And how I learned to stop fearing and murdering houseplants.
My obsessions come and go and stick with me in various, minute forms. My most enduring obsessions are dogs, and as of last year, plants — specifically houseplants. (As a genetic side note, I inherited my love of dogs from my father, and my love of plants from my mother.)
I killed — either by neglect or by over-attention — every houseplant I had in the first two years of our marriage. Including a spider plant that my boss gave me, with the caveat, “Not even you could kill this plant.” But I did. I was quick to term myself as a person with a brown and/or black thumb.
But then I decided I should actually start learning and caring about these living things, and so I did what I always do: Read all the books! I read every book our public library had on houseplants, and, imagine that, some extra knowledge helped. I am killing far fewer, and I daresay some plants are even thriving under my amateurish attentions.
My plant obsession continues to nearly untenable levels. (I started a houseplant inspiration board on Pinterest. Yes. Oh, my, yes.) Thankfully, some of the plant fever is spreading outdoors. Guion takes care of the practical plants (e.g., vegetables, herbs, hops, fruit trees), and I have taken charge of the ornamental plants (landscaping the front yard, choosing plants). It is a good system.
The main things I’ve learned about houseplants
- Get to know the conditions of your home. If you have a very dry home, look for arid-loving plants, e.g., succulents. If you have a humid home, look for ferns and tropical plants. If you’re somewhere in between, like most of us, find those versatile, hard-to-kill specimens that seem to thrive anywhere.
- Learn about light. Plants want light in various forms; get to know your plant and what it likes, and get to know your home and what kind of light it offers throughout the day.
- Plants die for two reasons, generally: (1) too much or too little light, or (2) too much or too little water. If your plant looks sad, it is probably a light or water situation, or both.
- Stay on a schedule. I water (almost) all of my plants on Sunday morning. This, more than anything else, has kept me from killing. Without a consistent watering schedule, I am liable to forget when I watered last, and either overcompensate with water or let the plant dry out and suffer from neglect.
I used all of my birthday money on plant-related things. Gran gave me a gift card to Etsy, and I bought this beautiful handmade ceramic hanging planter. I spent an absurd sum at Fifth Season, my houseplant oasis. (Local people: If you are feeling stressed about your life, just go walk around Fifth Season. You will feel better when you leave. And you will probably leave with a plant.)
Plants recently added to the family:
And Windy gave me a magnificent birds’ nest fern (Asplenium nidus) for my birthday, which I haven’t had a chance to photograph yet. So, yes. I think I have reached my limit. For now…
Heads up: I think bonsai trees are going to be my next obsession. Just wanted to declare that to the world.