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Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Great Houseplant Census of 2010

Mr McGregor's Daughter has suggested a mid-winter diversion - to number and share the houseplants currently in captivity in our dwellings. I'm granting myself a lot of permissions here - #1 is permission to be late! #2 is to count anything that's within the walls for the winter, including some stuff in the garage. #3 is to call everything by its common name instead of trying to hunt down the botanical one.

Our house was built in the late 1970's, with overhangs and a veranda to keep out the sun's heat rather than let its light shine in on leaves. Most of my plants are crowded into the bay window in the breakfast room. In a few feet of space you'll find:
2 water-filled bottles with rooting pieces from an ornamental chartreuse potato vines
1 small cactus from my niece some years ago
2 pots filled with Alligator Plant/Mother of Thousands from DivaAnnie
1 Thanksgiving cactus
1 Thai lime
2 Jade Plants
1 half-dead Pothos
1 Allspice plant - found on an expedition with MSS
1 cyclamen in full bloom
1 Meyer's Lemon tree
2 stapelia plants
1 amaryllis just finishing bloom
3 amaryllis not yet waked up
2 rooted cuttings of Cuban Oregano and
1 rooted cutting of some kind of succulent from Diva Mindy (think she said Donkey's Ears?)
1 badly-treated bonsai fig won in a drawing years ago and
1 salmon geranium that saves many a bloom day.
1 Haworthia does well here -
2 others are not so happy in the nearby laundry room window. Think that adds up to 27 in the kitchen area.

Out in the garage are 1 Mexican Lime, 3 plumerias and 1 piece of plumeria hopefully making roots, 1 more Stapelia/Starfish Flower and 1 Sambac Jasmine.

1 Shell Ginger still has leaves in the garage - it would have died to the ground this year outside. There's 1 small rooted piece of the Angel's Trumpet Brugmansia hiding behind it, bringing us to 36 plants.

Under the skylight in the living room there's 1 large red ceramic bowl that currently holds a ratty looking peace lily rescued from a big box home store. On the other end of the bookcase is 1 large basket of mixed houseplants... the kind you bring home after a funeral and do your best to keep alive.

On a shelf in the bedroom there's just enough light to keep yet 1 more piece of Stapelia/Starfish flower and 1 start of Kalanchoe (also from Diva Mindy) going.

In the guest room 3 more Thanksgiving Cactus hope for an errant sunbeam before the Arizona Ashes releaf. 43?

In the dining room a Staghorn fern pouts and I wonder if it would do better in the cold - instead of counting to 44 I should open the door and put it out on the veranda! Wait - on the other side of the room I forgot an aspidistra/Cast iron plant that also spends time on the porch, and yet 1 more Stapelia. All the Stapelia plants are rooted pieces from a single plant my Aunt Phyll gave me about 1987 or 1988. So I guess that's 46 pots of plants, although some of them have multiple plants in one pot.

If Mr McGregor's Daughter hadn't asked us to count our houseplants would I have noticed that this cactus turned red because its spot against the window glass was very cold in January?

Without her idea would I have thought to not only snap a photo of the venerable original Jade Plant from the front as we see it every day....

but also to pull out the stand and turn it around to capture the cool way the Jade branches have cascaded toward the light? Thanks MMD! The Jade plant has moved with us from house to house and from state to state, ever since we bought it at one of the greenhouses attached to Hausermann's Orchids in Villa Park, Illinois. I don't know if they sell anything but orchids now, but back in the early 197o's Hausermann's had aisles and aisles of houseplants and my sister & I especially liked to walk through and breathe the warm misty air in winter. One fine day about 1974, this Jade Plant came home with me.


  1. I see your houseplants are blessed to have a happy home :)

  2. Heh... I love the idea of you "discovering" extra plants, like the cast iron plant, as you go along. :)

    Good thing you had that shell ginger inside. Was that a happy accident, or were you worried about leaving it in the ground?

  3. Wow, Annie--you are a houseplant diva! The jade is the only one I have in common with you (I think), and yours is really beautiful! I guess mine could use a little more light.

    I have six peace lilies, a mother-in-law's tongue, some kind of little fern, and a dracaena (not sure what kind.) I thought I was doing okay until I saw your list. Oh well, I still need to work on keeping my current group healthy before I get more adventurous. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. Wow you have quite the collection Annie. Isn't it nice to have a pet with you so long such as your jade plant. My oldest plant is the begonia that my MIL gave me. I am death on house plants for the most part. I think I am getting better as I get older. Maybe I have more time for them now. I just love cyclamen too and yours in in bloom. I don't have much luck with them.

  5. I am getting ready for travel to the city and later another trip so will have to pass although my inventory does not come close to yours! You are keeping busy through the winter months.

  6. You have some really interesting plants, and they look so happy at your house! The shell ginger is gorgeous.

  7. Impressive census! Here in Seattle, we barely get enough light OUTSIDE for plants, let alone for those indoors to thrive. One of the few in my collection, though is a large JADE that came from a cutting of your 1974 plant. Did you know that? I took it when I was home for summer break during college and, like you, have toted it around from house to house, state to state!

  8. Thanks, Joey - it's amazing how they sneak in over time, isn't it!

    The poor cast iron didn't get a prime spot, Blackswamp Kim, and one stapelia was in a skinny little strip of space next to the front door, hoping for a chance to get back outside.
    The shell ginger lives in a pot near the patio all year. If it freezes it recovers very, very slowly so I decided to bring it in. It's doing better in the garage than it did in last summer's heat & drought!

    I've killed a lot more than you see, Iris (including dracaena and supposedly unkillable Mother-inlaw tongue. Many of these will be outside in May- the citrus trees really don't like to be indoors. Have fun running the numbers up.

    Thanks, Lisa at Greenbow - the Jade has had a bumpy life - down to a stump once or twice, but this window seems to be okay. The cyclamen is a ringer - bought in bud a month ago at Lowe's on sale for less than $2.50!

    Have a wonderful trip Tabor - maybe you'll give a tour another time? I remember you also have a Thai Lime.

    Hi Diane - it was fun to see your impressive collection back in our former Chicagoland!
    When I saw the photos my first thought wasn't that the plants looked happy....but that they looked dusty!

    Hello Tigerlily - funny thing is that they sometimes languish in summer, because the blinds are closed to keep out fierce heat & sun.

    How cool that you've still got a piece of the Jade plant! You always had a green thumb. Would love to see a photo.

    Thanks for the comments,


  9. No, thank you for participating! I think your fabulous Jade might be the oldest plant in the survey. Good showing!

  10. That could be appropriate in so many ways, MMD! I'm glad you started this game.
    Oops - just realized I left off links to MSS of Zanthan, Mindy & Diva-Annie. Better go fix that


  11. Criminy!That's a lot of house plants! I've got one at the house (1!) and then 7 at work that are normally there plus all the seedlings for planting in the spring.

  12. Annie, I like the jumble of plants in the bay window. Re the Staghorn Fern, I'd leave it inside a bit longer. I never brought mine in and I wish I had: although I covered it, it has some burned spots.

  13. Wow Rose - that's a lotta houseplants! I love old jade plants - they have such character. My ex-mother-in-law has a huge one over 100 years old that's been passed down for at least three generations. Many family members have very large jade plants that were originally cuttings from what we affectionately call the Mother of All Jade Plants.

  14. My Stapelia is doing very well these days. Big enough to take a cutting from and root for a second plant. Thanks again for sharing yours with me when I visited for the 1st spring fling!


  15. You have a really nice assortment! Somehow I figured you'd have fewer houseplants living in Texas, but this winter has been rough all over and not fit for leaving plants out. Not to mention the fact that one can never have too many plants! ;-)

  16. OK, I'm just going to say it: Aside from my Norfolk Island pines, I have no real attachment to any of my houseplants. I just don't know why. There are also filk conventions, not just house filks. I'm not a normal filker, just sometimes like to do things I don't normally do. Think you would love filk--love your honeysuckle vine song. I'm trying to get a hold of the video of me singing Scorn of Buckthorn. Just so everyone will be sorry!

  17. My goodness, this is great! You are a regular plant mom indoors and out. I bet when the refugees return to the garden, you'll feel a bit lonesome inside. You've got a great collection.

  18. Annie,

    Love the Stapelia. I added a couple of small ones last year after remembering the post you did a while back about the cuttings you took from IL to Texas.

    Can't wait to see mine bloom.

  19. Wow, that is certainly a lot of plants to cram into the house-you definitely needed a census LOL. Kaffir lime and Mayer lemon trees are on my list, if I can ever get them here (the irony, they being tropical plants. I think my small allspice tree bit the dust from lack of water.

  20. I've been really impressed by all the houseplants I've seen being counted in this census...and feeling a bit of a slug, too, for my lack of indoor plants. Congratulations on that amazing jade plant! I kept one for years until one day it began to rot, probably because I overwatered it. That was the day I decided I wasn't much of an indoor gardener:)

  21. That window doesn't give the jade plant enough light to stand up straight, Not So Angry RedHead, but she lounges well, doesn't she?

    Hiya Katina- they sneaked up on me! In IL we did well with seedlings, but repeated tries here? FAIL!

    The jumble goes with the rest of the house, Cindy from Katy ;-] The staghorn looks unhappy inside but you are right that it might look dead if I let it go outside...we're having freezes again here.

    Hello Garden Girl - there were more than I expected, but the numbers for some of the people commenting at MMD's post were staggering.
    A ONE HUNDRED year old Jade Plant - how wonderful!

    Good to know, May Dreams Carol - I've given away a few more stapelia pieces since seeing you in 2008... hope a few of the current batch will find nice homes, too!

    Maybe in South Texas they don't bother, Lisa, but even in a mild winter Austin gets freezes and this year is way colder than average so instead of going in-and-out, they came in and stayed in!

    I'm not attached to many of them, Monica the Garden Faerie, but would hate to lose the Jade or Stapelia!
    The House Filks sound like fun - there are lots of Sci Fi names for plants in a post at Not-So-Angry RedHead's blog - could be a new song for you! And I would not be sorry to see Scorn of Buckthorn!

    When my sister & I had young kids, everyone seemed to have walls of houseplants, Linda From Central Texas Gardener maybe I'm having a flashback?

    My stapelia didn't even bloom last summer, Mr Brown Thumb - hope we both get some Starfish Flowers this year! If you were inspired to get Stapelias after reading a post, that qualifies your plant as a "Blogalong" according to Carol!

    Hi Nicole - well most of them are small so can be crammed... some people have 7-foot tall house trees! Meyer lemon trees show up all over the place but getting that Allspice was so lucky. Hope you can find new ones!

    This poor jade has fought off mealybugs, scale, and rot, too, Prairie Rose - had another small plant started and it was too close to the patio door when we went down to 13F...it actually froze inside the house!

    Thanks for the comments and may your houseplants all do well!


  22. Annie, you have a lot more plants than I would think living so far south. Good for you. That jade plant is a marvel. I covet it. :) ~~Dee

  23. Hey,

    I've given you one the Sunshine Awards that's making the rounds. you can read about it at my blog.

  24. My houseplants look nearly as defeated as my outdoor garden...I need some sunshine and energy. I popped over to check out your February Bloomday...I suspect it's still in the making. Have a great day Annie!

  25. Oh I wish I did have house plants to talk about like you. Traveling has just about killed mine off. Porthos is about the sum total right now.However out there in the potting shed and greenhouse I have all kinds of waifs and strays including a stapelia and Christmas cactus from your good self. All kinds of things I'm trying to get started from slips and seeds and cuttings.

  26. I love the idea that the jade plant has travelled with you throughout your moves. The plant could probably tell a few stories. It's amazing how many houseplants one can collect over the years. I haven't counted mine yet ~ I'm afraid to do so.


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