Oh, 2020! I’m glad to see you go. But, before we say goodbye I have to thank you for one thing:
Bringing plants into my life this year.
Without the craziness of 2020 I really don’t think my plant journey would have ever begun or blossomed into what it is today. So thanks for that. Okay! Bye.
In all seriousness, 2020 has been tough for a number of reasons, but it’s also helped some of us discover new passions and shift our priorities. 2020 brought me plants...like 60 of them. I’ve had a blast (on most days) taking care of them, and they definitely kept me sane during multiple lockdowns. Because of this, I’m looking forward to facing some plant challenges next year.
Plant Goal #1: Finally Get a Cutting to Root
I’ve been trying get a String of Turtles to root for months now and it hasn’t been going well.
A String of Turtles plant is a gorgeous trailing plant that has leaves that resemble turtle shells. I had my eyes on one for a long time but I couldn’t find one that wasn’t crazy expensive so instead I bought a cutting for like $5. And I killed that cutting less than a week later. I tried rooting it in sphagnum moss but I ended up rotting it by accident by keeping it in a way too humid environment. I was really sad, but then I found a String of Turtles plant for $15. It was a great deal as it was full and lush and gorgeous. While transporting it home some of the little vines fell off the plant. I’m trying to root those pieces in a small pot with soil this time. I’ve stuck an end of the vine into the soil, have laid the leaves on top, pressed them down, and then watered sparingly. Nothing has happened yet (okay, not true...a few leaves have rotted). But I’m hoping that I can get at least one to root next year!
Plant Goal #2: Grow a Monstera Adansonii to Trail Up to the Ceiling
I want to nurture my Monstera adansonii so that it continues to trail up my bathroom wall. The wall in question is concrete which makes it nearly impossible to hang anything on it. My solution is to have my two adansonii vines trail up the wall using Command strips to secure the vine to it. It’s been so tempting to give this guy a trim, but I’ve resisted because it’s going to look amazing when my vision finally comes into fruition. It grows like a weed so I’m expecting that by springtime next year it’ll be close to the ceiling.
On a similar note, I’m really hoping to get my Rhaphidophora tetrasperma, or Mini Monstera, to not only grow super tall, but to drape it over the entryway to the stairs that lead down to the kitchen. I’ve seen people do this on Instagram and it is incredible. The trick with this plant will be to keep training it to grow in one direction. Right now I have it on a trellis, but eventually it’ll grow too high for the one I have and I’ll have to upgrade!
Plant Goal #3: Get Rid of That Fungus Gnat Infestation
And with the good, comes the bad, or in my case the challenges I have surrounding my plant collection. I’m hoping that as 2020 drifts away like a bad dream, my fungus gnat infestation will go with it.
They. Are. The. Worst.
Thankfully they don’t do anything bad to your plants, but I feel like I spend so much time during the day swatting little tiny flies out of my face. I have tried so many things to get rid of them (and if you have any suggestions that I’ve not tried, please DM me on Instagram and share your secrets).
What I've Tried
First I tried spraying neem oil which is a good, natural, chemical-free solution. Fungus gnats don’t like neem oil so it’s meant to kill them. But, in my experience it doesn’t work fast enough. The old guys lay eggs before the oil has killed them causing the whole cycle to start over.
Because of this, I decided to buy these bright yellow sticky traps. They’re a little bit gross once they’ve been on your plants for a while and appear to be covered in tiny little flies, but they kind of work well. Each female gnat can lay up to 200 eggs, so that's a lot to contend with. Some get stuck in the trap, others die, and some fly over to other plants to lay their eggs.
To combat that I’ve been bottom watering. They only live in the top two inches of soil and they like moist conditions so if you let your soil dry out they should die. This is a long and tedious problem to expel, which is why I’m hoping it gets done in 2021.
Plant Goal #4: Stop. Buying. New. Plants.
My final plant challenge for 2021 is to stop buying new plants. I know that as someone who is a self-proclaimed plant addict, this will be tough. However, I’m still allowing myself to add to the collection by propagation and swapping. Oh, and gifts. I am still accepting plant gifts. I just can’t continue spending all my money on plants anymore. I also can’t realistically fit that many more in my London flat (I guess if I added another shelf things could be different, but I will resist). I don’t think I ever realized the obvious: that plants get bigger and need to be repotted and then moved to a place where they actually have room to continue to grow. Plus, my boyfriend is starting to get a bit overwhelmed by the amount of plants in each room and I have to respect that there needs to be space for his things, too, so I’m willing to compromise.
I really am looking forward to 2021 because it’ll be my one year plantiversery since I became a plant hoarder. I’m excited to see the progress that my plants have made as well as look back on some of the struggles that they’ve had to endure. Being a plant parent is no joke! So here’s to 2021 and all that comes with it.
Fungus Gnats as Houseplant and Indoor Pests. Colorado State University Extension.