I just moved my houseplants back outside, after an interminable winter of low-humidity, low-light indoor torture, and some are the worse for wear — particularly one long-cherished fancy-leaf begonia.
Also, I love Japanese food. In fact, I just picked up takeout the other day.
There might not seem to be a sequitur powerful enough to unite those two thoughts. But as serendipity would have it, Darryl Cheng, better known as @houseplantjournal, provided one on Instagram. Shortly after I finished an avocado and lotus-root-tempura nori roll, I noticed Mr. Cheng posting the reveal of how he had propagated pieces of his begonias inside a recycled plastic bento box from his own recent takeout, bringing new plants to life from the old.
bright indirect light” that those vague rules suggested many houseplants want? Mr. Cheng bought a light meter and took readings. He was startled to discover that the indoor locations his eye equated with that generic description ranged from 50 to 1,000 foot-candles of light — hardly enough to keep a peace lily (Spathiphyllum) alive at one end and more than enough for various succulents on the other.
He devoured a commercial grower’s textbook, “Tropical Foliage Plants: A Grower’s Guide,” by Lynn P. Griffith Jr., and Kathy Fediw’s “The Manual of Interior Plantscaping: A Guide to Design, Installation and Maintenance.”
By 2019, he had written his own book, “The New Plant Parent: Develop Your Green Thumb and Care for Your House-Plant Family.” By 2020, he had an online course, in addition to an Instagram feed, YouTube channel and website.
The takeaway behind all of it: “It’s very important to preface any how-to on plant care by saying that there are lots of ways to succeed,” Mr. Cheng said. “The usual rules are of the mind-set that there’s a proper way to do this or that. But if you are the kind of person who can figure out how a system works, and then experiment within it, you can succeed.”
an archived article on the American Begonia Society website, by Brad Thompson, a renowned begonia hybridizer. Nearly all types can be cloned from stem cuttings or by division (some tuberous ones are an exception, and cannot be divided). “Rexes, rhizomatous, tuberous, and a few other types can be started from leaf cuttings or portions of leaves,” Mr. Thompson wrote.