The Greenhouse Omaha: Decorating with a Green Thumb - Rabble Media

The Greenhouse Omaha: Decorating with a Green Thumb

Sep 03, 2020

It’s 7:37 a.m. while still half-asleep, you roll over and sweep away the pothos blocking your phone to hit snooze. But as the sunlight begins to filter into your room, you’re unable to fall back asleep and stare at the philodendron creeping its way across your ceiling. The monstera in the corner waves its large leaves “good morning” to you.

It’s the ritual that begins your day. Examining your plants for dry soil or dead foliage has become a therapeutic hobby while your morning coffee brews. It’s one that holds much value. Here you are, keeping a living thing alive (hopefully). It began with a small succulent you saw on the way out of the grocery store, now tucked away by your windowsill. Then it was the snake plant, bursting out of its pot that you snatched on the sidewalk with a “For Free” sign attached. Then the money tree, the string of hearts, the funny looking cactus and before you knew it, you were living in a jungle.

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For Christina Mainelli, this dream is a reality. In a spacious studio apartment in the Old Market in Omaha, Mainelli has hung, squeezed, and stacked plants into every corner of her apartment, the ceiling included. They’re crowded by the window, strung from shelf to shelf, and flanking the side of the TV for the optimal view. Her passion for plants began at a very early age; her childhood was surrounded by her mother and grandmother who were entranced by the natural world.

“It was never really a thing that they talked about,” Mainelli said. “It was very much a part of their routine.”

That love for plants was passed down into her own life as she grew up and became not only a chance for her to dig her fingers into the earth but was also an outlet for mental recovery.

“Before we moved into my current apartment we had a big yard and big front porch that was my haven, my stress release at the end of the day with a book and a [beverage],” Mainelli said.

Yet when Mainelli left the spacious heaven of her backyard, she was met with a challenge: a small cramped apartment with two windows. Her solution? Macrame hangers, books with holes the perfect size for a pot, thrifted cups and saucers to hold pocket-sized plants. As an active member of the Omaha “makers community”, Mainelli decided to incorporate her obsession of plants with her love for crafting plant accessories and created The Greenhouse Omaha.

Within her self-run business, Mainelli offers woven baskets, macrame hangers, consultations with businesses, workshops, installations, and even wedding floral arrangements. While providing the community with products to fulfill their plant’s needs, she has also been able to bring knowledge and awareness about the overall importance of plants in our daily lives.

“I think especially right now with the way that we’re so connected to our phones and technology, the connection to nature on a regular basis plays into that whole conversation that we’re having about the environment right now,” Mainelli said.

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Through her workshops and conversations with customers, Mainelli has expressed how maintaining and taking care of houseplants can be an easy way to play an active role in the conservation of our environment. To Mainelli, the houseplant world should not be a frightening place. People of all ages have the capability to keep a plant alive as long as they have the right environment in which the plant would thrive. Not only do plants offer a multitude of mental and physical benefits such as cleaner air and boosting one’s mood, but they can also spruce up any space that is in need of a touch of nature.

“I always recommend that people do their research first and to always start with one,” Mainelli advised. “People have a tendency to think, ‘Oh, I need more plants in my home so I’m going to buy 10.’ Then you come home with ten plants with different needs which all wind up in the same window where half of them will die.”

So, the next time you see a strange, new plant at your local nursery or have an aunt who wants to give up her spider plant that has overtaken her kitchen, take Mainelli’s advice and use the internet to your advantage. Assess your lighting. Pick up some one-of-a-kind pots at the thrift store. Think long and hard if you’re ready to take on the role of ‘plant parent’.

Oh, and if you see Mainelli, don’t be afraid to ask her what her favorite plant is.

She would love it.