Want a beautiful home garden? Low on bucks? Perhaps your collection of potted at plants at home is looking a bit shabby, and you want to spruce it up on a shoestring budget. Whether your little potted Eden is in your kitchen, a small apartment balcony, or sunny bay window, by repotting the plants and adding a variety of new plants you can infuse your home garden with a fresh sense of interest and new life. Your own little flower-garden of potted plants, which costs very little, makes your place, no matter how small, that much more homey and easier on the eyes. Tending a garden of various potted plants also gives you something productive to do, especially when you are feeling stressed, and lends a fresh breath of air to the area. The surprise, if you want to replace and refresh some of the plants, is how little damage getting the materials to re-pot your garden can cause to your wallet.
You may want to add some new plants to your current collection, or you may be starting from scratch. There are several great places to find charming plants for cheap. The dollar store, an easy find in LA, is a top pick. These places often receive shipments of plants from name-brand companies that arrive as surplus from larger stores or as inventory that have been resold. Dollar stores stock a great variety of plants that change from day to day, depending on what has been received that day, and if you keep a sharp eye out for the bargains there, you can make a few great finds yours. Home Depot also offers a great selection of bargain priced plants. Before you choose your little green pets, make sure that they look healthy and green, with no yellow or drooping leaves, and that they can thrive in the type of environment that you plan to place them in at home, whether it be in a sunny window or a shady corner of the desk.
Once you have brought your finds home, the next step is to do the actual process of re-potting the plants. Repotting the plants is a process that is about finding what is most comfortable for the individual plant so that it can thrive. Identify any plants that you previously owned that also need repotting--these will have roots that are curling out through the drainage holes or around the interior of the pot. The specimen may simply look like it is outgrowing its pot and about to burst out of the pot! Soil that is too tightly packed or that dries out too quickly is also a telltale sign.
Remember that one plant can also be split into two plants in two pots, if it had previously been too crowded in its pot.
Take a good look at the roots by gently rolling or shaking the container to remove the plant, instead of simply yanking out the main stem. Turn the pot upside down and shake it out. Then loosen the roots along the side and at the base of the root ball, with your fingers, before using a knife to divide the lower third part of the root ball. Doing so causes the plant to grow downward and outward, not in a circular pattern, which will cause it to choke itself. Make sure to prune off dead and damaged roots.
After that, put the plant in the container that will be the plant's new home. Select a pot that is an inch to two inches wider than the previous one. Center the plant in the new container. Make sure that it stands straight. You will need to put enough soil at the bottom of the pot so that the top of the root ball is about 1/2 inches below the rim of the pot. Arrange the new soil or compost mix around the plant and gently tap the mix down around the plant's roots. Concentrated nutrient mixes, such as Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, is a recommended buy. Bargain potting mixes can end up to be more expensive for the wallet in the end because they contain little nutrients for the plant. When you are done with the repotting process, water the plants well in order to achieve a good contact between the soil and roots.
Spring or summer is usually the best time to repot plants, as they are actively growing. After the repotting process, let the plant rest for a few days in the semi-shade to recover. If it is not growing well, do not blame the plant. Look for other reasons, such as the amount of fertilizer or water it is being given, or the position in the sun that it has been placed in. Continue trying something new if the plant does not seem to thrive in its new pot, such as moving it to another pot or decreasing the amount of water.
The aesthetics of your home garden can make a difference in your home. The colors of the flowers or the pots you choose to place your plants in should also be a considered aspect when arranging and re-potting your Eden.
My friend, who loves keeping her home as green as possible in a smog-filled city, chooses a color scheme of flowers in reds, pinks, and whites to stand out in her foliage-filled apartment. Her pleasing selection of plants is as diverse as it is eclectic, including orchids, spiny cacti, and exotic leafy organisms. The dollar store, remember, is a good place to find your pots and adorable bowls that can double as flower pots. When your garden is carefully arranged, a pleasing aesthetic can be achieved to make your home a more enjoyable place, no matter how small your budget is.
Those of us who are "broke, down, and disgusted", as my boyfriend likes to put it, have little means to afford a large, luxurious place to live in a place like LA. However, this doesn't mean that your home has to be an uncomfortable experience. Green is easy on the eyes. As the Chinese proverb advises, "Pleasure for one hour, a bottle of wine. Pleasure for one year a marriage; but pleasure for a lifetime, a garden."
When your plants are re-established and feel comfortable, they will thrive, and reward you with pleasure to last a lifetime.