Tag Archive | #DYI

Re-potting Houseplants

imageIt had been about 5 years since I took in these two orphans from work. They had been hanging under a pergola for one season and the clients didn’t want them anymore. Their loss is my gain! I re-potted them into these cool cornucopia looking bamboo baskets and they have lived happily in my south window since. 

I started to notice the soil around the outside edge started to feel a bit ‘crunchy’ for lack of a better term. These hang high, and I can’t see into them without removing them from the hooks, so I had to go on other signs they wanted new soil for their feet. Crunchy soil and the fact it took less time for me to hear the water flowing into the drip pan, meaning there were fissures in the soil that allowed the water to flow through the soil without any uptake of water into the soil. I finally decided it was time for a re-pot.

Many plants do actually prefer to be rootbound. My ficus and other philodendron plants have been in the same pots for decades. Other plants need the freedom to spread their roots…. These had gotten a bit thin on top, so along with the re-pot, I was going to transplant many of the runners to the pot to return it to it’s afro past.

  • First, I pruned off all the runners. I wanted the plant to put all of its energy into making new roots and leaves on the existing plant, not want to ‘Seek out new life and civilizations” ;-).
  • Then, I had to remove part of the old pot, as it had grown roots all through the bottom. The new pots weren’t that much larger than the old, however these do like to be root bound and I didn’t want to have them swimming in a ‘too large’ pot. I also had size restrictions on the hangers.
  • I took off about and inch of roots from the bottom. I wanted to encourage them to grow down into the new soil I placed on the bottom of the new pot. I also took off a bit of soil on the sides where there were no roots, so new, nutrient-filled soil will go.

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  • I placed about 2 inches of potting soil in the bottom of the new pot. The pot was only about an inch larger around, but just enough to plant some newbies in there.
  • These are very easy to propagate. Prune them at a node (where there looks to be roots growing) and pop it in the new soil.
  • Be sure to keep these new babies watered. They aren’t getting the supplemental nutrients from Mom anymore, and will need some extra help.


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And were back to lookin’ tropical 😉

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Bathroom Renovations Part 1 – Budgets & Scheduling


This is how Alaskans do it!!

On the first day of my winter break, I got a wild hair in my ass to renovate my main bathroom. I have been wanting to do something to the house since we became a bit more stable in the financial department. . However, every time I chose a construction project (kitchen countertops, new windows, patio…) the “construction dominos” would start falling and I quickly lost interest as my budget was blown.

What is a construction domino? It’s when you stack all the things you need to do for a project in a line then try to fill in other dominos (problems) that crop-up during the project without them all falling. When you plan to do any construction, there is ALWAYS an unknown factor that can’t be factored in at the beginning. Or even when you do factor it in, it can be the maker or breaker of a project.

EXAMPLE – You may think you are doing a quick change out of a new toilet for about $250, however after you’ve bought your new toilet (thinking you’ll save money by buying it yourself at the Big Depot instead of from the plumber), it’s the wrong size and you now need to pay the plumber to pick-up the right model… Or, the toilet collar turns out to be rusted away and needs to be replaced… Clack, clack, clack. The dominos start falling, just like the dough you’re dropping into the project.

I am a landscape construction estimator. Believe me, I know about construction costs! Basically, add a healthy 20% – 30% to any budget and that is where it will really fall after all is said and done. One more time, be sure the initial estimate is 30% LOWER than what you want to spend.  Believe me! Small things not anticipated can add up quickly! Even for a seasoned professional like myself.

My budget for my bathroom project was $1,700*, with a completion schedule of 2 weeks. The project will encompass a new vanity/sink/faucet, new mirror, tile backsplash, shelves and a faux paint finish. All of the work will be done by my husband and me, no other contractors needed. Big bucks can be saved every time you can do something yourself. This project would easily be $5,000 had I hired a contractor and not done as fast, because they would need multiple visits to complete.

Here’s just a few of the construction dominos that fell (so far) during my bathroom renovation:

  • There was no tile under existing vanity – as I had bought a vanity with legs this time, I needed to match the tile & lay 4.5 tiles.
  • I had planned on reusing the mirror, however I damaged it on removal – need new.
  • The light above the vanity was wired incorrectly and not centered.
  • Toilet seat broke when someone stood on it to reach the light. .. (not me!)
  • I originally wanted to go with a Venetian plaster finish to cover the poor drywall job. Turns out the color choices are very limited in Venetian plaster and I didn’t like any of them, so I needed to do A LOT of drywall repair to be able to use regular paint.
  • Even after 2 coats of expensive, primer included paint, it did not cover the dark green paint & I need to buy another $57 gallon for a 3rd coat.

Right now, 3 weeks after my winter break, I’m only to the point of painting my 3rd coat today. Remember ‘construction schedule’ are two words that go together like military intelligence or politically correct. IE, they don’t!! So, just like the budget estimate, add 30% more time to your project. I thought I’d be done last weekend… Well, as of today, it looks like the bathroom will be functional next weekend, however not fully complete with shelves and a mirror.

Thank goodness, I have a basement washroom to shit, shave and shower in. I don’t know anyone’s basement that’s cozy warm, and mine is no different. Allow me to reference the Styrofoam photo above. .. I love watching the “Buying Alaska” series. In Alaska, there are many homes with no indoor plumbing. How they combat the shock of sitting on a frozen, outhouse toilet seat is to create a seat of Styrofoam that is kept warm in the house. When needed, the warm seat is brought to the outhouse and your butt won’t freeze to the seat! This seat now resides at the top of the stairs, warm and at the ready when I have to use the freezing cold, basement loo! 😉

Watch for Bathroom Renovations Part II – The Construction Project coming up soon (When I finish it!!)

*$1,700 –  This number was to also include towels, rug, shower curtain/rod and wall plates. Stop laughing at me… 😉

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl