A guide to indoor gardening

’m off galivanting around the world for a few weeks so I have lined up some some talented ladies to hold the fort while I’m gone. Hope you enjoy!

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As our home has evolved over the last few years and we’ve reached a point where have all of the major pieces sorted, I’ve turned my attention to the details. One thing that is sorely lacking is any indoor plants as I don’t even know what plants to choose or how to take care of them, let alone how to incorporate them into a contemporary interior. I have very selfishly asked Meg from Out of Milk Design Studio to give me (and you) a beginners’ intro to indoor gardening. I can’t wait to give it a go when I get home!  – Alicia

P.S. OMG, look at the mini lumberjacks!!

lumberjack terrarium

I am no green thumb. I live on the second level of a small block of flats, with hardly a balcony to speak of. Somehow this – as opposed to the times that I have lived in larger houses with extensive grounds worthy of a veggie patch and front yard lined with roses – has sparked my interest in gardening. I suspect that it’s a typical case of wanting what you cannot have!

Introducing plants into the home helps to bring life to a room, and is a relatively inexpensive way to ‘decorate’. I began growing a few herbs for cooking with, and things have continually escalated from there. I now tend to spend my time creating miniature ecosystems (terrariums) for others rather than tending to my own. Luckily indoor plants are generally low maintenance and can (to an extent) be forgotten about.

indoor plants various

It is important to use the right plants in the right situations and conditions. That being said, you should not be afraid to experiment with indoor gardening, even if you think of yourself as a ‘plant killer’ like I do. You might have to accept a few failed attempts in the beginning, but over time you will determine which plants best suit the conditions in your home and which ones will survive just about anything! You will also develop favourite varieties and stick with them. Some of my indestructible favourites are succulents and ferns (of any kind), as well as begonias and ‘baby tears’.

Large singular plants such as palms in brass pots can create a striking focal point, although it is good to group plants of various sizes together – on a table or the floor. Clustering plants not only creates interest, it also encourages a healthier environment for the plants as they are encouraged to generate their own supply of humidity. Maintain the humidity by using peat moss or another moisture retaining medium, to keep the soil permanently moist. This doesn’t mean you should excessively water your plants, especially if you are using pots without drainage holes. A good misting once a week should be sufficient.

hey jupiter fern

Suspending plants in hanging pots can be a great way of introducing plants indoors – especially if you have tall ceilings and otherwise limited space (as long as you can get away with it). Macramé holders might seem a bit daggy to some (perhaps too much of a reminder of the ‘70s), but they can actually look really great. I’ve started to experiment with coloured and fluoro string. Alternatively, line a wicker basket with plastic and plant a fern, or perhaps use a plant that trails downwards – there are some varieties available that have colourful undersides to their leaves that would not normally be seen at a lower level. Again, as there is nowhere for the water to escape, be mindful of over-watering.

Terrariums are probably the most fun you can have with indoor gardening! I find it quite hard not to get carried away by incorporating scenes with miniature figures that play beneath the foliage. Terrariums can be made from anything from a goldfish bowl, to old bottles, jars and wine glasses –but use only vessels with clear or lightly tinted glass. I collect vintage glassware from op shops, and have come across some very unique vessels indeed. Terrariums do initially require a bit of work to get them started. This is due to the need to arrange the planting floor correctly, and the selection of suitable plants to work well together and not grow too quickly. Some vessels have narrow openings, which means that you may need to adapt gardening ‘tools’ to aid the process – a teaspoon on the end of a paintbrush acting as a makeshift trowel is perhaps my most useful device. Placement is also critical. Although stunning in the passing morning light, avoid placing terrariums in direct sunlight as the glass both magnifies sun rays and traps air warmed by the sun. The good news is that once they are established, terrariums need very little attention – a spray of water every now and then is all they need.

Deer terrarium

If you would like advice on which plants to use indoors, or how to construct a terrarium – please feel free to contact Meg via email (oomdesignstudio@gmail.com) or the Out of Milk Facebook page.

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About the guest poster:

Meg Wilson is the name behind Out of Milk design studio – an interior and furniture design studio that specialises in the re-use of materials and ‘making-do’ with very little in order to generate exciting and intriguing solutions for the home and/or workplace.

Meg graduated in 2006 from the University of South Australia with Honors in Visual Arts (Painting & Drawing). Further studies in Interior Design (2010), and employment as a Furniture Design Consultant, have become influential upon the working processes used by the artist/designer.


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