ISSUE 48  |  The Rural Life

5 Quick Fixes: Flora Grubb’s Indoor Gardening Tips

November 30, 2012 4:00 PM

BY Janet Hall

Winter has us heading indoors to garden. We caught up recently with San Francisco urban gardener Flora Grubb, who was on her way back from collecting a Martha Stewart “American Made” award for being a “rising star” small-business owner; here are her top tips for indoor gardening:

Photographs courtesy of Flora Grubb Gardens except where noted.

Above: Don’t water your succulents too much. “Many succulents will thrive indoors, but many of the vessels we like for them have no drainage holes,” says Flora Grubb. “The trick to keeping succulents happy in small containers is to water very carefully. The succulents prefer to be on the dry side, but don’t allow them to go bone dry.”

Above: It bears repeating. Grubb warns that it is easy to drown succulents by overwatering: “Water once a week at most (maybe less) and add tiny amounts of water each time.”

Above: It’s hard to go wrong with low-maintenance tillandsias (often called air plants). They live on sunlight, air, and moisture, but grow free of soil. “This makes them perfect for a windowsill.” Grubb’s advice: “Water them about once a week by running them under the faucet until they are completely wet, or soaking them for a few minutes in a bowl of water.”

Above: Be creative about where you “plant” tillandsias. An unusual caterpillar-like Tillandsia funckiana sits in the Gideon Bowl available for $22 without plants and $55 with plants.

Above: Cover the walls with plants. A Thigmotrope Satellite from Flora Grubb Gardens is a wall-mounted planter hook. “This elegant tool can be screwed into a wall where it gently holds the air plant, allowing it to be easily removed for watering and rearrangement,” she says. For more wall mounted planter inspiration, see “A Wall-Mounted Planter, Made in California.”

Above: An installation of tillandsias as wall art. Flora Grubb recently showed us how to do it. The steel Thigmotrope Satellite is 2 inches in diameter and extends 3 inches from the wall; $40 for a set of three.

Above: Use several to create a pattern of your own design.

Above: Consider a soil-free indoor garden. “Aeriums are like terrariums, but contain only air plants and thus have no soil. They thrive in a bright spot, but will burn in direct sunlight,” says Grubb. “Generally, they should be watered about every ten days. But more important, water when the inside of the vessel looks dry, and there is no sign of water inside the glass.” Flora Grubb’s Cadence Aerium, as shown, measures 3 inches square; $34.

Above: “Over time, you can add little things you find to your aerium,” says Grubb. “Rocks from the beach or dried flowers from a hike.” Flora Grubb’s Footed Aerium stands 4 inches tall; $32.

Above: Be a discerning indoor gardener. “While a long-term relationship with a beloved house plant is a beautiful thing, don’t be afraid to move on from unsatisfying, dying, or overgrown plants,” says Grubb. “Give the live ones away and compost the dying ones. They are not pets.” (Image via Missouri Botanical Garden.)

N.B.: For gift ideas, see Flora Grubb’s Living Ornaments recently featured on Gardenista.

N.B.: Working on your indoor garden? See all of our House Plant Posts.