Confessions of a Newbie Houseplant-aholic

Houseplants| Indoor Gardening

Prior to starting here in January 2018, my houseplant collection consisted of one very pathetic pothos with four, maybe five leaves, that sat on the top of the commode in my kids’ bathroom.  In college, I did have a jade plant that lived for a few years, only because of severe neglect (a jade is a succulent and doesn’t like a lot of attention). But since I started working here, I have fallen in love with houseplants.  I mean hard. I currently have 22 in my office and 26 at home. That would be a total of 48 houseplants. Don’t judge me. 

Hi.  I am Amanda and I am a houseplant-aholic. There. I said it. 

The houseplant addiction was perhaps an inevitable outcome of working for a Garden Center.  There are far worse addictions to have, so I am not lamenting this one too much (my bank account on the other hand–maybe so). Having this many houseplants has taught me a lot about houseplants and their needs, and as a relative newbie myself, I thought I would share some of the wisdom I have gleaned over the months of becoming a full-blown houseplant addict. 

Truth #1:

You may go broke.  OK, no. Truth #1 is: You will likely kill some of your plants. And it is OK.  I have killed at least 5, one of those in the past two months, and one that is currently dying what looks to be a slow and painful death.  Sometimes the plant dying is not your fault. They are living things and could have been subjected to insects or a mold that caused them to die.  But there is a good chance it WAS your fault. You watered it too much or too little. You didn’t place it in enough light. It was in a location that was too drafty.  Look. Houseplants are living things and some of them are amazingly needy and particular! 

Truth #2: 

You need to find out what your plant needs.  Ask our amazingly knowledgeable staff.  Google it. Read about it in a book. Buy magazines that talk about how to care for houseplants.  Subscribe to a houseplant care podcast (wait–is there one of those? If there is, I need to subscribe.)  Whatever you do, don’t just expect it to do well if you just plunk it down where you think it will do well and give it the amount of water you think it needs to survive. Chances are you will get it wrong and the plant will die or suffer. Nobody wants that.  Don’t be lazy. Don’t be a murderer. Do your research.

Truth #3: 

If you are a newbie, start with houseplants that are hard to kill.  I don’t care how amazing it looked in the Better Home and Garden’s Insta post, don’t start with a five foot tall Fiddle Leaf Fig that needs to be in the perfect location, with the perfect amount of light, given the perfect amount of water, and have lullabies sung to it at night so it gets the perfect ratio of oxygen and carbon dioxide at the same time.  (Fine. The lullabies might have been a stretch, but the rest is probably true.) Start with Pothos. Sanseveria. Peace Lilies. All of which you can find in our Garden Center, by the way. You will thank me (as will that five-foot tall Fiddle Leaf Fig).

Truth #4: 

Know what type of plant you are buying!  How are you going to look up how to care for a ______ plant if you don’t know what it is?  Before you leave the store, make sure the tag says what it is, or ask an associate and then write it down or put it as a note in your phone in case you forget.  How to care for a Calathea versus a Peperomia is completely different and if you don’t know what is what, well, refer back to Truth #1.

Truth #5:

Don’t immediately repot your houseplant. Go ahead and buy the amazing adorable pot that you found that goes perfectly with your plant.  And then leave your plant in the pot it came in and just set it down inside the pot. Give your plant a while to get used to its new surroundings–especially if it is one of those needy plants. Trust me. Your plant will let you know when it is time to repot.  And if you aren’t sure, refer back to Truth #2.

I could go on.  I really could. But I know you can only handle so much wisdom in one blog post.  And y’all. It is no secret I am not an expert. Not even close. Did you see the “Newbie” in the title?  This is just what I have found to be true. And while I have killed some plants, most of my plants are sitting pretty and happy that is mostly because of the truths I have learned above.  From one houseplant addict to another, thanks for reading. Happy houseplanting, friends!