My Oldest Houseplant and Its Friends: Houseplant Count #8-14

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While it’s true that I had other plants earlier in my life, they didn’t make it this far. I often bought inexpensive gift plants for myself when I was young. They would live awhile on a table or a shelf and then die. I didn’t know what I was doing. Like many, my plant collecting began with what I now know of as disposable florist plants. I like to laugh now when I think about all of the good I did by helping to keep growers in business. I still can’t pass up a cute popular plant at the grocery store. Just the other day I found a plant for $1.99 after Christmas at the floral stand. When will I learn? Probably never. I snatched it up and sent a photo of it to two close friends. Now to see if I can keep it alive. (More on that in another post…)

My oldest plant is just a boring old Epipremnum aureus my Mom gave me when I moved into my second apartment. While I’d tried to live alone before, I’d come home after a month when I was 19. I moved out again when I was 20. The year would have been 1994 so this poor thing is 26 years old. I’d hoped to repot it for this blog post, but I’ve been working a lot and will do so this weekend. Poor, poor thing. It has lived in a vintage glass punch bowl, in the near dark above the fridge for years now. After I repot it, I will definitely give it more of a place of honor.

Overall it’s been an amazing plant. I’ve made babies for many people and it has survived some extreme neglect.

Epipremnum aureus, Golden pothos

Houseplant #8: Epipremnum aureus

I had thought my original plant was the variegated golden pothos but after I double checked I realized that even if it had been, the plant had long since reverted to plain green. With some additional light and love it’s likely my original plant may change a bit, but just to be on the safe side, I acquired this one just to be sure I had it back in my collection.

And to be more honest, I’m on quite a kick now for Epipremnum. I’m like a middle schooler collecting Garbage Pail Kids. I want them all!

Golden pothos is likely one of the most common houseplants around. It’s the plant I’ve always given to beginners and as housewarming gifts since it is such an easy plant to grow.

Houseplant #9: Epipremnum aureus ‘Glacier’

It’s hard to tell, but this plant has been in my house for at least 10 years now. It was purchased at Al’s Garden Center back when I worked in Silverton. It nearly died from neglect when I went through my divorce. It’s suffered from overwatering and poor indirect light for years. Only recently has it started to look better. I decided months ago that I had to do this post so I’ve been intentionally paying attention to it.

I could be wrong about the name. There are several that all look alike. Of course I have owned them all at one time or another. That’s one of the frustrating things about these lovely plants. They can all look a lot alike.

Houseplant #10: Epipremnum aureus ‘Jade’

Epipremnum ‘Jade’ is a new plant for me. Again, while preparing to write this I was plant shopping after Christmas and I of course had to purchase any of the plants that I didn’t yet own. I’m happy just to have something green. I will love it on my kitchen wall for it’s lack of variety. My Sicilian Orlando puppet needed a garden of his own. Now he can have it.

Houseplant #11: Epipremnum aureus ‘Marble Queen’

This plant has been even more of a challenge for me but I’ve overwatered it and neglected it too. For years it hung on for dear life in a vintage ceramic planter downstairs. I think for most of its life it’s barely had any nice leaves and I know for a fact that’s because I watered it too heavily and then let it dry out. Sitting is too much water for too long really chokes most plants to death. I am grateful that this one is finally growing well but it is so slow… so… so… slow…

Houseplant #12: Monstera siltepecana

As most folks know, I’m not an avid Monstera fan. This is mostly due to the fact I am not wealthy and am not the type of gardener who finds pleasure purchasing and collecting expensive plants. With my specialty being seed propagation, I tend to have many plants that I’ve been able to grow for much less money because I grew them from seed. Almost all of my expensive plants were gifts or hand-me-downs. This one isn’t even a really “expensive” plant but it was gifted to me. I’ve grown a few plants from the original cuttings to earn money for our Gesneriad Society chapter. I’m happy that I can keep growing plants from it.

Houseplant #11: Epipremnum aureus ‘Neon’

Of all of these, my Epipremnum ‘Neon’ is one of my most robust and happy plants. I have no clue where it originally came from but it has been in my house for well over a decade. The key to owning a happy plant like this is light, lots of care, and repotting it more frequently so that the soil stays nice and airy. To be honest, as time goes on, I’m seeing more and more that constant vigilance and repotting seems to make so many plants happier. It’s what I do at work so using the skills I’ve learned there here at home has really paid off for my plants.

Houseplant #14: Columnea ‘Shy Peach’

Last on my list is a gesneriad. This is the hybrid Columnea ‘Shy Peach’. I have no idea who bred this plant, or when that was, but I inherited it from Dick’s Greenhouse. After the bloom is over, I’ll be able to propagate it to make more for our group. This plant seems to bloom annually in the winter. It’s a nice addition to my other winter bloomers.

Well, that little visit was fun. I hope to add more Epipremnum to my collection soon. I have a friend who is sharing cuttings with me from plants I’ve lost, and I may break down and pay for a more special cultivar but I am weary of purchasing from eBay. I really prefer trades and meeting folks face-to-face but we’re in a pandemic so I need to roll with the times.

Stay safe out there and Happy New Year!

Houseplant Count #6-7

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My interest in writing about houseplants diminished quite a bit after my initial post. It is daunting to consider how long it will take me to write through all of the ones that I own and care for now. Part of me is embarrassed by the amount of time required to care for this many tender plants. Another part of myself hates working so much with plants only to return home to play with more. All of this has led me to consider what kind of balance I need, and I’m working on it.

First and foremost I’m a plant geek with a strong sense of curiosity about the life of my plants. My houseplants are not for show necessarily, or even for decorating my home. Even if I have a specimen plant, you won’t find me calling it that. Plants feed my curiosity, and give me pleasure. I study and learn from them. Many people can identify with me, but is it a compulsion, an unhealthy obsession? Are many of us currently addicted to plants? I don’t know about others, but I do know that in part, my many plants stem from my not having been able to have children. Many have speculated that a need to nurture something is why indoor plants are so popular right now, but I’m not thoroughly convinced. I believe that for each of us, we all have our own complicated reasons, and for many, those reasons are personal.

Gardeners have buried their sadness in the ground for ages, and while my life has grown exponentially more wonderful in the last decade, I still tend to harbor a melancholy that’s best left tilled silently with my sore fingers into my plants here at home. My only compulsion is this act of burying and putting things to rest. I find closure and growth again and again. If I’m addicted to anything, it’s to the regular nature, the steady rhythm, the beating drum of the growth cycle. I’m a propagator, a horticulturist, and I find comfort in the assuredness of the lifecycle, the death and rebirth through the seasons. Houseplants for me are the wildcard, my steady friends, the plants that are not living naturally their best lives and they NEED me. They need my extra input, my help, in order to survive.

Plant hoarding exists and during my adult life I know that I have been a hoarder. My maternal grandmother was a serious hoarder, and my mother has issues with it as well. I was always the organized one tossing and sorting, sorting and tossing. When I became very ill, I started to hoard but didn’t realize it for many years. I saved far too many things for projects I would “get to” but was physically unable to do any of them. Only recently am I finally tackling the basement. The basement and the Seed Studio have always been the worst areas. Losing family, I over-inherited a lot of family objects. During my first marriage, I hoarded because I was in a marriage that was one-sided. I was told that I was loved for nearly a decade, but I knew in my heart it wasn’t true, and then he walked out one day and essentially told me he had finally realized he’d never loved me. I was crazily angry and raging. I wasted those years, knowingly living a lie, and then I looked at the hoarding around me. It has been a slow process to reverse that damage.

So many things had been accumulated by my anxiety because I was in a bad relationship. I’m not a psychologist, but from what I understand, I was surrounding myself, protecting myself, blocking myself off from the reality I did not want to face. It was emotionally too painful. Once he was gone though, it all stopped, and the clouds lifted. I had surrounded myself with a jungle of plants though, and it was my green armor, a shield, my scout badge, a status symbol.

Indoor plants now live in the spaces where I hoarded and stashed so many piles of things. It is taking time to get groups of plants setup in pretty vignettes so that’s why I only have two to talk about this week. My aim for months now has been to brighten these emotionally raw spaces with less stuff. I plan to fill more space in my home with happy and healthy well-grown plants from my collection. Honestly, I can’t imagine a better project to complete during a pandemic that has caused all of us to feel so isolated. I am aiming to connect in the only way that I can.

And if you’ve reached this point and are confused and befuddled by my TMI than remember that I’m a writer who it fond of breaking the rules, and I’m a gardener who is more than aware that these plants exist here, in my home, because of a strange human need to care for and collect them. That human need to possess and collect is part of their existence, and there is no reason why I shouldn’t describe (in detail) that relationship and arrangement between the plants and I. Plants are a commodity and are twisted into so many things thanks to our need to do so. Let’s just be very open about that.

While I may be the current leader of a local chapter affiliated with the Gesneriad Society that does not mean that I’m an expert grower of all gesneriads. (I don’t even know all of them.) While I can grow many well now, it has taken time. I still have A LOT to learn though and I enjoy the act of this plant practice. Gesneriads are tricky to grow, but if you’re in a chapter with others, they’re very easy to collect. We share plants, our growing experiences, and our losses. I have long joked that I’m terrible with Streptocarpus, and I have been, but I vowed to master them next and so far I’m doing better.

Streptocarpus ‘Bethan’

Houseplant #6: Streptocarpus ‘Bethan’

Once again I’m uncertain as to where my Streptocarpus ‘Bethan’ came from but I think it was a gift from my friend Evan aka the Practical Plant Geek. I believe it was given to me during a plant purge and that I was told something about the ease of its care. Well, this plant was tended to, potted up, and then this happened. I think it is an easy-to-grow Strep and I would recommend it to beginners. Like all good Streps, the blooms lasted for a very long time.

Bred by Dibleys Nurseries in England, this hybrid was introduced in 1995. Part of the joy of belonging to a plant group like the Mt Hood Gesneriad Society is learning about hybridizing. While I have not attempted to hybridize much of anything with purposeful crosses, I hope to eventually. In the meantime, I really just want to learn more about the parentage of plants while giving praise to breeders and voice to the process by which these captivating plants are created.

Streptocarpus ‘Iced Amethyst Showoff’

Houseplant #7: Streptocarpus ‘Iced Amethyst Showoff’

This plant was acquired through the donation of a collection of Streptocarpus from a collector who could no longer keep them. A member from our group took on the donation and cared for them, and before she sold her home and greenhouse she passed them along to us to sell at one of our plant sale fundraisers for the club.

I had grown Streptocarpus ‘Iced Pink Flamingo’ twice and both times the plants had failed to thrive for me. I had given up on the variegated plants but then this one crossed my path so I tried again. I’m so glad I did. This plant is growing in my basement, under lights, and it has a wick watering setup.

I’d avoided setting up a system due to a lack of energy, time and commitment, but it was worth the time. (Yes, I save time and energy now.) Some folks grow their plants over individual reservoirs of water but I’m using a humidity tray with grids so that I can water all of the plants at once. I’m very happy with the results and will include more on what I’m growing using this method in future posts.

Bred by D.Martens/S. Morgan, this plant was introduced in 2002. It’s parents are S. ‘Canterbury Surprise’ x S. ‘Winter Dreams’.