For the Love of Houseplants

September 20, 2017
Fiddle Leaf Fig

I blame it on my new place. I’ve always had an affinity for plants, be they in nature, a garden or someone’s home. But with the new spot I’m living in and its abundance of natural light, high ceilings and endless houseplant potential, I have become a little bit houseplant obsessed.

My new apartment in Cabbagetown – the second and third level of a 130-year-old heritage home – has windows, tons of them, and they’re big and tall. I’ve got two south-facing, five north-facing, and three east-facing. The lower level east-facing windows are quite shady – however, the upstairs one gets good light in the mornings, and some run-off light from the south-facing window in the same room.

As you can see, I’ve been testing them. Since moving in, I have been  filling the spaces with plants according to their light needs. I’ve been reading articles on soil and water requirements. On weekends, I find myself browsing plant shops and strategizing how I might get to bigger garden centres without a car. I casually suggested a walk to my partner, to visit the Brick Works weekend market, all the while knowing it was the garden centre I really wanted to see. 😉

Do you, reader, have any plant cuttings I could propagate? PM and let’s discuss. [I really want a tree philodendron.]

My Instagram algorithm has already picked up on my new-found obsesh and is hitting me with #MonsteraMonday pics and fiddle leaf figs you could drool over. Is “crazy plant man” the new “crazy cat lady”? Or, am I millennial with a void in my heart that I’m filling with plants, as this recent article suggests? (Though in truth, I’m a Xennial.)

Before I self-diagnose, allow me to introduce you to the new family.

Meet My Houseplants

Banana croton, anthurium, calla lily.

Banana Croton
Anthurium 1
Calla Lily

Enjoying brighter than usual north-facing windows are my banana croton (left), anthurium (middle) and calla lily (right). The anthurium was left here (abandoned!) by the previous owner, so I repotted it and gave it some love, and he said thanks by shooting out a ton of new flowers.

Moses in the cradle, prayer plant, plumrose fern.

Moses in a Cradle
Prayer Plant
Plumosa Fern-min

Moses (top) was browning a bit where I had him previously, so hopefully he’ll enjoy this spot on my mantle. Prayer plants (bottom left) are characters, constantly moving their leaves into different positions. My plumrose fern (bottom right) is enjoying the bright, filtered light.

Rubber plant.

Rubber Plant 2
Rubber Plant 3
Rubber Plant 4

What a stunner. He’s relatively new to this spot, and he was previously – in the garden centre I bought him from – receiving full sunlight, hence he’s quite bushy. This is a north-facing window, but it’s floor-to-ceiling Juliette balcony doors so I’m hoping it’s more moderate but constant light will be enough (I’m finding mixed ideas about rubber plant requirements online). He has a new leaf, so I feel like that’s a good sign.

Plants for hanging: foxtail fern, spider plant, English ivy.

Spider Plant
Green Ivy

My foxtail fern (top) is adapting to his new light situation, hence the horizontal off-shoot (having been outside all summer with light overhead). My spider plant is struggling a bit (not sure why?) and is a bit lopsided, hence I’ve turned him to even him out. My English ivy needs a haircut. The macrame is DIY by yours truly with dollar store rope and twine. Here’s the how-to.

Shamrock, coffee plant, pilea aqua.

Library Plants

Shamrock / Coffee Plant / Pilea Aqua

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” ~ Cicero

The shamrock (left) is over twenty years old and currently a little upset with me because I repotted him. The coffee plant in the centre was a rescue I found from the street. He’s a bit awkwardly shaped and was mauled by my cat – but then somehow you love those ones even more. The pilea is struggling a bit to take off, but I’m giving him some space. Hang in there.

The low light crew: ZZ plant, snake plant, pothos.

Neon Pothos

The ZZ plant (top left), snake plant (top centre) and pothos (top right) all tolerate low light conditions. Pothos are relatively basic plants, but they grow fast and can be pruned and propagated to be fuller (which I’m doing on the bottom right). You can also combine the different varieties (golden, neon, and marble queen) for a cool effect.

Boxwood? (I think.)

Boxwood 1-min
Boxwood 2

How cute is this little guy? He was a gift, but I believe he is a boxwood. He is enjoying the big north-facing window. I am going to let him evolve from being a topiary into his true form.

Fiddle leaf fig.

Fiddle Leaf 1
Fiddle Leaf 2
Fiddle Leaf 3

This is a recent addition, the fiddle leaf fig. I wish I could put it in my living room because honestly I would be content just staring at him all day – but, alas, I don’t think there’s enough light. I’ve placed him here, by the patio door leading out onto my south-facing patio. These trees are gorgeous, so I’m really hoping he will be happy in this corner. These guys can be pruned to be really cool looking – they are currently the movie star of plant décor – but I will wait until spring before considering any of that to let him acclimate to the new space.

Majestic palm, croton, moth orchid, succulents, rubber plant.

Majestic Palm-min
East Window-min

Huddled around this east-facing window (there’s also a south-facing window in the room) are a majestic palm, which requires a lot of bright light and water, another rubber plant, a croton plant, a moth orchid, and a collection of succulents.

Pothos, ivy, vinca vine.

Room Plants
Marble Pothos
Vinca Vine
Variegated Ivy

Slowly transforming my room into a jungle with my shelf filled with different ivies, and marble queen and neon pothos plants. On the bottom left is a vinca vine which I took from outside and placed in my  south-facing window (it needs lots of light).

Cactus crew: blue columnar, blue spruce sedum, eastern prickly pear, chicks and hens

Cactus 4
Cactus 3-min
Cactus 1-min
Cactus 2-min

I take the blue columnar cactus inside over winter (it would die, obvi), but believe it or not, the round planter of eastern prickly pear (bottom left), chicks and hens (bottom middle), and blue spruce sedum (bottom right) will go dormant in winter and come back next year. Most people don’t know that eastern prickly pair is native to Ontario, and is in fact on the endangered species list. (Would you like one? PM me and let’s discuss a trade!)

Have I Gone Plant Mad?

I’m kidding, mostly. There are millions of reasons to love houseplants, like their function as an air-purifier (according to NASA, you’ve heard of them?). They can be a relatively cheap way of decorating your home with colour and life, and keep your world green during our long, cold winters. The dollar store has tons of cheap pots, and Home Hardware has terra cotta pots that are also relatively cheap.

“If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden.” ~ Robert Brault

These guys are teaching me to be patient, to let things be (because you have to let plants be). They are slowing down time because they operate at a slower speed. They don’t like to be moved, either. They don’t like change. But they can adapt to change – they just need a bit of time, and having them around me everyday is a beautiful reminder of that same quality in myself.

“To plant a garden is to think about tomorrow.” ~ Audrey Hepburn

I’ll be updating my Instagram with more pics of my plants, so do follow for more houseplant inspo. Also, if you have any suggestions for medium light floor plants, I’m currently on the hunt for something to go in my living room. 🙂



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  • Reply Anonymous September 21, 2017 at 7:49 am

    Being surrounded by living and growing plants can be very soothing.

    • Reply Mike September 21, 2017 at 7:53 am

      Absoultely, I feel calm just being around them.

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