Saturday, February 18, 2012

I Heart Plants

My grandmother was an inveterate houseplant maven. She lived in a small studio-type apartment, the living room was the bedroom with a sleeper sofa - she pulled it out to sleep each night and pushed it back each morning - all the years of my memory and grew plants in all two windows. My mother couldn't grow a thing, houseplant-wise. We had a couple of roses and a peony in the yard that grew largely ignored. The addiction must skip generations, because I can't get enough plants, I scour garden centers, and friends' and relatives' homes for starts of those I don't have. Well, not the stores -  those I buy (I'll admit, my grandmother would pinch off starts in stores, "just neatening it up a little", but back then, they didn't have in-store security cameras & features that now attempt to discourage what amounted to shoplifting).

My living room and family room exist for my plants, there is little room fur human occupants. This is just one corner :) Those plants that aren't crowded into my house occupy my office. My plants also overflow into coworkers offices, who don't appear to mind so long as I care for them. No problem. I put a plant in my husband's house (we live in different cities due to our jobs), right above the kitchen sink, so watering it need not take much effort. It's a wandering jew (Zebrina pendula), you can't kill those, can you?, but several times I have brought his back from the brink of doom, obviously he's not a plant person, either. 
This plant is a Kalanchoe. I got a start from a cousin several years ago. From all I've read, these require little care and bloom with abandon...this is the first time the thing has ever bloomed, paltry as these flowers are. I have two African violets I was given at my son's funeral. Those bloom regularly and vigorously although I've always heard they are difficult to grow (no photo, not blooming just now). In fact, I do nothing recommended on this website Perfect African violets. Wrong light, wrong pot, they're in a weird, terra cotta planter and the soil they came in, wrong humidity, and they thrive enthusiastically. Still I'm glad my Kalanchoe put on this muted display.

This plant is a Hoya. Got the start for this one from my cousin, too. It grows long phototropic vines that wave about looking for light, and eventually leaf out so they are less mobile and have strange pentagonal flowers I wish I had photos of, they're so interesting (example: Hoya carnosa). This is its wandering phase; other of its vines snake across the floor because the leaves make them too heavy. The vines also wrap around anything they contact; the vertical blinds, bookcase, other plants. I gave one to a coworker several years ago. At the time, this one had three leaves and did little for about three years. Eventually it grew vines, but mine has never bloomed. The way I know it blooms is the one I gave to the coworker blooms vigorously in the spring. I don't think I quite have my grandmother's propensity after all. 

I do have an Angel Wing Begonia . When I was growing up, she had one, large and beautiful, in one of the two windows. In time, she gave me a start and I don't know what became of it, it undoubtedly was left behind during school, moving, marriage and family. I think they went somewhat out of fashion as I spent some time some years ago looking for one, unsuccessfully.  So I was delighted when a friend who was moving asked me if I wanted hers. I think my grandmother, who died in 1975, sent it to me.


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