I have spent the last few years finding out everything I can about growing plants outside, but when it comes to houseplants I still have a blind spot. For some reason, my brain fails to compute that houseplants, like all plants, need watering and feeding. The real miracle in our house is just how long some of our poor houseplants have managed to survive on nothing but thin air.
But it has not entirely passed me by just how fashionable houseplants have become. One can barely move these days for hanging macrame plant holders and giant Swiss cheese plants (Monstera deliciosa) which take me RIGHT back to my early childhood in the late 1970s. Mr Carrot even bought me a pretty book called Botanical Style by Selina Lake about decorating with plants and florals, which I think is his idea of a gardening book (to be fair it does have some very useful lists of houseplants). Finally, I concede, it is time to give in and join the houseplant party.
Now I don’t want to spend a fortune on houseplants – and I have a feeling that is possible as there are some very clever retailers around styling Maidenhair ferns (Adiantum radianum) and Chinese money plants (Pilea peperomioides) in old tin cans and selling them at a tidy mark up. So my first stop is our local Homebase, which is selling three houseplants in a bag for £6.99. Bargain. I snap them up, despite the fact they have no labels to tell me what they are, and display them in some white pots my mum gave me for Christmas a few years ago, making sure to feed them first now that I have turned over a new leaf!
I have been meaning to catch up with the On The Ledge podcast by former Guardian gardening editor Jane Perrone for a while and what better time than now when the nights are drawing in and when looking out into my garden in the November drizzle makes me shiver with cold rather than delight.
Alys Fowler is one of my absolute gardening heroes. It is thanks to her that my vision of my perfect garden is one filled with both flowers and edibles, grown alongside one another. So imagine my joy when I discover that in one of her latest podcasts Jane visits Alys in her home to discuss her new book about houseplants, Plant Love. I am reassured by Alys’s avowal that although houseplants are huge with millennials, her book is very much aimed at everyone. This definitely is one for my Christmas list: take note Mr Carrot.
That said, this 1970s baby can’t resist scrolling through Instagram which is chocca with sumptuous houseplant images; I feel a new Insta-obsession coming on. And while I am usually a country town bumpkin, it just so happens that this weekend I will be staying a short stroll away from Columbia Road Flower Market, where I am told I will find on trend houseplants galore (I lived just down the road from here in my 20s but could never make it out of bed on time to visit).
On my wish list are: yes, a Monstera (maybe a variegated one after listening to Jane and Alys’s conversation); hearts on a string (Ceropegia woodii) – we had a couple of these on our bookshelf which survived for months without watering, until I finally did the decent thing and put them out of their misery, this time will be different, I promise; and I’m thinking maybe some spiderplants (Aspidistra), which evoke my childhood like no other. Now I just need to get me a macrame plant holder.