the desk plant…

I’ve been absent here on the plant blog. Mostly because I’ve been in a period of readjustment. My 3 month sabbatical ended about a month ago and I’ve had to figure out the best way to still be me. To integrate my sabbatical learnings into my daily work. To figure out how to be the nurturing plant lady while nurturing the community in which I work. 

There was a lot of fear on my end that I would wind up undoing all the good work I did with my plethora of plants once I went back to work. That I wouldn’t be able to focus on one more thing. That on top of being a parent, a partner, a friend, a family member, a community member, an employee that I wouldn’t have time to be the plant lady I had come to know and love over the past months. 

Turns out that being that plant lady. Taking the time to tend to and nurture all these beautiful plants I’ve cultivated seems to be helping me with the other stuff. Caring for the plants gives me some much needed space, both mentally and physically. I take the time to care for them and in a way that’s become one of the ways I care for me. Taking time to breath. Taking time that is just my own for something that I love. On days I work from home I take a plant care and mindfulness break every day. On days I work out of the office I come home, put down my bag and then check on my plants while I check in with myself. And I breathe. 

But as could easily be predicted I found that anywhere I spent significant time was a place I wanted to be around plants. I’ve spent the month back at work not only readjusting to the job but also transitioning from being a full time stay at home worker to working most of my week out of an office. It’s an experiment to see if I can maintain some of the healthy mindfulness I set in place more easily if I have separation of work and home life. Though I’ve become fond of just calling it separation of church and state. 

So before I even moved in a monitor and keyboard. before I put up a picture of any loved ones. before I brought in a coffee mug of my own. Before almost anything I moved in a plant. Just a little one. A few weeks ago I picked up a big beautiful and unusual Sansevieria (also known as Snake Plant and Mother-In-Law’s Tongue.) It was too big for it’s part. It had sprouted pups and those pups had grown into fully formed plants. They’d grown so much that I divided the plant into three separate pots. Since the only place in my home I can have snake plants is my bedroom since the cats can’t go in there I decided that at least one of them should make its way to the new office. 

Sansevieria, aside from being absolutely beautiful and also completely toxic to cats and dogs, is one of the easiest plants to grow and hardest plants to kill. You can lock it in a dry dark room and not open the door for 6 months and when you peek back in on it, it’ll probably be happy as can be. I’ve heard it said more times than I can count that the only way to kill it is to care for it. You can water it a few times a year and it still seems to thrive. Plus  create more oxygen than most other houseplants so it seems an all around win.  

At the moment it’s the only plant on my desk. It stands tall and proud between my monitor and my jar of protein bars and gum. I think it might be a little lonely. But not for long. 

plant nanny?

I’m on sabbatical at the moment but when I’m not I have to travel for work from time to time. Also sometimes a person just likes to get away. I have a kid. I have a couple of cats. So I’m not unfamiliar with needing to make sure someone is around to handle things while I’m on the road, whether that be for work or a getaway. But Until the past couple of months the instructions for plant care while I’m away have been super simple.

water those on Sunday…

But that’s just not going to cut it anymore, you know. I’m currently resisting counting the number of plants I have in the house. Partly because I’m not sure I want to know, partly because what counts? Full grown plants and baby plants? Plants in the kid’s room? Starts in water? That tray of succulents I’m playing around with to see how they do? If I have one planter with many plants in it does that count as 1 plant or 8?

Better just not to count them right? Not to reveal the depths of my plant depravity.

But I do need to document these sweet sprouts and full-grown plants in some way so it’s not just all in my head.

This feels kind of like when my daughter was much younger and obsessed with My Little Pony. First of all, yes I was totally stoked. I loved MLP when I was a kid and to have her into them was AMAZING. But here’s the thing, I had to know all of their proper names. You know their Hasbro given names. But I also had to know all of their kid given names. It was a complex dance that my daughter and I did and if some adult that wasn’t me was playing ponies with her… HOW WOULD THEY POSSIBLY KNOW THE PONIES’ NAMES AND PERSONALITIES?!

Well the answer was simple, they could just ask the kid. She was always more than happy to tell them.

But my plants, last I checked, don’t speak. And my people, while patient, don’t read the tell-tale signs of plant health and wellness. They won’t remember which plants need water daily and which need to dry out between waterings. Which plants like to be misted and which like to have their water poured. Which should be moved into the sunny spot for a couple of hours, which need to just stay there all the time, and which prefer to dwell in darkness.

If only the cats could be trained to do plant care…

But because I can’t possibly expect my cats or my family to keep track of all of that and there’s no way I’m going to document all of that here I’m thinking of starting a little plant journal, probably complete with polaroids, in the hope that when I come back from a week away this fall I won’t return to a house full of drooping, damaged, or dead plants.

It’s that or garishly colored post-its on every surface in all the rooms. Maybe I should flip a coin.

If you have a house full of plants how do you leave care instructions while you’re away?

(string of) pearls are always appropriate…

In my spare time when I’m not working, or parenting, or partnering, or being completely obsessed with plants, or thinking about how incredibly perfect a nice bourbon can be I spend a fair amount of time appreciating polka dots.

The polka dot is, in my reckoning, the perfect pattern. It’s versatile, clean, sophisticated, and whimsical all at the same time. And when I found that appreciation for polka dots and detached a bit from my goth-girl roots to realize that it’s okay to love polka dots I also invested in one of my first really nice purses. A black and white Kate Spade structured handbag with a pattern of tiny little polka dots. It was the perfect combination of fun and fashionable and every time I picked it up I thought of two things:

First “Wow this is a really nice purse… am I really responsible enough to have this?”

Second for some reason it made me think about Jackie Kennedy who seemed to wear pearls quite often and was famously quoted as saying “Pearls are always appropriate.”

Why am I rambling about polka dots and pearls you ask? Well because the plant I’m going on about today not only looks like a delicate string of green pearls, but is aptly named String of Pearls. Well that’s its common name because it’s a little easier to remember than Senecio Rowleyanus.

Now I tell you the little technical things… at least the little technical things I’ve picked up from the back alley plant dealers. And, you know, internet research and caring for my plant for a whole month.

String of Pearls is a succulent which means that they’re super easy to care for and super simple to propagate. They tend to grow in long dangling strands. Not up, not out. They hang and trail. Beautifully I think. As I said, I’ve only had mine for about a month but so far, so good. I’ve read a few folks complaining about how hard they are to keep alive but mine is as happy as can be.

Care tips to remember?

  • They love light. Yay light. But it shouldn’t be beating down on them.
  • Don’t over water. Those little pearls? They soak it up and store it for later.
  • Those strings? They’re like stems and they’re delicate so be careful with them, but…

If one of those strings happens to pop off it’s time to help that little string be a plant all its own. Gently pop off a few of those pearls and plant the end of the string from which the pearls have been removed into the soil of a new little pot, give it a good first time water, and wait for plant magic to happen.

Or you could try to wear it, but I wouldn’t actually recommend that…

 

buy plant. repot. repeat…

Over the past few days or so, as happens, I brought home a few new plants. And by a few new plants I mean… well let me count. Well first let me decide how to count. Do plants I bought for my daughter count?

Well I’m the one who’ll likely be taking care of it.. so yes?

  1. I got a tiny little baby Plantation Palm
  2. a little white Echevaria (for the teen)
  3. a little pinkish-lavender Echevaria
  4. a Monstera Deliciosa
  5. a Selenicereus Chrysocardium

So 5 new plants. That’s not as scary as I thought it was. Except that all but one of them needs to be repotted. And there are a few other plants that need to be repotted. Like my big ol Pothos who is tangly and unruly and if I’m reading the yellowing leaves correctly, isn’t getting the drainage it needs.

And so I also bought a few new pots. A few fancy pots that I think are just amazing and a handful of good old-fashioned terra-cotta pots. I go with the terra-cotta pots mostly because I know they have excellent drainage. And the lovely pots I have without drainage?  I need to drill a hole in the bottom of each and risk breaking them or just use them to hold a more drainage friendly pot. I chalk all of those up to a rookie mistake but it’s one I will likely make again and again.

But the big thing I’m noticing as I repot plants is that I’m left with little lovely pots that once served me so well sitting sad and empty. So clearly it’s time for some new little plants to fill them?

Does anyone else thin this whole healthy houseplant thing is a beautiful vicious circle?

 

** update** I potted/repotted 14 plants today… and yet there are four lovely pots (and a ton of throw-aways) that sit empty. Whatever shall I do?IMG_5309.JPG