“Don’t get her started,” says one of my friends every time someone begins a sentence with, “I have a question about my plant…”
I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t seem to stop talking about plants. I just go on and on and on until the eyes of my victim glaze over or their polite nod stops and they look back at me with a blank stare. I just can’t help it. I’m obsessed.
I dream about plants. I look at plants on Instagram. I aimlessly browse the internet for rare and unique plants. I laugh at plant memes. I just can’t be stopped. And I guess that’s how I ended up with more than 60 of them.
Now, I know what you must be thinking.... 60 plants?! Where could you possibly put them? I’ll just give you the same answer I give my boyfriend every time he spots a new one:
There is never going to be a situation where I run out of space for my growing indoor jungle.
The short answer is that I had nothing better to do with my time. Back in March, I found myself unemployed and extremely bored. And while other people were using their lockdown time to learn a new language or get started on home DIY projects, I opted to start a plant collection.
Becoming a Plant Parent
Before 2020, I only had a handful of plants. I had purchased my first, a beautiful purple and green boat lily back in 2018. It barely survived, so I just put it outside in my back garden and hoped for the best. Thankfully it revived itself.
When I moved into my new flat with my boyfriend in August 2019, an old roommate who was moving back to America kindly gifted me five plants—a zebra plant, a cactus, a giant Monstera Adanosaii (now two plants), a Fishbone Cactus (one of my favorites), and a plant that I still to this day don’t know the name of.
Plus, my boyfriend brought two Dragon Trees, which he had had for eight years and never once repotted (fun time untangling those roots). And once moved into the new place, I decided I needed more so I went and bought another baby cactus, a succulent, a snake plant, a spider plant, and a pothos.
Picking up on the theme?
All of those are so-called unkillable plants. Which is great, because I had no idea how to take care of them.
I essentially just popped them down somewhere, watered when I remembered, and hoped for the best.
A Quarantine Escalation
Fast forward to March 2020. I’m sitting on my couch, scrolling through Instagram, and I’m served an ad for this company called Leaf Envy. I was blown away by their plant subscription box. While I didn’t opt for the subscription service, I did end up purchasing one of their “Work From Home” bundles, made up of four plants plus a bonus surprise. I received a a Rhaphidophora Tetrasperma or mini monstera, a variegated rubber tree, a radiator plant, a monstera adanosaii, and a golden pothos (the bonus). In one order my collection expanded and I was hooked.
The Obsession Takes Root
This is when I started to talk about plants excessively. My boyfriend was my only audience so I told him about plants, and I listened to him ramble about Call of Duty (an unfair trade, if you ask me).
Over the next six weeks I quickly acquired even more plants and plant supplies. I scoured Etsy for cool propagation glasses and started trimming every plant I could and placing them in water so they could grow roots. I found Facebook groups where you could meet up with people and swap plants (before lockdown eased it was all contactless swaps—leaving it at someone’s door, etc.). Through swaps of cuttings (not even rooted cuttings, I might add), I was able to acquire a rooted Monstera Deliciosa, a Peace Lily, a Pilea or Pass it on Plant, and a String of Pearls which is currently fighting for its life on Sphagnum Moss.
I got bored of only talking to my boyfriend about plants so I started an Instagram page where I could talk about them with strangers around the world. I ended up sharing tips with them because no one else wanted to hear it. So I spent the hour a day where my boyfriend would go for a walk, creating photoshoots of my plants. Moving all of my plants into one shot, posing with them in front of the tripod, taking growth updates. I was addicted (I still am).
Plus, at that time, there wasn’t really anyone else I could talk to about them. So when lockdown eased and we were allowed to have a few people at our flat, I was so excited. The first time someone asked me about one of my plants, I couldn’t stop myself. It was like word vomit. My friend couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
A Little More Grounded—and Knowledgeable
At least now the conversations are more interesting as my plant collection has grown. I’ve transitioned from the “unkillable plants” to more unique ones like my Alocasia Zebrina, which is my favorite plant, or my Fiddle Leaf Fig which grows painfully slow.
I’ve moved onto Begonia Maculata, which have gorgeous spotted leaves with red undersides, and a delicate Asparagus Fern. It’s been really cool to see my abilities grow when it comes to caring for plants. I’m not heavy handed with a watering can anymore. I actually check the soil before I water. I know which plants need bright indirect light and which ones can do without it. I know when I need to repot my plant and give it more space to grow. Yellow leaves don’t terrify me when I see them. It feels good.
Encouraging New Plant Parents
And, perhaps the best part of my plant journey is that I’m finally rubbing off on people. For birthdays I give friends a rooted cutting from one of my plants with instructions on how to take care of it in the card. I FaceTime my mom, who lives back in America, about her plants. She gets so excited when she sees a new shoot or a leaf growing. I’ve even taken one of my friends, who, earlier this year, was terrified of growing anything, to a sale a few weeks ago where she picked up two easy-to-care-for plants. So, I’ll take these wins and continue sharing my love of houseplants until someone politely asks me to stop.