Published Nov. 17, 2019, in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle: “Houseplants: a top garden trend for 2020.”
By Barb Gorges
There is a publication that comes out every fall discussing trends in gardening, written primarily for those in the green industry: nurseries, landscapers, garden centers, etc. Garden Media Group listed eight hot topics for 2020 that commercial enterprises should pay attention to (http://grow.gardenmediagroup.com/2020-Garden-Trends-Report):
- Increasing city greenscapes
- Circular economy–waste becoming building materials
- Green collar jobs available, especially horticulture
- Soil microorganisms and regenerative gardening
- Attracting amphibians to backyards
- Indigo, the color and the natural dye
Houseplants is a category I can most easily relate to as I write this on a snowy, 10-degree day at the end of October.
Houseplants have been rediscovered by millennials who yearn for green acres but make do with apartment square footage.
Succulents are the most popular plant type, according to the surveys Garden Media looked at. And cactus. Echeveria is most popular. There are 150 cultivated varieties of this succulent. All are basically rosettes of thick leaves. They grow slowly, occasionally produce baby rosettes and need less watering than typical houseplants. I’ll have to try one.
Garden Media recommends the astute retailer offer Houseplant 101 classes for the members of the new indoor gardening generation to help them become “Plant Parents.”
That makes me a Plant Grandparent, I guess. I still have an azalea I bought 30 years ago that blooms a couple times a year.
While some people may buy houseplants to clean the air like an air purifier or as interior decoration like other people buy books for the color of their spines, growing and propagating plants is much more fun than that.
My mother started me out with violets when I was in junior high. It’s so easy to cut off a leaf and stick the stem in potting soil and watch for the new plant to grow.
In college it was an avocado tree grown from a pit. And jade plants reproducing from stems cut and planted. For 40 years, I’ve had spider plants that send out shoots looking for a new foothold and I give it to them, sometimes in the same pot, sometimes in a new pot, anchoring the bottom of the shoot to the soil surface with an unbent paperclip until the roots develop.
Philodendron, pothos, ivy and geraniums can all be propagated from cuttings. Sometimes I put the stems in water until I see roots form and then plant them. Sometimes I just stick the stems in the potting soil I find in the garden centers. There are also potting soil recipes online. If you are working with succulents and cactus, you want something grittier than regular types.
A broken piece of my spring cactus (remotely related to Christmas cactus) is growing quickly using the same stick-it-in-potting-soil technique. The key to the method is controlling watering, keeping the cutting midway between wilting and rotting.
Three years ago, the kids gave me a big bouquet for my birthday. As the cut flowers wilted, I pulled them out, downsizing to smaller vases until only two sprigs of greenery remained. And then I noticed they’d sprouted roots. Today they are happily potted up and identified as Buddhist pine.
This summer’s experiment was a piece of ginger root showing green nubbins. I buried it halfway in potting soil and it has sprouted a stalk over a foot tall.
The amaryllises I’ve grown from seed, from a plant from a friend, are nearly old enough to bloom this winter. One I shared with my friend Bonnie bloomed this last summer—she has better windows than me.
And that’s the thing about houseplant propagation—it gets out of hand. You share or at least trade with others, or find new homes for plants that get too big for your house.
Garden Media encourages “Pub crawls or plant swaps” and says, “Meet & Greets with plantfluencers allow people to network with their favorite Insta-celebrity or find other plant buddies.” OK, that last statement makes no sense if you aren’t on Instagram. But plant swapping often happens here in Cheyenne at Master Gardener and Prairie Garden Club meetings.
Finding homes for your plant offspring is easier than finding homes for a litter of puppies or kittens because plants only require a little light, water, soil and far less attention. Just make sure the weather is above freezing when you transport them.
It’s up to you if you end up filling your basement with grow lights and orchids, which I’ve seen happen. What a great place to hang out for the winter!