nature, Special Guests, Wellness

Bloom Where You’re Planted: Q+A with Hannah!

Bloom where you’re planted.

Today’s post explores the benefits of houseplants and gardening.

Gardening can be rewarding mentally, physically, spiritually, and even economically. Bringing the outside in brightens up living spaces and helps with air quality – not to mention the sweet scents of the flowers!

Read on to explore Hannah’s love of plants – both houseplants and outdoor – and learn about the benefits of your local plant nurseries.

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What draws you to plants and gardening? 
I like how gardening makes me feel, especially since it’s so rewarding to watch them grow and bloom.  My mom loved gardening and always had a lot of flowers growing in her yard so I think that’s what kick started my interest as a kid.  As an adult I became more interested in restorative agriculture and permaculture so that drove my focus to fruit trees, fruit bushes, herbs, and pollinator-friendly plants.

(Learn more about restorative agriculture and permaculture!)

When did you start getting into planting?
I really got into gardening once I bought my home in 2018.  I have a good sized yard (at least larger than any yard I had growing up) so the possibilities seemed endless. 

What are your favorite plants and flowers?
My favorite houseplant is my monstera (I call her Monsty) and my favorite flowers are currently dahlias (my favorite flowers tend to change year to year).  I have a few varieties of dahlia bulbs getting sent to me next month and I’m very excited to plant them!  They’ll bloom in the summertime.

I remember you planted some fruit trees in 2019. How are those doing?
So far so good!  In 2019 I planted an apple tree (grafted with four varieties), a pear tree (grafted with four varieties), a fig tree, apricot tree, peach tree, and walnut tree.  Sadly the walnut tree didn’t make it but everything else is doing well. The only tree that has produced fruit yet is the fig tree but I’m hoping that this year I can start seeing some peaches and apricots.  The apple and pear won’t produce for at least another 3-6 years.

Plants make a home feel cozier. Do you have them in every room of your house?
Actually I don’t! I keep all my plants on the first floor of my home.  I have a south facing window in my dining room so most of my indoor plants are centered around there.  In my dining room I have about 30 plants in total. I have a few plants and cuttings in my kitchen and I keep my bigger cacti in my sunroom.  I used to keep my succulents in my sunroom but I recently made a “succulent station” on an old bookshelf in my dining room.  I have UV lights on a timer to make sure the succulents get plenty of light and don’t become leggy. 

What are your go-to plant and gardening resources?
I have found a lot of support on reddit on these communities: r/gardening, r/houseplants,  r/homestead, r/permaculture, and r/flowers.  There is a wealth of information in those forums and an active community ready to help and answer any questions you may have. 

Also, Better Homes and Gardens has a lot of great information online including pre-made garden plans.  If you have an area that you’d like to fill with blooms I highly recommend you look at their plans and find something that you love.

“Be patient with yourself, be patient with your plants, and most of all forgive yourself when you make mistakes.”

What benefits do you perceive from working with plants?
It really teaches you to be patient and forgiving with yourself.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve killed more plants than I can count but it’s all part of the learning process.  There are some plants I refuse to have because I can’t keep them alive to save my life and at this point it seems cruel to keep trying. So far my no-go list is peace lilies, ferns, and orchids.  Everyone has their talents and interests and it’s all about finding them.  Be patient with yourself, be patient with your plants, and most of all forgive yourself when you make mistakes. 

And finally – since this is a book blog after all – what are you currently reading?
Dune by Frank Herbert

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With a few quick internet searches, you can discover the ideal plants for your area as well as local nurseries to explore!

Here in San Antonio, I’ve visited the Rainbow Gardens Nursery which has not only plants but also statues, potting materials, and other garden decor. They also offer tons of information on their Learning Center.

The Monthly Gardening section even lists what vegetables you should plant by month.

What are your favorite plants to work with? Happy planting, friends!

Many thanks to Hannah for being today’s special guest!

Disclaimer/Disclosure: Views and opinions shared by guests may not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Oak + River Books. Information contained within this post are for entertainment purposes only and should not be used or referenced as professional advice. Please contact a professional for information regarding any of the contents above. Unless otherwise noted, photos on this post are owned by Hannah and used with her permission; she is to be credited in any sharing of the materials contained on this post.

About the Writer

The Orchid Graveyard

Me: Hey, do you remember when you asked me to watch your aloe plant while you were on vacation?

Friend: Yeah… he never really recovered after that.

Oops.

My bad.

I soooo wanted to be one of those people with a green thumb. I wanted vines hanging by the windows and giant fig leaf trees chilling in the corner. Instead, I got an orchid graveyard (cool new band name? I digress…)

I was doing okay for a little bit

If it makes you feel better, Friend, I have since successfully murdered my own aloe plant – and many others.

Rest in peace, sweet Abelia

There’s a snake plant in my office that I regularly forget to water for at least a couple weeks at a time and It’s. Doing. Great.

You know what the issue is? It’s a common problem. I water them too much. I try too hard.

This is a good moment to provide a life metaphor. Do you ever try so hard and it doesn’t go right so you try even harder and then everything explodes? Because same. It took me so many years to understand that “trying harder” is not the same as “trying better“. Work smarter not harder, my friends.

We can take these sentimental lessons from nature: go with the flow, don’t overthink it, let it be.

The practical lesson is to keep a handy calendar marked with watering days but to be honest, I have accepted that my plant-raising love language is “set it and forget it”.

Mexican Silverspot doesn’t care how many plants I’ve killed

I have what is basically a garden home, although our HOA doesn’t cover private lawn care. Thanks to the plants in my front and back yards, we regularly see hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, cardinals, and even the occasional squirrel. It’s hours of entertainment for me, my son, and the cats (since I’m mentioning the cats, you should know they are not innocent in these plant deaths, either).

The Pride of Barbados, or Caesalpinia pulcherrima,1 is a hummingbird favorite. I don’t prune mine and it gets quite tall. I fondly refer to them as nature’s fireworks.

Pride of Barbados

Purple hearts abound in this area. Did you know purple is the color of royalty? Some were pre-planted by my garage door and along a back wall of the house, and I even planted a few more to continue the border. According to the University of Wisconsin Master Gardener Program, Tradescantia pallida plants “are drought tolerant and thrive on neglect, but also tolerate frequent watering.”2

A plant after my own heart!

Purple heart and cow parsley

Also in place were two pink-flowering crape myrtles, a young mountain laurel, some form of fan palm, and a Texas sage. Occasionally cow parsley and false day flowers will spring up, as well.

Texas sage

I planted this Nandina and it’s been going very well. That foliage! I’m excited for her to grow.

Obsession Nandina is part of the Southern Living Plants collection

I love having plants at home for many reasons, and one of the big ones is that my son likes to help water them with his little yellow elephant watering can. It’s the cutest!

Thanks for joining me for a brief look at my journey with plants. Have a happy & healthy Tuesday!

References

  1. Rodriguez, David. 11 June 2006. https://bexar-tx.tamu.edu/homehort/archives-of-weekly-articles-davids-plant-of-the-week/pride-of-barbados-a-great-heat-loving-plant-and-future-texas-superstar/
  2. University of Wisconsin – Madison Master Gardener Program. “Purple Heart, Tradescantia pallida.” Accessed on 20 July 2020. https://wimastergardener.org/article/purple-heart-tradescantia-pallida/