On more than one occasion, friends have asked me if my plants have been christened with names. For the most part, I have not gone to the trouble to name all of my plants, mainly because I personally feel that it is unnecessary and silly for me to do so. I’m not knocking anyone who chooses to name all their plants, but the desire is, for the most part, absent in me.
So how do I discern between the close to 150 indoor plants which surround me at home? I tend to use certain descriptors when I scribble my plant watering notes each week (yes, I keep track of which plants get watered in a given week), and those descriptors are pretty straight forward. Usually, I will use the species name as a label, and if I have numerous specimens, I will write down the location of the plant. For example, I have two Hoya shepherdii, both of which are suspended over the two sinks in my master bath, so I refer to the one as “L shepherdii” and the other as “R shepherdii”. I realize these labels aren’t exciting, but they are effective in helping me to keep track of my plants when I am watering them.
However, there are three plants with bona fide names which I bestowed upon them, one of which was named the day I received it, one which was christened with a name about a month after it joined the plant brood, and one which earned its name after it exhibited an astonishing rate of growth. While two of the names are quite fitting for the characteristics the two plant babies possess, one name is reflective of the species of the plant, and quite honestly reveals how lazy I was about using a lengthy German name when I could truncate it and use a fun name.
Sid: Sid is a Ferocactus emoryi, “Emory’s barrel cactus”
My dear friend Blanche was at my house when I received Sid in the mail as a freebie which arrived along with a much-coveted monkey cactus I had ordered. As soon as I saw this spiky cactus, a name just popped into my head, and I exclaimed to Blanche, “For some reason, I really feel like this little guy needs a name!”, to which Blanche responded with, “I do too, and I’m thinking of a name too! If you say the same name I’m thinking of, I’ll freak!” The name which had popped into my head was Sid Vicious, so I revealed this to Blanche, who immediately squealed and said, “That’s the EXACT name I thought of too!” Later that day, I ordered a Sex Pistols mug to house the Emory’s barrel cactus.
Fred: Monstera adansonii ‘Friedrichsthalii’
This Monstera adansonii Friedrichsthalii very quickly became “Fred” after I needed to find a way to distinguish it from my other Monstera adansonii.
Rapunzel: Senecio radicans “String of Bananas”
This Senecio radicans was quite short when I bought it in June of last year, and it struggled for about two months before I changed its hang spot to an area right near a bathroom window, and essentially let it dry out completely between waterings. From that point, this plant just took off, and got so incredibly lacy and long that I decided it deserved the name Rapunzel. The longest tendril on this plant was measured on April 23rd at 46 inches from the edge of the pot to the end, which is three inches longer than it was a month prior. This radicans has aptly earned its descriptive and accurate name.
For comparison, the plant pictured above is another Senecio radicans which I purchased in January of this year. Both the radicans which I purchased in January and Rapunzel were at the level which you see marked in yellow when I brought them into my home. I look forward to seeing Rapunzel’s sister grow as long as Rapunzel.
Since plant people are increasingly more committed to their plants, often considering them to be pets or family members, it’s no surprise that more people are naming their houseplants. I like Nicoletta Richardson’s idea of naming plants after travel destinations from her bucket list, but for me, and if I had the energy to put into naming ALL of my plants, I could definitely see myself becoming a copycat and doing the very same thing. But I’d rather stick with the assigned scientific nomenclature because it appeals strongly to my scientific nerdiness, as well as to my propensity for properly classifying and labeling things.
For those of you who have plants in your home, have you noticed that your plants don’t look as healthy after you return home from a trip? I have consistently noticed in the past year that whenever I go on a trip, at least one of my plants is drooping, exhibiting brown leaf edges, or some other sign of less than optimal health. I didn’t mind it quite as much last winter, when I only had six plants inside my residence, but by my second out of town trip in September, I had over 30 plants, and wasn’t very pleased by the fact that I came home to see half a dozen droopy, sad plants. Four of my plants swung back to perfect health within three days, while two of them ended up in the houseplant graveyard. Thing is, I was only gone for four days, and I returned the day before my regular weekly plant watering day.
Then in November, I made another four-day trip, and by that time I had over 50 plants. I scheduled my trip so that I would once again return home the day before my weekly plant watering/assessment day, yet I once again returned to a number of plants which were not looking very happy. I’m thankful that they bounced back to health, but I still can’t figure out why this keeps happening.
I only devote one hour, one day per week, to assess the watering needs of my plants, water the ones which need a drink, spray orchid plant food on all my Hoyas (Hoyas love it), and rotate the pots by 90 degrees clockwise. I don’t fuss over my plants daily like some people do, not because I don’t care about my plants, but because my plate is always so full that I avoid plants which are fussy and require that type of attention.
Now that my indoor plant collection exceeds 100, I truly wonder what would happen if I were to take a short trip out of town. And though plants don’t have feelings per se, why is it that my plants are so much healthier and perkier when I spend more time at home? As weird as this may sound, I’m almost convinced that plants pick up on our energies, and since I admire my now sizeable plant collection and appreciate every single specimen, I believe my plants sense that. I know that in general, I have a very green thumb, and had discovered that talent about a quarter century ago, but my recent foray back into houseplant cultivation somehow seems different. I feel much more connected to the plants in my home, and though I don’t talk to them, simply looking at them makes me happy. I think they know how I feel.
I read this comment on a blog post about plants on The Smiling Gardener which I found quite interesting:
Feel free to check out the links below, both of which explore the idea of whether plants have feelings. At the very least, there is scientific evidence that plants send chemical signals to each other through the air or soil. Could my plants be chatting it up about how groovy my home is, how the humidity and the grow lights and natural light are (hopefully) just right?
I love this recommendation which Tess Panzer makes on her article, “3 Easy DIY Ways to Rescue Your Dying Houseplants” on Yahoo! Makers! She suggests giving houseplants a dose of dry oats every month to provide nutrients. Fantastic!
You know how a big bowl of oatmeal in the morning makes you feel like you could tackle anything? It makes you stand up taller, think harder, and focus more clearly. Well, your plant feels the same. Adding oatmeal to your plant’s soil gives it a burst of nutrients, including iron and phosphorous, that will help plants flourish.
2-3 tablespoons Oatmeal