Crafts, Decorating, Family, Gardening, Gift Ideas, Home Decor

Greenery for Houseplant Killers & My Favorite “Houseplant” Ever!

Do you know every year I say I am going to get a Christmas cactus and every year I fail to do so! If you aren’t familiar with Christmas cactuses is, this is probably what you are thinking…

Nope I’m not talking about a cartoon cactus in a Santa hat! These are Christmas cactuses, named because a certain variety blooms around Christmas.

Christmas cacti are very very very hardy plants that bloom with fun flowers, have interesting foliage, and a unique look overall. They are definitely a conversation starter.

So far in my houseplant journey I have only been able to keep an aloe house plant alive for an extended period of time. I even have help with my aloe as if I forget to water it for too long Billy will take pity on it and give it a drink.

My house plant success rate so far has been limited to aloe plants. This pine tree was a nice gift. I don’t really expect my new addition to survive my care long enough for me to plant him in the spring, but I am still gonna try!

I even fail regularly at spider plants. I am a decent outdoor gardener when I make time for it but I do prefer the outdoor plants that “fend for themselves” over fussy house plants.

Someone else spider plant, mine never look this good for long!

So all of my troubled past with house plants could make me want to quit but I just chose my house plants more carefully to make sure they will thrive in my inconsistent environment. Drought-resistent plants are my friend and I really think a Christmas cactus would be a great fit for my home.

Christmas Cactus Back-Story

I was introduced to the Christmas cactus when I used to clean houses. I was cleaning for a man who was 96 years old!

He was a very kind and interesting man who used to inspect nuclear missile silos before he became an accountant, and then later retired.

He was a self-proclaimed plant-killer himself but him and his wife had received a Christmas cactus from dear friends during his earlier years.

His wife had passed on a good decade before I started cleaning his home and he had kept that plant alive for years!

His Christmas cactus had it’s own little wooden stand next to a big window that faced the morning sun. He said he forgot to water it often but that it didn’t seem to bother it much.

He did none of that hiding it in a closet stuff and the cactus still bloomed multiple times a year.

This is a level of house plant care that I think I can handle!

So after looking around locally and not coming home with any cactuses or cacti (I looked it up and both plural forms are acceptable) I knew I had missed the boat.

You can get some really cute and inexpensive Christmas cactuses at Aldi’s most years but alas they sold out before I got there. This may have had something to do with me waiting until Christmas Eve Eve.

Ordering Plants on Amazon

I had decided the day before Christmas Eve that I needed a Christmas cactus, so I decided to look on Amazon and found this cute little multi-pack of Christmas cactuses. I figure if I can get 2 for the price of what you often pay for 1 Christmas cactus, at least I might be able to keep one of them alive!

You can find these cacti here https://amzn.to/38vMY6N but maybe don’t expect to get all different colored blooms like the description says. There are plenty of reviews that state they got sent the same color of cactus.

Also some reviewers stated that some of the cacti received were actually Thanksgiving cacti which meant the bloomed around Thanksgiving instead of Christmas. This doesn’t bother me one iota as I will be happy if it blooms at all and doesn’t perish due to my often forgetful care.

Christmas Cacti Blooms in Specific Colors

So Hirt’s garden store seems generally well-liked by reviewers which is no easy feat when shipping live plants through the shipping process. If I do well with my 1st Christmas cactuses I will probably try to get a variety of colors at that point and that is where these come in.

These red blooms are gorgerous and fit the Christmas color scheme. Find the red blooming Christmas cactus here: https://amzn.to/34HLtBr

The pink Christmas cactus is actually the variety I have seen most often even though you would think red would be more popular for Christmas. You will find the pink variety here: https://amzn.to/38C0R3l

This Christmas cactus with yellow blooms is said to be the rarest of the Christmas cactuses and the price does seem to confirm that. Find the beautiful yellow blooming Christmas cactus here: https://amzn.to/3aFl1vT

To be honest I sort of like the idea of ordering the multi-pack of Christmas cactuses best because I like the surprise of discovering the color when it finally blossoms.

Now if I planted a bunch of lilies in my front garden and they bloomed all the wrong color and it clashed with my other flowers that would not be ideal!

Winning with Aloe!

Since I have only been able to keep aloe plants alive for multiple years I figures I’d share some of my Amazon favs.

I love these little Mandala pots and since they don’t come with plants you get to choose what you like!

Small Mandala Style Flower Ceramic Planter with Bamboo Tray – Set of 3 (Plants Not Included)

I can’t keep succulents looking nice either so I chose a 3 pack of cute little Aloe plants. The aloe likes me and doesn’t have leaves that fall off in protest to my under-watering and over-watering.

3 Different Aloe Plants – Easy to grow/Hard to Kill! – Non-GMO, Grown in the USA

If you didn’t want 3 plants and the work of re-potting, this little guy comes already in a pot and with a sweet message for you.

Enesco Our Name is Mud Had Me at Aloe Succulent Planter Pot, 3.75 Inch, White

Things that Jump Into My Cart

2 Desert Roses, Adenium Obesum one Year Plant, Baby Size Bonsai: https://amzn.to/3piXJjB

So this says it’s easy for people who kill everything and it’s gorgeous!! Hmmmm, I’d still like more reassurance before I take this leap though. If you have any experience with desert roses please leave it in the comments!

My Favorite House Plant Ever is Doomed to Fail

This is a calamondin citrus tree and it is my absolute favorite “house plant” ever!!

I bought one one year when I was looking for house plants with little jasmine-like white blooms. I love the little white flowers and the smell of citrus blossoms.

Even better none of my family was allergic to the fragrance of this little tree. Even better than that this little tree makes tiny citrus fruits that you can eat, peel and all.

The fruits are quite tart but my family loved caring for our little indoor tree and eating the little grape sized fruits.

Do you remember the part where I said this house plant is doomed to fail? Alas this is a tree so eventually if you can’t plant it outside it will become root bound and sadly perish. We have decided that that stinks and we hatched a plan!

We miss our beautiful little citrus tree, and the joy it brings us is worth some extra work! We have decided to buy the smallest calamondin tree to buy us the most time with our beloved plant. We plan to re-pot it 3 or so times as it grows. Once it gets to the largest size we can manage we are going to take a trip south and find it a forever home.

We figure we sorely need a vacation and this gives us a reason to travel south in the next 2 or 3 years. I’m sure we can find someone who wants a beautiful little citrus tree with lovely fragrant blossoms to adopt our little plant.

Calamondin Orange Tree – Ready to Give Fruit – 1-2 feet tall –

Now this plant is a citrus and you can’t ship to states that grow citrus as a cash crop because of the risk of diseases. The states where you cannot get a calamondin shipped to you are FL, CA, TX, LA and AZ.

Sorry if you are from one of those states and really wanted a calamondin. I imagine you might be able to purchase them locally though. Please leave it in the comments if you have any words of wisdom on this.

I know it seems crazy for me to choose a higher maintenance plant when I kill all other house plants but the joy this little plant brought my family is worth some fussing over. Oh, and I almost forgot to share my favorite thing about this little citrus tree.

It blooms and fruits at the same time, and it will continue to bloom year round filling your room with it’s orange blossom fragrance. It is an ornamental tree and air freshener all in one!

For more info on calamondins check out the Aggie Horticulture website. This website also shows some pictures of the beautiful blooms!

I’ll take a picture to share when I receive my tree. I was so worried the last time I ordered one because I ordered it around Christmas time then too. I was worried my tree would get too cold and suffer for it but it arrived in good condition.

We potted it directly after receiving it, and it lived happily in front of a window for quite a close to 2 years. Had I been quicker to get it a bigger pot it probably would have lasted longer.

I can’t say the tree living this long was all my doing. This type of tree has a way of drawing people to it and Billy ended up loving the tree and fussing over it as much as I did! It’s been over 8 years since we had our last calamondin tree.

In Honor of Mom

Today is the day after Christmas which was usually the day I celebrated with my own mom. She had been a nurse so we got used to celebrating holidays on her days off, and celebrating the day after Christmas always seemed so much more relaxing than trying to be all the places in the same day. This day is more painful for me than Christmas itself as this way the day we typically spent our Christmas together.

In honor of her I wanted to share her favorite house plant. She always kept African violets on the windowsill by our kitchen sink.

Now if you order these African Violets – https://amzn.to/3nRuwfi through Amazon you don’t get to pick the color. My mom loved the dark purple ones and almost always bought them in that dark purple color.

Now I was terrible at keeping these alive for any length of time, shocker I know. So I am considering trying them again but I like to buy multiples to give me the most chance at success.

This variety pack of Miniature African Violets – https://amzn.to/38zSk0I are right up my alley. Not only would I get more chances to get a happy hardy plant, they also might have a variety of colors which I prefer over matching blooms.

Now I haven’t had much success in the past with these but you know what they say about knowledge being power. As I read the reviews I discovered one reviewer talking about using wicks for keeping these well-watered without over-watering!

This is a 3 Pack of Self-Watering Planters – https://amzn.to/2WOZ3yt available on Amazon. If you’d rather DIY your own set-up you can do the same thing with these materials below.

My Plan to DIY 3 Self-Watering Planters

If you bought all the materials I suggested below you would have extra materials for more planters later. I like to “shop” at my own home, and my friends and families’ houses, for cast-away items before I spend money on new stuff. It can take a little longer but I think it’s fun and like an adult version of scavenger hunting.

I know for my house I would definitely need the wick. I have coffee filters, and possibly some glasses and planters that would work, but if you aren’t hoarders like we are I included a list of potential items below. Oh and this wiki article talks more about the method if you want to do more research before taking the leap!

Self-Watering Wick – https://amzn.to/2WM1FwZ

Set of 3 – 4″ Diameter Pillar Vases – https://amzn.to/3nM3rdn

4″ Diameter Planters – https://amzn.to/3o4gVS5 Yes I know you don’t need 75 for this project but it doesn’t hurt to have extra if you plan to start your seeds inside this spring.

Unbleached Coffee Filters – https://amzn.to/2KuwmEB You will need only 3 of these so borrow from a friend if you can and you don’t have any at home.

Instructions

My thoughts on the coffee filter was that it would keep my dirt in the pot instead of leaking it into my lovely clear water in the dish below. I’d rather DIY my own pot because all in one things are rarely easy to clean up or to replace the parts that degrade over time.

So my plan is to take the orange pot, place the 4 in worth of wick in there with the rest hanging out of the bottom.

Then poke a hole in the side of my coffee filter to fit the wick through, and flatten my coffee filter against the edges of my planter, then insert the 4 inch side of the wick into the bottom of the plant before placing it in the planter.

After you have you placed your plant in the pot, pull any slack out of the wick before tamping the soil and adding more soil to your planter if needed.

Then trim the excess wick, add water to your clear vase (not touching the bottom of your planter) then submerge the wick into the water for your very own self watering planter!

I’ll update you and let you know if this helps me keep my violets alive longer than usual! I’m also going to make one of these for my sad succulent to see if it makes it any happier. That succulent is over a year old but it’s leaves don’t look so great.

Please let me know if you use a wick watering method or make a DIY self-watering planter and share if it helps you keep your house plants alive!

When I make my self-watering planter I’ll take pictures so I can write up an actual tutorial instead of just trying to explain my idea lol.

Wrap Up

Though I generally try to buy mostly plants I can plant outside, winter can be so depressing. I was feeling sad this year, rightly so, and buying plants makes me happy for whatever reason.

While I was shopping for house plants the memory of having our little citrus tree came back very strong in my mind.

The year we bought our little ornamental citrus tree we were trying to recover from a house fire and a stressful year of moving several times and re-building our lives.

I can’t tell you why plants lift your spirits but I can tell you that they can. That particular little citrus tree was a family favorite we’d like to bring back. We also decided it’s time to bring a few Christmas cactuses home, and I am going to try the violets again too with this new watering technique.

I am hoping to have good luck with these plants and with some new knowledge. You know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed try, try again! Still, wish me luck on keeping them all happy and healthy!!

Do you have any tips for staying joyful during the winter? Are house plants your thing or do you struggle like we do? What are your favorite plants that bring you lots of joy? Leave it in the comments!

Thanks so much for visiting today! I hope our blog helps bring more joy home to you and your family. I hope you and yours are staying happy, healthy, and well!

Take care everyone,

Kat @CraftingGlow

Please pin to home decor and gardening boards and share with friend’s who love plants!

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