No green thumb? Say it ain’t so! Here’s a super-simple foolproof planting method you’ll want to try today.
So you say you have a bit of the old black thumb? Despite what you may think, you're not cursed to kill every plant you touch. Fact: Most plants sold at your local hardware store are pretty hardy and low-maintenance. (Hint: Follow the light and planting recommendations found on the little tab sticking out of the soil.) Trust us, when it comes to planting tropical plants and/or succulents, choosing just one plant will be the toughest thing you’ll do in this process.
Vintage planters are everywhere: You seriously can’t hit up a stoop sale or flea market without seeing a hundred of them usually sitting empty, in need of a few good plants. Why buy vintage planters, you ask? Because they’re a heck of a lot cuter than Ikea’s and boring terracotta ones, they’re often cheaper, too (think: 25 cents people!) and they make any old plant look like a million bucks. Vintage planters come in nearly any size, color, and material (carved gourds, redware, porcelain, ceramic) and have an authentic, handmade feel that everyone appreciates.
Now: Ready for the easiest, quickest, most rewarding planting lesson ever? Yay! We thought so…We’re talking 5 minutes per plant—NO JOKE!
STEP ONE: Mise en place, or Gather Ye Supplies
Just as any good chef worth his salt will attest, the key to cooking up a quicker, more efficient recipe is having all ingredients ready to go, and literally at your fingertips.
* Vintage planter
* Tropical plant or succulent
* Stones, pebbles, or gravel
* All-purpose soil
* All-purpose granulated plant food (Miracle-Gro, Osmocote, etc.)
* Shovel (but bare hands will do)
* Love (aw!)
STEP TWO: Create drainage
As with any naturally growing plant, good drainage is vital. Too much water creates harmful bacteria, deprives plants of oxygen, and rots plant roots. Line the bottom of the planter with a one-to-two-inch layer (depending on the size of the planter) of gravel, stones, or river rocks (like the dollar-store specials we’re using here). The stones create a barrier separating excess water from roots.
STEP THREE: Add soil
Using a shovel (or your hand), fill the planter halfway with new soil, reserving space for some of the plant’s old soil, too.
STEP FOUR: Mix in fertilizer
Mix granulated fertilizer into the new soil, following package instructions. Handy, shakable plant foods, such as Osmocote and Miracle-Gro, slow-release nutrients over a three-to-four-month period and are activated every time you water. Alternatively, you can top-dress the soil with these fertilizers, too.
STEP FIVE: Get planting
For this project we chose a heavy, attractive art-pottery stoneware vase (yes, vase because you're allowed to be creative) that was signed on the bottom by the artist. We liked its bulbous shape and spattered-pink colorway. We also chose the vertically-growing Sansevieria trifasciata (a.k.a. snake plant and mother-in-law’s tongue) to complement the vase's organic shape and also for the plant's height and hardiness—it thrives in any light, likes dry soil and air, and rarely needs to be repotted.
Squeeze the bottom of the plastic planter and turn the plant upside down to loosen plant from planter.
We were lucky enough to grab a two-fer, so we split our plant in half for double the planting pleasure. To split, we grabbed the root ball with both hands, gently working our thumbs into the space between the two plants, and slowly pulled them apart.
Sink the plant (along with some of its old soil) into the vintage planter, burying the roots and centering the plant. Add more soil if necessary, but leave about ½ - to 1-inch space above the soil line.
STEP SIX: Give her a tall drink of water
Slowly pour water into the planter so muddy soil doesn’t ooze over the planter's sides. Allow water to seep into soil. If deep, bare air pockets form in soil, add more soil to those areas.
You're now the proud owner of a lovely, healthy plant, a pretty vintage planter—and of course, a green thumb!
Happy Hunting, Everybody!