It seemed like a simple question: What are a couple of standout houseplants to consider adopting before winter calls a halt to our outdoor plant engagement?
But when you ask the staff at the Steve’s Leaves Inc. greenhouses in Lewisville, Texas — where the collection includes somewhere “between 1,500 and 2,000” species and varieties — you can expect a good-humored answer.
“You’re asking us to choose among our favorite children?”
Yes, I am.
Even quantifying the exact number of choices was apparently not easy.
“We’re too busy to stop and count,” said Steve Rosenbaum, who started the business as a wholesale operation 45 years ago, then built a website and added retail mail-order about 10 years back. “We have so many hybrids we’re trialing that are as-yet unnamed, which probably adds many hundreds to the total.”
North America’s largest begonia collection.
And at home? He confesses to having about two dozen plants. “I try not to count them,” he said.
Plant One on Me. The hack is based on simple ceramic cones from Blumat, inserted into the soil surface and connected to tubing that draws from a nearby water vessel.
“One downside of self-watering is that I have always been an advocate of letting the soil surface dry before watering,” he said. “This system keeps it evenly moist instead — which fungus gnats like.” More tinkering is required.
As for me, I keep browsing. Sure, I love my big old Clivias, Sansevieria and fancy-leaf begonias. But like many people — especially with the pandemic’s imprint never far from mind — more company this winter sounds good. Whom shall I invite in?