Planting world of joy at home

By Ashlea Witoslawski

How many indoor plants is too many?

As the kind of person that needs constant stimulation, I found myself back at Bunnings after a short hiatus during a lazy day off last week.

The hiatus was more of a self-imposed ban after realising I was making the trip to the expansive ‘garden centre’ on the regular.

It became a concern when I began to move past the pleasantries with one of the staff on the checkouts and was getting stuck into conversation about his future career endeavours.

I genuinely do enjoy conversing and it’s one of the highlights of my job but this encounter coupled with the hefty bill total that seemed to creep up very quickly led to the change.

As I finally made my way back last week, entering the large green shed met by a wall of ferns and another filled with hanging plants, a real sense of happiness came over me.

Spending about 25 to 30 minutes trying to select the perfect plants for new locations and rooms within the house did not feel like a chore, but rather a moment of joy as I felt like I’d become an interior designer, picking the right plant, depending on its temperament and style.

Running into my old Bunnings acquaintance for a brief chat was another highlight.

After selecting the plants and doing a quick Kmart run for new pots, I was finally home, getting down with the potting mix, settling these little beauties into their new place.

There is nothing I love more than coming home and seeing the greenery hanging on the walls, sitting on the window sills and even on top of the fridge — weird place, but it just seems to work.

The biggest dilemma, however, is keeping my precious green, leafy babies alive.

With the family of about 10 of all shapes, sizes and temperaments, it can be a very big commitment at times.

‘‘More sun’’, ‘‘more water’’, ‘‘new soil’’ are just some of the telepathic messages they send and it’s honestly like dealing with a bunch of people with very different personalities.

It’s also tricky accommodating their needs with the change of season.

My house is an older dwelling with a love of trapping heat in summer and coldness in winter.

Although we’re not quite into the winter months just yet, I do remember waking up several mornings last year able to see my breath and making a quick dash to the bathroom in desperate attempts to warm up as quickly as possible.

So with this cold comes a frost that grips my plants after months of drier climates.

It’s a fine balance and one that has often had me wondering: should I pack it in and replace the whole lot with succulents?

Nothing against succulents, but I like the little challenges and wins that come with my peace lily and fern varieties and I’m keen to add a large fiddle leaf fig and maybe even an arrowhead vine in the near future.

Striking a balance is definitely one of my biggest challenges in the hobby plant business and as the plant hoarding grows, I’m not sure what would actually stop my collection at this point.

Too many dying could put a dent in my confidence — but even then, I once watered a dead, decaying plant’s root system for three months after seeing a speck of green poking through the damp soil.

Ashlea Witoslawski is a journalist at The News.