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7 Tips & Tricks to Decorating Your Home With Plants

A beginner’s guide to successful plant parenthood including the best low maintenance plants, plant care tips, and more
A variety of houseplants decorated in someones home
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Ah, the wonder of plant parenthood: diligently tending to your baby’s every need, giving it the nutrients it longs for, pouring your heart and soul into this little supposed “miracle”… and then, poof, it wilts and dries out before your very eyes. 

If you’re like me and most plant newbies, you’ve likely killed a plant or two… or maybe even every plant you have ever attempted to raise. Luckily, 30-plus-year greenery connoisseur, Taurus-born earth-lover, and shopkeeper and creative director at Green Fresh Florals + Plants Carlos Franco has lovingly offered his beginner-friendly plant knowledge to help those poor, lost souls (myself included) who have committed plantslaughter. Here’s his advice.

An assortment of flowers ideal for decorating your space from San Diego plant shop Green Fresh Florals + Plants
Courtesy of Green Fresh Florals + Plants

What Plants Should I Get?

Franco says every plant-shopping sesh should begin with the same question: What kind of lighting does your space have? If you’re working with a low-light situation, he recommends a Zanzibar gem (better known as a ZZ plant) or snake plant because they are hardy and don’t require a lot of maintenance. Near-impossible to kill, pothos plants are also a great choice, especially if you want to add vertical dimension to a room by hanging them near the ceiling and letting their long, viny tendrils hang down. 

A row of snake plants that are ideal low maintenance plants for new plant enthusiasts
Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

What Are Low-Maintenance Plants?

In plant lingo, low-maintenance does not mean you can set it and forget it. Instead, it indicates that a plant doesn’t require a ton of watering, doesn’t need to be repotted often, and is not super susceptible to changes in its environment. “Let’s say you moved,” Franco says. “If you took your ZZ plant with you, it would be just fine—whereas if you brought your calathea, it would be finicky and freak out and take weeks to come back.” 

Interior of San Diego plant shop Green Fresh Florals + Plants, a popular place to buy houseplants for decorating
Courtesy of Green Fresh Florals + Plants

Where to Purchase Your Plants in San Diego?

Shop local and be cautious of big box stores, Franco advises. When a plant sprouts on the other side of the country in a greenhouse, then hops between trucks and loading docks to get to the nearest Home Depot, it’s already experienced a stressful cross-country roadtrip and is more prone to shock (and death). Just like with the produce you eat, look for organic pant pals untouched by pesticides.

A woman maintaining and caring for plants inside of a greenhouse
Courtesy of Wikipedia

How to Maintain Your Plants

Tips for Watering Plants

While every plant has its own unique care routine that you must know, owners of beginner-friendly plants like those mentioned above can follow the same general advice: Give your leafy friend’s soil some H2O only when it’s completely dry. 

How to Fertilize Plants

The best way to love up on a plant is to mimic its native, wild environment. Franco recommends fertilizing plants once a month to give them all the nutrients they’d receive in a jungle setting from dead plants, flowing water, and new soil.

How to Repot Your Plants

In order to thrive, plants need an ideal soil-to-root ratio, and when their roots outgrow the original pot, it’s imperative to give your plant baby some more room to grow. On average, plants need a new vessel every one to two years, Franco says, but again, every sprout is different. 

How to Expand Your Plant Family

Find what works for you and grow from there. If a ZZ plant thrives in your living room, perfect! Fill the space with several varieties of the plant to expand your collection. “I have about 25 different types of monsteras, 40 different philodendrons, and about 30 different types of alocasias because I know those do good in my space,” Franco explains. 

Mother Nature is fickle, and some plants are far more finicky than others, so don’t get discouraged if your green thumb doesn’t show itself right away. Franco insists that anyone yearning for plant parenthood should give it a try. “You and I are not horticulturists,” he says. “We’re not biologists—we’re just trying to get that good look on Instagram.”

By Maren Hawkins

Maren Hawkins is an editorial intern at San Diego Magazine. She is in her second to last year at San Diego State University and serves as a staff writer for The Daily Aztec. When she is not writing, she spends her time finding the best workout spots in SD, thrifting for the cutest clothes, and traveling whenever possible.

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