In style succulents make excellent houseplants. (Photo: Mary Lynn Bruny).


By Mary Lynn Bruny

It’s funny that certain houseplants – and houseplants in general – are now considered in style. Every creative hipster has a few in their well-designed abodes: usually one in a glass orb hanging from the ceiling, a couple of structural succulents on table tops, a fiddle-leaved fig in a corner, and some vine-y plant tacked to a wall, usually behind a bed frame. I love it all!

I’m sure many readers of a certain age will recall making their own macramé plant holders with jute twine and wooden beads that held spider plants or ferns.

But for people who have always liked plants, there is never a matter of being in or out of style. They’ve always had a bunch around their home, but the look definitely isn’t modern. Often it’s more of a “you have entered a domestic jungle” vibe.

My older brother was into the vine-y look, but he probably let it go too far. He use to live alone and was pretty much going feral. He had an ivy plant on a window ledge inside his shower and let it grow up his bathroom wall, ceiling and around the shower rod, a full on rain forest look. I share enough of his slightly kooky genes to find this fun and interesting in a science project kind of way. I’m sure the plant would have made it into the hallway had my neat-as-a-pin mother not visited and put the kibosh on it with a few snips. “Ruining the walls, for Pete’s sake,” she said with her pragmatic logic.

There are those people who just can’t let their outdoor potted geraniums die at the end of summer and instead bring them inside. These plants usually sit in a southern window, growing like giant scrawny aliens (because their owners don’t have the heart or skill to prune them). Yet still these hearty plants put out cheerful blooms. Such troopers.

Thinking of scrawny plants, I see a doctor who drags old poinsettias to his office, every year the collection grows. They too take over windows and look as though they are trying to escape by growing as tall and spindly as possible, perhaps hoping the roof is not actually there.

The geranium and poinsettia rescuers fall into the category of “those who cannot throw out a plant” people. I use to be one of these when I was young, until an older woman told me to compost them and thus know they are feeding another plant. Circle of life and all that. Now come February, my leaf-dropping bedraggled poinsettia joins the fall debris in our compost bin with a little blessing: “Thank you for your fine service, friend! Vaya con Dios!”

This brings up a side note: Yes, I talk to my plants. Most plant lovers do and are not ashamed to admit it. Studies have proven that this helps plants grow. Studies have also proven that you can find studies to prove whatever you want to have proven. But think of it: If you care enough to talk to your plants, you probably care enough to water them, put them in the right light and notice if they have problems. So it’s not that plants grow better if you talk to them. It’s that if you are a person who takes good care of plants, you may also be a person who talks to them. And yet I still believe my plants like it when I talk to them. Why let logic get in the way of a good thing?

Perhaps I should tell my spider plant about the new macramé plant holder I’m making for it. Oh, I best not. The succulents and fiddle-leaved fig may get jealous.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn is a Boulder freelance writer. Contact her at [email protected].