House Update: Building Things & Killing Plants

ruth crilly house home interiors update

Is there a term for someone who is the very opposite of green-fingered? Who’s more Die-das touch than Midas? Whatever the term is for it, that’s me. I just seem to be very bad with houseplants – I’ve killed orchids, money trees, even cacti! (I really shouldn’t use an exclamation mark there because it makes me sound rather enthusiastic about my Dr Death horticultural tendencies. A bit proud of my efforts. I’m not.)

ruth crilly house home interiors update

So I’m the last person who should be buying more houseplants, yet here I am with an ever-growing collection, mainly because I keep misjudging the size and quantity of the decorative pots I require for them. It started with an ad shoot (I needed to create a sort of indoor jungle in my bathroom and so bought seven very showy plants) and then I realised I needed nice pots for all of my new houseplants. And then I bought pots that were completely the wrong size but couldn’t be bothered to post them back (oh God, the shameful wait at the post office when you have to return another huge and awkward parcel that weighs more than a human) and so I needed yet more plants to make use of them. Repeat to fade.

ruth crilly house home interiors update

The result of all of this is that I’m now in the ridiculous position of being the owner of a number of very expensive plants (including a five feet tall flowering – or was – Bird of Paradise) but absolutely, one hundred percent inept at keeping any of them happy. I mean I’ve tried – how I’ve tried! – but even when I stick to the rules, research their needs for hours, monitor sunlight and water, create feeding schedules and set calendar alerts for leaf-dusting sessions, all of my plants hate me.

ruth crilly house home interiors update

I’ve made a little vlog showing off my houseplants and sending out a plea for advice – there’s also a bit of a house update and a glimpse of where the new extension is being built, so if you’re the nosey sort (who isn’t) then click that button. I’ll do a dedicated video on the extension if anyone’s bothered – it’s an odd one and there’s a particular reason we’re building it that most definitely isn’t “because we need extra space”. Too long-winded to go into here, but I might film something tomorrow whilst all of the info is fresh in my head…

For credits and links in the video, please click through to Youtube here – they are listed beneath the player. In my photos above, the blue and white calico jug is Burleigh pottery, the tall vase is by my very talented friend, Helen Jones Ceramics, the clock is by Newgate and the spaceman vase is from Seletti. I may have to do another post using these photos because I was particularly pleased with them!

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  1. May 22, 2019 / 1:20 pm

    I’m obsessed with interiors at the moment but unfortunately not in a position to build or renovate right now. Plant killing, I can totally relate to unfortunately. M&S do quite nice faux ones…

  2. shannon romero
    May 21, 2019 / 10:55 am

    For the last 15 years it’s been a tradition for Mother’s Day/my birthday to buy myself new plants. That is till this year. My now 15yr and 17yr olds informed me that our house is where plants come to die, even silk ones mom. I even killed one that was to be a gift. Two weeks with me was all it took. Two back thumbed momma here.

  3. Claire
    May 20, 2019 / 10:13 pm

    I call it a black thumb of death – thankfully I don’t seem to have inherited my mum’s!

  4. May 20, 2019 / 8:40 pm

    I love your collection of plants! I’m useless at keeping plants alive too haha x

  5. May 20, 2019 / 6:45 pm

    I really like your posts…

  6. Beverly
    May 20, 2019 / 5:49 pm

    Oh Ruth, the orchid was never your fault. Orchids available at mass-retailers are intended to be a disposable product; bring it home with pretty flowers and throw it out when the flowers fade. As such, they are delivered into your hands in the worst possible condition. Un-pot your grocery store orchid and you’ll be guaranteed to find that most or all of the root system has rotted away, deprived of oxygen and subjected to the acidic conditions of overly compacted and decaying peat moss designed to get the plant to market with flowers as quickly as possible without care for the overall health or longevity of the plant… because they want you to toss it and buy another!
    Which is nothing to say of the well-intentioned but misinformed floral department employees who have hopped on the Pinterest bandwagon of watering the poor things with ice cubes rested on top of the pot. It seems a sensible and time-saving option, until you consider that the top of the pot is exactly where the darn thing has all of its tender, new roots and you’ve now frostbitten all hopes for a healthy new root system! Orchids are tropical! They don’t appreciate an ice bath.
    If you have a desire to keep orchids, which are actually fairly low maintenance assuming their roots aren’t rotted off, try to purchase one from a proper orchid grower. You can rescue the grocery store variety but it will require an immediate re-potting in new moss and a year or so of extra TLC to help it recover from the ordeal.

    P.S. In the US we call it “having a black thumb”, sort of morbid but there you go.

    • May 20, 2019 / 10:01 pm

      It was a gift from someone but looked at the inner pot and it was IKEA. Yes, the roots were all rotted off!! x

  7. Alice H
    May 20, 2019 / 10:48 am

    I don’t think that you’re killing the plants – you need to remember that the flowers and leaves don’t last forever and will shed, just like our hair falls out naturally over time.

    One thing that you might find helpful is if you’re in a hard water area is to use filtered water or rainwater to water the plants in. Another thing to consider is that are you feeding the plants sufficiently?

    For bright, indirect light conditions a north facing window is ideal. For increasing the humidity you can put the plants on a tray filled with a layer of gravel on the base and keep this damp (I use some quartz chips that are meant for gravel paths etc as they look nicer than normal gravel).

    For general advice about plants I tend to look at the RHS website, though sometimes it’s not always clear how often to water or feed so if you look at the info provided on the RHS shop section that’s normally got the info. For example the Bird of Paradise plant: and

    Hope this helps :-)

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