Last updated on April 9, 2017 by Liza Hawkins
This post has been sponsored by Commercial Silk Int’l.
I consider myself a city girl, having grown up in the Washington D.C. suburbs. I appreciate and enjoy vast landscapes of mountains, rolling hills or oceans (a perk of living in Maryland—all are within a couple hours’ drive), but I find that I’m most energized by being in a bustling city. I’m an introvert, so I get how that seems like an oxymoron—you’d think my happy place was alone in the woods or at the top of a mountain. I like those things, but I don’t crave those things.
That said, I do need time at the end of each day to myself without the expectation of talking to, or interacting with, other humans—my family included. (There’s the obvious introvert trait.) It’s when I write, read a bit (I recently finished Just Kids and The Handmaid’s Tale—both were so good), or continue a marathon with a binge-worthy streaming TV show like Stranger Things or Outlander.
Right now we live in central Maryland, on a five-ish acre homestead plot with my parents that butts up to a neighborhood and is only 30 minutes from Frederick, an hour from Baltimore and D.C., and only a few hours from Philly or NYC. It allows for a country feel without being in the middle of nowhere, and there are lots of green views from just about every window.
The joke here is that even though we live on this property, with my parents’ copious amounts of gardens, fruit trees, berry bushes, flowers and other plant-life, I definitely wasn’t given the gift of a green thumb. That went to my sister who’s currently the deputy park manager at Battery Urban Farm, and who has started and managed a variety of farms (urban and rural) over the past decade.
I don’t let that stop me, however, from trying my darnedest with growing things. Last year I had some very successful container gardens (more about those below), full of cherry tomatoes, herbs and flowers. And this year, I plan to do them again! I’m intrigued by the idea of planting in hanging baskets, especially the cherry tomatoes and lettuce, after reading this article the other day. It seems practical and I bet they’d look really pretty on our front porch. So, I’m giving it a go!
I usually have an easy time getting started with plants. My mom saves seeds and starts the seedlings over winter and early spring, after which we plant them in my containers and they have a very healthy beginning. Where I seem to fail, most often, in my plant life prowess is this: ongoing watering. It’s those dry Maryland Augusts that get me (and my plants); no rain and no watering can.
And indoors? My main problem (watering aside) is our cat. She loves to nibble on anything living in green, which can be both an aesthetic problem and a health problem, depending on the plant. So, what do you do?
3 Simple Ways To Enjoy Plants Without A Green Thumb
1. Plant Container Gardens
While the “maintaining” aspect of this could be thwarted by a truly bad set of gardening genes, I feel like container gardens give you a leg up from a confidence perspective. They’re, um, contained, which means they can be kept wherever you want (assuming they get the right amount of light and shade). For me, the person who detests watering, this is key. My container gardens are right on my front porch, and the hose I use to water them hooks up just a few feet away. And, when it’s raining hard the plants are close enough to the edges that they get watered by the elements directly. Getting started is easy! Here are my five beginner tips.
2. Consider Artificial
Artificial plants have come a long way since the plastic-y fake “plant life” from years ago. Now, from brands like Commercial Silk Int’l, you can find realistic looking indoor and outdoor trees, smaller plants, and even boxwood hedges and topiaries. For years we had a real ficus tree inside our house and it was forever shedding its leaves — in part due to being moved around (they don’t like that), and also because of mismanaged watering and probably not the right balance of light and shade (not to mention a cat that enjoys nibbling on live plants).
For us, going with a 6′ silk ficus tree was a great option for the family room. It looks nice, and it’s zero maintenance (well, aside from a little dusting). In addition to ficus trees, my personal favorite, there are simple artificial table-top bushes and succulents that look nice in a home, too.
The coolest thing I’ve seen, though, are the artificial hedges. Consider those an option if you’re terrible about watering, don’t have the right amount of sunlight on your property, or if you live in a climate that doesn’t allow for fresh greenery. You can check out boxwood trimmed topiary hedge options here.
3. Enjoy Cut Flowers
The beauty of cut flowers is that you can enjoy all colors and scents without any of the labor of growing the flowers. A vase full of hydrangea or tulips instantly brightens any room, and fresh cut flowers are so easy to find. Visit a local florist, grab a bunch at the grocery store, or (my favorite) snag a bouquet at the farmers’ market on a weekend. My friend Olga from Mango Tomato treats herself to a flowers every week, which I love.