Saturday, May 15, 2010


It started as a rescue. (Yes, I rescue plants as well as cats.) The satisfaction of a month-late "must have green things NOW" urge. (I usually go a bit overboard buying houseplants when I am no longer able to abide winter's lack of green growing things; typically I last until February before succumbing. This year I made it into March! And I brought home less than half a dozen, thank you very much. I wouldn't even have picked up the orchid if it hadn't jumped off the display behind me and broken its clay to-hide-plastic-grower's-pot pot; what else was I to do other than say "heck, yes!" when it was offered to me for half price? It's currently on my desk at work, impressing the hell out of my co-workers. "Is that a real flower?")

(Not the hoya. Don't-care-what-kind-as-long-as-I-can-keep-it-alive orchid, peace lily behind, dry thing is an iris seed pod.)

Retailers are fully aware of this need-green-growing-things-in-February condition, and plan their first shipments of houseplants accordingly. So there was this green thing at Wallyworld, still in relatively good shape after a few weeks of life in the indoor/outdoor section of the store. Not a bad price for the amount of plant in the pot. Mis-marked label, but I happened to know what it really was. (This time; on rare—thankfully rare—occasions I have brought home plants I can't ID at the store. That rarely turns out well for the plant. Although my last plant purchase at the Big W netted me a lovely no-idea-what-it-is-but-isn't-it-pretty? that I have managed to allow to wilt flat twice and which has sprung back obligingly both times. What are they doing selling terrarium plants disguised as potted houseplants, anyway???)

Where was I? Oh, the hoya. So I found this lovely hoya, twining attractively up its little bamboo trellis. I bought it with half a mind that I may need it to replace at least one of the plants I may have killed while plant-sitting for my aunt. I may have been able to ID the plant before purchase, but I had to look up the specifics in my houseplant book when we arrived home. (Aunt, you may want to give your hoyas trellises… Some [not all, the plant forum tells me] of them are climbers!)

(Look at those lovely, compact little leaves... Three and a half inches, tops. Remember these.)

Ok, not so bad, I can do this. I especially liked the "repot as a last resort" bit. I don't like repotting; I never feel it goes well. (For every few successes there is at least one abysmal failure: my five or so year-old ming aralia [you can't always believe the books; this "not a houseplant" was going gang-busters for me for years] was crashing, so I recently repotted it. Suffice it to say that at least it seems to be sending out tentative shoots at every leaf scar, so it's not quite dead yet…)

I put the hoya in a sunny window. Its thick waxy leaves have not been (much of) a temptation for the cats. (Yay!) I'm getting the feel for when it needs water; it has reciprocated by not keeling over. Indeed, it had even sent out a couple of tentative tendrils (funky way of putting out new leaves, this plant). Some more water, some more tendrils.

And then this past week or so… WHAM! More little tendrils. A lot more little tendrils, which then sprouted little leaves which, in mere days, have become bigger leaves. Much bigger leaves. And what had been a nice, compact little perfectly-balanced and apparently happy-in-its-little-pot plant only a week ago has suddenly, practically overnight, become kudzu.

What happened to the nice little oval leaves? What happened to the nice little cream edges? My bought-in-ignorance on-a-whim little houseplant seems to be reverting to some kind of tropical monster! Those new leaves are 5 inches long and possibly still growing.

If this is the plant's way of thanking me for rescuing it—! *sigh* Guess I will have the chance to build it its own fancy copper trellis after all. Looks like it will be needed quite a bit sooner than expected, is all.

(Hmmm. It occurred to me as I was editing these photos to wonder if perhaps there are two different kinds of hoya here... Wouldn't surprise me; I bought hibiscus last year with two plants each of two different colors in the same pot.)