What was your 1st houseplant? What got you started? How about now

meyermike_1micha(5)September 14, 2012

Please, tell us a bit about your love for plants.

Since we all have a LOVE, sometimes obession with our houseplants, I was wondering what your very FIRST one was and what got you started on the road to many more?

Do you still have it?

Did your ability to grow them come naturally, or were you taught, self taught?

Yes, did you have success with them from the get go, or did you spends years trying to make them look as good as they do, or at least survive them? Trial and error?

My very first plant was, of all things,was a 'Lemon Meyer' tree!

Yes, I remember that day when when I was browsing the Nursery with my mom when I stumbled upon the fragrance of all those blooms! I just had to have one. She bought it for me and that plant sat by my bed in a sunny window for a whole year. Boy did it smell good in winter , until it croaked. I was devasated.

You know, rotted root syndrome, and spider mites invasion!

So In an effort to prove I was not a failure at growing it, I bought one every time I killed one, probably a dozen or so over a 5 year period, until I finally decided to try a different type.

I remember an old lady down the street who just loved to teach me the basics of good plant care and then left me to care for all hers after she passed. I thought I was pretty good at it until I kept on killing many only after a few months.

At one point, I killed 15 citrus trees before a winter was over.

Then recieved a beautiful Jade cutting from a Doctor who got it from Switzerland, and I fell in love with it. I gave it a very porous mix and ignored it most times. In fact, I fell out of love with it and could of cared less about it over time until I stumbled across the Cactus forum and realized I had a rare plant. It has grown huge since. Not only that, I have shared this plant with many all over the world.

Then, when I realize that once I could keep a few exoctic plant alive, especially GARDENIA, like I did at my home in the Carribeans, I knew I was wanting more and possibly capable of plants I really wanted, not your average Home Depot type, although a few of those look good too. Even these have a special place in my heart.

Of course, once I stumbled across this web site and teh many GREAT friends I have made and that have helped me, the rest is history.

I now have over 200 exotic, mostly fragrant and variegated, and a few regulars and the that is about it.

Many were also gifted me making these most special.

First choice is FRAGRANT plants, then VARIEGATED, then GREEN ones. Citrus and Succulents taking front row.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I don't remember my first houseplant, but I keep thinking back to the late 1950s and the pictures in a kid's school magazine called 'The Weekly Reader' that showed the step by step procedure highlighting how to 'grow' a sweet potato in a glass of water. I was curious, so I tried it. It worked and that was that, until I went to Chicago on a business trip somewhere around 1985.

For some reason, I always think that some people will find it as interesting as I do amazing that I was instantly smitten with the bug for growing. It wasn't like a little hidden spark that was gradually kindled to flames, it was an instantaneous NEED to be able to grow the little trees I was seeing as the Midwest Bonsai Show was being set up in the hotel where I was staying. I remember having the feeling "I'm supposed to do that".

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, I had no idea what I was committing to. I knew much less then about growing than you did when we first started to talk several years ago, and couldn't anticipate my dismal failure for wont of anything resembling a skillset or knowledge. It didn't take long to learn I had a lot to learn, if I was to realize any degree of satisfaction or accomplishment.

Then, as now, my focus was primarily on bonsai, but my interest in my garden and landscaping grew as I learned, and I discovered that almost everything I learned about bonsai was applicable to other plants, including houseplants. Because of time and room constraints, I don't really have much interest in actually growing 'houseplants', that is, beyond what it takes to determine that I can grow a particular plant well and to gain some knowledge of its growth habits. Actually, what is driving that aspect of my growing experience is my participation here and at a couple of other garden-related sites. If not for the enjoyment I get from helping out here, I probably would have forgone growing any of the common houseplants, limiting myself to only bonsai, and I'm sure, a few favored succulents.

I think your story and mine tend to support that while we might be born predisposed to wanting to learn about plants and to understand how to make them happy, it's not the want, need, or predisposition that determines our success or level of accomplishment. I think that is related directly to how much we know, how well we apply what we know, and in many cases, how hard we're willing to work to make sure what we know DOES get implemented and validated. A good argument could be made that either/both of us are predisposed to being able to grow plants well, yet we were both early failures who were only able to rid ourselves of the mantle of failure by the acquisition and implementation of the knowledge that allowed us to recognize and eliminate those things we were habitually doing that were limiting our plants' potential.

You put a nice twist on the first plant theme by expanding into other areas. Good thread!


    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 11:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hey guys! :) I have been into outdoor gardening for almost as long as I can remember, but I learned very quickly that growing house plants is a different animal altogether! I tried different plants sporadically over a few years with little success. I think my first one was a little Ficus tree of some kind that I got from Wal-Mart (and promptly watered to death). Then I had a very large Monstera that I rescued from a dumpster in front of an apartment complex, which I ALMOST watered to death, until I gave it to a more plant-savvy friend who fell absolutely in love with it! My first success story was a Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus Verticillatus) that was given to me by a friend, and when I got it I had NO IDEA what it was. I was determined to keep it alive, so I did countless hours of research and found this lovely forum! :) I have had this plant for about four years now and it is still going strong, along with dozens of others that I have acquired over the past couple of years...and all thanks to the advice I've gotten here! :)

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 3:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The first thing that got me into growing plants was Tomatoes! I like cherry tomatoes so much I had to grow them. Then one day I picked up a Spathiphyllum and was amazed at how fast it grew, and how much it flowered. I found myself truly interested in plants from that point, not just for tomatoes! :)

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 3:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It was grass seed growing in a hollowed out egg shell that I painted a face onto. A School project from the early grades. It was so cool! Also remembering the navy beans sprouting and growing from my brownie days. Brought my precious plant home in the dead of winter and thus learned what NOT to do with houseplants.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 4:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've had a philodendron once or twice but killed them. Isn't that sad?

But I got bitten by the plant bug a little over 10 years ago and one of the plants I bought was a hoya and it must have been a Krimson Princess bought at a grocery store. It stole my heart because it grew fast and reached out to wrap around other plants. Once I learned it was a hoya, I was hooked on hoyas ever since.

Also these forums opened up the plant world to me and helped me to have access to all kinds of beautiful houseplants. It is quite the enabler!


    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 6:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My first houseplant was a Jade I got when I was 9 years old from a grocery store. I could have had the love of plants earlier, but this Jade I remember so well. It was shortly after getting it, that my family moved to Florida, so I gave it to my grandmother, and when I moved back from Florida 3 years later, she gave me back a much bigger, healthy Jade. But disaster struck when my father left it outside in cool and rainy weather shortly after that, and my beloved Jade was no more.

I think once you are bitten with the plant bug, it is for life. I still love Jades to this day, some ..... years later. Only now, I love all succulents also, as well as tropicals, orchids, etc., etc.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 8:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My first plant was a cactus, not sure what kind. I had it for several years as an ~7 year old child, but it eventually died though I don't remember why. Now I mostly grow gesneriads of many sorts, but also keep a few succulents.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 10:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Mike!!!
My mother inspired me to love plants. We would ride in her Chevy and i would ride in the back when she would drive to the nursery to buy Azeleas trees. I would hold onto those trees and hope that i would not fall out of that staton wagon holding onto those rootballs wrapped in burlap. Scared me to death!! LOL.. She didn't slow down driving either... Those turns would scare anyone!!! But i enjoyed seeing them picked from the farm and then wrapped and carried to the car. We then decided to plant them and they grew in my childhood home for many years.

My very first huoseplant of my own was a Ponytail Palm. I loved it to much.. Everyday after school, i would come home to check on it and see if it was alright. I watered it daily and then it finally died from to much water and of course to much love... : (

My true addiction began on a trip to Hawaii. Need i say more? LOLOL.

I was just taken by the beauty of the islands and loved the palms and the Plumeria. I turned my head more on that trip than any other. While my kids were looking at The waves at the North SHore (Pipeline) i was looking at the Plumeria at the homes of the locals.

We would travel the island of Oahu and Maui and i new then that i wanted to grow these beauties. That was five years ago. I came home with a few cuttings and now i have many (yes, many : ) Plumeria) I had to learn what i was doing and how to grow such tropicals here in Virginia. It was hard at frst and very frustrating, but that didn't stop me. I knew i had to find a solution to rooting them and understanding how they grow and need to be healthy here in the Southeast. So after losing a few cuttings and replacing them with the help of many friends, i finally started to have success. What a feeling of satisfaction to know that i could take this stick, root it for 8 weeks and wait a few years to finally see the blooms that i waited patiently for. What a great reward...

My love for other trees has started with Jades and a few other little trees. Citrus, DR's and some other little tropiclas.. ;-)

Learning and understanding as well as always needing more informstion is the key that drives me to keep trying to succed at what i am trying to grow. i read my books, ask questions and learn from other great people here.

I now feel like i wanted to feel that same day when i was at a resort in hawaii. i thought to myself... I could do this to my yard. i bought Palm trees planted them myself 18 years ago and placed then where i wanted to make beds. I made sure that i used spot lights on them and i wsnted to think that when i stepped into my yard, that i could be anywhere i wanted to be. My Plumeria wrap around the deck and make my area smell like heaven.

So... That is where my love came from. I'm afriad that my DH would say that i have gone overboard. but what the hey!!! He still enjoys the trees thst i tend too. :)

I love them all and i especially love to see the tree do much better when i help them with soil and fertilizer issues. Nothing means more to me when i see new growth when i switch from a regualar mix to my own fast draining mix. Thanks Al!! Thank Mike...I learned this all from you!!!

So thank you everyone for this great thread.. i love to read about everyone else and how they fell for there favorites.. Im falling for some more as we speak.. I have a few ficus that are just adorable and i treat them like they are my kids.. LOL!!

Thanks for the great thread Mike...

Did you rec those pics that i sent to you?

Let me know nd i can send thru my ccomputer verses the iphone...still trying to get used to it... Argggg!

Take care,


    Bookmark   September 14, 2012 at 11:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi! I'm new. Getting the swing of things.

My first plant was a bonsai. It was given to me by a dear friend very thoughtfully and I promptly killed it. When I say promptly I mean about 2 weeks in. I wrote myself off as having a black thumb and never tried again, until now.

A room mate had left a clipping of something in their room when they moved out. I eventually took it to work and put it in a pot that had somebody's neglected dead plant in it. Then I started watering all of the plants at work, simply because nobody else was doing it regularly.
Things moved pretty quickly from there, I started buying plants to keep at home and then I stumbled upon Mr.Subjunctive's blog while looking for plant ID's and care info, I've been glued to his blog ever since and just gaga over propagating and terrariums for some reason.
I'm glad to have a place where I can discuss plants without getting the glazed over, blank stares.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 2:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My love for growing began at 5 years old, in my grandfather's garden. As big as a house lot, fenced off, and a great place to spend every Saturday afternoon.. always leaving with a huge bag of whatever was picked that day, as we all did.

Fast forward 15 years.. My new bride brings a spider plant home which is hung in a window, until she one day sees a Real spider the size of 'A Quarter!' in her name-sake spider. Grabbing a can of furniture polish, she 'Pledged' both spiders to the great beyond, and we didnt have any other plants for a long time..

Add another 25 years.. My adopted daughter and I took a day to spend some time together, which involved lunch and a trip to Walmart. She had gotten her own place but was lacking alot of things she needed. I grabbed a shopping cart for myself and rolled one towards her saying, "Grab everything you need and don't complain about it." (22 year old girls can fill a Pick-up truck, never mind a shopping cart!) Somewhere past the $300 mark, we passed the garden area as she was talking about her life and how I had "Been her 'Rock'. Pointing to two spider plants we were walking past,(One of which was in great shape, while the other looked to be on its last legs) I mentioned how I didn't do all that much for her, just added a little sunlight, some food, and some love, and she grew into what she was supposed to be. I put the healthy spider on top of her massive pile in the cart, and added the sickly one to my own.

Black-thumb that she is, she promptly killed it off in a matter of weeks, while my own prospered for several years. Grown tight, it gave me plenty of off-spring to give away.

Now 52, single, and living alone in a small apartment, I've caught the 'Plant Bug' again, adding all the usual suspects to the collection.. English Ivy.. Scheff.. MIL tongue.. Aloe..Philly..Pothos..Jade! (There could be more.. it's still early in the morning..)

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter had to stop by while I was out for the day, to pick up some cash for school books..(back in school at 30..) She took a look around at all the plants I've gotten since moving in here.. and saw the bags of Cactus Mix, Perlite, and Repti-Bark in a corner of the kitchen. She left me a note.."Dad! You're doing it Again? All those plants! I think you need a Meeting or something! ;-) PS.. Andrew loves the place and the small plant in the brown pot! (A jade.)

So I guess things have come full circle..

Another Grandfather has sown a seed for another Grandson..
Although I wont have him in a huge garden, handing him a bushel basket of chicken 'poop'.. I may have him rinsing Perlite in the kitchen sink when the time is right..

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 8:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi.. Very interesting stories.

I grew attached to plants between the ripe, old ages, 4-7-years-old.

My aunt, uncle and cousins owned a beautiful farm in Allegan, MI. I recall sneaking through their fields, gazing at tall corn stalks, berries, and so much more.

My parents disliked plants so I wasn't allowed to keep a house plant in our home.
When I turned 10-yrs, we bought our first real house with a big, back yard.

One Saturday, '11-yrs-old,' while grocery shopping with my father, stocked on a bin were packets of veggie seeds. I asked my dad if I could buy a few packs..he gave the okay.
I bought corn, carrots, onions, tomatoes, watermelon and pumpkins.
The corn turned out horse corn, lol. Carrots and onions grew underground, which, at the time I wasn't aware, so if they grew they're long decomposed.
Three pumpkins and two watermelons, grew...our dog ate the melons which were 'almost' ready to eat!!! I was soooo upset.
The pumpkins were large by October..the only problem was I carved the pumpkin in early Oct...way too early for Halloween.
The tomatoes were a success. My neighbor asked where I bought the plants. I had no idea what she meant. I told her I started them from seeds..She didn't believe me. I said, ask my parents. She irked me, almost as much as our dog eating my melons.

When I left home, 18-yrs-old, I was given a Sansevieria which died within the year..Too much lovin'.
A few months after my Sans demise, I found a plant book, Hyponex, while grocery shopping. I purchased the book, browsed/read every picture and word written about basic house plants. Although at the time, I didn't consider any plant basic.

Not too far from my appartment was a huge, green house. One day I went inside, my eyes growing larger by the second. Like most, I started out with a Spider Plant, which is still alive. One plant led to another..tropicals to succulents. Many died in the beginning, and even these days, but after reading and experimentation, most are doing well.

Now, I have somewhere between 350-400 plants.

Deep down inside, I've always been a nurturing type. Over the years, I have bred cats, fish and birds, loving each minute.

I adore both tropicals, sub-tropicals and succulents. Citrus, Gardenias, Crassulas and Euphorbias are my favorites. I also enjoy outdoor gardening, but indoor plants are my real love.

Thanks for your stories. Hope there are more to come. Toni

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 10:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wonderful experiences every one!

It's amazing to see how much our love for plants has grown, or died over the years!

What I hate is when we have such a passion for them and no one in our local area can appreciate them like we do. I hate that. It gets discouraging to think that only my friends here can have the same enthusiam for them like I do. I guess that is why many of use come here in the first place. Boy, the things we do for our plants!

I take care of my parents since they have no place to live. I have a back yard surrounded by beauty, and they hardly ever sit out there. My brothers and sisters hardly ever visit or show any interest at all.
Oh, my sister may love my citrus and want one for her patio, but having it for the summer is as far as it goes. They will either leave it out for the winter and kill it, or return it to me half dead!

Did I tell you that my other passion is Orchids now? Yup, does anyone here have a passion for orchids, especially the highly fragrant ones?

Toni! 300-400 plants! Sheesh, you should start your own nursery! Wow, and how you keep up with that many is great through all your sickness. You get what I mean when I say family has no interest, right?

Laura, remember how we met? At the plumeria forum talking about Puerto Rico.lol I never thought you had such a passion for plumeria back then. Anyone here who has not had one yet should give one a try!
By the way, congrats on your first grandson:-)

Chris...And you are still crazy about jades! We have to hook up soon so I can pass on a few to you!

Al,Tapla, I really appreciate your story! You have certainly shared your expertise here at no charge and helped me in so many ways!
In fact, so has Rhizo, Toni, Pug , Josh and many others whom I have know for many years here! I Thank you all for all you have done for me.
Yes, I was willing to work hard and implement all the know hows of container growing which has lead me to having more plants that thrive like never before. I thank God all the time for this forum and being a part of it all these years!
It is also nice to meet all the new faces that I have seen here. Thanks everyone thus far.

Yes my first has led me to over 200 and now to figure where to put all of them as the cold approaches. Musical plants I call it twice a year.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 7:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Yes I have a renewed appreciation for Jades, thanks to people like you, and other members of this forum...Have to admit, I'm crazy about most succulents now. I owe you an email, buddy, we will set something up.


    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 8:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi All! I have tried and failed at plants a life time ago. I did not have a clue and this was BEFORE computers- wow, that makes me feel old!! So I didn't do plants for a long time, we were moving from place to place anyway, sometimes we didn't know where we were going to end up. No life for a plant, if you ask me.

Then after about 15 yrs of this, we started settlding down some. And one day last year I was just wandering around Home Dopot and found my first Curly Spider Plant, (by no means a "kitten") and I just HAD TO HAVE HER!! So I called my DH and asked if I could kill another plant. He said "sure" lol. I actually bought 2 that day, a "Brazil" also, but she was small.

The next day it was sunny outside and so I put both outside, in the sun, then left, for the day!! That was a sad sight when I got home. I honestly thought I had killed my plants. They both burned.

But my Daughter found this site and thanks to ALL OF YOU here, they both survived and are doing good now. Took a long time for my Spider to come out if it, but she is doing real good now, even has a new shoot coming in. Hopeing for more.

You all gave me the courage to try other plants. I now have 20 plants! Just added another one today! a Zebra Haworthia! very pretty with a pup already.

Thank you all for teaching me what I need to know about this. I love this hobby!

Marjie :)

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 10:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Long before any plants were "mine," I loved to help my Mom with watering her plants, or to pick green beans or tomatoes with my great-gramma. Except for my immediate family, the rest of our family all lived on farms. The animals (besides cute little barn kitties and my pony) didn't interest me much but I was always fascinated with the plants and trees. Not all kids care about the bean sprout from 1st grade but man I was really into it. My Mom would let me "play" with annual seeds every spring. I especially remember marigolds although I have zero interest in them now. When I was 6, we moved to a house where a serious gardener had previously resided. There were various fruit trees, and flowers and shrubs everywhere. I loved it, and loved looking out my window into the branches of the big tree there.

My Mom always had propagation experiments inside and out, and she would show me which ones were "mine" and let me make more of my own. From the time I was big enough to do it, planting seeds and propagating cuttings has always been my true love when it comes to messing with plants.

The first plant I remember having in my room was when I was about 10. Don't remember where it came from but I remember the white pot that kind of looked like a giant vase, no drain hole. It sat on top of a tall dresser for a few years, then I got a new stereo and the stand for it fit right under the window. So I set the plant on top where it would get a lot more light. It started out with several kinds of plants but after a few years, only a Dieffenbachia was still alive and there was a string of Pothos that was just laying on top of the soil. When I went to water it one day, I noticed the Pothos wasn't really a plant anymore, the roots had rotted away and this floppy piece of plant was questionable as to whether or not it was still alive. I found a pot I liked and wanted to repot the Dief into it but the roots were way too big so I just cut a bunch of them off so the plant would fit in the pretty new pot. The soil was really gross, with yellowish white gooey stuff all around the top edge, so I washed all of that off, too. Happy coincidences... The Pothos went into a soda bottle of water.

Both plants are still alive, about 35 years later, although I'm not sure why or how on the Dief. It's had a lot of weird stuff done to it, split into different pots with various partners, moved in the back of a truck many times, and sometimes placed in extremely inappropriate conditions for a whole season. The Pothos got renewed by starting over with new clippings occasionally. Most plants I obtained in the following 15 years or so died from too little light/too much water. When I started putting plants outside for the summer, I realized how much better they were doing with the heat and sunlight drying the pots out much more. Then things were much better, but I still killed a lot of plants every winter, and now realize some were probably just...

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:49AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
usha_srinivasan(z5/6 SE MI)

Well here is my story.
I inherited my first 3-4 plants when I moved into my very first appt, the previous occupants had left them. I was an international student from India and I knew next to nothing about houseplants (we did have a holy basil back home but it stayed outdoors all year around and my mom took care of it)

Well graduate students dont have much time or energy for plant care, but my plants managed to survive, mostly I think because my appt had next-to-no-heating and I did not have the time or energy to overwater them. I did not know any of their names or their light requirements, never fertilized and watered when I remembered to. Strangely enough, despite all this, I was very fond of them.

Fast forward 5 years later I met my DH by which time my plant collection was 15-20 strong (mostly discards from other graduate students who were smart enough to finish school before me). My DH proved his devotion to me by renting a UHaul just to move all my babies across state (something he still likes to complain about :)

More years go by and when I had my baby and I was suddenly done with taking care of my plants and gave them ALL away to a friend who then moved with them out of state.I have since lost touch with her but I sometimes think nostalgically of MY houseplants living happily in her front porch.

I recently rediscovered my love of plants and have been obsessively gathering and nurturing them with help from gardenweb members....and taking much better care then I did the first time around !


    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 2:36PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Cool topic, Mike! :-D

I grew up around plants, and gardening, but it wasn't until I saw a Jade plant growing
with a massive smooth grey trunk that I decided to begin a collection of my own. That Jade
trunk reminded me of an elephant's leg and I thought it would be awesome to grow a monster
like that in a container. So I took three small cuttings, and the rest is history.

I have been encouraged and supported by many good friends at GardenWeb, and friends locally,
to keep expanding my houseplant collection.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 8:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I remember being very young and being sure that this one maple in our yard which had a interestingly shaped scar on the side was another person, and I decided to befriend it and tell it my secrets. My parents and one grandparent had various house plants at different times, and I remember enjoying my dad's Amaryllis bloomstalk growing almost fast enough for me to be able to appreciate it, and I remember standing in front of my grandmother's sensitive plant and really wanting to touch it again, but knowing that I shouldn't. I remember moving after college and driving out to Colorado from Ohio in my '63 Comet with 32 plants and not a lot else-- African violets from my mom's neighbor, spider plant from my sister, My dad's Hoya carnosa, pothos, and a philo that I don't have any more. I don't have many plants growing on original roots that are very old, but lots of clones that I have moved around and propagated various times. Maybe the oldest that I still have are the spider plant and the Hoya. I can't remember if the pothos is the same one or not. The oldest original root is a variegated Hoya carnosa, which was one of my first plants I bought for myself. Not quite as old as my oldest son, as I remember it being in this one one house we owned in the south window, which would make it at least 23 years old. I have a 20 in. clump of some kind of Mamillaria that I know was given to me in an 8 in pot on my son's first birthday, so it is older. Lots of Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi and Kalanchoe tomentosa clones from the NAU Biology dept plant sale during the same time period. If I couldn't clone things, most of what I have had would be dead and gone for sure. The things that seemed to do the best for me were the things that I could forget to water, so I kind of drifted towards the cacti and the succulents. Recently I have acquired some begonias and a shorter peace lily, which I enjoy, and all along I have had African violets. I am a sucker for things that bloom.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 9:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi all,

My first plant was an African violet. My grandmother was at fault. It was 1979 and I was about 23 years old and in college. I decided I would like to have a house plant and went over to her place to get some pothos cuttings. She grew wonderful looking pothos like nobody I've ever seen since. Anyway she was really thrilled that I was interested in having of houseplant and cut me several good lengths of pothos stems. When we were done with that she took me over to the window and showed me an African violet. She told me that I could take one of those leaves, put it in a glass of water, and that it would grow new plants from the base of the stem. I thought to myself, "no way", but I took a couple of those leaves home, stuck them in a glass of water as she instructed and indeed after couple months little plantlets started to grow from the bottom of the stems. I then planted them in African violet soil and had two plants. I soon took more leaves and started even more African violets. I thought it was such a coup how I was able to produce these "free" plants. Although by the time I bought the pots and soil those plants were not free. lol

I then started propagating other plants. I even grew a lemon tree from a lemon seed I had harvested when making lemonade one time. My surprise was that the thing had thorns. Even though I liked my plants I can say that I was really in love with them. That would come later. I graduated from college and married a girl who was in ROTC and went into the army six months later. She was immediately sent to different schools and we traveled around the country to three different places in less than a year. Keeping plants going under those conditions was not very good and I lost a lot of plants, but not my African violets.

I wound up in Washington, DC and worked for what was pretty much a white collar "sweat shop". It wasn't uncommon for me to work 60 to 70 hours a week. I needed somewhat of a diversion occasionally though and I found that diversion to be houseplants. I was very lucky to share a corner office with a couple of other people. The sunlight was incredible, and the windows were tinted so that the sun was not too harsh. I bought several starter plants and had them around my desk. To make a long story short I had a spider plant that was just magnificent and I had a Swedish Ivy that was to die for. The Swedish Ivy hung from a 9 foot ceiling and was basically a pillar all the way to the floor. I could not get my arms around the circumference of the plant. Anyway that's when my love of plants really blossomed. I continued to purchase and propagate African violets and had several to give away.

My wife, who would eventually become my ex wife, and I moved to Denver. I then became acquainted with other gesneriad cousins of African violets. I went to African violet and gesneriad shows annually and met several people who grew these plants. I love all of my plants but my first love is African violets and their gesneriad cousins.


    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A fun thread Mike - I like reading everyone's stories!

I was sucked in at an early age by the Venus Flytrap, but my Mom had (has) many house plants, as did my Great-Grandma - Mom still has a few from GG! My Grandma (Mom's Mom) generally sticks with AVs and Easter/Thanksgiving/Christmas Cactus.

I remember going to a small conservatory at a park in our city, and sometimes roaming nurseries with my Mom - she always made sure to point out the sensitive plants, whose leaves folded when touched. Before that even, around 3 or 4, I remember being fascinated by staring into tulips, and by St. John's Wort flowers.

As for the Venus Flytraps(there were several), they were entered in science fairs and usually ended up cooked in a west window, since that was our predominant exposure. One year I received a Pitcher Plant for my birthday, but I think it was too dry inside with our forced-air heating, and it croaked too.

The next plant I remember owning, about middle school, was a solid light green Tradescantia. I ended up killing that one too after a few years... Some plants I'm successful with, and they've been around for decades. Others, such as ivy, AVs, ferns, orchids, don't survive my periods of neglect, or cold, wood-heated winters.

However, thanks to the great advice and information on this forum, the plants I have are happier than they've ever been!


    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 9:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What wonderful stories! And what a nice forum this is with so many people sharing interests and information. I grew up on a farm in Western PA, where my mom had some houseplants, but I was much more interested in horses. The first time I got any plants of my own, I was in my 20's in NYC, and my husband found a spider plant on the street in the trash, and brought it home; then my dad brought me a hoya that had grown for years around the kitchen window of the farmhouse; and I decided to sprout an avocado pit. Well, the heat was turned on while I was gone one day, and the hoya sitting on the radiator got fried; the spider thrived even though the AC blew on it all the time; and the avocado grew into an enormous plant that I had to constantly cut back to keep it from taking over the bedroom, which is where I grew all my plants as it had the only sun windows.

Well, I continued to get a plant here and a plant there, some hanging, some on the floor, some on shelves, all in front of those two windows in the bedroom. A few years later my marriage ended, and I decided I wanted my own thing to do rather than continue in the film business. I had such fun with my little garden that I decided that's what I would do - Indoor gardening. Went to the New York Botanical Garden Horticultural School, got a job with an interior landscaping company; and although I did worry that I might kill all the plants I had to care for, that didn't happen, and I continued happily learning and experimenting for the next 30 years.

I didn't have room to have many plants of my own in my house until I moved to Florida in 1988, where I was amazed by all the indoor landscaping plants growing outdoors. Between bringing home sad specimens from my accounts, and a friend closing her garden store and inviting me to carry home as much as I could fit into my car, yardsales, and occasional trips to neighborhood plant stores, I have 50 or 60 potted plants that rotate from my sunroom, to porch, to backyard.

Not nearly the numbers that so many of you have, and I don't have any special specie collections, but I love succulents, ficus, ferns, palms, and plants that cats won't eat.

Love to all, Marlie

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 9:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Great thread! Must be hardwired or past life experience or destiny or something.......
I was in first grade or thereabouts when I found a broken cutting of a "wandering jew" at a store. I wanted to root it and eventually it grew big enough to fill a hanging basket in my room. My grandmother gave me cuttings of one or two other variegated types. I also rooted an African violet leaf and was fascinated by that. I then remember growing sunflowers and pumpkins and tomatoes from seed with the help of my parents. I was addicted at a very early age. Always had some houseplants and always check th plant department of any store I am in. Have been doing this my whole life.........to the point I studied plant science in college and grad school. I worked at a great commercial wholesale and retail nursery near my parents home during college summers and a couple years afterwards back then. I later managed a research greenhouse and growth room. My current job does not involve a greenhoue but I do get to occasionally botanize and did one or two restoration jobs. My house really is not set up very well for houseplants (limited bright windows) though I love my house otherwise. I manage to grow a fair amount anyway by summering them in the backyard and keeping many in my office window over winter. Enjoy gardenweb and have been a member hear for some time.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 8:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I started growing houseplants shortly after we married and bought our first farm. The house was an old triple brick that had nice wide window sills and the old windows that ere 4' high. I thought I could fit in a few houseplants. I don't remember exactly what my first houseplant was but I ended up with 300 after 8 years. Some of them were Hoya carnosa, Swedish Ivy (from my mom), aloe vera, Mexican hat plant and pothos. Unfortunately after 8 years, hubby was transferred and we sold most of our thing, including most of my houseplants. The only plant I took with me was my hoya, the new house was just a small one with no window sills and it was boxed in between 2 larger houses so not much natural light. My hoya died, root rot I think, and the new plants I bought didn't do well so I decided to start gardening outdoors and got hooked on that for 25 years. Now we're back at a new farm and I want to start growing houseplants again. Boy, I didn't realize how expensive houseplants were getting until I started looking for some. I did buy a variegated hoya, a Natal plum and a Scheffelera. I decided to trade for some and now have a variegated Jade, a similar green one I forgot the name of and a Hoya carnosa. I'm working on a trade for flame violets now. I love Peace Lilies but have killed a few, don't know what I do wrong, but will probably get another one and try to keep it alive.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 9:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mike...thought you knew the number of plants I have??? lol

Purple..I thought Hyponex was the only plant book around at the time.
I read, reread that book until the pages tore apart, but a few years ago, I found a second copy on Ebay for 1.00.

One reason I like Hyponex book...on the bottom of each page are plant pronunciations. Comes in handy.

Love the stories. It's interesting how some people had families who loved plants, and others who didn't.

Wonder how many people were given and still have plants from past generations? Toni

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 11:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
HelloPandaNF(Zone Five)

This sounds like fun, so...

My first plant was a lucky bamboo, which I grew in water. I was so proud that it outgrew my mother's two plants (it was a little competition, since I was 7.) it eventually rotted in the water.

However, it was an orchid about four years ago that got me started�well, actually a spider in the orchid. Since I love bugs, that pretty much gave me a reason to take care of the plant, to give the spider a home. Funny thing is, I practically drowned that orchid in a pool of water, but the thing that killed it was when my family took a vacation...it DRIED OUT. Thinking back on that, I am really surprised how tough it was...

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 9:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wrote a long post the other day about my first houseplant, and then did something stupid and lost it. So this is a short replacement: after we married my husband brought home an aluminium plant (pilea) when we did one of our first shops. We were at work every day, we sat that poor plant on the mantelpiece over a fireplace which was cold all day and then had a roaring fire in it every night ; we watered it diligently each evening; on Friday at the end of the week we came home to a plant pot with a naked plant in it which seemed to have developed scoliosis, the pot standing in a pile of variegated leaves.
After that we gardened outside, except for a busy lizzie cutting in a bottle of water donated by a friendly neighbour which we transplanted and managed to keep for a good while. Now I have about 25 beloved houseplants, and a little garden of sinks and tubs outside my back door where I grow miniature plants and violas; violas and houseplants are my all out favourite growing things. The houseplant forum here is just wonderful, as you all know. I wish the viola forum were as popular, but it's hardly visited at all.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 11:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tifflj(6 Pitts, PA)

Wow, I have no idea anymore. Over the years I am sure I have had a few plants here and there. None of them making it obviously.

My husband bought me an orchid a few years back because he saw how I got a thrill out of caring for a plant and keeping it alive. He sent ti to my office and I had it for a long time. Then my office was doing an open house and the owners wife bought orchids for all the desks that had a ledge, mine included. Long after the open house I was the only one who was able to keep the orchids alove. THe owners wife had a sweet spot for me because of this. Then I was let go and I was so upset I forgot to take my two orchids. I kick myself all the time because of this...especially for the one my husband bought me. :(

My husbands Aunt Julie, the one who passed away recently and how I now have all my houseplants...gave potted trees to everyone one year for Christmas. For all her brothers and sister and neices and nephews. I was excited to say the least. I forget what it was. It was from Lowes and it had a serious worm infestation it was soooo gross. I tried dish soap and alot of them died. I didnt know enough about plants at the time or I was too lazy, I dont know, but the issue didnt totally go away and I pitched the tree. I also kick myself because Julie isnt here anymore and I wish I had the plant she personally gave me. I wish I would have taken it back to Lowes and got a different one with out the infestation. Stupid me.

From there I have Elly. The lone umbrella tree I got from Walmart 2 years ago. I am about to post a thread about her soon here.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:13PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Droopy Pachira aquatica in 3:1:1
Hi, Last year I planted our 7 year old pachira aquatica...
Christmas cactus help needed please!!
I inherited this plant from my uncle, he had it forever....
Stef Cunningham
Plant identification & care
The plant in photo was grown by my friend from cuttings...
Alii Ficus
Ok, today I picked up an Alii Ficus. Thing is, I spotted...
Planting Zones
I need to know the Zone for Toronto, Ontario, Canada....
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™