After a long weekend of spring cleaning, you've finally put away the mop, donated clothing you haven’t worn in years, and are ready to show off your spic-and-span digs. But, before you dust off the cocktail glasses, we’re here to tell you that nothing complements a clean house like a DIY apartment garden. To hook you up (should you, like us, have no clue how to get that started) we tracked down plant sculptress and L.A. Native Emilie Waterhouse to give us the how-to.
Forage Your Plants
First things first, get some succulents and cacti — not only are they indigenous to L.A., but they are also much harder to kill than your average houseplant. You can buy 'em at any plant shop, but you could actually just scope them out around town, too. “Succulents and cacti are everywhere in Los Angeles, and easy to forage,” Waterhouse told us. “Take a walk and look for succulents that seem to be full and happy. Look at the plant and break a piece of it off at the joint. You want to take this piece from a spot where no one will miss it.”
Once you have your clippings, place them in a sunny, dry spot like a windowsill, or hanging in a room with good light, for three days. Why three days? “Your new cutting needs to heal just like a large wound needs to be kept dry so it can form a scab. Once it's dry, it is ready to plant,” Waterhouse explains.
Gather the Rest of Your Supplies
To create your own indoor secret garden, you’ll need a few things beyond plants. First stop: the plant store, where you will need to buy charcoal, soil, and rocks. Next, you’ll need to find pretty planters that have no holes in the bottom — you don’t want any water leaking through and destroying your floor or furniture, do you? The planters are where you can get creative. Waterhouse recommends going to the thrift store — basically anything that you can find that is non-porous will work.
Photo: Via Etsy
Get that Green Thumb Going
Once you are home with all your supplies, you can start planting. Take one of your planters and layer a half an inch of charcoal at the bottom. Then, add an inch of the rocks and finally cover with soil. As you plant your succulents, try to think of the way they visually complement each other. “When you plant it, make sure your succulent looks safe, but not too comfortable and coddled,” says Waterhouse. “The soil should be fairly loose, to allow for adequate drainage, but not so loose that the plant will fall over if someone touches it.”
If all of this seems far too basic for your expert DIY hands, then you can take it to the next level by creating your own planters from recycled wine bottles. Head to Eagle Rock’s Stained Glass Supplies and pick up an Ephrem's Bottle Cutter, and ask a few friends to hold on to bottles from their dinner parties. "Line up the bottle and rotate it evenly scoring (that means scratching the glass with your cutter) the outside of the bottle,” instructs Waterhouse.
Then, burn a candle, and let the flame slide along the score until you have fully rotated the bottle about three times. Once you are done, coddle a piece of ice with a towel, and run a ice cube along the hot glass four, or five times. Then, return it to the flame, then back to the ice, and then repeat the process a third time.
Be patient, and the glass will break on its own. "If you force the glass, there is a potential danger of being cut. Once it breaks, you have a structure that is a little sharp and possibly jagged on the lip. You can now take a piece of heavy sand paper and sand down the lip of the glass until it is smooth," says Waterhouse. And like that, your leftover bottle has become a rustic, minimalist planter!
Photo: Via Etsy