Taking care of plants is friggin’ the best. Watching something you’ve nurtured develop roots and grow is seriously satisfying. Plus, they’re good for the air quality of your home AND they trick house guests into thinking you are a decent enough human being to keep something alive.
I’ve lived in apartments with varying degrees of sunlight for a good chunk of my life and I’ve always been searching for the easiest way to grow and maintain plants indoors. Conventional (read: pinterest) wisdom states that succulents, like aloe vera plants and cacti, are the hardest plants to kill. Over the years I have found this to be FALSE.
I have killed more succulents then I care to count. I think I have the following things going against me:
- My (s)mothering instincts: the cause of death for pretty much every plant I’ve slaughtered is INCREDIBLY MASSIVE over-watering… syndrome.
- Plants at big box stores and home improvement shops are bred for beauty, not longevity
Case in point: The Grafted (Moon) Cactus
Grafted cacti are definitely beautiful and they’re easily the most common succulent I see for sale, at nurseries and big stores alike. Michael got this cactus for me for my birthday a few years ago and, despite this recent decline, it’s been my most successful succulent. But the fact is that this guy’s days are numbered. The grafted cactus is the marriage of two different species of cactus: a mutant chlorophyll-lacking variant of the chin cactus (the red part on top) and a hylocereus (the green stem). These two cacti have different water and sunlight needs so keeping the conjoined plant alive is a balancing act. Definitely NOT an easy plant to keep alive.
I don’t have any images of my MANY attempts at keeping aloe vera alive as they have all been over-watered to the point of complete destruction.
So, I’ve been looking for a perfect indoor plant and I think I’ve found it. My favorite type of plant is:
- Uncommon enough to make you look like a gardening GENIUS
and most importantly…
I’m talking about windowsill sprouts!!!
I love sprouting plants so much that I may have gotten a Friday the 13th tattoo the other day that celebrates putting teeny plants into teeny jars:
Maybe you’ve seen a info-graphic on pinterest that states “SAVE MONEY: TEN PLANTS THAT MAGICALLY REGROW THEMSELVES”. I know I have. And it always sounds too good to be true. Maybe that’s why it took so long for me to try it. In fact, I didn’t try “regrowing” food scraps until I unearthed an onion that was sprouting in a large bag I had bought from the grocery store. It already HAD visible green growth so it wasn’t a huge step to plop it in water and stick in on my windowsill. However, regrowing food ISN’T too good to be true!
What you’ll need:
- A small mason jar or other glass cup (FUN FACT: those tiny testing glasses you get from beer and wine festivals are the perfect size!!)
- Tooth picks
- Vegetable, leaf, or whatever scraps
- To remember to fill/replace the water as evaporation/cloudiness dictates!
- A sunny windowsill!!!!
Here is a list of what I have sprouted in my apartment:
- Onion (and potato)
Technically, I did not use scraps for my first sprouting adventure. As I mentioned, I found the onion already sprouting in the bottom of a 3 pound sack of onions. All I did was suspend it in a mason jar with some toothpicks. Same with the potato, which already had a few growing “eyes”. The photo at the right is about a week into the experiment. As you can see, both veggies grew impressive looking roots. The potato had some tubular growth on the side facing the window but HONESTLY it was NOT pretty. I learned that golden yukon potato sprouts are dark purple tubes that take forever to grow leaves and look super creepy.
This garlic sprouted roots OVERNIGHT! It was completely awesome! And the green sprouts grew SUPER fast. It was only on my windowsill for a weekish and then it was big enough to transplant to a pot! Bonus: I read online that mosquitos don’t like the smell of garlic so BELIEVE that I’m putting garlic plants all over my balcony. If you’re wanting to try to sprout plants on your windowsill, I recommend starting with garlic, it was definitely the fastest growing and the easiest to start.
3. Romaine lettuce.
This is the one that I was SURE was too good to be true. BUT IT’S TRUEEEEEEEEEE. So, all you have to do is make sure you don’t chop the romaine heart too short. You want there to be some green left, and some leafyness (technical term) in the middle. Like this:
The lettuce will regrow from the middle, and eventually the side bits will shrivel up. Don’t be alarmed by the fact that no roots appear. A slit naturally appears on the flat end of the heart, and I guess water gets in through there? MAYBE IT *IS* MAGIC.
Eventually, I transplanted the onion, garlic and romaine into pots and put them on my balcony:
It can be a rough transition for the sprout to go from jar to pot BUT as long as you keep it watered, keep it in the sun, AND don’t repot it like five times in a row (like I may have done) they it should survive just fine. You might have to do some trimming (as you can see, the onion had to be hella [technical term] trimmed down}) if the leaves droop past the point of no return. Theoretically, I could eat the transplants but they’re just so pretty?!?!?!?!!?!? Also, if you don’t have a balcony, you can keep them inside. In fact, the onion lived inside for all of winter yaaay.
This is super similar to romaine, but it’s even MORE important to not cut the stalks too far down. In this case, I also tried to regrow the fatter celery stump but I had cut it too far down and it wouldn’t sprout. However, I had a feeling that I had fudged it so I also suspended the the middle stalky bundle and BOOM that DID regrow, hallelujah! Also no visible roots on the celery sprout.
5. Heart-Leaf Philodendron
So this is technically a cutting, not a regrowing, I think?!?! But age is just a number so whatever. So to do this one you have to cut off a piece of the vine WITH a joint, like sooo:
And suspend it in water, no toothpicks needed.
I just started these the other day so no roots have grown yet but according to the internet they will come out of the joint. This philodendron is from a potted garden that Michael gave me for my birthday about 4 years ago and I’m so happy that it’s still hanging out and growing little babies AND I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH, IT’S NAME IS FRANKIE.
6. Spider Plant
Okay so I don’t have any pictures of this cutting sprouting roots BUT it happened and come to think of it it happened in my classroom which (AT THE TIME) had barely ANY sunlight at all (which AT THE TIME I thought was soooo difficult, stupid past Kaila who took her skylight for granted). This sproutie came from a co-worker and look at it now!
So there you have it! GO FORTH AND grow SMALL PLANTS in SMALL CONTAINERS in your SMALL WINDOWSILLS and finally feel joy again!!!