Houseplant Tales, Part IV – The Christmas Spirit

I’m getting lazier by the year when it comes to decking the halls. My four-foot tall, fake Christmas tree lies stuffed in a corner of my apartment’s storage unit, inaccessible due to the giant couch also taking (vertical) residence there. Same can be said for most of my ornaments.

Thankfully, my year-round greenery steps in for the save every year and helps me eke by with just enough festive presentation to prevent me looking like a Grinch. Here are the champions of the season:

TWO Christmas cacti, you exclaim? Isn’t having more than one of the same plant a bit of a cheat for a houseplant mama? To which my response would be: why are you trying to put any kind of rule or reason on this already-mad obsession?

Besides, their flowers are different colors. It’s totally fine.

The littler one is named “Dickens”, which of course is a reference to the great writer of “A Christmas Carol” (among other excellent works that I definitely don’t love with an unhealthy passion). The name has a double-bonus, since it also serves in my ongoing rivalry with the friend who bought the cactus for me. (Hiiii, Haley. DICKENS IS STILL BETTER THAN SHAKESPEARE!)

The large cactus’s name is “Liszt”, and you’ll likely only know that reference if you’re familiar with this guy’s work.

(Wow, I have a lot of boy plants in my abode. I wonder what that says about me…)

I could go from here into some deep allegory about how the cacti represent life and color in the coldest, bleakest season, but…I’m out of deep juice for the month. Why don’t y’all go enjoy your families around your own Christmas greenery this weekend, huh?

Have a merry one, all.

Houseplant Tales, Part III – Right in the Childhood

Oh yes. There’s still plenty of plant family to talk about.


Say hello to Izzy, my schefflera. As you can see, poor Izzy is having some back issues and requires temporary bracing. This is what happens when enthusiasm for sunlight exceeds the development of a root system. (Danged shady living space causing trouble for my plant babies.)

Izzy’s name was the suggestion of a friend, if I remember right. I’m not sure why that particular moniker was chosen for the little guy, but I approve. It means he’s named after this great character:

Izzy & Tentomon
The kid, not the bug.

Oh man, Digimon was such a great show, filled with deep characterization, real human struggles, ridiculous monster battles, and really cheesy dubbing. I remember going into it thinking, “Well, if I can’t watch Pokemon, maybe this will be a fair enough substitute.” (TV options are slim in Wyoming. You know we still watch our shows by candlelight, right?)

Honestly, I think I got the better deal with Digimon. While Ash was runnin’ around focused on being “the very best”, the Digimon kids were reconciling feelings toward divorce, parent expectations, and (in Izzy’s particular case) adoption – all while bonding with a personal little “mon” devoted to protecting them. (Who doesn’t want their own wolf/dino/giant insect to help them work through life’s problems?)

Adorable ladybug-mon digivolved tooo…TERRIFYING RHINO BEETLE-MON.

Not bad for a show aimed to sell merchandise overshadowed by a certain Nintendo franchise, eh?

…Wait. Was this supposed to be a houseplant post? I totally forgot.

Houseplant Tales, Part II – Not a Potterhead, More Like a Planter-head


This is Lucius, my dracaena.

Lucius used to have two baby variegated dracaenas named Neo and Polly who shared his soil space, but…uh…he aggressively choked them out after just a few months’ acquaintance.

Bad parenting, Lucius! Bad!

In case you’re wondering – yes, Lucius’ name is inspired by Lucius Malfoy (which could explain his parenting techniques, come to think). You might assume this is because I’m a Harry Potter fan, but the naming process was more like:

Me: ” ‘Dracaena’…What does ‘dracaena’ sound most like…? ‘Draco’? But that’s too obvious. Okay, free association: when I think of ‘Draco’ what comes to mind is…”

Lucius & Draco

Ergo, my lush and frondy mini-tree is named after a pasty, blond wizard in what might be the weirdest non-sequitur since the obsession of naming houseplants like they’re your children. (Psh, who does that?) But in all fairness, “Lucius” and “lush” sound kinda similar, so there’s at least SOME logical connection.

As for my general feelings about Harry Potter…I didn’t make it past Order of the Phoenix in the books. Stopped at Goblet of Fire with the movies. (I guess the story lost its “magic” for me? *rimshot* *or maybe just literally shot*) So dracaena Lucius’ name is not really an homage to the series at all. …I feel like this takes away some of my geek cred.

Good thing my horticulture cred is still on point.

(I apologize for any HP ignorance in this post.)

Houseplant Tales, Part I – The “Root” of an Obsession

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When I said there’d be silly posts, I meant there would be silly posts.

This is Panda, my parlor palm. He’s the first plant I bought when I moved into my own apartment (but not this blog’s first victim of my sucky camera skills). When I picked him from Fred Meyer’s houseplant jungle, he was small enough to hold in one hand. Now, as you can see, he’s firmly asserted himself in the household.

He’s proven to be my gateway into an addiction to all things photosynthetic. (Can you believe that’s a word? I can’t believe that’s a word.) Since him I’ve tried my hand at upwards of 15 different houseplants, some who unfortunately languished during my last couple of moves, but many who, like Panda, decided my horticultural prowess was halfway decent (unlike what I can do with a camera) and thus stuck around.

Don’t worry. You’ll get to meet every one of them in time.

Why this obsession with greenery? A bit of backstory: one fateful summer, when I was a wee sprout growing up in the Wyoming wastelands, I had a Vacation Bible School experience that would change my life.

(I regret to say, it wasn’t spiritual.)

For one of the day’s object lessons (heck if I remember what it was), each child was sent home with a tiny plant to nurture – perhaps as an allegory of God’s loving care for us? At any rate, we all received a spider plant. You know the one:

Thank you, Wikipedia.

Our teacher informed us that if we kept this leafy delight alive, it would produce babies from offshoot tendrils, which we could then replant endlessly to create the spider plant hedge of our dreams. (What? A child’s fantasy is allowed to go a little wild.)

Oh man. I was SUPER excited. I cradled that baby plant all the way home, convinced my mom to place it in a point of prominence on our kitchen sill facing the windows, and dreamed of the way the little tendrils would trail down the side of the wall. I made plans to water it faithfully and check on it every day to make sure it had all the sun and moisture it needed.

That sucker died in two days, its fronds curled brownly inward much like the way an actual spider leaves this mortal coil.

To this day I blame the Wyoming desert for my plant’s quick demise (though this is likely unfair, considering my mom had a schefflera and aloe plant that both did very well in our Green River home). When I moved to Idaho, I realized it might be the right time to try my green thumb again.

(Southern Idaho is still a desert, I grant you. But at least it’s an irrigated desert.)

Now I happily live the dream of being a plant mama, and despite my friends who say I need an intervention, this fixation has nothing whatsoever to do with guilt at killing my VBS project so many years ago.

(I’m so sorry, spider plant! Will these ten plants I now own atone for my sins? Please forgi-i-i-ive meeeeeee! *sob*)