… or is it ? It wasn’t so long ago that I thought houseplants were not really plants, and I considered the growing craze for indoor vegetation as a mere consumerist pursuit, like others, guided by fashion. One would covet the it-plant (ficus lyrata, anybody ?) in the same way as the it-bag (I would know, as in my younger years, when finances allowed it, I religiously paid my weekly respects to the Parisian Grands Magasins). Houseplants cultivation couldn’t be compared to outdoor gardening in any way, mostly because it consists of keeping plants away from the influence of nature – seasons, weather, light and wind, insects, life in fact (except for the end bit, which comes too speedily to many a houseplant). I felt sorry for those tropical exiles, majestic in their natural environment, but in our houses often reduced to being decorative objects whose main purpose is to make our Instagram feed sexy. The fact we need to artificially recreate, to the benefit of energy suppliers, the conditions in which they can survive (usually : minimum warmth of 15 degrees, humidity above 60 %, careful exclusion of draughts…) bothered me. Proof of the unnatural aspect of that practice lies in the great number of houseplants that end up in the bin after a few weeks of silent suffering in a dark corner of a cold house, or drowned by the owner’s ignorant keenness. Most importantly, far from driving us towards more artificiality, proper gardening should help us shed the layers of irreality modern urban life increasingly wraps us in, until we don’t know what’s what anymore (endless virtual shenanigans). It reinserts us in a world of physicality, of reality, where time cannot be compressed and our will has to follow the flow of nature. Houseplants keeping, on the other hand, feeds into the commodification of nature.

Now… Well, now this is the moment where the “However” should appear, followed by counter-arguments which would justify the fact that, over the last two months, I have succombed to an obsessive urge to collect houseplants. I could say that I have come to be touched by the love which those “plant-parents”, as they call themselves, lavish on their tropical protégés, or that it is good for the soul to care for a helpless living thing (not everyone is fortunate enough to have access to a garden or to a pet), or that I am working to amend my judgemental ways, or whatever. The truth is probably that I progressively got used to see those houseplant posts and adverts everywhere and sheepishly followed the fashion. Maybe, for the first time, I am unable to welcome the stark voice of Winter and have missed tending to plants while the garden is brown and soggy. After twelve years in England, this is the first time I have realised how short Winter days are in this country. Never have I missed the light as much as this year.

My father used to keep a few houseplant. I remember a big ficus benjamina which had to go because of my mother’s allergic asthma. My own first houseplant was an African violet, brought home from the biology lesson devoted to vegetative propagation. I remember that I loved it dearly, with its neat velvety leaves and perfect dainty flowers. It didn’t last long – overwatering, unsurpringly. As an adult, I was gifted a Christmas cactus eleven years ago, long enough for it to feel like part of the family. For many years, it was the only houseplant in my life. Then a dracaena marginata came home with me from the town market, just because I thought it was a bargain. A trip to B&Q gave them a few succulent companions : a Jade plant, a crassula ovata Gollum (the name alone would have sold it). Even though they didn’t elicit the same sort of love as my garden plants, I wanted them to thrive and was always mindful of their needs for light. The fact that my house is dark is actually the main reason why I refused to buy more houseplants. Why purchase them to watch them suffer ? However, those easy plants looked healthy and happy without any care.
Then, my son asked for some cacti.
Then, a few unhappy plants beckoned me from a supermarket shelf.
Then, on a sunny morning last November which slanted warm sunrays in our sitting room, I suddenly realised how truly beautiful these little green companions are (only in Winter, when the sun is low, does the light penetrate in this way in our house), how they make me happy and my house more homely.
The house has certainly not got less dark, but I let a few knowledgeable bloggers convince me that my south window and other windowsills could be acceptable as medium light level. I acquired a hygrometer which assures me my house is suitably damp (on that note, I have to thank indoor gardening for transforming what was a serious defect into an asset), if not warm enough.
And that is how this happened :

From November to now

Here are some of my companions :

As you can see, I have joined the crowd I used to frown upon, down to the failures. Indeed, this is what is happening to my Alocasia Dragon Scale, which I should have known not to buy as it didn’t look good even before coming to me (but I definitely made it worse). Not even mentioning that it spent eight days in the Post, poor thing (it was in Ashford, I could have walked there and back in less time). I am fairly confident that I can save it though. Or at least hopeful.

On the plus side, I have learned a lot about a few plants. Surely all this was necessary for the sake of general knowledge, wasn’t it ? Alright, I’ll admit to my complete hypocrisy.
And on that note, I wish you, dear reader, a happy and healthy new year. Keep gardening.

P.S. I would love to hear about your houseplants and indoor gardening journey !

33 thoughts on “Indoor gardening

  1. Je souris en te lisant parce que (si j”ai bien compris ce que tu dis) j’ai eu à peu près le même cheminement de craintes pour les plantes éventuelles que je voulais faire rentrer chez moi, et finalement je me suis laissée petit à petit envahir aussi, tant que j’ai habité à Paris. Mais depuis que je suis en corse, tout cela est devenu impossible du fait que mon appartement est très sombre et que les plantes cultivées ici à l’air libre toute l’année dans les jardineries, (sans parler du chat qui s’en occupe) meurent chez moi en quelques jours. Je me contente donc de semer des noyaux ou pépins (néfles, agrumes, pins, myrtes) qui poussent sur un minuscule rebord de fenêtre, puis lorsqu’elles deviennent trop grandes, je leur rends leur liberté en les replantant dans le maquis.
    Belle collection en tout cas, chez toi!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. J’adore l’idée de faire germer et pousser des graines sur ton rebord de fenêtre, que tu libères ensuite ! 🙂 Je crois que si je vivais en Corse, j’aurais moins besoin de plantes chez moi, le spectacle est dehors. Bonne année Almanito, et je te remercie de tout coeur de venir me tenir compagnie sur ce blog !

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Une si belle nursery…
    Tu vois ton jardin intérieur est à l’image de cette étrange année.
    Ce replis forcé sur soi, ces multiples confinements nous ont conduis à cultiver notre intériorité.
    À explorer et à multiplier ce jardin intérieur.
    Merci pour tes merveilles et pour le soin que tu portes (c’est assez évident) au bonheur de tes hôtes, en même temps qu’ils ravissent nos cœurs, ils apaisent…je trouveque toutes tes plantes témoignent d’une présence très singulière et attachante 😉
    je t’embrasse Frog.
    Corinne

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Je rencontre les mêmes problèmes avec les plantes d’intérieur, mais heureusement mon potager me donne de grandes satisfactions, particulièrement cette année…
        Des tomates en nombres et en habits de lumières, des concombres monstrueux, des betteraves, des citrouilles (43kg…), des courgettes, je suis comblée, j’ajoute l’estragon, des basilics, c’est un ravissement !
        les joies du premier confinement, j’ai passé ma colère dans le potager..;bonne idée 😉
        Tout fort
        Corinne

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wow, 43 kg de citrouilles !!! Eh ben vous étiez parés pour le Halloween de tout un village, dis-moi ! Mes tomates ont été un peu décevantes cette année, mais pas les tomates cerises semées à partir des tomates du supermarché. J’aimerais visiter ton potager, il a l’air magnifique !

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          1. Nous venons de déménager, enfin en novembre de l’année dernière.
            Le monsieur avant nous cultivait plein de légumes, alors le confinement m’a naturellement dirigé vers mes pelles et mes bottes. Il faisait très beau, un soleil de plomb même, j’ai beaucoup transpiré.
            J’ai, comme je te le disais, passé tous mes efforts dans cette colère de ne pas pouvoir travailler mais aussi d’être très angoissée par la situation liée à la covid.
            Comme tu peux l’imaginer, le potager a été salvateur, un refuge même…
            J’ai tellement reçu de bonheur, de joie, de sueur, de satisfaction…
            En plus du potager j’ai dans ce jardin, 2 pommiers, 2 figuiers, 1 cerisier, 1 tilleul, 1 mirabellier, 1 Prunier, 2 pêchers, 1 noisetier…que du bonheur je te disais.
            Ah, j’oubliais le citronnier, mais je ferai un article complet sur lui, il est un pilier…
            je t’embrasse Frog
            Bien fort
            Corinne

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Tous mes voeux pour l’année nouvelle, gentille sauveuse de plantes abandonnées.
    J’en ai quelques unes mais moins que toi : citronnier, yuccas, je ne sais qui qui fait des rejets dans tous les sens, et sur les rebords de mes fenêtres, des graines de potimarrons planteés, et de tomates, et de poivrons, mais qui restent a l’état graineux.

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    1. Merci Aldor, je te souhaite aussi une merveilleuse année 2021 ! Toi aussi tu as des graines qui germent sur les rebords de fenêtres, comme Almanito, c’est vraiment joli !

      Like

      1. Une année des pépins de tomates sont partis dans l’évier, probablement pendant le lavage de la vaisselle et un plant magnifique a poussé dans la gouttière percée (nos gouttières sont… pittoresques) à quelques mètres en-dessous de ma fenêtre, donnant de toutes petites tomates que les touristes photographiaient 🙂
        On n trouve parfois aussi sur les plages en septembre, résultat des pique-niques de l’été.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Je partage sans complexe mon amour et mon attention entre mes plantes d’extérieur et d’intérieur, et je parle avec autant d’enthousiasme aux unes et aux autres 🙂 Une de mes grandes joies a été cette année de voir se développer tout seule et comme par magie un magnifique potimarron dans ma poubelle à végétaux, dont j’ai posé les pousses l’une après l’autre sur les chaises du jardin, pour leur éviter de pourrir ou d’être dévorées. Plus un siège pour s’asseoir au bout de quelques temps, mais… réjouissante génération spontanée ! Belle année à toi Frog, les jardiniers sont les poètes du vivant 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bonne année chère Esther ! Quelle jolie histoire ! J’imagine le potimarron reposant régalement sur les chaises de jardin pendant que les humains, au garde-à-vous, s’empressaient de subvenir à ses besoins en eaux ! Sacrées plantes ! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

              1. Dans le même ordre d’idées, as-tu eu l’occasion de regarder “Le mystère du lapin-garou” avec Wallace et Gromit (studio Aardman) ? C’est un de nos films familiaux préférés, qui se passe en Angleterre, avec pour “pitch” un concours des plus beaux légumes. C’est un délice d’humour, et je gage que la vision de l’amour du jardinage qui y est développée devrait te ravir, ainsi que tes enfants 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Je crois en avoir vu des bouts un jour lointain où les enfants le regardaient, mais il faudrait que je le voie « pour de vrai ». Mais je vois régulièrement de vrais concours de légumes dans les émissions de jardinage que je regarde et c’est hilarant ! Merci pour la recommandation ! 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

  5. Your collection is amazing!! What a lush green paradise, truly beautiful! such variety and the plants are in great condition (Alocasia will make it, I am sure). Very elegant pots, too. You must be so proud! How do you do this, though? That’s probably a silly question but I am really curious, do you have a notebook with every plant’s needs, watering schedules, different fertilisers? I just can’t imagine the maintenance. In any case, it’s definitely worth it. I don’t do houseplants myself. I found myself nodding at every sentence of the first paragraph. I am scared of them somehow and they don’t do well in our house. Not the house’s fault, I am sure. But I am inspired by your pictures, maybe I should try again. And I loved your comments on the names, Gollum the self-selling title and Dizygotheca elegantisssima Bianca the hen party are hilarious 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Katya, your comment escaped me, I am sorry for replying so late ! Thank you so much for the compliments, they warm my heart, though I don’t deserve them. Truth is, many of them haven’t been with me long enough to really measure my capacity to keep them healthy. But it is now February and so far, so good. I can see though that if Winter was much longer, some probably would start to give up. They need Spring, now, even more than me ! I don’t keep a notebook or anything, just stick my finger down the pot and pray. 🙂 My main aim is to avoid overwatering, as it is the main cause for houseplants demise – easier to revive a thirsty plant than a rotting one. All I do is give them rainwater at room temperature (well, sort of), as calatheas in particular are sensitive to chemicals in our tap water. I haven’t been wiping their leaves as I should have done. I don’t mist plants, contrary to the common advice. Misting doesn’t rise ambiant humidity enough and encourages fungus (and ruins furniture). I considered buying a humidifier but the hygrometer showed that wasn’t necessary.
      I do realise, though, that I have reached maximum capacity. As they grow, I will probably have to give some away, as space and light are in limited supply… With Spring coming, I will have to think of a feeding routine, which bores me already. I don’t even like doing it in the garden. Another fact that bothers me with houseplants is the extortionate prices commanded by some aroids. I couldn’t believe my eyes – near the hundred or even more sometimes for a flimsy rooted cutting!
      Please let me know if you do grow more houseplants, I’d love to hear about it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Frog. This is so inspiring! Draughty house, you say, not enough light, no feeding routine, no misting… and look at your beautiful, healthy plants of all varieties! It is like magic. But I do think it’s about the atmosphere in the house, the love and soul of the gardener that being them to life and keep them going, plants do pick up on these things, I am sure.

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        1. You know what, I think there must be some truth in that. Even if we don’t mist and so on, we do look at them often and will notice when things start to go wrong, and therefore try to fix it. I feel I should say that my house is dark but that I have put almost all of my plants near the only south-facing bay window. I guess in a very bright house, the problem would be to avoid direct sunshine, to which many houseplants are sensitive. Maybe plants are also more resilient than what « they » say ! 😂

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      2. Good point about overwatering. I had some beautiful orchids that were literally thrown out of greenhouses here in the west of Holland during the first lockdown because they couldn’t sell them, they kept blossoming until July and then during our holiday the person looking after the house literally drowned them despite instructions we left. I tried re-potting them, giving them enough (not direct) light, it’s been a struggle and now half a year later they are pretty much dead. Such a shame.

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        1. Oh dear… The same happened to my uncle’s beautiful orchids, which I admired a lot. Victims of holidays… Orchids just hate me. I have been given a number over the years and have managed to make… ONE flower again ONCE. Lacking space in my house, I finally gave up on them after a few years. I did feed them, repotted some, but no. They just look at me and sulk. But as you can see, others seem more tolerant of my ways ! 😀
          Regarding watering, I must confess that I have definitely avoided overwatering, but am now not keeping up. Everytime I look at the smaller pots, they are bone-dry. I may have bitten more than I can chew !

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, that’s it, that’s exactly my experience with orchids! Feeding and reporting didn’t help in my case either. Not really confidence-building. One of the things that made me give up on houseplants. Maybe I will take my cue and just move on to some less capricious ones. I did get very inspired by your pictures!

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