Charlene Maney is the proud owner of the online gift store fleurieu gifts and Botanista – combining boutique teas, plants and flowers in a unique and beautiful shopping experience in Port Noarlunga, South Australia. Her career encompasses time as an accomplished linguist, educator and marketer. In March 2014 she left behind the corporate world, swapped her heels for gumboots and founded Fleurieu Gifts, followed by Botanista. Her businesses are now thriving, creating beautiful and sustainable gifts with living plants. The business is the realisation of Charlene’s desire to work with beautiful things and beautiful people – all while being closer to home. She is affectionately referred to by friends as the ‘crazy plant lady’.
We are chatting about how to care for your indoor plants, look after succulents, terrariums, Kokedama and more.
Charlene’s top 3 indoor plants for beginners:
- Sanseveria or Mother in Law’s Tongue is a great starter plant. It can cope with all light levels, from bright and sunny positions to almost no natural light at all – the key to success with these plants is not to over-water!
- Parlour Palm – Another low light loving plant that can cope with short periods of drought and doesn’t mind a little over-watering (good for chronic waterers!).
- Ficus Elastica or Rubber Plant – A great plant for beginners looking for something with height or an indoor tree. I love ficus burgundy for its rich burgundy black foliage with cherry red new growth. It prefers a really bright indoor position. It can be allowed to almost dry out between watering.
If bringing succulents inside, a good general rule of thumb is the darker green the plant is the better it will cope with being indoors. Haworthia fasciata or Zebra Haworthia copes well indoors, but steer clear of bringing grey or pink coloured succulents inside unless they’re going in a very bright, warm and sunny spot.
Remember that succulents like air flow and don’t be tempted to over-water. Succulents that aren’t happy in their position will get stretchy and elongated and are particularly susceptible to mealybug.
Don’t forget to give all of your indoor plants a holiday outdoors every little while. They will love you for it! I regularly take mine out and water them on the deck or porch, with the outside plants. Some of my top plants for terrariums include miniature syngoniums (arrow head plant) which create height, and selaginella for their structure and fern-like leaves. Fittonias are unbeatable for their bright and beautiful colours, my particular favourite is fittonia jade. I also love to include buddha belly fig bonsais in my terrariums as they are tough as nails but add so much interest to your miniature gardens!
Charlene’s tips for terrariums & kokedama
- Succulents have beautiful form and colour and are idea for indoor use – for terrariums you want low light loving plants and ones that like high humidity, not succulents (unless you have it by direct sunlight)
- If your terrarium is inside on the dining table or in the kitchen and gets bright ambient light but no direct sun, then you want something that can cope with the conditions – eg miniature Syngoniums, Selaginella – you can create landscapes including bonsai – which creates a little world inside a glass bowl and takes you away to somewhere different
- Don’t add too much water, especially if using a lid – take a few weeks to observe and see how quickly it is drying out in your house. Generally maintenance is simple if you have bright filtered light and you never let them dry out
- However if you do decide you must use succulents, you need to take a different approach – they need high light and low water. No matter what they are planted into, they need really bright light
- The darker green they are – the better they are able to cope with lower light conditions- succulents that are greys and pinks are not going to cope as well inside as those with very dark green leaves. This is so they can utilise lower light levels to photosynthesise
- In terms of water, if inside you need to be cruel to be kind with succulents! Stick your finger in and if bone dry give them a little bit of water BUT if there is even the remotest bit of moisture, don’t water them!
- All plants are outdoor plants, so always give them a little holiday outside from time to time – every couple of weeks, even if just for a weekend
- The moss balls/kokedama need hardy plants that can cope with periods of drought as well as wet feet – parlour palms are great for these as they can cope with periods of dryness and wet feet, as well as low light levels
- Give a soak once every 2 – 3 weeks in winter and 1-2 times a week in summer, depending on where you are and how hot it is. Let is soak for 15 – 20 mins, give it a squeeze and hang up again – they can last for years like this
- If you have used natural jute twine, after about 18 months the jute will rot because it is getting wet, at the first sign of weakness in the twine, get some string and wind it back up
- Charlene sells a DIY Kokedama kit on her website store and runs workshops locally – all plants come with care notes
- Embrace the indoor plant movement! It is good for your wellbeing
- Sanseveria or Mother in Law’s Tongue have come back into fashion – they are always listed in NASA’s top 10 plant list, are perfect for cleaning your indoor air and are very hard to kill! They like to be treated mean! Don’t over water.
- Plants and gardens are vital to our health and wellbeing – get amongst them!