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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Show me the green

Lately I've been bringing pots inside in anticipation of winter, which in Texas can refuse to come at all or blow in overnight in the form of what the natives call a Blue Norther, a fast-moving, windy cold front that drops the temperature drastically.

My house is full of newly re-potted tropicals, so I thought I'd revisit the topic of mid-century plants. Apparently, there is a lot of interest in this subject, since all my posts on authentic plantings, indoors and out, stay at the top of my most-viewed list.

One of my newest favorites is the tiny Tillandsia, a variety of bromeliad that grows without soil. There are many varieties of this "air plant," that is ideal for a small desk planter. It only needs to be misted occasionally and needs no other care. Its roots serve the sole purpose of attaching them to surfaces like wood, metal, stone or shells. I put one of these on my new desk just this week. (If you'd like to read more about Tillandsias, this site has some great information about their care and about mounting them. You can even make a spectacular "green wall" with this plant...not mid-century, but so cool I had to mention it.)

The planting I'm really excited about is a new succulent pot that I just put together. I've had the pot on the patio full of asparagus fern, but that particular plant drops so many leaves if brought in for the winter that I usually stick it in the ground and hope it makes it till spring. That freed up the pot to come indoors, and now it's full of EcheveriaHaworthia and Crassula. My mother and grandmother always had pots of succulents, particularly the "hens and chicks" variety, so this is an authentic mid-century plant from my childhood.

I also re-potted a Dracaena marginata, another plant that I think looks good in a mid-century or contemporary setting. I like them because they're very adaptable and are easy to grow in almost any indoor environment. They will tolerate low light and only need to be watered about once a week.

I bought a bullet planter a few months ago and finally got around to putting something in it. My choice was a rubber tree plant (Ficus elastica), which I consider to be the quintessential mid-century plant, since they were so popular back then. They do well in low to medium light, which is perfect for me since my back yard has so many large trees. I only get filtered light through my French doors, even during the winter.

Of course, my old standby is Sansevieria trifasciata, commonly called snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue, which can go for ages without watering. The only thing that could possibly be more low-maintenance is an artificial plant. Mine has grown to 53" tall and has a permanent place beside my scoop chair.

If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and are having trouble finding top quality plants, I highly recommend a trip to Archie's Gardenland, which is just off Camp Bowie Boulevard, a few blocks from my neighborhood. They consistently have the best selection of tropicals that I've found.

And in case you're curious, my planters aren't vintage. I got the bullet planter at our store, and the rest came from Lowe's and Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts.

Air plant (and vintage Royal Haeger earth wrapped vase)
Succulent pot on my hearth
Close-up of succulent pot with
Echeveria, Haworthia and Crassula
Straight dracaena
Dracaena marginata
Rubber plant
Ficus elastica
Snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue
Sansevieria trifasciata

Update: I just found a great Etsy shop where you can buy beautiful tillandsia terrariums. Check out Sea & Asters.


  1. Plants indoors are so healthy for your mind body and spirit. Mine are all dead, should I be worried?

  2. @DearHelenHartman: I think it's the Modge Podge fumes that are getting to them! And maybe glitter puts off fumes that only affect whistles that only dogs can hear. ;)

  3. You inspired me to go pick up one of those snake plants last week and I really love it. Unfortunately, we don't have access to such lovely planters.

  4. @Nick: Check Lowe's and Jo-Ann's. That's where I got the ones in my photos.

  5. Great post! I'm in love with the bullet planter with rubber plant. Thank you for mentioning my shop!

  6. @Monica: Thanks for stopping by my blog. I hope to see you here regularly. I love your shop, and I'm sure I'll be a customer.