The diary of a former plant killer. I used to be terrible with house plants and so banned myself from buying them for years. In December 2019 a friend gave me a Christmas cactus as a thank you gift and after a little bit of reading up on plant care online I somehow managed to keep it alive and flowering for six months. As a way to pass time and distract myself during the pandemic I have been teaching myself the basics of plant care and rebuilding my confidence with plants. It turns out there’s hope for me yet!
It’s time for another plant journal update, and this month I wanted to capture some photos of my little cuttings as I know that they will grow lots and look very different in just a few short months.
Hoya is probably my favourite genus of houseplant, and I have fallen deep down the rabbit hole with them. I have bought tiny cuttings from eBay and Etsy sellers because they are affordable that way at just a few pounds each – I refuse to pay silly money for a plant, no matter how beautiful it is. I have the time and the patience to put in to growing these plants from cuttings, and I really enjoy watching them root then push out new leaves. I don’t think I’d get the same sense of satisfaction if I took care of a more mature (and more expensive) plant!
My Hoya collection fits on one small table and the windowsill and when they grow a bit bigger I will trellis them to keep their footprint small, so although there are quite a few of them, they take up less space than a single palm or aroid! Hoya cuttings are always in demand so if they end up too big for my space, I can always prune them and sell cuttings for an affordable price to give back to the community I bought my cuttings from. I don’t plan to make a profit from them, but just to put cuttings back into circulation so that other people can enjoy collecting them as much as I do.
This little succulent has been threatening death all winter long. It kept dropping leaves – they’d pucker and turn yellow then fall off – whether I left it completely dry or gave it a tiny bit of water. Towards the end of January it started etiolating (stretching out in search of light) and whilst I could empathise, I was also ready to give up on it altogether. Fast forward to the start of April, and I put it out on the balcony under my cold frame, thinking that the cold might kill it, but the extra light might save it. It hasn’t dropped any leaves recently and it has turned a lovely pink with the cold stress of being outside.
It’s been about three months since my last house plant journal update, so I thought I’d share some recent photos. I briefly started a separate Instagram account for all things house plant related, but to be honest I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed by Instagram and I’m not sure keeping two accounts is something I want to do at the moment as I end up spending too much time in app which leaves me feeling distracted and irritable. It’s such a busy, noisy app, and really commercial what with the new shopping tab taking prime position in the user interface.
The Instagram plant community is really friendly and positive, but as with all hobbies these days there are also lots of influencers who make their money through product placement and advertising, and I am trying to limit my exposure to these things as I personally feel happiest that way. Despite my best intentions and awareness of behavioural psychology and the power of advertising, I’m human. It’s all too easy to see a beautiful plant I’ve never heard of and then think I need it when the reality is I don’t, and nor do I have the space or conditions to look after it properly. So, for the time being I will just share house plant things here on my blog. My collection is small, made up of common plants, and I have set a limit on how many plants I can keep at any one time to keep things from getting out of hand. The plants I have make me happy, and that is enough.
New leaves on my Pilea Peperomioides after I gave it a few drops of fertiliser. It’s really quite dark inside now that we’re through to November, and some of the lower leaves were starting to turn yellow and drop off. I knew it wasn’t from overwatering as I’ve really got a handle on that now, but thought a little bit of food might help make it happier as I grow my plants in a soil free mix – coir, perlite and bark – and thought it might be short on nutrients as I hadn’t fed it since early September.
My fascination with house plants continues. I love epiphytic cacti and so I am currently rooting some cuttings I bought on eBay for the equivalent of a pot of tea and a piece of cake in a café – some rhipsalis paradoxa and lepismium bolivianum. They are hanging out growing roots in a jam jar alongside a young (already rooted) selenicereus chrysocardium I am hoping will grow big and strong come spring. I just love these plants, they have such strange shaped foliage and really beautiful flowers if you’re lucky enough to get them to bloom, and they do well in bright, indirect light – which is just as well as that’s about all I can offer them in winter!
I’m writing this to pledge to myself that there will be no more plants – or cuttings – until at least the spring though. The light is fading fast now that October is here, and I don’t want to overstretch myself given that space is limited and I’m still very much a beginner when it comes to plants. I am really enjoying growing things from cuttings and small starter plants, it’s a cheap way to get in to house plants and it’s really rewarding to watch roots grow and new leaves emerge over time. Just this week my sansevieria masoniana has put out a new pup which is unfurling daily, much to my delight. It’s like watching paint dry in terms of action, but I find it strangely mesmerising.