Sunday, January 10, 2016

Houseplant Appreciation Day

Houseplant Appreciation Day

The Gardener's Network created Houseplant Appreciation Day for two reasons, as stated on their website:

  1. To remind people after the holidays that their forgotten houseplants need a little attention
  2. To celebrate beneficial houseplants and to encourage growing houseplants.
Once again, an occasion in January is helping us get back on track after the holidays and providing ideas for New Year goals.  

For many years, I did not have any houseplants because I traveled and worked quite a bit.  When I was at home, my focus wasn't on keeping plants alive.

Over the past few years, I have purchased and rescued a small collection of houseplants that thrive in my condo and can be kept healthy with minimal effort.  My home has great light, especially in the southern facing windows, so each plant has found a happy place to live.  I am also fortunate that Archie has no interest in the plants, so there are no accidental plant deaths.  


Aloe Vera Plant

The above picture is of a portion of my mother aloe vera plant.  It was a rescue plant that I saved a couple years ago after a neighbor moved out and left the plant in the rain.  The plant was overgrown and falling out of it's large pot.  

With help from my mom, we took apart the aloe plant, decided which plants were healthy and could be saved, and repotted what fit into the large container.  I had a number of shoots that didn't fit into the planter, so I let those dry for a few weeks, then planted them in two smaller planters, which now sit in my kitchen.

It looks like I will be taking apart the mother plant again this summer and thinning it's leaves.  I may be giving little aloe plants to all of my neighbors so I am not overrun with aloe.  It would also be interesting to learn more about the uses and benefits of aloe vera from sites such as herbwisdom.  


The Chicago Botanic Garden has an excellent collection of Bonsai trees, with over 200 trees on display rotation throughout the spring and summer.  Bonsai is another aspect of Japanese culture that fascinates me.  The miniature trees are carefully trained and pruned to grow in fantastic shapes.  This art form can be traced back at least one thousand years and is an interesting history to review.

I have not taken the plunge into the craft and think I'll save this activity for much later in life.  In the meantime, I am happy with my little faux bonsai tree.  This guy was purchased at IKEA after a summer tour of the gardens.  Leave it to the Swedes to offer a simple, affordable alternative to authentic bonsai!

Jade Plant

The jade plant is a succulent that would actually be a good starting point for bonsai.  It's super easy to take care of since it needs very little water and thrives in windowsills.  I've had the above plant for about 4 years and it's grown quite a bit in that time.  

If you want multiple jade plants, it's easy to start new ones.  I took a single petal and placed it on wet dirt.  Eventually, roots formed and I now have a little starter jade plant.  

Walking through various Chicago neighborhoods, it's common to spot huge jade plants in shop windows.  Some of the plants I've seen must be 40-50 years old.  At that point, I doubt they're going to be moved, because large jade plants are also extremely heavy.  

Jade is a great plant to give as a housewarming or shower gift because it is so easy to maintain and also goes by the names of friendship tree, money tree, and and lucky plant.  

Peace Lily

This Peace Lily was my first rescue plant.  It was sitting by the garbage dumpster, looking very sad.  When I took it home, it was more for the lovely blue container than the plant that looked like it was dying.

Surprisingly, it pepper right up after a long drink of water and some sunshine.  I didn't know what it was until it bloomed later that year.  I've now had it for several years and it regularly sports numerous white lilies.  

This is a houseplant that works for it's space in your room by helping to clean the air.  It's another one that is easy to maintain as long as you don't overwater it.  

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