The year 2020 seemed to blow the lid off plant addiction and hoarding. More people than ever before have developed an obsession for houseplants, which makes sense since we have all pretty much been going stir crazy since the beginning of COVID-19 and lockdown. It makes sense that we all turned to these beautiful, air-purifying, living things to enhance our home spaces and give us something to focus on besides our troubles.
There is a fascinating psychology behind collecting plants which differs from accumulation of inanimate collectible items. Houseplants can have an incredibly calming, stress-reducing effect on us, and they also nicely soften the look and feel of home environments while also cleaning the air. In addition, the rewards of watching a plant thriving under one’s care are considerable. I know that every time one of my plants pushes out new growth, I get almost giddy with excitement.
To be honest, I don’t even remember precisely how last year’s plant obsession really started. I remember seeing and ordering two Epipremnum cebu blues on May 27th, and two Zamioculcas zamiifolia ravens on Etsy on May 31st, two weeks after my father’s passing. After that, it’s kind of a green blur. My indoor plant count is now at 140. That’s enough for me, because I have run out of reasonable space.
I think my dad’s death, the lockdown and hysteria surrounding COVID, my two roommates suddenly bailing on me, the loss of work, the fact that my weekly in-person visits with my mom were halted for six months, all pushed me into a very specific nesting mode. I wanted to spruce up my place, and make it cozy and cool. I added an outdoor fountain which immediately attracted mosquitoes during the warmer months (lesson learned, but I still have the fountain). I added comfy pillows to all the seating in my living room and den, imparting a Bohemian vibe which I really enjoy.
After lockdown began, I had no desire to hoard things like clothing or little knick-knacks, though I know other people who began accumulating such items. Instead, I wanted all the plants which caught my eye, living things I could nurture and watch grow, which also helped to melt away my stress. Though I am not one of those people who talks to their plants or names them (a select few have names…more on this in another post), I am aware of every single plant in my home. I know if a leaf is turning yellow, if a specimen needs to be rotated to get more even sun exposure.
So how many plants would be considered overkill? Though I think the answer is quite subjective, there is an interesting Australian article which analyzes the optimal number of plants one should have in a room:
Plants not only clean the air, they have a relaxing and calming effect on humans, so why have a limit on the number of plants to pack into a space? My personal take on this is that I think it’s a mistake to allow one’s plant collection to overtake essential areas in a home, such as a kitchen counter, coffee table, floor space in a shower, stairs, and doorways, with the last two creating hazards since they would impede a speedy exit if a natural disaster were to occur. It’s also a bad idea to put plants in spots where they clearly wouldn’t survive, such as a very dark room with no grow lights added.
I have my plants placed so strategically in my home that no one ever guesses that I have 140 indoor plants. Although I fully address the light and humidity needs of all my plants, I also make sure they harmonize with the space they are in and look like they belong where they are. I will never be one to buy a massive shelving unit or glass cabinet in which to shove my plants, because I think it looks supremely unattractive, and also ironically doesn’t showcase the plants optimally. Whenever I see a plant person with a large shelving unit which is littered with plants, I know that the plant person is the only one who can fully appreciate all the specimens on the shelves, because they all tend to get lost in one big jumble.
I’ve heard some criticism from a couple of close friends about my plant collection, but I know that they don’t have the same mindset that someone who is into plants would have, so I’m not bothered by the snide remarks. Ultimately, what matters is how a plant person feels about their plant collection.