Yes, houseplants can be fun, and, in a month or so, after I finish with bulbs, they’ll be the only plants I’m tending until spring.

 I’ve never been sure why, usually when longtime gardeners gather, mentions of houseplants can be greeted with shudders and tales of woe. In these discussions, gardeners have either killed a significant number of houseplants and/or they’re afraid of killing the houseplants they still have or might buy. It can be a bit negative.

I have presided over the demise of many plants, indoor and outdoor. Here’s the thing: with gardening – especially indoor gardening, where plants have to endure less-than-optimal conditions – death is part of the process. I tend to look at death as an opportunity, both indoor and out. In fact, indoors, I look at death as a probability, and I try to maintain the plants accordingly. I do my best not to overwater them – and keep OTHERS from doing so – because that, by far, is the main reason indoor plants fail. I’ll toss a plant with an infestation, more often than not, unless it’s one I’d really hate to lose, like a natal mahogany that I have to watch for scale. 

Despite all the black thumb talk, I have found that benign neglect works best with most of these. 

In return for my (minimal)  care, the plants have to earn their keep. Except for those that are only indoors for overwintering purposes, I need indoor plants to be decorative. This is where the fun comes in, which involves finding vintage stands (like the one above) and creating little groupings. And trying to stick with longtime indoor survivors, like the pothos, dracaena, sanseviera, pepperomia and a few others – which all seem to come in a dizzying array of varieties.

Thanks, houseplant collectors, for helping to make interesting plants more available. I still can’t imagine having these by the hundreds, but my high double-digits cohort will help get me through the cold months.