Whether you are just getting started with houseplants, or, you already happily inhabit a houseplant jungle, these three creative and knowledgeable houseplant fanatics will help fan the flames with their delightful and infectious love for plants you can grow in your home.
Houseplants are Preventative Medicine
I have gone full circle in my own houseplant-mania. When I first lived on my own, I knew I wanted to be a gardener, but, without a yard or balcony or community gardens, houseplants were the way to get started.
My mistake as an enthusiastic newbie was to choose plants on impulse, purely for love, without consideration for the growing conditions in my apartment. These were the days when there were few choices beyond are-they-alive? totally bland dieffenbachias (dumb canes) and sansevierias (snake plants). I desperately craved flowers and brightly coloured foliage and signs of life.
Soon came cats and babies and my life as a houseplant grower came to a mandatory halt. My only growing space was in our living room, and I had no way of keeping everyone and everything safe. The sentient beings wanted to dig and taste, and the potential risks (many plants of all kinds are toxic) and messes were not worth it. I had no where to place plants beyond prying hands and paws.
Fast forward several years (and many homes) later, a new obsession with seed starting for my outdoor garden inadvertently threw me back into a love of houseplants.
It happened one winter when my timing was off and I found myself with a lot of mature veggie plants under the indoor grow lights waiting for the weather to warm for outdoor transplanting.
The peas grew so enthusiastically that I had to create indoor trellises across the dining room to accommodate them.
My cherry tomatoes flowered and fruited next to the piano.
I had enough salad greens for two meals, every day, for several weeks.
It was all rather magical (and delicious) and I realized in hindsight that all that indoor plant care completely distracted me from the usual winter blues that take hold before spring finally appears.
If something as simple as growing plants indoors can ward off a beast like winter blues, I’m in.
I have since acquired various succulents and cacti, several tropical plants with gorgeous (not bland green) foliage, and a slew of loyal bloomers which I consider my happiness insurance including African violets, amaryllises, some crazy-blooming succulents, and a giant Christmas cactus.
The Christmas cactus came from an elderly neighbour who was giving up her plants in preparation for a move to a retirement home. I mentioned at the start that I have come full circle because, when she also offered her decades-old dieffenbachia with its giant 3-foot leaves all crammed into an enormous old wooden pot, without hesitation I said yes.
She had spent years loyally tending to her plant collection without fail, no matter what life tossed at her, and now I was happy to take the torch and have my turn. Plus, the dieffenbachia was clearly calling out for some repotting, division, and leaf propagation, and who can resist that? And, with all of the new varities available today, I sure it will eventually have a more colourful sibling in the house as well.
3 Fabulous Houseplant Fanatics to Follow
I have selected three houseplant fanatics you can follow online that I really enjoy in case you need something to re-ignite your own interest in houseplants and keep that happiness insurance going. And, if you catch the fever like we have, you’ll soon know it’s not just about plants per se but the whole interestingness of life.
1. Tovah Martin
Tovah was the first garden writer I became smitten with. Writing about gardens can be a near impossible task for those of us who love plants, gardens, and nature more than anything (besides our human and pet loves) but do not have the writing acumen to sufficiently capture the feelings and impressions that overtake us without sounding like sappy dingbats. Tovah somehow navigates this perfectly.
My determination to become a ‘real gardener’ came from the books Tovah wrote about Tasha Tudor and her garden. Richard Brown’s photographs were pure beauty and Tovah had a way of describing Tasha and her approach to gardening that was passionate, intimate, and gently humorous, without the added sugar that is so hard to avoid.
From there, I continued to follow her byline wherever I could find it and she remains in my top favourites, still so observant, clearly in love with the plant world, and knowledgeable.
- Tovah’s speaking engagements: see the list here
- Tovah on Facebook: follow her Plantswise by Tovah Martin page here
- The Indestructible Houseplant is an excellent primer if you would like to browse suggestions for plants to grow in your home. It features a good selection of houseplants that have been observed for tolerance and, as it says, indestructibility. The photos and arrangements within a home setting, in combination with other houseplants, are delicious.
- The Unexpected Houseplant is a similar book in look and feel but focusses on more unusual plants that the more experienced or attentive houseplant fanatic might want to try. Again, the photographs by Kindra Clineff are gorgeous, and the combinations of plants in their various, unexpected containers show how the overall choices and styling can turn any plant into something really charming.
- Tasha Tudor’s Garden was first published over twenty years ago. The quality of photography and printing has changed significantly since then but it is still one of my favourite gardening books.
2. Lisa Eldred Steinkopf
You want to know how you can tell a true houseplant fanatic? They get giddy when a plant is ready for repotting, or there is pruning, propagation, or watering to be done. That’s when you know you have stepped beyond the houseplant-as-a-decor-item-in-a-cute-pot stage to the entire, intriguing world of observing and caring for these wild and wonderful living things.
Lisa write the blog, The Houseplant Guru, and my favourite thing about her is her wide-open, unapologetic, absolute love of houseplants. She’s in it, full-on, and, like Tovah, her creative touches extend beyond the plants themselves. They are the stars of the show but it’s the entire orchestra of pots, doilies, plant stands, and settings within her home decor that make it all come together. Here plants are truly a part of family and lives.
Lisa is also a totally houseplant book fanatic, seemingly owning everything every printed on the subject. Her unbridled passion is contagious in the best way.
If you want to set your own love of houseplants on fire and grab ideas while you’re at it, go visit her blog and be sure to subscribe so you get email notices when new content is available.
3. Summer Rayne Oakes
Perhaps you saw this video when it went viral a while ago?
For some, it’s the dream indoor jungle. Others panic at the thought of how often things need watering and what if you had to move house?
Me? I just love seeing anyone dive headfirst into anything they really love. And when it comes to plants and art, I’m right behind you.