MetatalkTails: Botanical bounty February 1, 2020 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Hello weekend Mefites! This week for Metatalktails, I'm thinking about plants. Plants are pretty great. Do you have any recent plants in your life, or memorable plant facts/stories?

As always this is a conversation starter not limiter. Feel free to share whatever is up with you; just no politics please.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 8:51 AM (57 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

What got me thinking about this was that I picked up some grocery-store tulips the other day and watched them evolve in their vase over the week, slowly opening and drooping over. They were just beautiful, and made me happy every time I looked at them.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:27 AM on February 1, 2020 [9 favorites]

The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 is about Mary Delaney, who basically invented mixed media collage in 1772. She made 985 extremely accurate and detailed collages of flowers, quitting when her eyesight became too poor. They are now housed in the British museum. Google image will show you her work.
posted by FencingGal at 10:02 AM on February 1, 2020 [13 favorites]

When did houseplants become so expensive and why? Not that long ago I used to see racks of common plants like philodendron at the grocery and they were like $5.99 for an 8” pot. Now they’re $25 if you can find them at all. I have a nice sunny office with lots of shelves begging to be filled with plants but I just can’t afford them!
posted by HotToddy at 10:06 AM on February 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

So the uptick in price of Philodendrons is almost certainly because demand allows it- trends gonna trend etc. BUT while philos are pretty easy to grow and therefore their uptick in price is bullshit- quite a lot of other houseplants are actually really hard to grow so their price is more justifiable. I’m trying to root some Hoya cuttings I got at work. I also have a new philodendron brasil that makes me all happy inside.

Stepping outside the weather has been bullshit. As evidenced by my wonderful crop of mushrooms. Its also not raining as much as last year, while being wetter in between rains which is a good recipe for mildew and droughty plants at the same time. Some hilarity happened on the slack when I made the mistake of mentioning that I had a potato volunteer in my onion bed and the hashtag #savethespud was born when I mentioned I’d compost it. So yeah now I have a potted potato volunteer because the folks in PoFi are softies. The brassicas are doing mostly well- though it looks like my Brussels’s experiment might have been a failure. In finally news the various odds and ends I’ve been using as plant stands have been properly painted. And the last plants of January have been put in. I also updated my garden map and harvested a bunch of yummies- which should be its own post soon.

I’m tired all, and kinda sick so no work for me today. The weather’s nice at least- I’m gonna hunker down with some chicken soup and gaze at my lovely philodendron(s).
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 10:40 AM on February 1, 2020 [7 favorites]

I went to the greenmarket not intending to buy anything in particular and I came home with rosemary and thyme in 6” pots. It’s way too early to put them outside and my windowsills are already full, so I’m not sure what I’m gonna do with them!

My workplace is upstairs from a Trader Joe’s which often has tempting little potted plants on sale, so my desk at work has a slowly expanding little succulent garden on it.
posted by moonmilk at 11:00 AM on February 1, 2020 [5 favorites]

I think I have 17 plants in my studio currently, I've had to stop buying them as I'm running out of space, next summer I'm going to get some shelves for my balcony and see what I can grow out there.

I'm having a really difficult week so would appreciate some good energy sent my way. Bad things come in threes right?!
posted by ellieBOA at 11:03 AM on February 1, 2020 [8 favorites]

Avenging myself on years of frozen green beans, I have become a fairly competent vegetable gardener, and this year my goal is to grow almost all heirloom vegetables, and to grow almost all of them from seed (I know myself: I will, at some point, stop by the Amish-run nursery--not because I need anything, but because I never know what I might find). I start too many vegetables and overplant--I don't get everything canned in time--and my records are a damn mess, but it's still an important project. Maybe this year, with a lot of work, I will be able to start a seed exchange at my local public library!
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:03 AM on February 1, 2020 [6 favorites]

All of my garden seeds arrived last week: vegetables and flowers from Fedco and Baker Creek and dye plants from a specialist. I am working on the seeding schedule which starts early next month with poblano peppers and heliotrope. Then come tomatillos and onions. There will be way too many plants but I can give some to neighbors. In the house I am overrun with spider plants and geraniums which are so easy to start. A giveaway bench near the mailbox might be in order.
posted by Botanizer at 12:20 PM on February 1, 2020 [5 favorites]

I worked for a scenic painting company 30 years ago that got a contract to do painting and other exhibitry for a historical museum in a northwestern US state.

For one part of this job, we went to the company owner's property in Eastern Washington and cut 400 sagebrush plants, and trucked them back to the studio.

The job required the plants to be flame retardant, and of course the leaves could not fall off. I was tasked with figuring out how to achieve this. It was pre-web, so that was a challenge.

The plants all had multiple wasp galls which were not acceptable to the client, so we had to remove those by hand before treatment.

We ended up spraying them with an olive-green neoprene-based flame retardant that coated them with a rubbery layer. It was extremely time consuming and difficult to make sure there was sufficient coating on all parts of each plant while ensuring the plants didn't get blobby. The sprayer would clog and need to be cleaned two or three times per plant. I spent weeks in a tyvek suit and respirator in a visqueen tent in an un-air conditioned warehouse in July and August spraying 400 sagebrush plants for $6/hour.

And then we had to paint them all to look natural again.

That was also the job where I had to perform the most disgusting work I've ever been tasked with (hint - the local university wouldn't let us use their beetle box).

And if there's ever a MetaTalktails about hilarious, deliciously ironic lawsuits, this company provided a great story about karmic retribution that I'd love to share.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:24 PM on February 1, 2020 [9 favorites]

They were just beautiful, and made me happy every time I looked at them.

Since my standard of living improved, one of the things that miserly me has been able to actually do is Always Buy Flowers. Our grocery store has a terrible flower selection (and our local florist is overpriced, but I should probably try again) but you can get a bouquet of something for less than $10 and they last a week or two and I love waking up in the dead winter late morning to see them, I turn on my giant light box and imagine that me and it are getting a little bit of what we need from it. When they die, they go into a can outside my door, sort of a dead flower arrangement with a wooden carved skull thing above it. I like it.

Around here there are so many gardeners that plants are basically free. I never really had plants before moving here (other than moss terrariums), but got my grandmother's stapelia when she died and found I could keep it alive, and I enjoyed its jaunty little arms getting thrown up everywhere. When my father died I took a bunch of cuttings from his ficus plants and now have more than I can handle here. Most live, some die, they're pretty hardy. And then there was the lady who was giving away spider plant babies. I took a few and they do well, it's nice to have something that hangs. I hung one in the shade over the summer and it became a ghost plant and nearly died but now it has some super green shoots coming up in the middle. My friends gave away succulents at their wedding (that I performed) and now their youngest kid is in elementary school and that weird plant is still choogling. A friend gave me an oxalis and it's fun to try to catch the leaves opening and closing with the daylight. The jade plant that had been hurled into a friend's backyard is still doing well. I have some hanging thing that I don't know what it is. Half fell off but the rest seems okay. And whatever it was that I picked up at the library last week (how? I don't know but I was at the library and then I was walking home with a plant) seems to be okay. I got a free cactus thing at the farm stand. I transplanted the stapelia so now I have two.

It's surprising to me to have become someone with a houseful of plants when I moved in here (11 years ago) with none.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:26 PM on February 1, 2020 [7 favorites]

I kill indoor plants, that or fungus gnats arrive and the inevitable happens via that route. There is no in-between.

Current example:
Gifted spider plant. Yellowing, failing leaves from the base. Tendrils seem hearty and fine.

Gifted aloe plant, hearty central plant with smaller off shoots when we received it. Suckers all dead/liquified at their bases.

I swear we aren't overwatering either but God knows.

Please send helpful tips via here or memail or the plants will die. /Inadvertentvegetationransom
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:38 PM on February 1, 2020

My favorite Gardner was Jerry Baker.
The undercover cop who posed as a "gardener, tree trimmer, landscaper, and seed salesman"

Terrible with indoor plants.
I'm certain they know this.
posted by clavdivs at 1:04 PM on February 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

When I was in college, I picked up an African violet someone was throwing out. As I recall, it was on the ground by a dumpster. I took it home and took care of it and it turned out to have very pretty pink flowers. I kept it every time I moved, occasionally repotting or dividing it. More than 35 years later, that same African violet, along with a couple of its offspring, is sitting on the mantel over our woodstove.
posted by Redstart at 1:45 PM on February 1, 2020 [26 favorites]

Visit my profile for my Flickr account which contains a lot of photos of plants and gardens. Yesterday I spent some time with a friend who works at another NYC area public garden. She’s phenomenally talented at mixing colors, shapes, textures Etc - I can only hope that my photos managed to convey a fraction of her awesome display.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:39 PM on February 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

I love plants.They return my affection by dying. This week I disposed of my fifth air plant in two years earlier, so I have resigned myself to a $5.00 set of botanical mini-magnets from Urban Outfitters.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 3:01 PM on February 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

A good friend of mine has a succulent that started out 15 years ago in a little 4-inch pot and over time grew into a pot about three feet across and it was just as high as it was wide. She named it Brainiac and every year it would sprout little fragrant blooms all over.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 3:06 PM on February 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

And I won't even talk about the two plants I had to leave behind when we move cross-country. It makes me sad.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 3:17 PM on February 1, 2020

I have woods behind me and on one side, and across the road is a lake. I don't have houseplants. It will be time to plan the raised beds soonish. There's a lot of fat squirrels, and I got a havaheart trap so I can re-home them when it's spring. They will ravage a garden. They don't like tomatoes, but will sample each one just to be sure.

I am planning a moon garden for next to the house - white flowered plants, including moonflowers. Summer full moon nights are really special at the lake. We do have light pollution, but it's not too bad.

I am having a flareup of cold-induced asthma and have to stay inside and try not to cough. There's medication and it's getting better, but it's annoying I still have plenty of wood, and it's February, good sign.
posted by theora55 at 3:27 PM on February 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

We have just returned from a little winter break in Phoenix, my first trip there. I was in raptures over all the succulents and cacti that were just everywhere. #saguaromakemesmile. I already have a few succulents but I’m looking forward to acquiring some mini versions of the various plants we saw and learned about there and learning how to care for them!
posted by Tandem Affinity at 4:02 PM on February 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

In 1990 whilst at college I bought a small cactus at Woolworths for my dorm room, maybe 1 foot in height?. Yes Woolworths, that's how long ago it was. I somehow managed not to kill it and after college brought it home to my parents, where it continued to to grow, and grow, and grow. My mother was a former landscaper and she kept re-potting it whenever it got too big.

Ten years later when my parents moved, we needed the refrigerator dolly to get it out of the house. The cactus was the Euphorbia or African Milk Tree and it was roughly 7 feet tall then. It does need direct sunlight, but otherwise is extremely easy to take care of.

Speaking of which, I'm actively looking for recommendations for a large plant to put into our living room. The footprint of the space to fill is about the same as a wide chair and 4-5 feet would be ideal. Unfortunately this corner of the living room doesn't really get sun, so it can't require direct sunlight. Average temp of the room is 64-70 degrees. Any thoughts appreciated!
posted by jeremias at 5:45 PM on February 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

Dracaena- type of your choosing. (There are a lot of varieties in the Genus)
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:57 PM on February 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

I am slightly sad with envy at everyone who has actual ground to plant in, seeds and starts to think about. I miss my big garden and hope there is another in my near(er) future. Meanwhile, I'm extremely happy I put grow lights on the plant racks on the porch; even if the plants aren't looking fabulous (it still gets in the 40s and there's no way to help that) it's cheerful having weird purpleish underwater type light coming in the afternoon and evening. I'm going to clean it all up a bit and actually plan some herbs for the pots I can put outdoors.
posted by winesong at 6:41 PM on February 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

It was like -20 three weeks ago and now it hasn't dropped below zero for a week. I'm hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that winter is actually over. Another week of this followed by freezing temperatures will kill all the buds on my apricot tree and I'll get nothing off it. As it stands it currently looks to be a bumper crop.
posted by Mitheral at 6:52 PM on February 1, 2020

I rent my apartment, so I mostly plant in containers. Right now I have a couple of flowerpots (with a peony of some kind in one and a Dianthus in the other) and a planter with kale and mustard greens, which are loving the mild, sunny Arizona winters. I think it's about time to harvest them and eat greens all week, and then think about what should go in for a spring planting.
posted by egregious theorem at 6:53 PM on February 1, 2020

I am not great at my own plants and since I live in downtown Boston, I don't have any yard or anything. But I live very close to the Gardner Museum and the beautiful courtyard. My parents got me a membership when I moved, and so now when I need an infusion of green and light and flowers but it is winter, I go read in the Gardner for a few hours.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:53 PM on February 1, 2020 [6 favorites]

I had to bid adieu to our garden with the 40+ trees I'd lovingly planted when we relocated. We are renting our place out, and I said to the agent, "I don't care what they do to the house, but find someone who will care about the garden".

We have an infestation of Madeira Vine in the neighbouring reserve, and it's absolutely evil stuff, worse than Kudzu/Morning Glory - and that's really saying something. If the new tenants aren't vigilant about plucking out creepers when they are young, the whole yard will be overwhelmed in a few short months, and it's a rabid tree killer.

Oh god, I'm so anxious today. My beautiful cats made the flight over to singapore, arriving on thursday night, and I'm yet to observe the little one eat or drink anything. She seems very lethargic, but... she's a cat. I'm taking her to the vet this afternoon. I'm really freaking out, if something happens to her because of my selfishness in taking her with me, I will be distraught.
posted by smoke at 7:24 PM on February 1, 2020 [4 favorites]

When I was a little kid, probably about 5, I desperately wanted a cat but it was Not Allowed. I don’t know how I learned of them, but my BATNA entailed asking for a Venus Flytrap for my birthday; it seemed like the closest I could get to having a pet. My wish was granted.
posted by carmicha at 7:57 PM on February 1, 2020 [2 favorites]

One of the houses I lived in as a kid had a fig tree in the back corner of the yard. Its highest branches just brushed the top of the cinderblock wall that divided everyone's houses from each other. I became very adept at using that tree as a gate way to first the wall and then everyone else's backyards. Thankfully all my neighbors were very amused by a seven-year-old wandering around and smelling flowers. I miss being able to explore my surroundings like that.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 8:26 PM on February 1, 2020 [3 favorites]

Bunchberry Dogwood flower opens explosively in less than 0.5 ms.
The pollen grains experience 2,400 g.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:07 PM on February 1, 2020

I just watched a bunny and possum playing in my backyard. It was pretty adorable. (It's about 2:40am here.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:40 PM on February 1, 2020 [5 favorites]

ooh, I love having plants and flowers inside! At the moment we have a potted blooming red Azalea and a tall (around 6 ft) Schefflera in the entrance and a medium tall palm (an Areca, maybe?) in the living room. In the kitchen, we have a vase of cheery carnations on the table, a large Aloe on top of the cabinet over the stove hood, a green plant I'm making a cutting of by the sink, a ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) on the counter, and on the window ledge outside our large kitchen window, a lovely big frilly fern, a beautiful, deep pink blooming Cyclamen, an adorable, knobby, deep green cactus of some sort rescued from the garbage bin, and a little potted Cedar tree about a foot tall.

I did have a very tall Ficus in the kitchen as well, but we took it outside while deep cleaning, and decided to let it get some quality time outdoors for a while.

In the bedroom / office I have a big pot of pink Azaleas, a vase of cuttings from a Ficus, a leafy green plant similar to Arrowhead (not sure what it's called), and I'm currently looking for one of these for an odd little ledge, and will probably get some sort of tall plant for the room after we finish reorganizing, which involves getting a dresser of some sort, so I need to see how the space works.

On our small adjoining terrace we have a couple of large Ficus trees and a couple of Purple Heart plants. My herbs did not last the blistering summer last year and still haven't been replaced, so coming up soonish: rosemary in a big ol' pot, mint, thyme, basil, marjoram.

On my dream li$t for inside: A big Fiddleleaf Fig.

Bonus flower: Iris. Iris is the insanely surreal extravagant diva exhibitionist of the flower world: frilly, sinuous, languorous, seductive, alien. I never buy irises, because they would be so out of place in our modest abode. I mean really, almost anywhere, though. Just a pedestal with a vase and an iris in an empty room might work. Maybe a dark room, with a spotlight on the flower. Interesting, though, is that as lavish and unrestrained as irises are, their scent is rather secretive, cold and melancholy. It's my favorite, actually, and I usually wear iris-based scents, so while I don't have the blooms in the house, I do enjoy their essence.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:42 AM on February 2, 2020 [5 favorites]

Every year I unfollow Monty Don’s Instagram in February because he post photos of his “spring garden” with real things blooming and I’m staring out the window at sticks poking out of the snow and can’t bear two more months of British climate taunting. Ugh, Minnesota, I am so desperate for spring.

Last year was a massive gardening year: 2 new trees, relocating 4 shrubs, digging up half a backyard of ostrich ferns after my ash tree died, building a raised bed for asparagus, digging up sod for literal days to make new vegetable and native prairie gardens, ordering and planting bare root sticks in the new gardens, building new tomato supports out of electrical conduit, and starting all of my vegetables from seed for with basement grow lights the first time. I kept telling myself that I was doing a favor to my future self by doing the hard physical labor while I was in my 30s, but who knows what projects I’ll dream up when I’m retired.

My list for this year seems much smaller: digging up the ever expanding hydrangea on two corners of my house and replacing it with native plants to feed local pollinators (I am planting spikenard! I’ve never seen it in real life, but it sounds so badass), planting one more tree, waiting to see if I win the Minnesota lawns to legumes state lottery for free money to buy more pollinator-friendly plants (I would love a blueberry patch!), and watching my urban prairie grow. It’s only a matter of years before the only grass in my yard is in paths from place to place.
posted by Maarika at 5:39 AM on February 2, 2020 [4 favorites]

Nothing on botanicalness, not at this time.

Two things.

One. The sunrise this morning. I saw it from a really great place to see it, a turn-out on the hike/bike trail that overlooks Town Lake to our gorgeous new skyline across the river. I was there an hour, maybe a bit more, watched it from dark through the sun just over the horizon behind me. That is the prettiest time to see the sunrise, and where I was is maybe not the prettiest place to see it but if it isn't I sure hope you'll tell me where the prettier place is.

The sky was crystal clear. The buildings across the river, so many with reflective glass, all of a different shade and/or tilted at a bit different angle to the light, they begin to pick up the light from the sky and from the river and it is a scene of rare beauty. They change, the colors change in that hour, it's like a gorgeous painting that's alive, metallic blues and silvers and goldens and every shade in between gleaming metallic and shining plus each building changes as the show unrolls. I'm there by myself, my bicycle slung over there, my pack behind me on the bench I'm sitting on, I'm cold from the bicycle ride -- it's in the low 40s F -- but I'm dressed for it, I've just finished my push-ups, the endorphins are going from the ride and the workout but I'd be ever so happy even without that, the beauty of my city feeding my poor old heart. As a single person, I miss a lot, and I know it. A lot. So I make the best of what is available, probably I'm wrong-headed and vain but I think maybe I see more than the next mope, and while I know that they've got someone to share it with I'm hoping they don't see it, hardly at all, and maybe they're having an argument, because their partners mother said this or that about this or that, not that I wish them a particularly unhappy time together but just unhappy enough so's I can gloat that they didn't see the damn sunrise, and plus be grateful that I've never learned to be with someone, because I'm fussy and vain and wrong-headed and lame and stuff.

Two. I still listen to CDs, the ones that I still have and/or if I stagger across one somewhere or other, and one song has just gotten played over and over again in my pick-up past few weeks as I drive about town here. I sent my younger brother a text about it as I sat watching the sunrise, the singer (Patrice Pike) sings a lyric that just catches me right ~ you helped me change / you helped me know / a lion sleeps inside my soul -~ and my brothers name is Daniel and because of the bible Daniel who trained a circus lion or whatever he did, my brother sortof has had a love of lions, so I like the song because it makes me think of my younger brother, too. I found it on youtube and figured why not put it up here? Why not indeed -- The band: Sister 7 — The CD: "Wrestling Over Tiny Matters" ­ The song --"Nobody Knows"

I love the whole CD, and play it LOUD because it begs to be played loud, the song Nobody Knows is not near as LOUD as the rest of the record but I sure do love it.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:13 AM on February 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have eight houseplants and half come from Mefites! I also have been visiting the Brooklyn Botanic Garden regularly (at last monthly, usually more like weekly or every couple weeks) since 2015 and it is the best.
posted by ferret branca at 9:50 AM on February 2, 2020 [3 favorites]

Several of the hellebores in the grove have buds on them. I never even knew hellebores existed until a few years ago, but seeing something thinking about blooming in February is pretty exciting.

I forced some cherry branches and some peach tree branches! I was very happy that the peach tree branches worked. I didn't really think that was a thing you could do. I should prune fruit trees soon and may as well try some others and see what happens.

I'm overwintering euphorbias, elephant ears, lemon trees, and rosemary indoors, along with a lot of houseplants and stuff under grow lights.

It means so much to see life in the wintertime in here.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:12 AM on February 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

I built these floating shelves last summer. I didn't have specific plans for them, but they turned into a bit of a vertical garden. It's my favorite thing in the house.
posted by MillMan at 10:23 AM on February 2, 2020 [12 favorites]

Due to some high profile visitors, parts of our office were recently Redecorated and a wide variety of interesting plastic plants are now in evidence.

I'm captivated by the idea that one day, some Nth generation inhabitants of a spacecraft will learn, from some corner of their archives, that the green ornamentation in their habitat is mimicking some long lost form of naturally evolved life, rather than being merely an oddly beautiful work of art.
posted by quacks like a duck at 11:53 AM on February 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

A friend gave me a Dracena that she could no longer keep because of her cats. She walked it over to our apartment in a folding grocery cart; it looked a little tired. I put it next to the window and went away for Thanksgiving.

When I got back, the leaves were all yellow and drooping. Seems a long weekend by the radiator hadn't agreed with poor Dracena. Over the next few days, every last leaf fell off. My toddler came to me with a handful of them and told me, "You should apologize to the plant."

But Dracena has proven too hardy for my plant-killing ways. She sprouted a whole crown of new leaves, which are now about six inches long.
posted by the_blizz at 2:21 PM on February 2, 2020 [5 favorites]

Celebrity Skin, the Learned League One-Day Special I co-smithed with fellow Mefite leesh, is happening this weekend! If you're a LearnedLeague member, you can still submit answers until noon Monday (eastern time). We had a lot of fun working on it.
posted by mogget at 2:50 PM on February 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Early Spring year! (According to a certain ground dwelling critter)

This winter has been mild so far and I've taken advantage of the good weather to move a blueberry and fig to better locations.

The garden shed project is going well and I have managed to overwinter plants in there. Today I put up a shelf at the window and now have a bunch of saved pots full of soil waiting for seeds. There's lots to finish on the shed but it's serviceable at this point.

The garden center is gearing up for plants. We now have twenty pallets of dormant fruit trees in. Daffodils are blooming way too early. Other bulbs are showing their heads. Yep. Early spring.

I'm not watching the game; no tv and no interest but would have watched kitten bowl. Instead, I was fortunate to find discount snow peas and fresh veggies at the store so a big stir fry thing occurred. Simple but good. I'm thinking of a sweet ending to the day but haven't figured that out; am catpurred with one lapcat and one side-catlap so am presently immobilized.
posted by mightshould at 3:34 PM on February 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

It’s high summer here in the Southern Hemisphere. I live near the coast so my poor herb & vegetable garden used to get quite shredded, dry out quickly, and covered in salt spray. So for Christmas, Mr. Icing bought me several Vegepods which are elevated planting containers that are deep and wide with water receptacles for wicking. This encourages deep root growth, and canopies for wind protection. The pods have encouraged my garden to grow like crazy. I haven’t bought herbs or salad for a month.

I’m going to try flowers next year.
posted by lemon_icing at 4:17 PM on February 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

At our first house, we had a number of native plants, but I made space (in the shade) for my favorite late winter/early spring bloomer - sarcococca (aka Sweet Box). It doesn't grow very fast, and it's tiny white blooms are nearly hidden - but if you're walking along on a gloomy northwest day and you smell something heavenly sweet (almost like jasmine) - that's Sweet Box. Huge scent on a tiny bloom - always a favorite this time of year.
posted by dbmcd at 5:04 PM on February 2, 2020

Beautiful shelves of plants MillMan.

We're having an extremely wet and weird summer with rapid 10-20°C daily changes - hard on new shrubs and causing huge weed growth, probably 3 to 4 times normal (this also out third consecutive non-winter so plants haven't shut down). But the shrubs are growing well when we expected drought losses.

One area is interesting as the right kind of weeds are developing a natural living mulch which we're now steering as it saves a lot of grass cutting cost. Dandelion,
oxtongue* and
white clover (latter from prior use as pasture) are suppressing almost all grasses and most other weeds. Some folk think it looks messy, but this mess saves money, and the plants dont mind - it's also less fire-prone if things go that way.

*gah, why do they keep changing the plant names? I'll stay with Picris, Helminthotheca is an ugly name.

Good to hear somewhere's having normal summer lemon-icing
posted by unearthed at 6:03 PM on February 2, 2020 [2 favorites]

MillMan your plants and shelves are gorgeous- also I now realize you’re a local-ish, I recognize some of your pottery as my nursery’s exclusive stuff! That’s so cool!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:30 PM on February 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

My proudest plant achievement is the evolution of my jade plant from a tiny leaf in a Dixie cup to this massive thing over 5 years. I can barely get my thumb and first finger around its thickest part.

We have a few of tables of various succulents and random gifted plants and sprouted pineapples to get us through the winter. Our street is about 50% snowbirds; one couple who we are friendly with ended up staying north a few extra months for some medical treatment and asked me if they could to borrow a few plants to get them through (they're big outdoor gardeners- which is fine to do seasonally, it's Alaska- but don't have any indoor stuff because they spend 2/3 the year traveling or in Hawaii). I was very pleased to temporarily offload a bay window full of stuff and liked the small cozy neighborliness of the interaction. All the plants just returned after 4 months away and now I need to find someone with whom I can permanently offload some of the ever-multiplying aloes, at least.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:57 PM on February 2, 2020

A complete history of my houseplants:

1989/90 - Syd the weeping fig and Sid the yucca (named after Messrs. Barrett and Vicious respectively). I had to leave them in the care of my flatmate when I finished university.
1994/5 - Susan the dragon tree, named after a similarly spiky acquaintance, who I had to abandon when I left the UK.
2000/1 - George, so-called as he was a bit of a bush - I can't recall what kind of plant he was otherwise. Died of neglect.
2018-now - Ray the snakeplant - seemingly still alive after a recent re-potting.
posted by misteraitch at 12:12 AM on February 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

i absolutely lucked the fuck out last week, a new Aldi opened in my neighborhood and I scored a 1.72 gallon Fiddle-Leaf Fig AND a Variegated Sansevieria for only $13 a piece. The Sansevieria is already over 24" tall.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:41 AM on February 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've historically never had a lot of luck with houseplants of any kind - not necessarily a black thumb, but it's never really been green, either.

Then, last year, I bought a short-term monthly box subscription to a place that sends wellness products, mindfulness tools, candles, and, yes, plants. Three of the four plants (an ivy that's just about a year old now, a spider plant that arrived in March, and a spiderwort that came in May) came to my officecubical with me and are all flourishing mightily. The spiderwort, which started out about the size of my hand, has really taken off.
posted by hanov3r at 9:41 AM on February 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is going to be a big year for plants for me. Last fall we got the landscaping for our house done and our gardener put in a whole bunch of plants that have been surviving over the winter and soon I'll be able to see them bloom. My wife and I have decided that we're going to tear up the grass along the road and put some flowering plants in instead - lavender and thyme on the west-facing side that gets more sun and a shady wildflower mix on the north-facing side that doesn't get that much. The wildflower mix is just going to be seeds that we'll sow directly in the ground while we're going to start the lavender and thyme inside so that they'll be small plants by the time it is safe to plant them outside. We'll be starting a whole bunch of other plants so our basement is going to turn into a nursery for a couple of months - which is good incentive for me to clear out all of the junk I have there.

I'm also expecting big things from my habanada plants. I'm going to blame starting them too late for the fact that I didn't get to harvest any peppers last year. The plants have been doing well inside so when I take them out in the spring I'm hoping that the increased light will mean lots of peppers for me and that I'll finally get to taste one.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:54 AM on February 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

We're growing two pineapple plants in the back yard. Looking good. When we eat them we just put the tops in soil for two more.
posted by Splunge at 2:22 PM on February 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

About five (!) years ago now, my husband turned out to be harboring a four-inch, aggressively-growing lymphoma in his chest, and right around then, I also found out I was pregnant. So let's just say the houseplants have taken it tough -- basically, if they could survive a month without watering, then they were fine, but otherwise, nuts to 'em. So we were down to basically a totally enclosed terrarium with some bulletproof maidenhair and false rabbit's foot ferns and Boston fern, all completely overgrown, a few enclosed specimen terrariums, some succulents from our wedding florist, and a ten year old begonia that will probably survive the nuclear apocalypse.

Eventually, the husband got through chemo, then radiation, then the hard process of recovery from that, and our kid is now a semi-functioning human who doesn't need me to feed every bite of food that enters his mouth, so I've been starting to ramp up the plant-caretaking again. And I've also moved to a new job where it isn't, like, crawling with spider mites coming through the vents*.

✔ Phalenopsis repotted into some fancy growing medium with nice thick blankets of AAA New Zealand spaghnum moss, including the grocery store phal that I treasure because folks got me for my kid's baby shower
✔ Marimo is getting weekly water changes and getting nice and green again in the north window by the kitchen sink
Macodes petola acquired and flourishing under a grow light -- I've lusted after these for years, because this particular species really lives up to the name of jewel orchids. The leaves, no joke, look like they've been embroidered with gold thread that sparkles under strong light.
Microgramma vaccinifola terrarium has been cleaned off and cleaned out
✔ Two aquatic terrarium installed and filling out at my new workplace
KLM Delft houses acquired for terraria
✔ KLM Delft houses installed in my dry-start aquascape that I might just leave as a very damp, semi-aquatic terrarium forever, because they look so charming.

Next project is buying some aquarium silicone so that I can seal up the Delft houses and put them into the terrariums they're destined for, and also getting my remaining old terrariums under control. And if I can get all that done in time, my reward to myself will be buying this. I've always loved begonias, and now that I've kept a Macodes petola alive for a month, I'm drunk with confidence.

* A partner at work was sad about losing his beautiful country home in a divorce, and having to move to a regular suburban McMansion. So he fucking bought DAHLIAS and tried to grow them in an OFFICE BUILDING without SUPPLEMENTAL LIGHT and fucking SPIDER MITES showed up and DRAPED HIS PLANTS and there were also THOUSANDS OF FUNGUS GNATS and it was a fucking hellscape, to the point where building management told him that he had to get rid of the plants because they were pulsing with bugs, and he refused, so they came in one weekend and just threw them away, which is a level of FUCK YOU that old white men at professional firms never get.

As a bonus, since he had the dahlias on the air vent, they spread to every plant on the floor and I had to throw away all of my plants.
posted by joyceanmachine at 3:26 PM on February 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

I’m unreasonably happy about the two self-watering window boxes that I installed this week. One dry, windy afternoon can finish off every potted plant that isn’t a succulent, so now I can have the (micro) Green Gables garden of my dreams. Violets! Sweet peas! Nasturtiums! No idea what I’ll plant when it gets too hot for these lovelies but I intend to enjoy them while they last.
posted by corey flood at 5:25 PM on February 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I grew tomato's and .... omg nooooooo.... a carrot...
posted by sammyo at 6:09 PM on February 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have unusually deep windowsills and a membership to Brooklyn's Botanic Garden; this is a dangerous combination.

About half my houseplants are herbs; the sage, oregano, and basil from an "Herb garden" kit my cousin gave me for Christmas 3 years ago, a thyme I purchased after accidentally killing the one that was in that same kit, and a rosemary that's at least 14 years old and huge. Plus a lemon verbena that I picked up as a seedling while a friend and I were on a camping trip about 5 years back, and had to be lugged to our campsite and then back home in the car after we got rained out and had to do an emergency bugout at 6 am.

The light isn't the best for herbs, and some of the smaller ones get a little leggy and spindly. I also don't use them fast enough; at least I didn't for a while. Now every so often if I have to prune them back a lot, I start a light vegetable soup stock, and then trim everything back and chuck it all into the stock.

A couple years ago I decided I also wanted to have other plants and picked up a couple of random easy-care things from the hardware store, including an English ivy, and a peace lily that someone was giving away free online. I've had to repot the lily twice now, and the ivy is now 15 times as long as it once was and I've had to wind some of the vines around my window treatment. But that was kind of the idea I had in mind. There's also a couple of succulents in a terrarium I started that I often forget I have.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:23 AM on February 4, 2020

Ooh this thread is timely, I just got a huge new office with a wall of windows that is begging for plants! I've never really had plants before so this is new territory for me. What's easy to care for?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:35 AM on February 6, 2020

rabbitrabbit, there are a couple of basic answers, but you may want to check something about those windows first, because that can change the answer a bit:

Some plants do better in direct sunlight, and others do better in low light. Still others do better in "bright but indirect" light, which is a kind of confusing description. One good way to figure out what kind of light you have is to figure out what direction the light is coming from - windows that are facing south get way more light during the day than lights facing north, for instance.

There are a couple sure bets - peace lilies don't need super-bright light, and do okay with moderate temperature and decently moist soil (so you don't need to water every day or anything). Pothos also does well in lower light, but also does okay in brighter light and can even withstand you forgetting to water it often.

For sunnier windows - like if you find out you have a southern facing window - there are still some easy options. The jade plant on that list is something my mother had for years, and that thing got huge and was almost impossible to kill (I think my brother accidentally knocked it over and broke half of it off, and it still bounced back). Mom also had a spider plant (also on that list) that was getting so big it was sprouting "pups", or other smaller new plants, from the dangling vines. Mom often just left them there, but sometimes cut those pups off and repotted them and started a whole new spider plant.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:31 AM on February 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks! My windows face east, not south, so there's a lot of light but it's mostly indirect.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:13 AM on February 7, 2020

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