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Because You Can't Kill A Lemon

February 06, 2015

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Plants are a great decor accessory, but I'm very bad at keeping them alive.

So here are my easy substitutions to add life when decorating a room.

Starting with a lemon.

Decorating With Lemons

Nothing warms up a space and turns a house into a home faster than adding life.

Living things have the power to transform a space simply by being present.

There's something about the natural exchange of oxygen that's palpable.

And stunning as they may be, no such energy exists around silk foliage.

Of course, there are many ways to add life to a room, some are easy and some are decidedly more complicated.

Kids and pets fall into the latter category.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to state that I have kids and pets and they certainly liven up the place, but the Exquisitely Unremarkable decorating mantra is easy, easy, easy.

So I don't recommend keeping them around solely for that purpose.

I prefer that my decorating be done without the endless requests for snacks, rides, money or dander.

Therefore, I opt for plants.

Ivy plant on a small table in a cottage style family room


You see, I don't have a green thumb.

My husband has lovingly nicknamed me a plant murderer, although I think that is a gross mischaracterization.

I don't kill them on purpose.

I'm just not good with the watering and the feeding.

And the watering.

I try, really, I do, but it's enough work to keep those kids and pets watered.

The plants just fall by the wayside.

If only they could yell out that they're thirsty or bark or meow.

Then I think they'd have a chance.

So knowing that I'm a terrible plant mother, I decorate instead with lemons and cut flowers.

Lemons and limes in floral bowl on a table

I know, I know, technically they are not alive, but they still manage to breathe the same sense of life into a room that plants do.

And since their days are already numbered, I'm in the clear.

It's guilt free decorating!

No dried up, leafy little corpses on my conscience. It makes for a much happier home all the way around.

Trust me.

A dead ivy plant

Now, I'm all about cheap decorating ideas, so I usually purchase the least expensive bouquets I can find.

Tulips are my absolute favorite flowers and lucky for me, I can find them in my area for $3.99 a bunch from about late December until May.

Orange tulips in plastic from the store

After that, I cut from the garden and pepper them around the house.

Those flowers are always free and I place them in thrifted white pitchers or small glass jars. I love a whimsical wildflower bouquet in summer.

Once the fall tumbles in, I replace flowers with pumpkins and gourds....

Baby Boo Pumpkins in a white pedestal bowl

...and then we're back to tulips again!

Tulips In Milk Jugs on kitchen display rack

Lemons and limes are always in season.

Plus they're inexpensive and they pack a powerful punch of color. They're a staple in my kitchen.

I put them on cake stands, under cloches, in fruit bowls and on plates.

Flower pot turned fruit bowl filled with lemons

I just love to see their cheery little pops of yellow and green. It makes any time of the year feel like spring.

Apples are another colorful fruit with staying power. They can sit in a bowl on my table and stay fresh for a good long time.

They actually get eaten long before they spoil.

Apples in a white pedestal bowl on a table

My dirty little confession is that I do occasionally buy a plant.

I've had some success with mini roses from the grocery store

I've also learned that grass grows quickly and doesn't require more than an occasional haircut.

Grass growing in small metal pots on a window sill

I'm getting braver.

In fact, right now, I have ivy in my kitchen and it seems to be doing quite well.

I'm trying not to get too attached thought, because, well, you know.

But it's very sweet and I do talk to it often and I really am hoping for the best this time.

Green Ivy plant and sleeping pig statue on counter

My husband said, Welcome to death row, buddy.

Pain in the neck.

I'd like to prove him wrong.

I'm pretty sure the plant would like that too.


What color is your thumb?

Adding Life To Decor when you don't have a green thumb

Happy Decorating, Friends!

Kim Signature

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  1. dark brown! Not quite black. I, too have an ivy that has survived for 4, count 'em 1,2,3,4! years. And some spiders that are trying to survive, but the jury is out on that. Back in the day, I used to be able to keep coleus and wandering jew alive, but haven't given them a try in decades. Just as well.
    Speaking of ivy, my kitchen is looking kinds of lonely. I rearranged, and the ivy got moved. It's pretty big and sprawling so it overran it's space...
    So, considering the ivy has lasted 4 years so far, maybe my thumb is getting a little toward light brown?

  2. My houseplant thumb is brown. I cannot seem to keep a houseplant alive for long. Except for one. I have a beautiful schefflera that is quite large. I have cut it back once, trying to root the long branch that I removed. I cut it into shorter pieces and stuck them in dirt. I gave the nicest piece to my mom and hers is doing well. The rest are dead. The plant could stand to be trimmed back again. Perhaps you should try a schefflera?

    This one was part of a funeral arrangement. When my brother died three years ago, we three siblings gave an arrangement that included three houseplants and after the funeral we divided the arrangement and each of us took one of the plants and the Schefflera came to me. Perhaps it has some of his fighting spirit:)

  3. Lorri, I am so sorry to hear that you lost your brother. I think the idea of splitting the houseplants among you guys is so sweet and now your mom has a piece of it too. What a wonderful gesture. I don't think it's a coincidence that it's doing well!

  4. Well, you're doing great, Nancy! I'm lucky if they last a year...and it's a rocky year, at best. The plants spend more time in ICU than they do on the counter! ;)

  5. I wish I could find ANY flowers that cheap! I love tulips too, and hope the ones I planted in containers come up. I don't know if you're over watering or under watering. People tend to over water. Before watering a house plant, put your finger in the soil to midway between nail and knuckle. Don't water if you feel moisture.

  6. "Welcome to death row, buddy" HAHAHAHA!!! He's funny :)

    I feel for you, because I'm the same way with indoor plants. I have one that's still alive by a miracle and the other one is close to death's door. Poor things....

    I love the idea of decorating with lemons. At least we can't kill them lol

  7. I'm afraid the only plants that survive inside our house are of the faux variety!

  8. Vickie, you've made me feel so much better! I thought it was just me! ;)

  9. Exactly, Rue! That's why they're at the top of my shopping list! ;)

  10. Thanks for the tip, Brenda! I will try it on my new friend. He thanks you, too! ;)

  11. Hello Kim,
    A fun, fun, post. :-)
    I have a green thumb. I love to garden and have many houseplants. I can not tell you why my thumb is green? I do not know why. LOL I do talk to my plants and baby them.

    I love your decorating.

    Have a great weekend.

  12. Hubby is very positive huh . . .
    brought me a smile though.
    Happy Ivy to you!

  13. Here is what I have learned over the years about keeping my houseplants alive. Make sure they are in a pot that has good drainage holes in the bottom. Place some pebbles or shards of clay pots in the bottom, then fill with potting soil. Water thoroughly once a week until the water is draining from the holes in the bottom of the pot. In summer I put them outside in a shady spot to let the water drain. In winter I put them in the sink. Don't water again until the dirt feels dry when you stick you finger into it. In winter they tend to dry out sooner because of the heat in the house. Many people do not use pots with holes in the bottom and tend to over water their plants, thereby drowning the roots. In the summer I leave all my houseplants on the porch in the shade. Houseplants do not do well in the bright sun, they want diffused light. It makes it much easier to water them there too. I hope this helps, good luck.

  14. Your husband's welcome cracked me up.

    My thumb is green in the summer when I grow things outdoors but I don't have plants indoors.. If I did not have the cat, they'd probably do very well sitting on the radiators by the windows but I do have her so that's that.

  15. I'm not commenting specifically on the plants (though your husband and mine could be related !), but just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your site - it makes my day. Keep on truckin', Kim.

  16. Good morning Kim! I agree about natural elements being in the house. Thanks to bloggers through the years, I have learned some wonderful tricks to make my home look and feel JUST SO...and you are right: natural elements.

    However, just like you, I was never good with house plants simply because I preferred my foliage outside, then one day (yes, believe it or not, this has only occurred twice in 33 years), my husband bought be a gorgeous bouquet of pink roses, last summer. That bouquet lasted about 3 weeks, because I nurtured it. It was so gorgeous, prettier that any silk bunch, and it added this sort of magazine-style glamour to my home!

    As for my thumb; well, I'm great outside. My gardens are clipped, my flowers well-watered and fed, but because of neglect, my inside plants simply don't have a chance. But if at the end of that greenery are pink (or white!) roses, they stand a pretty good chance of having a good life!


  17. Such a fun post! I do have one plant in the house & it flourishes. Honestly, I have forgotten to water it a few times, so I'm surprised it survives. Lemons are a great substitute for plants. How could you not love that sunny yellow color, right?

  18. Exactly Gina! Especially right now, when all I can see outside is white, white and more white! ;)

  19. I am a good outside plant mother, too, Anita! I think it's because I love getting out in the warm weather. Tending to the plants and flowers gives me a great excuse to drop the laundry, warm my bare feet on the hot ground and soak in the vitamin D! Inside, those babies are decor and I forget about them, like a picture frame or vase. I need to pay more attention to those little lives! :)

  20. Rose, you have just made my whole weekend with your super sweet comment! :) Ps- great name!

  21. He is a funny guy, Deb. I like sarcasm, so we're a good fit! ;) My cats used to eat my plants which was not healthy for either one of them. My goldfish don't interfere with them at all!

  22. Thanks for the tips, Kitsy! They are helpful. I usually just plop them in their existing plastic pots into a prettier pot. That's my first problem. If they were outside plants, I would take them out of those containers, open the roots up, add drainage rocks and replant them. I owe these indoor little guys the same respect! :) I also have to remember that outdoor shady spot tip...that is what happened to the one in the pic. I left it in full sun. Oops!

  23. O that's so true; they ARE little lives! YIKES! Then I best not be responsible for indoor plants because like you, I prefer to get outside to do my watering and vitamin D therapy!

    It is a chiller out there today for us, but at least the sun is out! Happy Saturday, Kim! Anita

  24. He'll be happy to know he made you smile, Lynne...that's usually his goal! ;) Happy Ivy to you too!!

  25. I'm glad you liked the post, Carla! I always hope that people find what I write to be amusing as well as helpful. A green thumb is awesome. I need to cultivate one. :)

  26. It's a chiller here, too! Dreaming of those vitamin D rich days for sure!! Happy Saturday to you!

  27. Good post, Kim. I love the lemons and limes, and what a deal you get on tulips! My thumb is green. I used to have an outdoor plant and garden green thumb only, but in recent years the houseplants have flourished. I think the difference is that I don't over water. I wait until the soil is dry when I stick my finger in the pot, and then water thoroughly. They need good drainage, too. When the water begins to drain out I know I've watered enough and I don't water again until the soil is again dry. I also feed them once a month. Having the right amount light for the particular plant is important, too.

  28. I think watering is the key, Nancy. The tips I keep getting are focused on overwatering and I am afraid that is my crime. I forget to water and then I try to compensate and it's all just too much. Thanks for sharing...maybe there's hope for this black-thumbed girl after all! :)

  29. LOL- I am actually pretty good with indoor plants. I got a kick out of your hubby's comment. I do love lemons and limes as an accent though...and fruit in season.
    Hope you have a great rest of the weekend. xo Diana

  30. Yes, Diana, that hubby of mine is always the joker! ;)

  31. Do you realize that those adorable tulips were grown in my native Canada? Yay!

    Kim, I think your seasonal touches are very pretty, allowing the stars of each one, to shine! Lemons, limes, and other citrus fruit, along with acorns, walnuts, chestnuts, pomegranates in the winter, gourds and pumpkins in the fall, spring sweeties like bunches of lilacs just as the weather starts to warm up, and of course, a bounty of everything in the summer.

    Now, put on your dancing shoes and go tell that ivy that it takes two to tango! Best of luck!


  32. Well, like you, I can grow anything outside but not much inside. It's death row here at our house too. In the off season (meaning no flowers in the yard) I love get to flowers at the grocery. I grab whatever is pretty at the moment or Baby's Breath is inexpensive in large bundles and lasts forever. Apples are my go to for bowls and a tiered stand we have in the kitchen. I have to admit how long those apples can stay there because we don't always eat them...months!!

  33. Kim, the trick is to #1 try to find plants that refuse to die (easily, any way), and then #2 make friends with lots of people who have super green thumbs ... AND lots of HUGE plants they'll start you runners from, when yours bite the dust! Works for me, and I can kill em' as good as anyone :)
    Oh, P.S., I love the flowered bowl within the glass one. Nice.

  34. Hello Kim It is great to discover your lovely blog..... lots of gorgeous photos here......lovely lemons and tulips, and a pretty new ivy plant! I have to agree that keeping houseplants can be hard, and I have often over or under watered mine. I like to have some fresh flowers here each week, from the garden in summer and from the flower shop in winter.
    Happy week!
    Helen xox

  35. Helen, thanks so much for popping by to say hello! I am working on these plants, I really would like to keep this one! ;)

  36. Cheryl, I think that's the key...find plants that refuse to die! ;)

  37. Yes, my lemons are always in that bowl way too long, too, Stacey! :)

  38. Of course Canadian tulips are the best, Poppy! ;)

  39. I love the photos, and your story. I do all of the same except for tulips are not inexpensive here. I do have a few really high quality large faux potted plants, but they are appropriate to our climate, so that makes them look real too. If you know what I mean? I have some live plants in the home, but they don't do so well in this dry desert climate. My plants in the garden due very well from September to June. When I lived in California, plants grew really well inside the house.

  40. Oh, I love African Violets, Sue! They are so pretty, but I have no luck with them at all! Poor little guys, I just leave them at the store now and admire them on my shopping trips! :)

  41. Thank you, Sue! Your garden always looks so pretty and healthy. You seem to cultivate a lot, especially given your climate. I think you must have a green thumb! :)

  42. What a fun post, Kim! My thumb is fairly green, but not always. The things that I know for sure about inside plants: 1) just about any plants likes a North-facing window or East if your morning sun isn't too intense, and 2) too little water or too much water have similar effects on plants. The only North-facing window I have is in the master bath above the tub, so hubby built a nice plant shelf for me. That kind of adds a bit of a spa-like feel when I do a bubble bath. The watering situation can be remedied with an inexpensive water meter. I've had mine for years and always use it before adding water. That little meter can literally be a life-saver for your plants. Also, if you live in an area with hard water (lots of calcium or other minerals like we have), then RO or bottled water is best for your plants & pets.

    I love the idea of lemons & limes piled up in a pretty bowl, but they sadly don't last very long here, if not refrigerated. I like to use faux ones for display and keep the real ones (from our own trees) in ziplock bags in the fridge.

    The little ivy is so pretty. Good luck proving your hubby wrong!

  43. Thanks Carol. I really appreciate the tips! You seem to know your stuff. I have to put more effort into this endeavor, I guess. My little guy is still alive though! That's progress, right? ;)

  44. Wow, MariaElena! Maybe I should run out and buy some Knockout roses! Of course, right now we are literally buried in snow...but it's nice to dream of summer and those delicious blooms!! :)