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Saturday, April 13, 2013

How to make an indoor "plant", instantly, for nothing

I had this problem spot in the powder room next to the kitchen. There's a lovely, weathered steel, wall-hung shelf with three weathered steel cups/planters. The cups had remained empty for quite a while, and this just looked unfinished. 

One of my thoughts was to cover 3 styrofoam balls with moss and rest in the cups. I have moss, just no styrofoam balls, and I was wanting to do this with no additional cost.

I knew I wanted something just green, so as not to compete with any of the other floral-themed items in the room. And it had to be low-"growing", but not alive, as there is no natural light in this powder room.

I have seen some lovely mini, faux-boxwood topiaries in home decor shops. And that's where my inspiration was born.

Boxwood cuttings (and those from other evergreen shrubs) can last in water for a very long time, several weeks to months, with just a change of water once per week. A floral preservative can help keep the water clear, as well.

So, I went out to the front garden and took several clippings off the hedge. I set out 3 jelly jars. I trimmed the stem ends of the boxwood until they looked about right. Then filled the jars with water, plucked the bottom leaves off the stems, and placed them in the water-filled jars. The jars can not be seen when placed in the weathered steel planters.

Voila! A long-term, temporary solution for my wall-hung planter, using what I had here at home.

Translate this idea for other cheap and cheerful decorating
  • weddings, graduation parties, Mother's Day teas, baby showers -- this idea translates well to table decor, several jelly jars placed in terra cotta pots, filled with evergreen cuttings, make free table decorations
  • needing a quick "plant" as green space-filler, for the mantle above the fireplace, the coffee table, a book shelf -- use several filled jelly jars, clustered together inside a copper, brass or ceramic planter
  • have a dark corner where you'd really like to place a plant, but a living plant won't survive the lack of sunlight? The entry hall in your home is the gateway to your family life. A "plant" of boxwood (or other evergreen) cuttings would be welcoming to all who cross your threshold. Our entry hall is on the north side of the house and plants definitely do not thrive there. I'll be adding some evergreen cuttings in a pot to the table in the entry.
Keep this in mind, if you're needing a quick plant, say, for party/holiday table decor, instant decorating update, or background filler for a family photo.

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  1. Aren't you a smart lady! Love it!

    1. Hi Shara,
      Thank you! What's the saying, necessity is the mother of invention. In this case I "needed" free plants.

      I hope all the tax work is coming to a close for you!

  2. Pure genius! Yet another inspiration. As I spring clean each room, I like to give that room a "gift" as I finish. Now I know what to put in the rooms with little natural light. Thanks.

    1. Hi Judy,
      Thank you! What a nice idea, to add a little something special to each room as you do the spring cleaning. The planning of what to add, might motivate me to clean a bit more!

    2. Great idea! Inspiring! Did your boxwood ever root in water? I'm curious if it can be propogated in water?

    3. They didn't root indoors in water, but I propagated an entire hedge around our front yard with 1 boxwood shrub as a mother plant, using some rooting hormone, damp sand and waiting about 1 year. Late July/early August seems to be the ideal time of year to root many evergreens from cuttings.

  3. This is a good idea. Have you experimented with other evergreens to know if they last as long as boxwood?

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I am thinking of all the plants that I've taken cuttings from and brought in. I've had good luck with arborvitae, camillia, rhododendron, ivy and sedum. Sedum's not an evergreen, but I took cuttings of Autumn Joy last summer for a bouquet, and the Autumn Joy lasted several weeks. And ivy, we all know how ivy will just root in water. I've kept cutting of ivy in a cup for months. Just have to change the water every week, or it gets slimy.

      I've never tried for long term use of tree evergreens. During the holidays I'll bring in some cedar, but I only expect it to last 2-3 weeks.

      Boxwood holds it's leaves pretty well. When I've done cuttings for propagation in damp sand, the boxwood has looked good the next year, when it's developed roots.

      There's a method for preserving boxwood with glycerin that I may try later this summer. Then it can be used in wreaths and water is not necessary.

    2. Thanks for the information. Of course, I have the cats to contend with so I have to be careful what I bring inside.

    3. Oh yes -- cats will chew on just about everything, at least ours always did.

  4. Lili,

    First off your weathered planter is in itself a wonderful treasure! Love how you have added the boxwood-I did not know that it would last for so long. I have several little crystal vases-I am going to try this today!

    Great Tip-
    I hope you have a happy weekend!

    1. Hi Jemma,
      Thank you. I love that planter and shelf, too. Just keep water in the vases, and change once per week and your boxwood should keep a while. I am wondering how temperature/climate differences will affect how long these cuttings keep. Let me know how yours work out.

      I hope you have a wonderful weekend, as well!

  5. thanks for the wonderful inspirationen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    have a nice weekend,
    love regina

    1. Hi Regina,
      Your welcome!
      Hope you have a wonderful weekend, as well!

  6. Just beautiful! I have not been able to keep anything alive in my bathroom area, there is zero natural light and remains dark all day, minus the few minutes a day that a light is on. Any ideas for what might survive in total darkness?

    1. Hi Lois,
      That describes our bathroom exactly. No windows, no light, except when someone has the light on. And that's why cuttings do work. They don't need any light. These are just cuttings that I've taken and put into jars of water. I don't expect them to live, just hoping they'll last a while before turning brown. (And actually boxwood cuttings can be kept indoors for a couple of months, just in clean water.)

      Do you have any ivy on the property? You could take several cuttings, place in water and have an ivy "plant". Just change the water once a week. If you happen to have any floral preservative (those packets multiply in my cupboard, for some reason), add a packet. It will help keep the water clear.

      My other suggestion is what I've done in the family room, in a dark spot. I have a bunch of silk ivy from craft projects. I clipped it into 7 - 9 inch lengths and stuck them into an old pot of dirt, inside of a small, nice planter. Any silk greenery, leftover from craft projects would work.

  7. Holly lasts quite well, too! I had to laugh at the line "The entry hall in your home is the gateway to your family life." I wouldn't like to think what mine says about me, LOL!

    1. Hi anexacting,
      That's good to know about the holly. We have several holly bushes on our property.

      Right now, my entry hall says we've recently had a birthday in the family, and celebrated Easter, as I've got the ribbon box and some Easter baskets sitting on the table there. They have to go upstairs, which shouldn't be a problem, but I just don't think to grab them until I'm actually up the stairs.

      My entry hall also says that I'm indecisive. We repainted the walls 2 years ago, and I've yet to hang anything on them. Just can't decide what I want to do with the walls.

  8. It looks lovely and it must be really nice to have some greenery in the kitchen :)


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