HOUSEPLANT MOM: AM I DOING THIS RIGHT?

Do y’all remember that fake aloe in the gray pot that was in every photo I used to post? I’ll show you just in case you forgot. I feel like every picture was a game of spot the plant. Thankfully the pot broke (when I accidentally dropped it) which started me on my journey of getting rid of faux plants. It was a sad and slow process but it was so necessary. I wouldn’t be over my obsession with faux just yet but the plastic seed had been planted.

After the loss of my aloe I ended up with these wispy greenery remnants and it was like I’d gotten a second chance! I love plants that aren’t perfect so these airy, long leafed tree limbs were my everything (and were everywhere). If you said greenery, I loudly and proudly said, “Here I am!”, wispies in hand but then something happened that changed my life forever. One trip to Home Depot’s plant nursery accelerated me turning to my mother by twenty years and it started with one stinkbug filled pothos.

I think I paid less than five dollars for what would create a bug in me, literally and figuratively. They say the golden pothos is unkillable and for someone who could forget to water, water, this was the plant for me! I was tired of having wispies in EVERY POST, in EVERY ROOM. I thought, “Some stylist I am, can’t even use different styles of plants”. Now don’t get me wrong, you use what you’ve got, but me not using real plants wasn’t because I couldn’t get them, I was just afraid to. I’d have to water them, fertilize them, sing to them, take out a life insurance policy. It was too much and I didn’t know if I was ready for this kind of lifestyle. But the word on the street was that the golden pothos didn’t need to much attention so I went for it. After looking like a real plant snob as I hunted down the prettiest one in the store, I confidently walked to self-checkout thinking I was all that and knowing that everyone in the store could tell. Just throw it in the bag I thought, but I would soon get what was coming to me.

My stink bug riddled, first pothos

A haughty heart it says. A few days in with my new REAL addition and I was feeling like a superhero. The leaves were glistening and a few were beggining to trail, because let’s be honest, if your pothos ain’t trailing, you could have bought a jade plant (kidding, but not really). I was riding high until I decided to put the plant in our bedroom. I woke up in the middle of the night to find a stink bug trying to compete with me in a game of freeze tag! It wasn’t moving and I was standing on top of the bed being as still as a spring mattress would allow me to be. Now the only insect I’m “afraid” of is the allusive arachnis-deathicus; no matter the size because size doesn’t matter when all the sizes bite lol. But I have to say stinky got me through sheer surprise! I’d never seen this kind of bug before in real life and never in our home so I knew it had to have hitched a ride in the pothos.

Second pothos, still hanging on!

I threw the entire plant in the trash immediately! Drastic, I know, but at the time, all I was thinking about was keeping my family safe. Threat level back to a reasonable color, I now remembered one of the pros of fake plants, no squatters. I couldn’t believe that I would be so kind to select a plant, bring it into our home only to be betrayed like that in the end. Clearly I’m a glutton for punishment because our next house guest would be a real snake.

Day 1 with my first snake plant

If you thought pothos were easy then let me to introduce sansevieria. My mom is a plant whisperer and I remember her having a few in her botanical managerie (our old living room) but the term “snake plant” was new to me. When I saw “also called mother-in-law-tongues” on the tag, I immediately remembered her talking about what she in her southern accent referred to as “muthern-law-tunes”, when I was younger. I was turning into her with every breath.

First snake plant four months later *today*
Second snake plant

I picked one up at Pike Nursery, checked it for bugs immediately and put it in our bedroom. The bedroom was the main location for all the new plants because every corner that had greenery was filled with wispies. I desperately needed to switch it up! I loved how contemporary yet imperfect our new linear guest was and the fact that it wasn’t needy. I can water you but I can’t make any promises on consistency. I needed it to know that lol. It has been about five months since I bought my first sansevieria and its growth still catches me off guard. Slow growing by nature, giving it a good bit of indirect sunlight can accelerate the process. I guess because I’m not watering it often, I’m not expecting crazy growth but then I’ll catch myself looking and thinking, wow that thing’s getting tall. I bought my first one in mid-March and since have added another one in the living room because I love it so much. But wait a minute Sansa, there’s a little competition for mama’s favorite, thanks to our latest arrival, the pilea peppermint (I’m sure that’s the name, no need to Google it).

My new big and mini pilea plants

I’d seen a few on my visits to Pike but the hefty price tag of thirty dollars kept me away. If I can’t keep a three dollar basil plant alive (currently on my second one by the way but more on that later), I’m not spending thirty! After a few more visits and a most recent one to pick up said basil, I noticed a few pilea that were fifteen dollars. Had missed these before? No matter! It was a sign so I decided to snag not just one but two ; the larger and also a mini that is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. I really loved the shape of the leaves and the plant as a whole and thought it would be a cool addition to my office nook shelves. I definitely think most greenery has a style that it thrives with. Our living room is more contemporary, perfect for a snake plant, while my office nook is a bit eclectic and natural. Think how when you want to create a relaxed, effortless look, you go for trailing pothos or string of pearls. The pilea is so much fun and while I did break about two leaves off while transporting it home, I haven’t lost a leaf yet (except the one I cut off yesterday because it was turning yellow…no biggie…no worries LOL!). This plant is still new to me so I have a lot to learn that’ll likely come through trial and error. I know it’s easy to google information these days but everytime you look up “why this plant is dying” or “why those leaves are browning” the response is always “overwatering AND underwatering”. How?….how does that help me?! These days, I prefer to roll the dice LOL. Thankfully I’ve gotten a lot of the guesswork out of the way in the kitchen…..sort of.

In our kitchen update, I decided to build a herb planter which started off great. I bought basil, cilantro and oregano and mixed in a little creeping jenny for that effortless trailing action. My jennies were suffering outside with the relentless sun and heat and are currently thriving indoors! Who knew this plant traditionally used for ground cover would love a spot indoors the little sun. The herbs (you know, the whole reason I built the planter in the first place) are struggling a bit. I’m now convinced that like bananas, basil leaves have to ripen, hence why mine are always so eager to turn brown. Maybe we’ve been missing out on a sweeter basil flavor by settling for green leaves. Brown is clearly where it’s at because I can’t keep a green leaf! My first basil plant was stunning and elegant! I thought, now this is the kitchen of a chef. Fast forward to me having a shriveled up rotted mess a few weeks later. They say plants need water right?! My goodness, is this rocket science?!?!? SCAD did not prepare me for this!

My first basil plant
First basil in all its glory

I’m a trooper though, so I trooped onward. I was determined to have my herb wall so I bought another basil plant (this one is pesto) plus the others but like a movie about the day repeating, those brown leaves kept came back. Last week I pulled seven brown leaves off of my pesto basil, seven. More have gone in the trash than in my body. Thankfully the rotting seems to have stopped (if that’s even possible) because I haven’t pulled a leaf in over three days. My cilantro and oregano are still in critical condition but I think there’s hope. I’m fairly certain that all of my issues stem from overwatering but it just feels like neglect when you wait for the plant to start dropping before you water it. What kind of sadistic game is this?!? If these are the rules, do I even want to play or do I need to bring ole wispy back?

Pesto basil…before
Pesto basil….today

Clearly my plant game isn’t as strong as I’d like it to be but I’m okay with that. I joke, but looking back, I’m so glad I tried that pothos. It started me on this journey and honestly, I won’t go back to full faux. The gates have opened and now I’m so happy with having real plants all over the apartment. Every day I learn a little more as I try to keep them looking as good as they did when I first brought them home. Some have been lost but I’ve kept more than I’ve tossed and that’s a good thing LOL. On that note I’d like to give a special shot out to my real aloe that I sent to plant heaven (the trash can) yesterday. Root rot set in hard I think when you always think your plants will die because you’ll forget to water them, you end up overwatering. It’s a viscous cycle. I didn’t think I was overdoing the water but going forward I’ll remember that aloe plants only need to be vigorously blown on, twice a month to survive. Water is optional.

My real aloe. You’ll be missed my friend.

Being a real houseplant mom is no easy feat. You’re constantly being rewarded (with new growth) and judged (with dead leaves). You never know if you’re doing it right because you can do the same thing and get a different result each time. But you keep at it because at the end of day there’s only one goal. Keep the kids alive.

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