Jessica Walliser
January 13, 2011

African violets
Courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock
For some reason, I don’t enjoy houseplants, like these African violets, as much as I enjoy other garden beauties.

I have never been a houseplant person. Although I love to garden and I love plants, I’ve never managed to fall in love with a houseplant the same way I fall in love with a perennial or a sunflower or a beet. Not sure why, but I’ve always kind of wondered.

My Nana, who is probably the biggest reason I love the natural world, was a huge houseplant fanatic. As a kid I loved going into her house and seeing the ferns, finger cactus, Christmas cactus, snake plant, African violets and other plants she always had lined up in her front window, gracing the little round tables in her bedrooms and hanging from macramé plant holders in the bathroom. It always smelled so “green” in her house, and I loved it. Nana cared for those plants greatly, hauling them to the back porch every spring and carefully misting the ferns several times a week.

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Although my Nana is no longer with us, my mother and sister both have several of her plants in their houses. For some reason I can’t bring myself to have any of them. My mom has offered me divisions and cuttings from them several times, but I always say “No thanks.” My sister has my Nana’s enormous Christmas cactus in her bathroom, and it’s just beautiful when it blooms. 

I could easily take a cutting from it to start my own, but I don’t. Am I afraid to kill them? Not really.  I sometimes think I don’t like houseplants because I like to have a break from gardening in the winter, but that can’t be the real reason can it?  What’s the big deal about watering something once a week and fertilizing it whenever I remember to? There is no big deal, of course. I just don’t do it. 

So whenever I visit a friend’s house and see their living room full of green, their windowsill lined with primroses or cacti, or a plant stand in the corner with an umbrella plant in it, I think of my Nana and wonder how I could not fall in love with houseplants. Maybe someday.

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