A Passion For Houseplants: How I Became A Houseplant Hoarder Early On

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I’ve been growing
houseplants
literally as long as I can remember. In fact, I can’t ever
remember NOT growing houseplants. Quite unusual for a grade school child, but I
wouldn’t have it any other way. The way my houseplant hoarding started was
interesting, if not quite humorous! Even as a child, I had a fascination with
the natural world so, at the core, this was the main driver for my houseplant
hoarding.

When Growing Houseplants Became Hoarding

Growing up, my father smoked a lot. Probably close to two
packets of cigarettes a day and I absolutely HATED it! At some point, I had
gotten my hands on literature that mentioned that houseplants can clean your
indoor air. Keep in mind, this was before my teenage years and we didn’t have
the convenience of the internet. Now I feel old…but my father’s smoking
actually sparked a whole lot of houseplant growing. And of course, having a
crazy cutting-swiping great-aunt and plant obsessed family didn’t help my cause
either.

We were fortunate enough to have a very large picture window
that was southern facing. I was able to grow a variety of plants, and to
enormous proportions. I’ll never forget my Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Queen
of the Night cactus) reaching the ceiling. I started it from a small cutting
from my great-aunt. I would stand on ceremony when it bloomed, because the
flowers only lasted one night. The giant southern window was also home to an amaryllis
bulb
(Hippeastrum) that I grew for over a decade. It had grown in a
clump of bulbs and each year threw out several flower stalks, each with 4-6
gigantic orange flowers.

Other prized specimens that I grew in that window included a
giant aloe
plant
that relished the southern sun. A gorgeous lipstick
plant
that draped from a hanging pot higher up where it received very
bright, but much less direct sun, also grew there. It always bloomed prolifically
and was clobbered in red flowers for much of the year. I also kept a 5-foot-tall
ponytail
palm
.

On the other side of the house in front of a large north-facing
glass sliding door, I had one of my most prized specimens. It was a Christmas
cactus
that I propagated from my great-aunt’s plant. It grew to probably 3
feet long and was so big that one branch actually collapsed under its own
weight. It bloomed for a good 4 months too.

I always seemed to have a houseplant project going, whether
it was propagating plants or hybridizing my own African
violets
. I was a teenager when I decided to make my own African violet
crosses and grew an obscene amount of plants from seed. The seeds are tiny and
prolific. Needless to say, they took over an entire plant stand in front of a
north window.

After all these years, my passion for houseplants has not
waned. The only thing limiting the number and variety of plants that I grow
indoors is not having a greenhouse, and being married. However, one good part
in limiting the number of houseplants (if you want to call 120+ houseplants at
home limiting) is being able to take better care of the ones I have.

I don’t see my houseplant passion waning and it has always
been a crucial part of my life!

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