Polly wanna humidifier?

Number three on my most killed plant list is the stunning Alocasia Polly, often called an African Mask Plant. Unlike the String of Pearls and Spider plants that I kill over and over again with no idea why, I suspect I know what I’ve done to wrong the stunning Polly. Too much light, either too much or not enough water, and I misted the poor dear. You see I knew that Polly wasn’t a “drought tolerant plant” and that it needed more moisture than some other tropicals. And I thought I could make do for her by watering regularly and misting. I also made sure she had plenty of light to keep rot from misting and watering at bay.

But you know I just had no clue what I was doing. The more I read the more I understand where I went wrong. I think. If I’m reading the signs and the posts about Alocasia Polly correctly I’ve been messing up almost everywhere.

Let there be light

Not too much light, Polly doesn’t thrive in bright light. But you can’t put Polly in the dark corner either. Polly thrives in medium light. What does that even mean, you may be asking yourself? Don’t worry, it’s not just you I certainly asked myself that. And then I did a little research. Medium light is any light that is diffused between its source (say a sunny window) and the plant. Putting Polly in a sunny windowsill would burn the leaves. But putting it in a shaded corner would keep it from getting the light it needs. So when a plant needs medium light it should get light from a shielded source. The most obvious example is a sheer curtain or frosted glass.

Water frequently but don’t overwater…

This plant likes its soil to stay moist. But not damp. Or wet. Or soggy. Or any of those other wet sounding words. So you should water frequently but don’t overwater it. Also even though it likes to stay moist it’s pretty forgiving when you forget to water it. As long as you water it frequently. But again not too much.

Did that makes sense to anyone? Because it didn’t make any sense to me. But let me parse that the best I can: This plant should be on a weekly watering schedule. You don’t have to wait for the soil to be fully dry and start to pull away from the sides of the pot or anything, but you don’t want to water it if it’s still wet when you touch the top of the soil. Keeping it too wet tends to lead to root rot and mold.

Speaking of rot and mold this plant loves humidity but it doesn’t necessarily like being wet. I know I know… it’s complicated. But from what I can tell you should not mist Polly, but you might want to place her near a humidifier. Or maybe in a bathroom that gets steam from a shower on the regular. I admit to having misted all of my late great Alocasia Pollys because I thought they’d like it. I was wrong.

Alternately you could try keeping Polly’s pot in a tray of rocks that is frequently refilled with water, keeping the air near her more humid without getting the plant wet.

Look out, she sheds.

More than other tropical plants, this variety is known to shed off old leaves. So if the old leaves seem to be dying off but the younger leaves seem to be in good shape and there’s no sign of mold, rotting, or burning you’re probably okay. Snip those old leaves off at their base and say bye-bye.

How am I taking care of Polly this time?

I’ll start this off by saying that if this plant starts to look sad I’m moving it to my bathroom where there is a frosted window and steam at least once a day… But I’m hoping not to relegate this beauty to the bathroom so first I will try setting up a new plant area. I have a few plants that need medium light and varying amounts of water. Now that I know what medium light is I think I have a place that will work well for them. Since that area already has an essential oil diffuser near it I will try running it with just water in it for a couple of hours each day and see how Polly does. I’m poised to pivot on her lighting, watering, and location the moment she seems to feel poorly though.


You may have noticed me struggling with my plant vocabulary… Or at least struggling to share what those words means in context in these posts. I’ve had to look up enough terminology over the past two weeks that it has become very clear that someone needs to do something to keep track of all this jargon. WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS. And since I happen to love words at least as much as I love plants, I’ll be sharing an exciting plant word related update tomorrow-ish.

*ding* you’ve got plant mail

As much as I love plants, and I do –I love them to death as I mentioned yesterday– part of the bringing this blog back to life is about experimenting with content creation, publishing, and content delivery. At the end of last year while chatting with friends they suggested that I would be the ideal person to create and voice some simple plant care and maintenance DIY videos. As a video blogger from way back in the day I find this idea to be both intriguing and terrifying. I know exactly how much work goes into producing video content and while I think it’s something I will probably get around to. Someday. I’m not ready for it now.

This post is unrelated to that….

But that idea really opened up a conversation about new types of content and delivery and I *think* it was my friend who said she would enjoy a plant newsletter. Just something that arrives in her inbox about plants. And I thought, yeah. I can do that. There is no structure to it yet, but I intend for this newsletter to go out weekly on Fridays. I’ll start next week if any of you have signed up. It’s still taking shape in my head but I expect it to be part link roundup of the cools plant posts and pics I’ve seen during the week accompanied by some of my own babble about what’s most interesting to me in the plant world.

I also promise to tell you if I get any new plants. That’s totally something I would want to know.

If you’re interested, sign up here!

Photo by Davide Baraldi on Unsplash

pilea peperomioides – or as I like to call it – Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan

The first moment I realized this whole thing with the plants was a “thing” wasn’t when I lost count of how many plants I had. It wasn’t when I started talking to them. Or when I started frequenting neighborhood plant shops. It wasn’t even when I started following plant shops and plant accounts on the socials. It was when one of the local plant shops posted a picture of the Pileas they had just gotten in stock and I changed my plans for the day to include going straight there to get a plant as soon as they opened. You know, just to make sure they didn’t sell all of them right away.

It was then that I realized that there were three plants that I had desperately been wanting to add to my collection. Also it was then that I realized I had a collection.

I really hope that in the next few weeks I will have acquired and be able to post about all three (as of this posting I have only two of the coveted beauties), but today the spotlight is on my darling little Pilea. I’ve named it Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan (Lorne for short) after the Pylean demon lounge singer from Angel. Because I can. But this popular little plant goes by many names. Often called the Chinese Money Plant, UFO Plant, or Missionary Plant this thing just exudes whimsy.

Lorne and I are still getting to know one another so I’m certainly not going to pretend to be an expert, but I’ve picked up some tips and tricks for caring for Lorne from the shop where I picked it up and from the zillion posts about them on the internet.

  • they love sun (but indirect sun please)
  • you should let them fully dry between waterings
  • and for goodness sake turn that pot. like every damn day.

To me the most exciting thing about this plant, aside from how fucking adorable it is and the completely obvious reminder of Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan, is the fact that it’s so easy to share. Just a few weeks after I brought it home I noticed first one, then two, then three little baby Pileas just breaching the surface of the soil surrounding it.

In minutes I was able to harvest and plant all of those tiny little guys in their own tiny little pots. I’m just letting them grow up enough to make sure they’ll survive before I give them to some friends.

Propagating this plant was so easy in fact that I had never even thought to take part in the magic of plant reproduction until I saw the miracle of plant life happening right there in my very own pot. Since then I’ve been learning to divide and root any number of plants.

Because more plants, I’m sure we can all agree that’s just what I need…