Houseplant Renaissance

Epipremnum ‘Silver Satin', aka Satin Pothos, Silk Pothos,
or Silver Philodendron  is a variety of a plant I grew in the '70s.
Everyone seems to be on board with houseplants. Just the term, "houseplant" is new to anyone under the age of 50, or familiar only within the confines of a statement that also includes the term "grandma." You could say it's the '70s all over again, but this incarnation of what were, in most recent memory, called "foliage plants" is different. For one thing, there are lots more varieties of Pothos (devil's ivy) and Sanseveria (snake plant) to choose from. And succulents? In the '70s, we were limited mostly to jade plants, and those cacti with the fake flowers stuck into them.

I started with houseplants. They sucked me in as gateway drugs are known to do, and when I moved to a south window-bearing apartment, the real madness began.

A sign of the times, or this iteration of the succulent trend is well-illustrated with these wine cork plant holders.
I discovered succulents, which likely came along with the turquoise and silver craze that ruled the '70s along with ground-grazing bell bottoms and bongs. My logic went like this: "They're small, so I can have more." That logic serves me well now that I seem to have come full circle.
A fresh batch of Echeverias at TPIE.

However jade plants and aloes arrived in the Midwest, I fell in love and wanted more. It was long before Google and online commerce, so researching sources for some of the more unusual succulents took a bit of imagination.

One of the first books I bought on the subject was published in 1977 by Jack Kramer. I still have it, and at the back of the book is a list of sources. Most are in California, although there were a few outside that state. One of them,  Lauray of Salisbury in Salisbury, CT, just closed its doors in 2015. Also closing its doors in 2015 was Abbey Garden, Carpenteria, CA.

I was able to find a few still doing business. Abbey Brook Cactus Nursery in Sheffield, England is still in business. Grigsby Cactus Gardens is selling its cacti and succulents online.  Logee's and Karutz Greenhouses are still going strong.

Stromanthe sanguinea ‘Tricolor’
Today, most of the houseplants that line the endcaps and overflow all manner of structures in stores from Walmart to independent garden centers are grown in Florida and California.

There is no common name for Stromanthe (stroh-MAN-thee), but it's not that hard to say. A particularly striking variety called 'Tricolor' caught my eye at the Tropical Plant International Expo in Ft. Lauderdale. What a gorgeous foliage plant! If you have a bright, east-facing window, you can grow it as a houseplant. It can be grown in dappled shade outdoors when weather is consistently above 60 degrees F. It's a Brazilian rain forest native, so it likes lots of humidity.

Today's succulents do a lot more
hanging around than they used to.

Dracaena marginata 'Ray of Sunshine'
If taller houseplants fit into your plans, give Dracaena a chance. The species D. marginata often is referred to as Madagascar dragon tree. One of the newer, more unusually colored varieties is 'Ray of Sunshine', because it has a very wide, bright gold center in each leaf. Dracaena marginata is known for its versatile nature, and makes a great houseplant if you have a bright spot inside. They'll go leggy if they don't get enough light, so it's best to give them as much as they can to keep them compact and colorful. And, as with any houseplant, don't overwater it.

1 comment:

  1. I loved that short paragraph "I started with houseplants..." So funny and so true for many of us. The variety of house plants now is down right mind boggling.