The Great Houseplant Census of 2010

Upon reflection, I can say that my love affair with gardening began over 35 years ago when I started growing plants in the west facing window of my Brown College dorm room at Rice University. It was a perfect spot for hanging baskets: wandering jew, airplane plant and purple velvet plant. I added small pots of succulents along the window ledge. By the time I graduated and moved into an apartment that I shared with my best friend Redhair, I'd acquired a 7 foot tall ficus tree to go along with the other plants I brought with me from the dorm. My passion for plants was infectious and Redhair began adding to our collection. I'm not sure we ever had a definitive count of how many shared our living space but Redhair's nieces-to-be were visiting with their uncle one day and attempted to come up with a number: they concluded that there were over a hundred plants in that small two bedroom apartment. I do know that most of them came from two places, a store on Rice Boulevard in the Village and a store on Westheimer. I've been sitting here cogitating furiously in an effort to remember the names of those establishments but they're lost to time. Oddly enough, I can remember the name of one proprietor (and his propensity for rum and soda): I did a search on his name and it seems that he still owns an interior plant business. I'll be darned!

And that brings us to today, which was chosen by Mr. McGregor's Daughter as an auspicious day for The Great Houseplant Census of 2010. (EUREKA! I think one of the shops was named The Great Plant Company. Or maybe not. Dang, I hate that I can't remember that.) Inspired by a remark from her husband VIS (Very Indulgent Spouse), MMD went forth to count her indoor plants and then asked fellow bloggers to join her in reporting on the number of houseplants currently growing (more or less) in their homes. So the Head Gardener and I each made the rounds of the kitchen, dining room, living room and entryway. Amazingly, we each came up with the same number: 39.

So what and where are they? You'd find a 4 foot tall variegated ficus tree near an east facing window in the living room and a 7 foot tall Dracaena marginata in the corner of the dining room near another east facing window. Amaryllis 'Lemon Star' is on the fireplace hearth so I can see it's pale greenish-yellow blooms. On the table near the south facing patio door, there's an Agave Agave (parryi, maybe?) that was relocated inside to keep it safe from winter's icy fingers.

On the Executive Producer's childhood toy chest, there are 4 Kalanchoes in assorted colors and 2 pots of Paperwhites I forced. Amaryllis 'Emerald' is on the windowsill behind the toy chest, while on the nearby side table reside 2 Amaryllis, including last year's La Paz and Melusine, she of the single leaf that is freakishly long:

A small chest in the entryway holds a variegated pothos, a purple-leafed Plectranthus, and a Ponytail palm. The dining room table is currently home to 3 Amaryllis and the container of Microgreens (and I know Carol of May Dreams Gardens will understand when I say I keep stopping to look at them and run my hand across their tops). Two small ceramic pots of an aqua hue hold assorted succulents; an old pottery creamer is planted with more succulents.

The kitchen windowsill is home to 3 tiny pots of succulents and an African Violet with 2 miniscule buds (the latter a trial plant from a vendor at the garden writers' conference). Two Sansieveria sit on top of the refrigerator, where I don't see them that much (I'm tired of them but can't consign them to compost when they're so healthy). There's only one plant on the open shelves in the kitchen right now, the tricolor Dracaena marginata seen in the picture at top. The baker's rack near the kitchen patio door is home to my current favorite houseplant, a Miniature Bolivian Wandering Jew, purchased at Another Place in Time back in December, along with a ponytail palm and several different succulents.

While I was writing this, the HG did another count and informed me that if we include the 3 small pots of cuttings that haven't taken yet, 42 would be the more accurate count. That number should diminish in another month or so as we move plants outside for spring.


I see a lot of gardeners actually have a winter count that would be different from the summer count. Interesting! I also have good memories of rich smelling plant stores of the 70s...a haven on cold rainy days.
Thanks for participating. I'm sorry, but unrooted cuttings don't count. Ah, what they heck, count them!
Kathy said…
My dorm room was not a good place for plants. I left them all at home in the care of my sister. Most, if not all, were dead by the time I graduated. I had a gloxinia and a rex leaf begonia along with some more typical ones.
Did you have more at Rice? I'm in the winter over league with 25 now, and only 4 during frost free times. H.
Carol Michel said…
You have a quite a history with indoor plants. My winter and summer counts are relatively the same. I don't like to take the plants outside in the summertime... they get all buggy and I have to pot them up before bringing them back in before the 1st frost of fall.
My winter count is certainly different from my summer count! And, then there is the garage..sigh!
Oh my, I think I started with the exact same kind of plants. The plant bug got so bad that I started a vegetable garden on my tiny apartment patio in the mid 70s (not recommended as there was not enough sunlight!). I'm relatively indoor plant free today. I'd say 42 plants is quite a few. But probably not for you. :-)
Cindy, MCOK said…
Leslie, I can see both of the plant stores clearly, I just can't remember their names.

MMD, thanks for hosting (and letting me count the cuttings).

Kathy, I hope your sister's not still that hard on plants!

Helen, I only had 4 or 5 hanging baskets in my dorm room and maybe 10 small pots, as I remember it.

Carol,it's odd that you have more problems with bugs inside than I do. I'd expect it to be the other way around.

MT, most winters I don't have that much of an increase in houseplants. Most winters haven't been like this one, though.

Jean, I never tried to grow veggies when I lived in an apartment. I wonder why that didn't occur to us.
Annie in Austin said…
You must have been a real gardener right from the very beginning, Cindy - over 100 plants in a small apartment?

The number of your current population is similar to mine, but not the size - 7-foot tall dracaena!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose
Leighlee said…

30 years ago, I was given a clipping of a Miniature bolverian wandering jew plant. I loved it.
We had to move and I could not take my plants with me.

From that time until about 6 years ago, I kept looking for another such plant without success, until I went shopping for a periwinkle plant. I brought it home and to my surprize, there was one sprig of a the wandering jew plant growing in the pot with the periwinkle plant.

I was delighted. I took that one sprig and transplanted it, and now 6 years later, I have had the most beautiful hanging plants ever.