Given my history with indoor plants, you would be forgiven for thinking I had turned my back on them. Back in 2000 I had been given my marching papers at a tech company. (It was the end of the tech bubble, and I had been paid to surf the Internet!) As I was exiting the building, I noticed large potted plants dotting the disappearing landscape. Catching my glance, my supervisor said, "Oh those, we brought those in to boost morale." It's nice to know you can be replaced with a tropical tree!
Shopping with a friend in the nursery the other week, she walked past a plant and said, "I don't like those plants, I don't like the leaves." I started thinking how amusing our relationship with plants is. Much like how colour evokes moods such as hate, nostalgia, love, indifference, so do plants. Hydrangeas can have the nostalgia of grandma's garden, roses are associated with love, the whisper of palm leaves bring to mind tropical vacations. I left behind a Peace Lily when I moved from Canada. I was glad to say goodbye to that plant because it held a lot of bittersweet memories. Fast forward to a day in Sydney when I looked at a recently purchased plant and wondered how I had ended up with another Peace Lily. We fought in the beginning, which led me to throwing it out on the patio, where it almost ceased to be. I then took pity on the thing, brought it back inside, where it began to flourish, no thanks to attention from me. I looked at its glossy leaves one day and said to myself, "You know, I think I have made peace with that lily."
Today's finds aren't necessarily new finds, but when it comes to plants, it helps to know which ones go the distance. For my plants; the fiddle leaf fig, the monstera, bird of paradise and golden cane palm, they all sit in brightly lit spots, out of direct sunlight. I water once a week, except for the fiddle leaf, which gets watered every two weeks in winter. Once in a while, I will put them in the shower stall and spray with water, to clean the dust off their leaves. Recently,I started fertilising them twice a month. Bringing a plant home from the nursery can be risky, as they can bring home bugs. Plants like fiddle leafs tend to attract pests. I sprayed mine with a mixture of detergent and water just to be on the safe side. So that's my professional advice for plants. Find one you like the look of, place it where it feels right, water it once a week, fertilise twice a month and it should be happy!
All images © Donna Vercoe