by Jarad Johnson
I just moved back to college for the start of my senior year. This is an exciting time, but it also means that I don’t have a garden to tend to, and subsequently I’m starting to go a little stir crazy. For example, I had a dream the other day about hollyhocks. Sexy, I know but I am, after all, what several people have referred to as a, “plant freak,” so I suppose it’s only to be expected. This happened to me last spring as well, to the point where I was going around campus deadheading masses of daffodils and weeding flower beds, a job usually reserved for the people paid to do it. I couldn’t help myself, I had to do something. In my defense, they weren’t doing it often enough. And would it kill them to do a little pruning? That’s neither here nor there, but still I’m sorely tempted to take after a rose bush that’s half dead with my trimmers. Anyone have recommendations for a set of pruning shears that will fit neatly in a backpack?
This semester, the flowerbeds appear well-tended and the daffodils are out of bloom, so my covert operations have ground to a halt (for now). I brought two plants with me, but moderation is not in my vocabulary, and last week I began to feel a need for more plants. Houseplants in general have never been very exciting to me; I like them, but given the choice I’d rather be outside, in the soil. But they are nice in the winter when there’s not much to be done in the garden. Any plant and tiny bit of soil is better than none. I’ve found a few – okay, a multitude – that I like. You may not know this yet but everyone could use a few houseplants. So I’m going to help you start your own house plant obsession.
My favorite has to be the aloe, a plant that I have tried to grow unsuccessfully for years now, so when I finally succeeded in keeping one alive for more than a few months, I was ecstatic. I’m afraid to move it from its spot now, lest I jinx the whole endeavor. I like its spiky, semi-succulent leaves, and if you’re really clumsy, like I am, then having something around for minor burns and scrapes is probably a good idea. Watering is usually the issue with aloes; I water mine only when its dried out, and it’s placed out of direct sunlight.
My grandmother has always had a peace lily in her house, and she recently let me take a cutting of it. I’m surprised it’s still alive, because when she was away from her house for a few months, it didn’t get watered. At all. The poor thing looked like it had been deflated. I chose it because it survives in low light conditions, like a college dorm with only one window. Or a Turkish prison, or some combination thereof. I’ve always liked the blooms of this particular plant, and its association with death appeals to my morbidity. I’m sure it’s a favorite of Morty’s as well.
I’ve been wanting a Sansevieria for some time now. Its common name is Mother-in-Law Tongue, for its tongue like leaves that are very sharp, which I find funnier than perhaps I should. The person who named it clearly didn’t like their in-laws. I don’t have much to add about it other than be careful where you place it. I had it next to my fridge, and when I got up in the middle of the night to get some water, I ran into it and it stabbed me. It’s a little persnickety.
The Maranta, or Prayer Plant, is one that I’ve wanted for a long time, because of its unique foliage. Its round and multicolored leaves appeal to me, and it’s great for bringing some color to a room. This one does best in bright, indirect light.
The orchid is a plant that I both love and hate. It’s a diva among houseplants, requiring specific soil, humidity and watering to even think about surviving. If it’s not happy, it will let you know, mostly by dying before you can do anything about it. but its elegant and striking blooms make the hassle worth it, especially if you can get it to rebloom. (Julie says use African violet food when you water your African violets and put it in the room with the most moisture. Also, don’t over water! They live in trees in the wild.)
I could ramble on about plants for an eternity, but I think you get the picture of my recent, “houseplant craze.” I have to be around plants, whether in a garden or in a dorm, and that’s not going to change anytime soon, just as I have to read books, otherwise I go crazy (well, depending on which of my friends you talk to, crazier than normal). Now, I just have to figure out how to transport them back and forth in an already stuffed car. Looks like I’ll be holding quite a few pots in my lap! (The mother-in-law tongue will be riding in the backseat by herself.)
Jarad is the co-administrator and writer for Sacred Chickens, attends college at MTSU, loves tea and coffee, and tries to spend every spare second reading. He recently developed an interest (some might say obsession) with gardening. Jarad is an English major with a concentration in literature. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!