Monday, September 1, 2014

The house plant problem

 I got my very first house plant, a purple passion, as a 'secret Santa' gift when I was in college.  And I've never been without a house plant in any dorm, apartment, or home I've lived in since.

 Our home has two of these pretty bay windows with stained glass rectangles on the upper half.  (It's hard to see the stained glass in these photos, since I've exposed for the plants.)  When I first met my husband, 30 years ago, I had just moved into the apartment across the street to start a new job (which is where I spent the rest of my teaching career).  He had bought this house, which was a real fixer-upper at the time, just three months earlier.  I met him the day I moved in, and married him three years later.  Often, I've joked that I married him because of these windows.  The rest of the house didn't look so good at the time.
I keep a lot of my smaller house plants on the rotating rack in the upper photos.  If you look carefully, you'll notice a lot of empty shelves, because, well... the plants keep growing, and then don't fit on the shelves.  I got that rack when I was in junior high school.  My parents bought it at an auction, and I painted it and put contact paper on the shelves, and used it for my collection of brass horses and other doodads.  When I got married, my husband noted that it was really a nice piece, and we stripped and stained it.
But back to the house plants.  The problem is that they grow.  Then I re-pot them into bigger pots, and they grow some more.  And more.  I don't think you can really tell from these photos how BIG some of these plants are.  The spider plant in the back corner above is so big and heavy I haven't attempted to re-pot or move it in years.  The purple passion and philodendron in front of it both grow like crazy.  On the top of the rack are two very large ivy plants.  And then there's that enormous plant in front of the rack, which is actually more of a tree.  It takes up a LOT of floor space.  There's a hanging plant above those in the window that didn't make it into the photos.  And this is only one of the two bay windows.  Plus there's the plants that I moved to the porch for the summer (photos below).
I used to bring a lot of the large plants to my classroom in the fall, and bring them home at end of the school year, where they would go directly to the sunshiny porch.  They never came in the house.  My sweet custodian watered them for me over vacation.  I had large sunny windows in my classroom. 
At the end of the school year, I often gave away a number of the classroom plants to other staff members, so I didn't have so many to bring home.  Since I retired two years ago, I can't do that any more.  Last year ago I posted on Facebook that I was looking for a home for some plants, and an old friend took several from me.
 This one below, on the porch, is another biggie.
 And this large plant is sitting on my dining room table. 
 And by another window in our dining room, there's this big Christmas cactus.
 In the other bay window, are these, plus a hefty hanging asparagus fern, not pictured.  The one one the left is enormous.  Those leaves are about a 1/2 foot long each! 
If there's any question about the size of this snake plant below, check out my cat snoozing next to it in her 'tree house'. You can see a tiny bit of the fern above her. 
 Meanwhile, also not in the photos, are a bunch of cuttings (just like your hair, house plants grow better if you trim them) that are rooting in water.  There's Swedish ivy, purple passion, and a few others.  I'll be planting them all in the next few days, and they'll fill all the empty spaces on the rotating rack, plus more.
Oops - sideways.  This cute red clover is hanging on the porch, and will be re-potted to bring inside.   
So what do I do with all these plants?? Where do I put them all? I'm running out of room as the plants grow, and soon all the outdoor plants will need to come in.   I don't have a classroom to bring them to any more.  All I have is my house.  I adore my large plants.  I don't want to give them away.

Suggestions, anyone?


  1. What gorgeous plants! I have the same problem. My most sunny window was in my classroom. It produced the most amazing, flowering plants all year long. When I left, the custodians were thrilled to receive them.

    1. I've never had much luck with flowering plants. But my Christmas cactuses - that is another story! When I was single, they wouldn't flower. I tried everything - water, no water, hide them in the closets for dormancy, change flowers. I got married, my husband stuck them in the bay window, and *poof* - flowers. Flowers at Christmas, at Easter (maybe it knew I was Jewish and that he's not?) at thanksgiving, and whenever else they feel like it. Even when my husband overwatered them and all their roots rotted away and the plants looked half dead, still, they flowered! Go figure...

      Anyhow - the strange problems of retirement! Who would have thought?!?

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