Sometimes I feel like I have a love-hate relationship with my plants. My relationship goes up and down with them. When I first embarked on my plant journey I had nothing else going on so I dove in head first. Over the last few years, my life has changed drastically and I’ve found myself getting a bit frustrated with some of my plants. I now work a full time job and taking care of a collection of 50-plus leafy babies can sometimes feel like a full time job in itself. Having less time to care for my plants has resulted in a few casualties along the way. However, it’s also helped me find my houseplant style.
When I didn’t have much going on it was really easy to just buy any plant I thought looked nice. I wasn’t very intentional with my purchases which led to me slowly killing some plants along the way (and let’s face it: a few of them went very quickly—in, like, two weeks). But as with anything, we learn from our mistakes.
Here's what I figured out my houseplant style and what I learned along the way.
I Like My Collection As It Is
At one point it was all a numbers game for me. I thought it was impressive to tell someone I had nearly 100 houseplants in my one bedroom apartment. I would go to as many plant sales as possible. I would swap cuttings with anyone who was interested. I just wanted as many plants as I could get my hands on. Nowadays, I’m happy with my collection the way it is. I no longer operate on a one-in-one-out system. I care for the plants that are doing well. I focus on plants like my Rhaphidophora tetrasperma which has grown so much I can now drape it over the doorway leading to my kitchen and my Cebu Blue pothos that I grew from a cutting that only had one node on it.
Cuttings in Cute Vases Are As Good As Full Plants
I used to plant all of my propagated cuttings into soil as soon as they were ready to go. Now I like to scatter cuttings in vintage vases around the house. It works really well because I only need to switch the water when it gets dirty or the level gets low, as opposed to spending time watering the plants regularly. I use unique liquor bottles, vintage vases from charity shops, and even old spice jars and cool looking cans. It adds some personality to my space without giving me more to do in terms of plant care.
Cacti and Succulents Are Not For Me, No Matter What Everyone Else Says
I’m currently looking across the room at the saddest looking cactus in the entire world. It’s literally drooping over in its pot. It’s the third cactus I’ve nearly killed in the last six months. For some reason, no matter how I care for them, they just start rotting. I used to think that cacti were so cool but now I’m over them. The same goes for succulents. I just can’t keep them alive and I’m okay with that. While the past I would I might have felt like I needed to try again, I definitely don’t feel like it now.
A Plain Terracotta Pot Is as Good as a Fancy One
I spent so much money on pots when I first started my houseplant collection. Nowadays I prefer a terracotta pot that I can pick up from a garden center for a few bucks. I prefer the aesthetic and it goes better with the decor in my home. Unfortunately, moving the plants into their new terracotta pots means that I have a lot of unique and pricey pots lying around. I'm hoping I can pass them along to someone else!
Plants Don't Have to Be Rare or Trendy to Look Good
I feel lucky that I didn’t ever get too caught up in rare houseplants, something I’m sure my wallet would thank me for. However, I did purchase a few plants that were unique and later became trendy. While I love many of them (my Alocasia zebrina will always be my favorite plant), a lot of the plants that people compliment me on are my pothos or English ivy. I have a lot of common houseplants that have become favorites of mine (probably because they can deal with a bit of neglect from time to time) over some of the plants that I spent a little extra money on because I thought they looked cool.
I Focus on What Works for Me
It’s taken a few years but I know what plants work for me and thrive in my apartment. I’ve lived in the same place for the entirety of my houseplant obsession and I can now tell you which plants will do well in which rooms. I know that I will never be able to keep a Calathea alive because they just don’t do well in my home. I know that the plants that sit on my desk in a southwest-facing window will always be the ones that thrive the most. It’s important to learn about these things because you don’t want to bring just any plant into your home. You want to make sure it’ll do well so you can enjoy it.