Years ago, I started dragging alocasia and musa in and out of the garden every late spring and fall, but those 3-4 plants have always been incidental music in the larger garden cacophony. This year, I hope to up the tropical ante and I took the first step by buying a carful of ficus altissima ‘Yellow Gem’ (shown above), ficus triangularis, various pothos, and a couple gigantic bridal veil (seems to have two completely different botanic names). I’ll also have plenty of colocasia that I’ll purchase later. 


Potratz in Erie, PA is one of the best places for indoor plants I have ever seen.

To accomplish this, I went to a place south of me that’s known for its six greenhouses of indoor plants and its crazy reasonable prices. I wanted large plants that I could keep alive in my back room for about six weeks. Instead of having the skimpy hanging plants sold around here in May, I’ll have abundant specimens that will fill their spots. Same with all the ficus. (I could have gone with monstera here, but could not have gotten variegation for similar prices.)

These plants will be hung, planted, or potted throughout the garden. What we’re looking for is leafy green amplitude—more of a Southern style that I think goes well in a courtyard garden.

Bridal veil ($25) with houseplant maven Johanna shown for scale

Of course, the big question is how/if I can keep them going over the winter. Some of them—the bridal veil, I’m sure—will be annual purchases, and, at the price I got, no big deal. We are talking almost 6 months of use. If I had rented the bridal veil it would be $4 a month. Some will be given away to people who need more indoor plants. Some I’ll wedge into my current collection.

I have to—at least partially—credit the houseplant movement with the confidence to do this. I’ve been seeing people bring dozens of plants into their homes, mostly with success, and I’ve gradually been adding more myself. It’s gotten to the point where having close to triple digits in the house is no big deal and it’s helped me think differently about outdoor gardening. Most of my indoor plants will not receive a “vacation” outdoors, but there will be itinerant residents who will come and go—and sometimes never return. I like the flexibility. And all this without having read Marianne’s book! I’m almost afraid to now.