Confession: I get nightmares about losing my plants. I wake up in the night sweating, and go make sure they are still there. I’ve heard so many stories about people having to get rid of their plant collections, some who have spent years building them. I just couldn’t imagine having to part with mine—and I have more than 70 and counting.
Parting with plants is pretty common. I posted in Facebook plant group and polled my Instagram followers via my plant account, @taylorathomewithplants, to get stories from collectors. Here's a list of the top five reasons people give up on their plant collections.
Reason 1: Moving Long Distance
I’m always impressed when people make the best out of a bad situation, and that’s exactly what Arta from @JungleCasita did when she had to part with the majority of her plant collection.
“I grew my plant collection over the course of my three years in San Francisco and accumulated a bit over 60 plants," she said. "I'm originally an East Coaster so when my husband and I decided to move back to buy our farm, we knew we couldn’t drive all the plants across the country with us. By that point I’d had a majority of them for about a year and a half so even my smaller plants were starting to get big. I decided to host a plant sale and sold about 50 plants.
I donated the money to @blackgirlscode (over $1500!). I’ve kept about 15 of my plants—four big guys and the rest small ones!
I would absolutely love to expand my collection again, although I’m not sure if I’d be able to commit to as many plants. Having plants is such a big care commitment and it really made me realize how much time it took each week to provide proper care for them.”
Reason 2: Pests
Another follower, Jessy Bradbury, shared a story that made me tear up. “I had to get rid of 42 plants this week. I have 5 babies left and even those I think are going to have to go," she said.
"Fungus gnats, spiders, mites, everything possible happened. I tried for three months to save them all, but the gnats were growing wild. After having to empty my animals' food/water dishes every hour because the gnats would swarm to them, I thought enough was enough. I’m building a greenhouse now to hopefully contain any future issues.”
Reason 3: A New Pet
When you get a new pet, you might have to lose some of your plant collection because certain types of plants are toxic to animals and people when ingested. If you are unable to move them out of reach, unfortunately it’s time to send them off.
Vanessa shared her experience of recently getting a new dog. “I got a puppy just a week ago and had to really slim down my plant area for two reasons," she said via DM. "The first was so I could have space for the puppy and the second so that the puppy wouldn’t be tempted to be near/eat any of them since they’re toxic. Sad times. But worth it. Now I barely have (time) to pay attention to my plants.”
Reason 4: Landlord Problems
“My friend had a pretty massive plant collection which she was very fond of... Her landlord wasn't and decided to kick her out of the flat," said a woman responding to my post in the Facebook Group, Plant Swap London.
"[The landlord claimed] that the mold on the windows and walls was caused by the plants, even though it was there before she moved her plants in and had it well documented. She had to move back in with her family and there was no space so she had to give much of it up... Actual nightmare," the woman wrote.
Reason 5: Your Partner Isn't Into Plants
“My partner wasn’t too happy about the number of plants I have. We had a silly one-in-one-out rule but I got past that by propagating,” said Maddie Greatorex via Facebook. “This got a bit out of hand during lockdown so I decided to start a little project of giving plants away to women’s shelters to make the accommodation more homely.
"This is also really beneficial for mental health and can help women to get on track with self care (by first caring for a plant).” The UK charity is Juno Women's Aid.
No plant lover ever wants to lose their collection, but these people handled it as well as one could hope.