How to Snag Free Indoor Plants

What? Free plants?! You bet. With a little know-how and patience, obtaining free plants is a lot easier than you think.

At this point, I know I’m a plant enthusiast. One hint is the amount of money I have spent on plants, planters, soil mixes, pruning sheers, etc, etc, etc, to make my leafy buddies happy. Another reason is my need to add new plants to the family. So, instead of going into crippling debt to keep up with my hobby, I got creative and thrifty – managing to add new plants nearly free.

Connect socially with other plant enthusiasts.

Free plants at a plant swap

Honestly, this comes from Instagram. Once I created an Instagram for leaf&paw, I became connected plant lovers like myself who wanted to grow their collection. I saw a photo of a user’s rubber tree I wanted and messaged her for a cutting if she ever pruned. She agreed, and I paid for shipping (like $1, so not totally free) and got a cutting of a variegated ficus I could not find anywhere in NY. Locally, check your local garden center or a plant boutique for plant groups to join. Many times groups will do an annual plant swap to clear out extras and starter plants they no longer need.

Check Craigslist.

Free Plants on Craigslist

Believe it or not, but houseplants are common on Craigslist and Facebook selling groups. It’s not unusual I guess, since people move, houseplants get too big, or a family gets a new pet and are concerned about toxicity. Whatever the circumstance, it doesn’t hurt to check on FB or CL, especially during spring, summer, and fall. On Craigslist you’ll find them in the free, farm+garden, and household sections. On Facebook, there are actual plant groups (as said above) but county or city selling groups almost always have plant that needs a new home. Below is one of my pothos that was free from a friend who was closing her B&B. After a bit of trimming, he’s happy and growing like crazy.

Pothos

Birth your own.

Propagating Jade

It’s not what you think. More or less you can create your own free plants with propagation. I won’t go super into depth in this post, but by taking cuttings from your already mature or healthy indoor plants, you can easy multiply your collection. I’ll give you one example: if you are a cat-owner, you most likely have a Spider plant (since they are 100% safe for cats). Once they get a medium size (they’re fast growers) they will produce little “baby” spider plants on their leaves. These can be snipped from the mama plant and be put in water to further grow some roots. The baby can then be planted in potting mix and will soon grow big and strong. It’s an endless cycle that, honestly, gets you free plants – all you need is the patience. Above is my Jade as a cutting and below is 18 months or so later. Nature, you are magical.

Jade Plant

The end of the season.

I live close to a large garden center that closes for the winter months, and they are not keen on keeping all of their stock in the greenhouse. Because it takes heat and money to keep plants in the garden center, they do a huge 70-80% off discount on all tropicals and houseplants. Every year this almost cleans them out. The selection may not be as great as prime time, but I have gotten many a plant from this sale, mostly for $1-2 a piece. This also works for seasonal farm stands, high end plant stores, and hardware stores like Lowe’s that do a clearout before dormant months. Also, it never hurts to ask if there are any throwaway plants on their way to the dumpster. Last year I took a tray of coleus home free from the garbage that was deemed to leggy to sell. They flourished in my garden all summer.

Holiday sale!

Creating an Urban Jungle

Possessing over 50 indoor plants kind of snuck up on me.  Somehow I became obsessed with creating an urban jungle. Of course, like any obsession, it began with just one.

Creating an Urban Jungle

Rudy, my largest rubber tree, introduced here, was purchased in 2015. I was working at a Garden Center at the time and was around plants of all sizes, mostly tropicals, like Rudy. Once settled in, Rudy was perfect. He looked so pretty in the window of my office and I soon brought home Sylvia, a giant snake plant that was over 4′ tall. My husband and I had been in our house a year at that point, and I was on the hunt for some interior inspiration. I became more and more interested in indoor tropicals, which fueled my plan to create my own urban jungle.

Creating an urban jungle

Long story short, after these two plants (and a few smaller ones), I noticed an emptiness in so many rooms. That well-lit corner in the kitchen could use some green, I thought. My bedroom’s white walls looked so asylum-y and needed some much needed color. Fast forward to 2018, when my husband no longer notices the gazillion plants, insisting “they were always there.” It was three years of me plant-purchasing-and-planning, but ok.

Monstera

Why do I like indoor plants so much? Why does anybody? Plants symbolize  nature and life, providing structure and character to our spaces. Sometimes, especially nowadays, they supply the only greenery (read: life) in small apartments and offices. Normally these spaces look “sterile,” but plants add a warmthness and homey touch. As I began to build my urban jungle I focused on adding plants that were healthy to my home. I also kept my cats in mind, who I very much wanted to enjoy my jungle with me without getting poisoned.

How do I create a lux yet simple Hanging Gardens of Babylon aesthetic that could also purify all the toxins from my house? Is that really asking too much?

Philodendron in my Urban Jungle :: L&P

I started with what I liked: large plants and vines, with large leaves and different textures. My next pet safe plant was a 5′ palm and a few funky succulents that I planted in minimal white pots. Once I understood how light and temperature functioned in my house, I added in picky plants like ferns and bromeliads. I list my favorite pet safe plants here and here….you’re welcome.

Fittonia :: L&P

I’m pretty happy with my progress so far. Having all of these leafy friends has not only unleashed a kind of zen in my house, but better air quality and cat-forests to hid in, and the lush Babylonian interior that I was after all along. I mention in my last post that I have been doing the KonMarie method of decluttering.  I’ve replaced buying tchotchkes and useless decor with large scale plants and cactuses for my side tables and bookshelves, not useless knickknacks. It’s a great perk that came along with my urban jungle project.

Urban Jungle :: L&P

I hope this offers some insight, although most of it is rambling, about how to begin to create an urban jungle for your personal space. Start by making a list of the look you want and go from there. Become familiar with plant shapes and varieties, look at Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration. Building my oasis has been my favorite project yet….so much I started blog about it. I just see it getting bigger from here. 🙂

Supporter of:Urban jungle bloggers

Planters from IKEA, table from IKEA, prints in background by Emily Martin.

Five Minimalist Pet Safe Houseplants

Last month I began this blog, finally, after wanting to begin one for a while. To keep in line with my mission of providing pet owners with info about indoor plants to buy I wrote this post about pet safe houseplants. I figured it was time for another installment; another five more plants to buy, woohoo!

I’m a millennial, so I like things to be categorized, honest, and to lend some kind of inspiration to improve my interior decor. Considering I am in the middle of KonMari (from the “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” book by Marie Kondo, please read if you have not) I’m into minimal plants that offer a discreet elegance, simplicity, and do not crowd my house (of which all contents are being judged). I made my way to my garden center and captured a list of five minimalist pet safe houseplants that I think make the cut.

 1 :: Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie
Creeping Charlie :: 5 Minimalist Indoor Plants Safe for Pets

So, in the USA at least, Creeping Charlie is considered a weed. I consider it a two-face plant (sorry, Batman reference). Outdoors, left to its own devices, it strangles other plants, is a beast to get rid of, and inevitably, becomes wrapped around the ankles of innocent gardeners. Indoors, it sits suspended from the ceiling with vines hanging non-threateningly.  I promise it’s the same plant.

Creeping Charlie

2 :: Bromeliad

Bromeliad
Bromeliad :: 5 Minimalist Indoor Plants Safe for Pets

I am going to vouch for these even though I actually do not own any Bromeliads. I love them, really I do. Their simple plants with a bright flower, plus they are generally easy to care for and actually don’t mind lower light locations (read: tolerant). Why don’t I have any? I’ve tried. My cats eat them. They bite the leaves, so little toothy marks remain, they knock them out of the pretty little planters and kick them around the house. It’s just awful…but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be on this list because I have jerk-cats.

Bromeliad
Bromeliad :: 5 Minimalist Indoor Plants Safe for Pets

3 :: Succulents

Haworthia
Haworthia :: 5 Minimalist Indoor Plants Safe for Pets

I’m going to be slightly general here. Many the succulents seen in big-box stores (like Lowe’s, Whole Foods, etc) are actually pet safe, including the cutie twins seen in my photo below.  I actually really like compact succulents, which are self contained and slow growing. Check labels, but you are good to go with:

  • Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum), which is excellent in a hanging planter.
  • Hens-and-Chicks (Sempervivum tectorum), tightly knit succulents that do not resemble neither hens nor chicks.
  • All types of Echeveria, usually there are a few types available. My favorite is the tradition Blue Echeveria.
  • Zebra Haworthia fasciata, one of my favorites but kind of a cat magnet.
  • Lithops; these are freakish and look like pebbles. They’re 100% pet safe though.
Pet Safe Succulents
Succulents :: 5 Minimalist Indoor Plants Safe for Pets

4 :: Hoya

Hoya Plant
Hoya :: 5 Minimalist Indoor Plants Safe for Pets

I’m a big lover of Indian culture (well, curry and Pashminas to start) so when I discovered a plant called “Hindu Rope Plant” I was curious, and golly-gee it actually. looks. like. a. rope. Like, that’s so cool.

There are two types of Hoya I have seen. One is the Hindu rope (below)  and the other is a somewhat regular looking plant in comparison, called wax hoya, which is usually variegated (above). Both kinds are amazing, pet friendly and safe, and a real conversation starter.

Hoya Plant
Hoya :: 5 Minimalist Indoor Plants Safe for Pets

5 :: Zebra Plant

Zebra Plant
Zebra Plant :: 5 Minimalist Indoor Plants Safe for Pets

I had been trying to find a Zebra Plant for years. I was going to purchase one online, but with shipping and travel in February, I didn’t think it would make it and it would put me out $30. One day, a sad looking plant appeared on a discount cart at the hardware store, $2. A Zebra plant! I was so excited. These striped beauties bloom yellow flowers, which look stunning in just about any room, in a simple white pot. It’s like a little work of art. And totally pet friendly too!  

Hoya Plant
Dickman Farms, Auburn NY.

Hopefully this list is just as or more helpful as my first. More installments to come! 🙂