Winter has really kicked in now + the drop in temperatures, alongside endless grey skies + frankly pathetic light levels, got me thinking back to sunnier times. As we approach the end of the year, I thought it was a good time to share my reflections on the houseplants I’ve particularly enjoyed growing in 2020. A bit of a ‘plant progress report‘ if you will. Also, it gave me a good excuse to look back through my photos for a reminder of what my beloved plants looked like in actual sunshine, something that has been severely lacking of late! In this post, we will have a look at how some of my plants have grown this year because obsessively photographing my plants is a very good way to trace how they have flourished (…or not!)
This year was one of big change as I relocated a few hundred miles + embarked on an exciting project that I will be able to share more of in 2021. This also meant that my plants + belongings had to move up North + settle into a new (albeit temporary) environment. My houseplant collection had grown with me in my old apartment over the last 5 years, so moving really tested my relationship with my plant gang. After so long, they can sometimes become ‘part of the furniture’ so having all my plants in a new space got me to seriously notice which ones were adaptable + just how big some of them had become when I was trying to position them in this tiny cottage!
Moving made me understand my plants more because I’ve experienced different lighting conditions, different window orientation + lower temperatures overall. This year I definitely feel like I unlocked some secrets of success for some of my houseplants + what really helped them to thrive. This post could also help offer a little bit of inspiration if you are thinking about what plants you might like to add to your collection, or positioning ideas if you have some of these already.
Ok lets get started…
01. Ceropegia woodii / String of hearts
First up, I need to share my excitement about how much I enjoyed growing my string of hearts plants this year! These were one of my plants that I’d previously managed to grow quite successfully, but it wasn’t until this year that I really saw them thrive + flourish. I have 3 plants + placed them all around 1 metre from my south-east facing windows behind a net (I’m in the Northern hemisphere FYI) + as soon as it was warm enough, their growth really exploded. As you’ll see in the photos below, this year I’ve got better at chopping + propagating my SOH + have added the rooted cuttings back into the top of the pots to help keep them looking full. My oldest Ceropegia woodii has been in bloom for around 2 months which has been a lovely surprise + it’s getting to the point where it needs a good de-tangle + trim again… wish me luck!
These photos are in chronological order, which tells a bit of a story behind my ceropegia woodii this Spring/Summer/Autumn + it’s a great way of seeing how my plants have been growing. Photos 2 + 5 really show how my mature plant has thickened up since looping it around a hook:
Photo 9, above right shows my two smaller plants — the variegated plant is the one to the left of the frame. The stems that are nearest the window have a hint of the classic pinky tint of this variety, but the light really needs to be more intense to really bring these rosy hues out on these heart shaped leaves.
02. Aspidistra gang / My ‘cast iron’ plants
Next, an honourable mention needs to go to my Aspidistra family because I really did test them in 2020. The cottage windows mean the light tails off quite drastically the further into the room you move away from the window + my two heirloom Aspidistra elatior ended up quite far away from any light source. Yes, it’s true that they are one of the houseplants that can survive adversity with ease; whether that’s low light, low humidity or being shoved in a corner! Some might even say they thrive on an amount of neglect, but of course, it’s always advisable to not treat your houseplants this badly over long periods of time if you want your plant to grow + stay healthy + resilient to pests.
Out of the 3 varieties I have, I know that my nan’s plain green plant can withstand lower light that the other 2, so with limited space, it lives around 4 metres from my south east window in a shady corner. It’s definitely surviving + not thriving so I can’t wait to give it a better position in a few months when I move again. I just need to remember to give it a shower + clean every few weeks because these broad leaves are a bit of a dust-magnet + if neglected they can get quite embedded in those lovely sculptural grooves on the foliage.
After some time in the kitchen, my beloved ‘milky way’ cultivar (above middle + right) got placed on an old machinists chair in the living space around 2.5 metres from the south east windows + I must say, I’ve been quite good at remembering to water this one! I’ve had about 5 new leaves this year, which for an aspidistra is extremely good going. My variegated ‘okame’ is the slowest grower of all my houseplants but one new leaf appeared in August, which is better than none, right? It’s still not hardened but has a very beautiful stripe along one of the edges — I must take a photo soon.
03. Hoya Linearis
Alongside my string of hearts hangs my Hoya linearis + oh how it has been loving life since moving in February! It is positioned close to my south-east window (0.2-0.5 metres) but is in the corner so is protected from any really bright light a bit more than my SOH. An hour of two of late afternoon sun has encouraged lots of growth + it’s starting to rival my ceropegia in length. In my previous apartment, I had it around 2 metres from a dual aspect room which got south + west light, which also suited it well. I have a complete hoya care guide if you want to read more on how to care for these trailing beauties… I’ll link it here.
04. …All of my pink Tradescantia! Tradescantia fluminensis tricolour / Tradescantia nanouk
Without a doubt, the most cheerful plants this year have been my pink Tradescantia. I’ve got a fluminensis tricolour + a nanouk + both have brought me a lot of happiness in 2020. After getting it at the start of April, my nanouk has very much been my ‘lockdown plant’ that has outgrown something like 3 nursery pots in this time + more than quadrupled in size too! It’s true what people say about it getting leggy as it matures, but I will continue to grow this plant because it provides a beautiful colour to my table. I’ll be chopping + propagating this over winter to tidy the plant up a bit, which will also be a good rooting experiment in comparison to my fluminensis tricolour… more on that below.
After the nanouk stole the thunder for a while here at H P H, I found myself rediscovering my appreciation for my other pink tradescantia, the fluminensis tricolour. This year I’ve realised I have a special love for plants that feel a bit more interactive that just plonking in a planter + not much else. I wouldn’t want all my plants to require this much work, but I find this plant so rewarding + happy to have around. I like the annual chop + prop of the stems, which often will go a bit crispy in the colder months. It means I can make new plants from cuttings for free + I do think it’s good to have a back up plant or two of your favourites. I’ve had this plant for a few years + always make new plants from cuttings, which is a great activity if you are just getting into houseplants + haven’t dabbled much with propagation yet.
If you are new here, here are some links to my specific tradescantia posts if you want to learn more:
- The aptly titled… How I stop my Tradescantia fluminensis tricolour from looking like a crispy mess
- How to make a new tradescantia plant from cuttings
- Tradescantia nanouk care guide
05. Maranta leuconeura kerchoveana
I’ll admit my Maranta has been a little unloved this year, but I am so appreciative of it’s easy going nature + how it has coped with occasional neglect that I felt it deserved to be part of this post. In my last apartment, it moved around a bit + I never really found a good position for it. Here, I placed it on top of my fridge soon after moving in + was amazed to see how well it’s grown. It’s a rather unglamorous position which does mean I probably photograph it less than my other houseplants + it occasionally gets caught in the door too. It’s about 1 metre away from a draughty north-west kitchen window + it also gets blasted with cold air from the door nearby, especially this time of year — there are some crispy brown tips but nothing major. I repotted it over the Summer + it has really blossomed into a beautiful plant as the photos below show:
06. Peperomia hope
Finally, one of the houseplants that has grown incredibly well this season has been my peperomia hope. I repotted it earlier in the year as it had been in the same pot for ages + it rewarded me with LOADS of new growth, from the ends of the stems but also at soil level, which was great to see. This has made the pep look lovely + full!
One thing I have really learned in 2020 is the importance of positioning trailing plants so that the whole plant gets an even amount of light if at all possible. I attribute the success of my peperomia to this as I placed it on my grandpa’s gardening stool around 0.5 metres from my south east windowsill + the same can be said about my SOH gang. When the peperomia was smaller, it trailed down the side + the whole plant (including the top) got good amounts of light all over. As it grew longer over Summer, I had to move it onto a table + let it hang down the side, which was slightly less bright. This has meant that more recently, the new growth at the tips is not as full as before, but the top is still growing well. I’d like to find a way to position this better in my next place, having experienced this here, but I will give it a trim come Spring time to stop it looking too straggly.
So there we have it, the houseplants i’ve enjoyed growing this year here at H P H — I hope you enjoyed seeing some plant progress. As much as I can appreciate more mature specimens, I really enjoy growing smaller plants the most + all the plants in this post (+ pretty much all of my plants actually) started off as diminutive pots dotted around my home . Houseplants can grow with you over time + personally, it’s the element of plant care I find the most rewarding, I also think you get to understand your plants better by starting off small. As gloomy as it feels sometimes in winter, I encourage you to spend some time appreciating plants that have grown well for you this year too.
Happy holidays + thank you so much for your support this year,