5 things I wish I could have told the builder


Spider plant on a windowsill - Preparing home for plants

Plants are usually an afterthought in the initial design of a home. I was talking with a lady recently who said she doesn’t have any good places to put plants in her home. This is all too common. Many people get into a new home, want to bring in plants, but don’t know where to put them. The initial design of the home didn’t take plants into consideration.

My wife and I moved into an apartment a few years ago that was built around the turn of the 21st century. If I could roll back time and talk with the builder, here are a few things I’d ask to be included in the plans.

Wider Window Sills for Plants

I appreciate the builder putting in nice, fan-shaped windows above each of our doors. There’s room for a few plants in small pots on the windowsills, but only if the pots are narrow. Just a couple more inches on the windowsills would have opened up a lot of possibilities for plants.

Plants in the Bathroom

The corner of our bathroom is the perfect spot for a hanging planter. The only problem? There aren’t windows in the bathroom. Another request for the builder would be to put a light in the ceiling over a corner, opening up a great place for a fern, prayer plant, or other plant that likes humidity.

Plants in Corners

We have a sliding glass door that lets in good, indirect light even though it faces north. I have a peace lily and a monstera that are growing well near the door because they like the indirect light. But the corners of the room are dark for most of the winter. I’d ask the builder to install corner shelves that had power for lights under the shelves to illuminate the plant on the shelf below. This would create a great space for a wandering Jew or spider plant.

Plants in the Kitchen

Our kitchen cabinets don’t go all the way to the ceiling, leaving some space for baskets, knick knacks,  vacation mementos, and… dare I say… artificial plants. To bring living greenery into the kitchen, I’d ask the builder to put light fixtures in the ceiling to enable plants to grow on top of the cabinets. I’d also ask for a waterproof liner on top of the cabinets, just in case I over-water a plant.

Lights Controlled by an App

Twenty years ago this wasn’t possible, but now lights can be controlled by an app and set to turn on and off automatically. That would be my final builder ask.

It’s too late to ask the builder, now what?

First off, choose the location of your plants based on their lighting needs. We have a south-facing window that gets a lot of good sunlight, especially in the winter. That’s where I put plants that need bright light, like a Norfolk pine tree I had at home for awhile.

Since any extra light will help house plants, I also put plants on end tables where we have a table lamp. A corn plant will grow well under a table lamp.

For plants that need even more light, like an echeveria and other succulents, I installed 6500K shop lights underneath shelves in a stand-alone bookshelf. This allows me to move the shelf up or down depending on the height of the plant. You don’t need to purchase fancy grow lights, since all lights come with a Kelvin rating and 6500K is the best rating for a non-flowering plant.

Talk with Your Builder

If you’re building or remodeling and want to incorporate plants in your home, or even a soil-less gardening system, work with your contractor to include places for plants in the design. If you’d like some help, let me know. I offer plant consultation services for a reasonable price.

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