops of colour. Cordylines can develop woody stems, if these aren't to your taste, simply chop the tops off and replant. Cordylines are otherwise relatively low maintenance & can be drought tolerant once established.
Origin: Native to Western Pacific Ocean region: New Zealand, Australia, Polynesia, Asia and South America
Size: H 2-2.5m W 1m
Light: Full sun to full shade depending on the variety
Soil: fertile & very well draining soil is required
Cost: $29.95 per 200mm pot 

False cardamom (Alpinia nutans)

The lush dense foliage of False Cardamom the evergreen ginger, is fantastic for filling mid-ground spaces in tropical or subtropical gardens. Another great feature of the plant is the spicy fragrance of the foliage. A simple plant to care for, all it will need is a tidy up twice a year. Cut older stems back to the ground, remove dead leaves and flowers.
Origin: Native to New Zealand, Australia, Polynesia, Asia and South America
SIze: H 1-1.5m
Light: Full sun to full shade depending on the variety
Soil: Fertile, well drained soil.
Cost: $29.95 per 200mm pot 

Liriopes

Arching clumps of shiny, slim, strappy foliage, featuring tight tall lavender flower stems from the centre of the plant. The dark green grass is offers simple elegance and will compliment the tropical garden foliage. Perfect for borders or in clumps, Liriope loves the shade but tolerates some sun. A simple plant to care for, remove dead flowers and cut back damaged foliage, trim to ground level yearly to maintain growth. A very tolerant plant in many climates and conditions through drought tolerance, wet feet and frost.
Origin: Native to East Asia
SIze: H 30 - 80cm W 30 - 60cm
Light: Part sun to full shade
Soil: Moist, well drained soil with reasonable fertility.
Cost: $19.95 per 200mm pot 

Clivia miniata

Broad strappy deep green leaves spray outwards forming clumps of green foliage. Trumpets of orange, cream or red flowers sit atop green stalks appearing in late winter and early spring. Low water in winter and generally low maintenance, keep mulched and well watered in the warm months. Suitable for mild conditions, protect from frost and extreme cold, planting in shaded conditions under trees. Use in borders or clumps, and best mass planted.
Origin: South Africa
Size: H 50cm W 50cm
Light: Dappled morning sun, shade
Soil: fertile & very well draining soil is required
Cost: $29.95 per 200mm pot 

Justicia carnea

The Brazilian Plume Flower features Pink or white flowers from early summer to late autumn, and may spot-flower in winter. A soft wooded shrub to 1.5m with large lush leaves and a rewarding plant, simple to care for requiring a light trim after flowering. A tough plant but may be pruned back hard - even to ground level if required. It will flourish in sun and still flowers in shade, tolerant of Sydney's hot summers and cold winters.

Origin: Native to New Zealand, Australia, Polynesia, Asia and South America

SIze: H 90-120cm

Light: Full sun to full shade depending on the variety

Soil: Moist, well drained soil with reasonable fertility.

Cost: $29.95 per 200mm pot

Bird of Paradise

Nothing says tropical quite like Bird of paradise. There are a few varieties of bird of paradise including my personal favourite Strelitzia nicolai, along with Strelitzia reginae and Strelitzia juncea. Featuring unique long lasting bird shaped blooms and large grey to green leaves, these low maintenance plants can be planted in containers or in large garden beds. Use as a feature plant or to create a feature part of your garden by double or triple planting with Strelitzia nicolai.
Origin: Native to South Africa
SIze: H 6m W 3.5m
Light: Full sun to part shade depending on the variety
Water: Moderate
Soil: Moist, well drained soil with reasonable fertility.
Cost: $29.95 per 200mm pot 

Rhapis excelsa 

Large fanned glossy, green palmate leaves, deeply divided into broad, ribbed segments, like fingers. Clumping bamboo like stems, wrapped in a protective fibrous sheath where new foliage emerges. They are relatively cold tolerant and can be grown outdoors in subtropical or warm temperate climates. Also suitable for indoors and listed by NASA as one of the top air purifying plants. This palm is great to use as a specimen plant or to create a lush screen. The Rhapis palm is a low maintenance plant with only the occasional brown leaf to remove.
Origin: China and Japan.
Size: H 3-4m W 1-2m
Light: Bright indirect light, shade
Water: Moderate
Soil: Moist, Well draining
Cost: $49.95 per 200mm pot 

Bangalow Palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana)

A Native to Australian the Bangalow Palm is found along the east coast of Australia in QLD and NSW. A single stem palm is sometimes sold in multiple plants per pot with bright green leaves on paler stems. Growing to a mature height of 30m and trunk width 30cm in diameter bangalow is cold tolerant but not frost tolerant. Requiring little maintenance but a good water supply during the growing season.Fertilise with a palm-specific fertiliser. Bangalow Palm can also be grown as a pot plant or planted in the ground to reach maturity.
Origin: Australia
Size: H 30 m W 2.5m
Light: Full sun to part shade
Water: Moderate
Soil: Moist, Well draining and fertile soil.
Cost: $29.95 per 200mm pot 

Golden Cane Palm (Dypsis Lutescens) 

Sun tolerant and clumping the golden cane palm is named for its yellow stems and sometimes golden foliage which arches in long pinnate fronds, appearing much greener in the shade. A good screening plant, the golden cane palm creates shade with dense foliage providing that lush look and tropical vibe to any pool area. Can be planted in containers but will do best when grouped with other plants as golden cane doesn't love the cold. Feed in the warmer months and maintain by removing dead fronds.
Origin: Madagascar
Size: H 8 m W 2.5m
Light: Full sun to part shade
Water: Moderate
Soil: Moist, Well draining and fertile soil.
Cost: $19.95 per 200mm pot 

The best way to maintain a tropical garden with these plants is simply feed and water regularly during the warmer months but keep much drier over winter to prevent root rot and other fungal diseases. Clean up dead or damaged foliage and flowers. The majority of this work can be done once a month.

What are your favourite plants for around the pool? Drop them in the comments below! 

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Advice

Can plant care teach us self-care?

I’ve reflected on my experiences as a houseplant parent and how caring for my plants has taught me to care for myself.

I started creating my green sanctuary about five years ago. But in the last year I’ve been studying horticulture and my love affair with plants has become a true passion. Plants calm me, soothe me and invigorate me to learn about them and understand them.

So how did houseplants help me discover self care? 

In my previous blog post I explored two of the major benefits of houseplants: their ability to clean the air and remove toxins and how they improve our wellbeing. 

Since then I’ve researched more articles and discovered through numerous studies that plants offer so much more. I realised that I’ve experienced all the benefits houseplants have to offer and that's why I keep coming back for more! So let me break down how caring for my plants taught me to care for myself. 

Tending for plants helps us tend to ourselves

Plants help me remain calm and stay focused, improving my concentration and memory. I keep plants in every room of my house. This alleviates stress, anxiety and helps me keep a tidy space so I can always access and enjoy my plants. When caring for my plants I am focused on the task and my mind is calm as I go through the motions of checking and watering. I am not bothered with other things in my mind. 

Plants make people happy 

Happiness from plants can come in many different ways. I enjoy looking at plants, buying plants, potting plants, caring for plants, learning about plants, propagating plants and most of all, watching plants grow.

Did you know? Plants used in schools have proven to help children focus and learn, and plants in offices are found to increase productivity and overall happiness at work.

Speaking of routine, plants love it too! Once a week on a Sunday I ensure to check all my plants for water, and water them if required. I look for bugs, signs of stress and new growth and deal with any nasties I find. When I have a routine with my plants they are happier and well cared for, which reminds me to stick to my other routines so I’m happy and well cared for too. Doing this on a Sunday helps me set myself up for a great week, when my plants are tidy, my house is tidy, and I’m ready to start the week.

Plants help us heal 

Spending time with plants is therapeutic. I am constantly surrounded by greenery and I know I’m a healthier person because of it. I feel less anxious, have not had a panic attack, and can better manage my mood and stress. Living and working with plants has been the best medicine I could ask for. 

Did you know? Horticultural therapy is a well respected field that has been adopted by hospitals, and various health and wellness institutions worldwide. Therapy gardens have been used to assist people with sense impairment, learning difficulties, mental illness and those recovering from trauma and experiencing memory loss.

Plants also have many valuable medicinal properties including two of my favourites Aloe Vera and Lavender.

Caring for my plants reminds me to take it slow, have a break and do things for myself. As my plants grow and change I’m reminded to check in with myself too. As the seasons change I am aware and in the moment, caring for plants helps me stay present. 

My plant passion has lead me on an amazing journey of healing and self discovery. After finding joy in caring for plants, I decided to work in the field and soon I will be providing regular houseplant workshops to the public to encourage others to start their own journey into healthy living with plants.

What have plants taught you?

Tell us in the comments below!

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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How to add Houseplants to your home & office. 

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Advice How-to guides

How to choose the right houseplant for your space

Now you know houseplants are great for your health, and are a super easy way to style your space, so how do you choose the right houseplant? Selecting the perfect houseplant for your space takes some consideration, so I’m going to share with you the top things to consider when choosing the right houseplant for your space. 

LIGHT

Why is light important for houseplants? Plants need light to grow. For houseplants light is essentially their food. The process of plants eating light is called photosynthesis. Plants take the energy they receive from sunlight, carbon dioxide they absorb from the air and water and turn it into carbohydrates which they use to grow and release oxygen.

If plants do not receive adequate light then they may not be able to photosynthesise. 

Adequate light requirements may differ between houseplants, as some plants can handle less light than others. You can read about my top 10 low light houseplants here

Houseplants are often found next to large windows, in bright indirect or filtered light. Most houseplants will tolerate direct morning sun however, hot direct afternoon sun is not generally recommended. 

When choosing where to put your houseplants, consider that the further a houseplant is away from a window, the less likely it will receive enough light. Keeping houseplants in windowless rooms will only be successful when providing the plant with a substantial artificial grow light. 

SIZE

How big is the space you have for houseplants? Plants come in many shapes and sizes which may change and increase over time. After all, they are a living thing! Consider the size of your space when selecting appropriate houseplants. You may wish to style a collection of small houseplants with shelving or plant stands, or fill an empty corner with a larger plant in a basket such as a Kentia palm. 

Take into account the maximum size in height and spread of the houseplant, and whether its slow growing or not. Be aware, grow time will also be relative to the conditions the plant is kept in. Strelitzia nicolai - Bird of Paradise is a stunning houseplant which can quickly grow in excess of 2 metres high and 1 metre spread indoors. 

Hanging planters and macrame plant hangers are also an effective way to display plants and are perfect for small spaces. Climbing and trailing house plants such as hoyas, syngoniums and some philodendrons are great choices.  

TEMPERATURE & AIRFLOW

Is it getting hot in here? Many houseplants are tropical in nature and require warm and humid environments to thrive. You will need to consider the temperature and airflow of the area you choose for your houseplants and take into account any doors or windows where a cool breeze could pass through. Fluctuations in temperature due to artificial heating and cooling will also have an effect on houseplants. For very dry areas, you may find a humidifier will be beneficial to your houseplants. 

Houseplants such as Calathea species are particularly affected by unsatisfactory temperature and humidity and often require a pebble tray or humidifier to increase the humidity in a space. This can be indicated by brown tips on the edges of a plants leaves. 

TIP: What is a pebble tray? 

A pebble tray is simply a tray filled with pebbles and covered in water. Place underneath or nearby plants that require increased humidity. The water will need to be topped up regularly in order for humidity to be created.

Brown tips on your houseplants are a sign their environment needs changing. Light, temperature and water all in play. Under or over watering are often the issue so always use the finger test when watering your plants.

Placing houseplants by large windows can assist in providing the best environment for your plants as the window should provide adequate light. 

Grouping plants together can assist in creating humidity, and grouping plants that have similar water requirements makes watering day so much easier! 

GO SHOPPING

This is the best part! The lush green walls of plants… Don’t get distracted! When you purchase your plant, take note of the environment it is kept in. A nursery or garden centre should keep its plants in their optimal environment so they look great to sell. Are they outside in the direct sun? Or shaded under cover? Houseplants will be where the plants are either indoors or under cover. Be aware most plant shops don't grow their own plants and advice can vary so, don't be afraid to ask questions and do your own research. 

What do you look for when choosing a houseplant for your space? 

Tell us in the comments below!

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

Greenify your life!

Dig in! Houseplant advice straight to your inbox.

Simple gardening advice for houseplant enthusiasts.



Get your copy of the houseplant cheatsheet now! Simply enter your name and email below and we'll send you the link to download your free copy now. 


Greenify your life 


How to add Houseplants to your home & office. 

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Uncategorized

What is so good about houseplants?

What is so good about houseplants? Why do plants make people happy? They certainly make me happy, so I decided to find out. 

There’s actually tons of recent research that puts science behind the reasons people love placing plants in their homes.

Plants have the power to improve health & wellbeing.  

So what's the science? 

Research on the benefits of plants for health and wellbeing has been carried out over numerous studies for the last 50 years. Of the more famous, is the NASA clean air study which was first published in 1989. More recently, Horticulture Innovation Australia in conjunction with RMIT University and University of Melbourne reviewed over 100 studies on the subject and concluded, there is evidence plants provide two major benefits:

Improved air quality

Improved wellbeing

More and more of the population live in an urban environment and are spending up to 90% of their time indoors.  We as Humans have an innate connection with nature, which is sometimes ignored in our day to day lives.  A simple small group of plants can liven the dullest of spaces, and make even the tiniest apartment feel more like home. 

So how do plants improve air quality? 

Indoor plants can reduce air pollutants and Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 75-90% 

VOC’s are compounds that readily become vapors or gasses. Examples include benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. These compounds can be be found in various household items including:

Household chemicals & cleaning products

Paints

Furniture finishes 

There is still a common misconception among the general public that plants shouldn't be kept indoors because they think plants take oxygen out of a room. I can tell you, this is definitely not the case, all plants release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.

Essentially, the level of improvement in air quality depends on the type and size of the plant.

You can read about NASA’s widely published study defining their top 10 plants for improving air quality here.

How do plants help to improve wellbeing?

Wellbeing can be defined as the state of feeling comfortable, healthy or happy.

Evoking feelings of relaxation, inspiration and positivity.

According to the research completed for plant life balance, the total number of plants combined with the variety of plants is the key to offering these benefits. 

I think I've got a pretty great balance below. 

Our Green Sanctuary

This space is our green sanctuary, and thats me. 

I often sit on the couch and stare at this awesome collection of plants. I've taken the living room quite literally! There are 39 plants in this space. 

So how many is too many?

If you search anything related to plants on instagram  you'll find there’s millions of homes and apartments filled to the brim with plants. Georgina Read from The Planthunter says “Go wild with plants”. I love this sentiment and agree wholeheartedly.

I suggest starting with one and growing your collection gradually. Once you develop a routine of watering and maintaining your plants, having your own indoor garden will be providing great benefits. 

Not sure where to start?

Georgina Read and the Planthunter crew worked with Horticulture Innovation Australia to add a bit of style to this research into a new app plant life balance. The app combines the research with a virtual reality interface for the user to style plants in their space. It can even generate a plant list the user can save to refer to at their local nursery.

The research panel created a simple rule of thumb to help people get started adding plants to their homes. 

1 medium size plant increases air quality in the average room by 25%

5 plants of various species and sizes leads to significantly increased wellbeing 

Plant life balance also offers eleven different themed looks like the one below, to help inspire the would be houseplant enthusiast. 

Plant life balance Jungle Vibes

Are you convinced? 

Ready to start creating your own urban jungle and styling your home with plants? You are in the right place. Below you’ll find a link to join our newsletter, links to other blog posts and above use the site navigation links for plant profiles and more. 

We’re here to help you with simple gardening advice for house plant enthusiasts. 

Got a question? Drop it in the comments below. 

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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Advice Plant Styling

My five favourite palms for indoors

I love palms, so I’m sharing the love with my five favourite indoor palms. I’ll share care tips for each palm & links to their plant profiles! For me, palms are the perfect indoor plant. Their feathery foliage, large long leaves or fanned varieties, evoke tropical vibes & ooze luxury. They are relatively easy care, all requiring a very bright room & regular water (when the top 3cm of soil is dry). These beautiful plants really give off those jungle vibes we love styling our home in and come in all sizes suitable for your space. Meet my five favourite palms for indoors. 

Howeia fosteriana - Kentia palm 

move plants to where they will receive the most light

This was my first & is my favourite indoor palm, I repotted it when I bought it and it has grown beautifully filling the corner of my living room. Native to Lorde Howe Island, this palm is grown for its large foliage.

Bright indirect light,

morning sun 

Water when dry,

ensure good drainage 

Fertilise during active growth, Spring, Summer & Autumn

Height 1.8-3m 

Spread 1.5-2.4m 

Mist spray for humidity

Rhapis excelsa - Lady Palm

I love the fanned leaflets on this broadleaf palm, it’s unique shape adds character to my plant collection. It has bamboo like stems, and finger like leaves in deep green. This palm is native to China and Japan. 

Bright indirect light,

morning sun 

Water when dry,

ensure good drainage 

Fertilise during active growth, Spring, Summer & Autumn

Height 2-4m 

Spread 2m 

Mist spray for humidity

Chamaedorea elegans - Parlour palm

The smallest of all my favourite indoor palms, the parlour palm is simply adorable. Its perfect grouped with other plants on a low table or when mature on a stand or side table. Native to Mexico & Guatemala.

Bright filtered light,

morning sun 

Water when barely moist,

ensure good drainage 

Fertilise during active growth, Spring, Summer & Autumn

Height 0.45-1.2m 

Spread 45-75cm 

Mist spray for humidity

Chamaedorea Cataractarum or Altroviren - Cascade palm

The very soft and feathery pinnate leaves of this palm will soften a room & exude elegance. Grown for its beautiful dark green foliage this palm is native to southern Mexico and Central America.

Bright indirect light,

morning sun or full shade

Water when dry,

ensure good drainage 

Fertilise during active growth, Spring, Summer & Autumn

Height 1-2m 

Spread 1-2m 

Mist spray for humidity

Chamaedorea erumpens - Bamboo palm 


The most recent addition to my collection, the leaflets on this palm are what it’s all about. Clusters of bamboo like canes form the tall stems with dark green pinnate leaves some thick and others feathery thin. Native to Guatemala and Honduras.

Bright filtered light,

morning sun 

Water when barely moist,

ensure good drainage 

Fertilise during active growth, Spring, Summer & Autumn

Height 1.5-3m 

Spread 0.75-1.2m 

Mist spray for humidity

Do you have a favourite palm?

Tell us in the comments below!

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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How to repot a new houseplant

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which simply means, if you make a purchase through a link you have clicked on, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

It’s so easy an 8 year old can do it!

If you‘re like me and enjoy your houseplants in matching pots, you may need to know how to repot a new houseplant. This weekend I was fortunate to have a visit from my awesome sister and her kids. My 8 year old niece Leah offered to help me repot a few of my houseplants from their plastic nursery pots, into new plastic & glazed clay pots. Leah has just sparked an interest in plants & was keen to get her hands dirty, we had a lot of fun. Below are the simple steps we took to repot the houseplants and what we used. 

What we used to repot a new houseplant

Before we got started I gathered all the items together that we needed to use onto a sheet of black plastic for easy clean up.

  • Gloves
  • Premium potting mix 
  • Spade 
  • Pot of choice, should be slightly larger than the nursery pot 
  • Seasol diluted in a watering can 

Now we were ready to repot the new houseplants. 

New to indoor gardening? Grab a tool kit like the one above here.

What we did to repot a new houseplant 

First Leah placed some premium potting mix in the base of the new pot. She was very enthusiastic and asked questions along the way. I felt very privileged to share my passion with her. 

The new pot is only slightly larger than the nursery pot which is good because this plant doesn’t have a large root ball.

A lot of the existing soil from the nursery pot fell away from the roots so I was able to easily see that they were white and very healthy.

I held the plant in place in the new pot while Leah added fresh potting mix to fill the pot.

I also mixed in some of the existing mix from the original pot. 

We gently patted down the mix to make sure the pot had enough soil. We left about 3cm from the soil to the top of the pot. 

We repotted a few more plants and I showed Leah what to look for when repotting a new houseplant.

Tips for repotting houseplants 

If a plant is potted up to an oversized pot the extra soil can hold additional moisture the plants roots may not use which in turn can encourage root rot.

Here is an example of one that I showed Leah. It's pot was too big for the size of the plant

This plant is a Sansevieria which prefers to fill the pot before repotting up one size, as you can see there is a lot of soil and minimal roots, so we moved it to a smaller pot. 

Pot up plants by one to two sizes.

This Sansevieria has plenty of roots. 

So we potted it up one size larger from its nursery pot to one of my matching indoor pots. 

All newly potted plants need to be watered in, we added seasol to our watering can which is a soil conditioner derived from seaweed that aids plants in stress and helps avoid transplant shock in newly potted plants.  

Leah and I managed to repot 5 houseplants and pot up a whole load of Kentia palm seedlings gifted from a friends garden. I'll share that story here soon. 

Special thanks to my sister Merilyn for the fantastic images & Leah for being an awesome helper. 

Do you have any tips for repotting new houseplants? 

Tell us in the comments below!

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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Advice Plant Styling

7 best houseplants for your bedroom

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which simply means, if you make a purchase through a link you have clicked on, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Are you looking for the best houseplants for your bedroom?  Adding houseplants to your bedroom is a great way to create a calm & relaxing oasis for sleeping in. Plants not only filter toxins from the air, some plants also release oxygen at night giving you a better nights rest. Your bedroom will be your own green sanctuary providing a tranquil place to rest and recharge at the end of your day. I’ll share with you which houseplants are the best for your bedroom and why.  

1. Snake Plant - Sansevieria

Sansevieria

A perfect bedroom plant, Sansevieria is easy to care for and can handle medium and low light positions. All this plant needs is a well drained pot of soil & water every few weeks. This structural & strappy leafed plant releases oxygen at night and filters out some common household toxins such as formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and benzene. You can place your Sansevieria species on a side table or dresser making it a perfect match for the bedroom. 

2. Devil's Ivy - Epipremnum aureum 

Epipremnum aureum

Another exceptional air purifying plant the Devils Ivy is listed on NASA’s top air purifying plants for filtering toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene and xylene. Devils Ivy prefers to stay on the dry side requiring water every week or so, less in winter. It will climb or trail, making it great for bedroom hanging planters like these Macrame Plant Hangers.

3. Aloe Vera 

aloe vera

Aloe Vera is another plant that emits oxygen, and it does it all the time. Also a succulent, the aloe vera plant stores water in its leaves and therefore has very low water requirements. Aloe plants can be small, but also reproduces very quickly in the right conditions so soon you may have Aloe plants for all areas of your home. It grows best in direct sunlight so you’ll need a bright window sill for this one. 

4. English Ivy - Hedera helix 

hedera helix english ivy

This gorgeous trailing plant has small dark green leaves that look great trailing down from a shelf, or climbing over a bedhead. Requiring moderate light and regular water English ivy is another awesome air purifying plant. English ivy filters four major toxins from the air: formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene and xylene. Do note this plant is also toxic if eaten by humans and pets.

5. Peace Lily - Spathiphyllum 

Spathiphyllum

Peace lily is a common houseplant for a few great reasons, it’s beautiful, easy to care for and is one of the best air purifying plants around. Adapting to moderate and low light conditions, the Peace lily does need a bright position in order to flower. Its long deep green leaves shiny and erect, will droop & appear dull when the plant is thirsty. Eliminating all five major toxins from the air including ammonia the peace lily will create an ambient space in your bedroom for a calm sleep. The Peace lily should be kept out of reach of pets and small children. 

6. Corn Plant - Dracena fragrans ‘Massageana’ 

Dracena fragrans

Dracena is one of my favourite houseplants. I love the height and colours of Dracena fragrans, and its air purifying ability made it the perfect choice for our bedroom. The Dracena’s large long leaves sit atop the tree trunk and are some of the most interesting in my collection. A great height for an indoor tree, the Dracena fills the space and warms the corner of the bedroom. The Dracena easily handles low light and has low water requirements. 

7. ZZ plant - Zamioculcas zamiifolia

zz plant

The ZZ plant or Zanzibar gem is one of the easiest care plants around. A perfect beginner plant or plant for the lazy houseplant lover, the ZZ plant stores water in its stem and will go without water for a whole month. Clusters of upright succulent green stems littered with pairs of leaves make this plant perfect for side tables and tall boys. Greenify your bedroom with the best bedroom plant for beginners. 

7 best houseplants for your bedroom

Now you know which houseplants are best for your bedroom you can choose the right one’s for your space! Keep in mind the toxicity of some houseplants if you have pets or children. Don’t forget to regularly dust your leaves to make sure your plant can do its job. Check out my houseplant care tips for more ideas. 

What houseplants live in your bedroom?

Tell us in the comments below!

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

Greenify your life!

Dig in! Houseplant advice straight to your inbox.

Simple gardening advice for houseplant enthusiasts.



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Advice How-to guides

How do you know if your plant needs a new pot?

how do you know if your plant needs a new pot

How do you know if your plant needs a new pot?| July 2018
|Our Green Sanctuary Blog

Don’t feel daunted if your plant needs a new pot. Without speaking about a particular plant, most houseplants will require repotting every 6-12 months. So, how do you know when your plant needs a new pot? There are a few signs your houseplant needs a new pot, and depending on how fast your plants grow, will determine how often repotting is required. I’ll take you through the main indicators your houseplant needs a new pot and offer a few tips along the way.

My first tip is, where possible, repot your house plants in spring. The roots will then actively grow into their new soil, and this will minimise the risk of transplant shock. What is transplant shock you might ask? If your plant shows signs of stress after transplanting it may be experiencing transplant shock. This could include wilting, so ensure not to overwater newly potted plants.

This is my parents Dracena, the plant had stalled growing and was looking quite sad.

How do you know if your plant needs a new pot?

To determine when your plant needs a new pot, consider the following:

How often do you need to water the plant? Plants which are thirsty can indicate its time for repotting, as the roots are taking up most of the room in the pot, there is less soil to hold moisture.

An easy way to determine whether a plant is ready for a new pot, is by looking at the soil at the top of the pot for signs of roots. You can move or scrape the soil at the top of the pot and feel any roots that have moved to the surface. Can you see roots growing through the holes in the bottom or showing at the surface of the soil? Roots showing in these areas is a clear indication the plant is becoming pot bound and should be repotted as soon as possible. 

Does the plant appear to have stopped or stalled growing? This will be less obvious in winter, but during the growing season if your plant seems to stall or growth has slowed even with regular fertiliser and the right care. 

roots on the surface of the soil

Can you see the veiny roots on the surface of the soil?

Choose the right container.

Choosing the right container for your pot is an important consideration before repotting.

You will need to think about:

The size of the container. Don’t pot up into a container too large as the plant may look out of balance and the extra soil will hold additional moisture 

this container has two drainage holes

This container has two drainage holes

It's about one and a half times larger than the current container

It's about one and a half times larger than the current container.

Sometimes you may find a plant has been in a pot for a little too long and is starting to or has become root bound. In this case, it’s definitely best to repot the plant into a pot 1 and a half, to 2 times larger than the original container. If the roots are really bound, gently tease or cut to separate them so they continue to grow into the new pot, I would suggest to check youtube for some advice about your particular plant if this is the case. 

The roots are quite bound

The roots are quite bound

So I used this tool to help separate them

So I used this tool to help separate them.

I gently teased out some roots to encourage growth

I gently teased out some roots to encourage growth.

What material is the container is made of? I usually choose lightweight containers for my house plants so they are easy for me to move when watering and taking photos. Terracotta containers can also help dry out soil quicker, so may not be suitable for all houseplants. There is also specialised potting mix you can purchase for terracotta containers.

Another reason I repot my plants is because I want them to look good in my home! The colour and style of the container should be of your preference. The container should suit the plant size, style and your home decor. 

Why should you repot your plants?

Often when you bring home a new plant from the nursery, garden centre or wherever you buy your plants, it may need repotting. It’s good to repot new plants for a few reasons. You can check the plants roots and see if they are healthy, free from root rot and any disease.  You can also ensure the soil is free from bugs and plant your new houseplant in premium potting mix to give it all the nutrients, fertilizers & trace elements it needs to keep blooming and growing. 

We lined the base with fresh potting mix before transplanting

We lined the base with fresh potting mix before transplanting.

Speaking of potting mix.

The soil you use when repotting is definitely an important factor. Specialised potting mixes are available for a variety of houseplants and should be used where available. Alternatively, premium potting mix has all the nutrients, fertilizers & trace elements for great all round plant health. Always add fresh soil in with the existing plant soil when repotting. I don’t recommend recycling soil in case of disease, I add any used soil to the compost heap and recycle it for the garden. 

Finally fertilise & water.

If you follow all the steps above, you might also like to fertilize your newly potted plant. A new pot provides room for growth, so feeding up your plant with a suitable liquid plant food or slow release fertiliser will encourage your plant to grow.

So now you know what to look for when your plant needs a new pot, and what to consider when repotting, I’ll share the final rule for potting up a plant. Always water your plant as soon as it has been repotted. This is important for two reasons, firstly it will stimulate the roots so they grow into their new home, and secondly it will compact the soil into the pot so you’ll know if you need to add a bit extra. 

After repotting and a drink, I removed all the damaged foliage. My parents were very happy!

After repotting and a drink, I removed a lot of the damaged foliage. My parents were very happy!

Repotting your houseplants is a fairly simple process. If you remember the tips above, your houseplants will continue to flourish year after year. 

How often do you repot your houseplants?

Share your tips in the comments below!

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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Simple gardening advice for houseplant enthusiasts.



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