life curated.

DIY: Make Your Own Mini Succulent Ramekins

mini DIY succulent ramekins

DIY: Make Your Own Mini Succulent Ramekins

I’ve been trying to go through a few things in my apartment and I came across a few little white ramekins. Since I was planning on doing a some succulent refactoring, I thought it might be nice to repurpose them for an easy DIY project that’s super fast and easy to complete.

What you’ll need:

supplies for project

  1. succulents – you can use cuttings and/or rooted plants
  2. cactus soil mix
  3. ramekins
  4. aquarium gravel

Step 1:

Gather your supplies and pick out the succulents you’re planning on using. Try to select really small plants or cuttings.

Step 2:(optional)

Put a small layer of gravel in the ramekin first. Since the ramekin doesn’t have a hole for excess water drainage, the gravel helps to keep the plant and soil separate from any excess water that might collect.
gravel on bottom of ramekin

Step 3:

Fill the rest of the ramekin with soil and start planting your specimens.
plants positioned in soil

Step 4:

Add aquarium gravel around the plants on top of the soil. You’re done!
plants in ramekins finished

Many varieties of succulents grow really well from cuttings. If you’re short on plants, there’s no better way to procure them than from cuttings.

Mid Century Modern Planters: Addressing Beauty and Function

ming aralia double-potted

Mid Century Modern Planters

Mid-century modern planters are one of the most coveted home accessories for the indoor gardening enthusiast (if you like mid-century modern decor like I do).

Beauty and Form

  • simple design
  • frequently ceramic (most have been built to last)
  • classic – they never go out of style
  • works well with almost any decor
  • compliments most types of houseplants

Function

Honestly, I love my plants. Half of the allure of having houseplants are how they compliment their environments. But more importantly, the planters you use to pot them play an instrumental role in how well they grow.

Drainage or No Drainage?

Having planters with holes is almost always better then having planters without them. But, if you’re like me, and you spend hours online looking for the perfect planter to compliment your favorite houseplant, sometimes that perfect planter doesn’t come with drainage. When they have drainage, it feels a little like winning the lottery. However, in most cases (in my experience), they don’t.

Potting plants correctly isn’t common knowledge. I know because I’ve done it wrong before. I bought a beautiful planter (similar to this one below) but it didn’t have holes for drainage.
red orange planter

Poor Drainage

At first, it didn’t matter much to me and I went through the motions. I put a layer of aquarium gravel on the bottom, then some moss, and then some soil. I made my plant nice and comfy… or so I thought. Months went by, my plant was dropping it’s leaves like crazy, and it simply looked like it was suffering.

Every so often, I do what I call “plant refactoring.” I have way too many houseplants so now and again, I consolidate what I have, sometimes combining plants in one container that were originally in two. My mission this time was to do something to help my suffering my houseplant’s declining condition.

In the middle of my refactoring session, I lifted my unhealthy houseplant from the planter and it was completely water-logged. I mean, this thing was soaked. The bottom of the planter looked like a murky, smelly pond of water. Pretty gross. No wonder the plant was suffering!

Double-Potting

I looked to amazon for what is called a “nursery pot” that is made of coconut coir (doesn’t have to be). I measured the diameter of my ceramic planter, then looked for the same diameter pot for the inner one.

nursery pot and planter

double-potting example

That way, the plant has the drainage it needs but the aesthetic of the planter. If it needs a height boost, I usually put rocks inside the bottom. The other reason for doing that is because it allows excess water to collect without water-logging the plant.

Best case scenario is that you find the perfect planter and it has drainage as well as a saucer.

Exceptions

There are many occasions where you actually might not need a plant to be double-potted. Basil plants have a very high tolerance to being over-watered. They love water and don’t seem to mind having no drainage. Also, most succulents don’t need much water so the likelihood of overwatering is much less common.

I have some succulents in planters without drainage and they look pretty happy:

haeger planter with succulents

succulents in a clear glass container

top view of succulents in brulee ramekin

succulents in brulee ramekin

Popular Mid-Century Modern Pottery Brands

Morton Shawnee Syring
Haeger California Pottery Coors
Marei Keramik GAINEY Roseville
Coronet Frankoma Hornsea
Haldeman Caliente Pottery of California Franciscan Ceramics Sierra Vista California
Stahl Pottery Hull McCoy
Zanesville Carolina Macbeth Evans
Robinson Ransbottom Bauer Pottery Shawnee
Weller Inarco Red Wing
Hazel Atlas Spara Keramik Cathrineholm
Heath Ceramics Marcia of California Fiesta

small textured planter

white and gold bitossi planter

mccoy planters

Gainey Ceramics Planter

Wildflowers Printable Art: A Freebie for the Home

wildflower poster freebie image

Enjoy my first free printable! I’ve been super busy with some top secret stuff over the past few weeks. So, in an attempt to unwind, I decided to create something easy for you to print out and frame. I found the quote inspiring. It’s “Like wildflowers, you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would. —E.V.” This is for personal use only, just FYI. Trackbacks are much appreciated! Download it here: wildflowers_freebie_fabdwell

DIY Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your Own Maidenhair Fern Terrarium

Maidenhair ferns are some of the most delicate plants to add in a terrarium. I’ve tried growing maidenhair ferns outside of a terrarium environment and all I have to say about it is that it’s not easy. They need a consistent level of humidity, the right lighting conditions, and easy draining moist soil. For beginners, this plant is probably a hard one to start off with, but given the right conditions, anyone can successfully grow their own.

bunch of terrariumsmaidenhair leavessilver dollar maidenhair fern details

What You’ll Need:

  1. Potting soil
  2. Horticultural charcoal
  3. Perlite
  4. Aquarium gravel
  5. Plants that enjoy constantly moist soil – Like maidenhair ferns!
  6. Glass jar with a top

Step 1: Aquarium Gravel

Fill the bottom of the jar about 3/4 of an inch with aquarium gravel.

aquarium gravel

Step 2 (Optional): Perlite

 

Perlite If you happen to have a lot of perlite on hand, feel free to layer it on top of the aquarium gravel. You can use about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of perlite on top of the gravel if you want. Perlite is a porous material that is used to help aerate potting soil. I have a ton of this so it doesn’t hurt to add an extra layer if you have too much of it laying around. You can probably imagine what it’s like to live in a small apartment with a giant bag of perlite. I’m basically swimming in it.

Step 3: Horticultural Charcoal

I’ve tried making terrariums without this but having a substantial layer of charcoal certainly helps keep the water palatable for your plants. The charcoal helps keep algae and bacteria at bay so your plants remain healthy.

hoffman brand horticultural charcoal

Step 4: Potting Soil

Mix about 1 cup of perlite to 2 cups of potting soil. It isn’t an exact science but the perlite helps regulate the moisture in the soil itself. Maidenhair ferns don’t like sitting in soil that is too soggy.

potting soil

Step 5: Add Your Plants

If you are adding a maidenhair fern, try to plant the fern in the middle of the jar. Try to situate the plant in a way where the fronds avoid contact with the sides of the glass jar. If the plant has direct contact with the glass on a constant basis, the condensation from the jar will irritate the fronds causing the edges of the fronds to turn brown.

nerve plant closeupPlants that work well with maidenhair ferns:

  • Nerve Plant (Fittonia verschaffeltii)
  • Parlor Palm (Neanthe bella)
  • Philodendron (there are so many types)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Ruby Red Club Moss (Selaginella erythropus)
  • Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii)
  • Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
  • Coleus (Plectranthus scutellarioides)
  • Peacock Plant (Calathea roseopicta)

Fungus gnat larvae eradication strategies

Today I’m going to discuss some of the difficulties I’ve encountered recently regarding fungus gnats. These pesky things resemble fruit flies but tend to be incredibly annoying and their larvae seems almost impossible to kill. Although growing terrariums can be very rewarding, containers that are kept constantly moist will almost inevitably be infested at one point by these creatures. Water-loving plants are a risk to these things and it doesn’t matter if they are kept inside or outside, the gnats somehow manage to find a way to your beloved plants.

gnatlife

Life cycle of the fungus gnat

Fungus Gnat Larvae

If you’ve been infested, you’ll see small worm-like white critters in your clear terrarium container. They move slowly and sometimes can go unnoticed. One single fungus gnat can lay 200 eggs at a time. Larvae thrive in moist conditions and feed on decaying plant matter. They have also been known to eat and destroy plant roots while spreading viruses and disease to your plants. So, you can imagine how loved these things are by yours truly. Plus, they look disgusting. Also, forget using a wide spectrum insecticide as these things are totally unfazed.

The lifecycle of the fungus gnat takes about 20 days from egg to maturity. So, killing them overnight is not likely.
Here’s what I’ve tried:

1. Hydrogen Peroxide

I read online that 1 part peroxide to 2 parts water would kill larve on contact. While this may seem like the case, it certainly also kills certain plants on contact too. I tried this and successfully killed several of my maidenhair ferns. The best part is that the larvae still seemed to survive.

2. Steam

I have a steamer and I read that this also kills larvae on contact. The larvae is said to live in the first 3 inches of topsoil and applying steam should kill them. Yes, this did kill a lot of them but not all. It also successfully killed some of my plants too, which definitely was not ideal.

3. Azamax

Azamax is like a concentrated version of neem oil and this too was unsuccessful. This was very harsh on the plants so I don’t recommend trying this to get rid of fungus gnats. Azamax would be best for treating thrips, spider mites and other types of pests that neem oil could remove. However, Azamaz should be reserved for severe infestations since neem oil is usually more than capable most of the time.

4. Gnatrol

Gnatrol is derived from the same bacteria that beneficial nematodes are known to spread when killing gnat larvae. Since I applied a wide spectrum insecticide when I originally planted my terrariums, the use of beneficial nematodes were out of the question. The insecticide kills beneficial nematodes, which is why you should opt for growing organically 100% of the time. Gnatrol is bacteria that kills larvae by making them stop eating. Larvae takes around 2 weeks to grow and Gnatrol isn’t an overnight solution, but it seems to be the most effective. I’ve seen complete eradication in some of my containers but I will need to continue to reapply the solution once every 5 days to the containers where I can still see larvae.

Gnatrol comes in a powder form and you need to mix it with water for application. Please note that if you are using tap water for the mixture, the bacteria that kills gnats will not be viable if mixed with chlorinated water. Most tap water is chlorinated, so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. In order for successful Gnatrol application, put water in a container and leave it open so the chlorine can evaporate. No need to filter the water in any special way… you just need to leave the container lid open or ajar for a day or two so the chlorine can escape.

fungus gnats image 3 fungus gnats image 2 fungus gnats image 1

Plant Spotlight: Plumosa Fern (Asparagus setaceus)

plumosa_full_alternate

The plumosa fern has bristle-like, long, layered and arching fronds.

plumosa_alternate

plumosa_fern_leaves

Today I’m presenting some info on the plumosa aka asparagus fern. They are delicate plants that tolerate a variety of conditions, making them very versatile for home interiors. Please note that in some areas, these are known as an invasive species. If you happen to live in an area that does not experience winter frost, you may not want to plant this outside.

As a native species of South Africa, the plumosa fern is actually part of the lily family. Each branch can grow between 18 and 24 inches in length. Overall, this plant is capable of reaching nearly 1 meter tall and wide. Visually, the plumosa fern offers an airy, layered appearance and responds well to pruning, which encourages additional growth. They also flower in the spring and are known to have fragrant white blooms. Plumosa prefers bright indirect light and well-draining soil. The brighter the light, the faster it will grow.

By the way, if you have pets, keep this one out of their reach. This plant is toxic to animals. It’s pretty and makes a lovely filler for floral arrangements, so it’s well worth adding to your home if you’re looking for something unique and easy.

4 Simple Steps to Painting an Art Deco Style Planter | Gold & White

This weekend I really wanted to use up some of my craft supplies. I have a ton of acrylic paint I never use. I bought 2 small cement planters (flower pots, cachepots, etc.) from Jamali in the NYC floral district a little while ago with the intention of dressing them up. They look pretty but it’s often hard to find something that looks more unique. I think each one was around $3-4.

Just so you know, they do have an online store so you can buy from them online, but I didn’t see the actual product I bought on their site so if you happen to be in the NYC metro area, it might be worth physically going there. They are located 149 West 28th street between 6th and 7th aves and are open Monday through Saturday. Attention early risers: Jamali opens at 6:30 am and they close at 5pm so make sure you get there earlier in the day. It can get a bit crowded.

So this is how the planter turned out:

cement planter painted animation

I used an old paint brush that I had lying around, some leftover gold and white paint, and some artist masking tape. I tried regular masking tape first but it was a bit hard to pull off so the artist masking tape proved easier to use for this purpose.

Step 1: Apply the masking tape to the planter exterior

First, I applied the artist masking tape to the outside of the planter. I decided how I wanted to position the tape and how much of each color I wanted to show on each side.

Step 2: Use a brush to paint over the exposed areas

Then I used the brush to paint over the exposed areas coloring each segment. I tried to paint all of the sides in one sitting, which would have been manageable, but I needed a few of the sides to dry a little before finishing off the last side. I didn’t wait for the paint to completely dry before pulling off the tape. I was afraid that if I waited too long the paint might end up pulling the paint up with the tape if I waited for it all to dry.

Step 3: Finish the remaining fourth side

Carefully, I removed the tape as I painted the segments as I went along. After about 20 or so minutes of leaving it alone with 3 of the sides complete, I finished the last side.

Step 4: Fill it!

filled planter with ficus benjamina

Once it was all totally dry, I filled it with one of my plants that was outgrowing a terrarium. What plant is this you ask? It is a weeping fig, a popular indoor ornamental plant (ficus benjamina). I’ll probably devote a separate post on popular indoor species and a few of the things I’ve done to keep them happy.

Also, I have seen that people have used enamel — I believe enamel is oil-based, which is likely waterproof. The one I made is meant for indoor use only. If you want to waterproof this, you can get a spray paint clear gloss from Home Depot or Lowes to spray over your finished work. This will prevent the acrylic from coming off when exposed to the elements. I also think that even if you use enamel, it is still best to apply a clear gloss coat over your work if you plan on using the planter outside.

In general, I was amazed at how quickly the planter customization could be done. I was pleased with the result and happy that I could use up some of my art supplies that have not been getting much use.

planter_craft filled planter with ficus benjamina planter images

 

Why my basil is so happy — Indoor Gardening Basics

I recently posted a picture of my basil plant on instagram. A fellow instagrammer (@hafaabdulcader) asked me about tips on indoor gardening. As a city dweller, it’s the one of those fun things virtually anyone with access to a window and some light can do.

basil_plant

1. Neem Oil

This is good stuff. This all natural pesticide comes from the seeds of the neem tree. The Dyna-Gro Neem Oil brand was recommended by other gardeners online and it has great reviews on Amazon itself. It’s not expensive. I think I bought this off of Amazon for about $12.

I can completely understand why its so beloved. It’s super easy to use and effective. Indoor gardens are still vulnerable to pests. If you introduce a new plant into your home, you don’t always see issues until its too late. Use neem oil to coat the plant completely. Try to get it in all the nooks and crannies so that you can feel confident you are introducing a healthy plant into your collection. By the way, you can also water you plants with it too.

dyna_neem_oil

I wish I had known about this when I first started indoor gardening. I bought a beautiful gardenia and watched it die a horrible death by the wrath of dust mites. Dust mites are airborne and get transported to plants indoors by drafts, open windows, etc. Protect your plants with neem oil. It smells gross but it’s awesome.

For more detailed information on neem oil, visit the National Pesticide Information Center.

2. Basic Requirements

You probably can guess this one. Water and sunlight. The key to happiness of most living things in my opinion. Basil needs water — lots of it. This plant is always thirsty. Keep the water coming and it will keep growing — provided it has enough sunlight. Basil also loves sunlight. Right now it is positioned on the north side of my apartment. I believe this plant would do well facing north, east, or south. It probably could do well in a west facing window, but I can’t really be sure since I haven’t tried it myself.

3. Attention

Some plants need more, some need less, but it never hurts to be attentive. Some might say attention could go in the basic requirements section of this post, but I’m calling it out here for emphasis. Without attention, you may not know what you might need to adjust to keep you plant healthy. With basil, when it gets tall like mine, the bottom leaves start to yellow. This is normal and nothing that I worry about. If the leaves start to curl and you see a web-like structure happening around the leaves, you’ll likely need to intervene. I’ve never had any issues with basil. It’s one of my favorites to grow. It doesn’t take much to be happy, it smells great, and it’s oh so useful when cooking!

My Life Curated

I decided to start this blog for several reasons. I wanted a place to share products I love, things I discover, and what I’ve learned.

I’m a city dweller and I’m working on living well. And – let’s face it – the environment in which we surround ourselves influences our frame of mind, happiness, and well-being. I will likely be exploring many aspects of small apartment living in New York City. I’ve got a bunch of interests, like indoor gardening (outdoor too if I could!), interior design, mid-century modern style, products featuring different materials and textures, eating well (plant strong/vegan), my husband, and my adorable dogs of course.

I’m an avid online shopper. I love researching what to buy. I love buying things online. I also love finding things people like and sharing them. In this blog, I look forward to sharing the things I find with you. So, let’s get started!