It was really warm here at the Retro Ranch Revamp two weeks ago. In fact, it was averaging highs in the upper 40s, which is highly unusual for this time of year in Wisconsin. Pretty much all the snow we got in the blizzard melted and we could see grass! Then last Sunday night, we got a snow storm with about 8 inches of wet, heavy snow. Yuck! Our normally 2 car wide driveway:

Turned into a one lane deal:

That’s one of those pesky pine trees that we had to saw a ton of branches off just to see the mailbox and walk down the sidewalk without getting bonked in the face. Apparently the thick snow was too much for it.

Guess we will have to take that one down, or at least trim off all the branches on the driveway side of it this summer. Jim has gotten really good at backing around the tree to get out of the garage. It would have been much worse had we not trimmed so much off it already. I bet the mail box would have been buried!

Anyway, now for this week’s post. One of my Retro Ranch Revamp Resolutions was to fill the built in planter with something other than random junk. This week I started my planning.

First I did some surfing around the internet and consulted my mom (she has a green thumb) to figure out what plants would work best in the lighting conditions. We get a lot of afternoon light through our front door that shines on the planter, but that’s about all the light it gets. I decided that low light level plants would probably be the best bet for this space since the planter wasn’t right next to a window and only got half a day’s light.

Once I found a few types of plants that worked in low light level conditions, I did a quick search on the ASPCA site to make sure they weren’t really bad plants to have around a dog (Leo doesn’t eat plants, but one can never be too careful!) Turns out the two species of plant I picked out would make Leo not feel well for a few days if he ate enough of them, but wouldn’t cause death or anything serious, just upset stomach. Since Leo has never tried to eat any of our houseplants, I figured we would be fine with the ones I chose.

Next I took an old picture of the planter when we first moved in (it had a good angle for the mock-ups) and found some pictures of low light level plants that might do well in that location. Then I used Photoshop to quickly make some mock-ups of what the planter might look like with some of the plants in it.


This option has two main types of plants in it, a few variations of Dracaena and Snake Plant also known as “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue” I like the variation between the shrubby Dracaena and the tall Snake Plant.


Since I already have a Snake Plant and know it will do well in that area, I thought maybe making a row of snake plants would mimic the vertical wood slats and also grow well.


This option is more rocks both large and small (and maybe a Tiki statue) and less plants.

After considering all three options, I decided that I wanted to try option 1. Option 1 had nice variation of plants, which adds interest to the planter. Having all the same type of plant might be the safe way to go, but it was more boring. Option 3 could always be the fall back plan if for some reason the Dracaena didn’t do well in the planter.

Once I had my plants picked out, it was time to locate them and bring them home! Our local Lowes was having a house plant sale, so we went there. As luck would have it, I found exactly what I was looking for and they were on sale! Yay!

Here’s the haul:

One variegated leaf Dracaena Lemon Lime

One Dracaena Lemon Lime non variegated variety

One Dracaena “Janet Craig Compacta”

One Dracaena Warneckii

and two Sansevieria Gold Hahnii a.k.a Snake Plant or Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Funny side note about the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue- I read on the internet that the reason it is called Mother-in-Law’s Tongue is because it never leaves (never loses leaves) which is kinda funny, but the funny story about our other Mother-in-Law’s Tongue that we have in the bullet planter is: When we were moving and Jim’s parents were helping us, we put the bullet planter with the Mother-in-Law’s tongue plant in it in the back of the truck right up against the door. When we got to the other end I was upset because the planter had tipped over during the drive and the whole plant fell out and dirt was everywhere. My Mother-in-Law Kathie said “Oh, don’t worry Kate, I hear those Mother-in-Law plants are hard to kill!” followed by a hearty chuckle….which is hellarious coming from the mouth of your actual Mother-in-Law!)

Since the planter is 81 inches long, I figured it would need about 6 or 7 plants to fill it out. (while still allowing room for growth) I figured I could always go back for another plant if I needed one. When I placed them in the planter though, they looked perfectly spaced!

I like how the plants fit between the posts when you are viewing the planter from the living room.

The plants look cool through the glass too!

I like how the colors in the plants go with the colors in the room…

The plants can get some extra light from the lights over the planter (which are very cool and original to the house!)

They have the pin holes in them like the center of the bedroom light and the end table lights…I really like them!

Everything I read about house plants said that you should give your plants some time to adjust to their new surroundings before you re-pot them, so this buys me some time to find pots, dirt, styrofoam and rocks to finish off the planter. The plan is to find pots or containers without holes in them that are about 6 inches deep and fit in the 9.25 inch width of the planter. That way I only have to put enough dirt for each plant in the planter and not fill the whole thing with dirt. Then I will put blocks of styrofoam around the plants up to about 1 inch or so from the edge of the planter to fill in the empty space (and not add too much weight to the planter) After that I will find some gravel or decorative rocks to put on as a top layer to cover the whole thing and make it look cohesive. When that is all done, I can check off the first Retro Ranch Revamp Resolution off my list! Stay tuned!


3 thoughts on “HERE’S THE PLANT

  1. The planter looks great …. I think your plant choices were perfect and all of them together really, really look nice. They fill up the space nicely – just enough vertical and horizontal. Of course my favorite is the lemon lime one – no surprise there. That one looks nice in the middle. I also like the way the plants look from the LR side and through the wavy glass. 🙂 Somewhere I have two small tiki statues that Nana and Bob brought back from Hawaii in the 60s, carved out of lava rock. They would look good in your planter … not too big – about 4 or 5 inches tall. You might remember them from PA. I’ll put them aside for you when I find them again. 🙂 Nice job Kate!

  2. Pingback: Entryway Planter & Propagating Mother-in-Law Tongues | mountmiller

  3. it called mother in law plant or dumb cane because if you eat it, it paralyses your tongue and you can’t talk.
    Love your website.

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