I Have 90+ Houseplants—Here’s How I Keep Every One of Them Alive
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Darcie Tashey doesn’t have a name for any of the 90 plants* she’s fit inside the colorful 1,000-square-foot house she shares with her husband Lucas. And that already impressive total is counting only the plants in soil; plants currently propagating in bottles and cans bring her total to 99. Somehow, she still manages to tell them apart, in her own unique way. “If I’m trying to refer to one when talking to my husband, I’ll just say ‘that spiky boy on the TV stand,’ or ‘the tall, pointy dudes in the kitchen,’ or ‘the poofy, viney boy above the toilet,'” Darcie explains.
Despite how scientific her plant descriptions sound, Darcie isn’t a horticulturist or botanist. By day, she works in marketing (“spreadsheets and planning are my life”), but by night—well, actually, also by day—she is a plant mom with a seriously green thumb. And though she may sometimes long for the days when she only had a few houseplants (like 20 or 30), she says all the extra work of caring for nearly one hundred live plants is worth it for the joy the hobby brings. Not to mention all this experience has led her to learning a tip or two about caring for houseplants.
“The hardest part about having so many plants is really just keeping up with the watering. I’ll water plants in place every so often, but at least twice a month I will bring the plants one by one to the sink or shower for a long spray!” she divulges. “Over time, I’ve found ways to make it easier to care for my plants, like grouping based on watering needs or only purchasing plants that ‘tell’ you when they need to be watered (for example, prayer plants, peace lilies, and neon pothos droop when they’re thirsty).”
While Darcie does admit that plant care is something that comes naturally to her, she’s stumbled a few times on the road to being the plant parent of over 90 plant children. “I’ve had to learn the needs of my plants, and have made several mistakes to get to a point where management has become habitual, and feels much less like a chore,” she says. To perhaps make taking care of your plants less like a chore, Darcie is graciously sharing what a typical day in the life of someone who owns 90+ plants is like, and revealing more tips and products that help make her plant-mom life easier. You can also find a list of every plant in her home at the bottom of this post… as well as check out her full house tour to see even more plant-spiration.
7:00 a.m.: Wake up
Enjoy my cup of coffee in my favorite spot in the house: on the sofa facing my plant wall. I turn on grow lights (in the spring, the extra light is for the seedlings in the basement, and in the winter, it’s for all the cacti by the window upstairs).
8:30 a.m.: Time for work
I step into my home office where I have about 10 plants to keep me company.
10:30 a.m.: Mid-morning check-in
I check on my seedlings (in the spring) to make sure the soil is moist. I keep them by the sink so I can pull the sprayer over to easily water them, and rotate them to make sure they’re getting even amounts of grow light.
1:00 p.m.: Lunchtime dog walk
Take my dog for a walk while thinking about building a wagon big enough to bring my 90 plants along.
5:00 p.m.: Daily soil moisture rounds
Right after work is when I like to do my daily rounds to check the soil moisture. I love the moisture meter you stick into the soil, but it’s not always completely accurate, so it’s important to stick into several spots. You can also use your finger to stick into the soil to ensure at least the top 1/2″ is dry before watering. I cannot do this in my house—all of my plants are topped with ¼” lava rock because of a recurring fungus gnat pest problem! Darcie also suggests using a metal chopstick to aerate the soil.
6:00-7:00 p.m.: Evening showers
I prefer to water my plants in the sink (or shower if they’re too big), so I can ensure they are properly saturated with water, and can fully drain. Moving my plants to the sink to water is also when I take the opportunity to clean the leaves (gently wipe with a wet cloth) to ensure they are able to soak up more light to grow nice and strong! They get dusty just like the shelves they’re sitting on (especially with multiple animals in the house!).
Spending this one-on-one time watering and cleaning plants in the sink (I say one-on-one, but I have at least six in there at a time) allows me to also inspect for bugs. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you have a pest problem for quite some time, which is why it’s so important to isolate any new plants before placing them in such close quarters with your other plants.
Sunset: Turn off grow lights
Around the time the sun goes down is when I turn off the grow lights. Plants need a rest from the light, too! Watching TV in the evening while we’re winding down is often when I start darting my eyes around the room, planning the next move for my plants. I often get up to move a plant somewhere… and this is why we don’t watch many movies with subtitles.
Bedtime: Don’t let the aphids bite
Blow kisses to all my plants, and encourage them to sleep tight… don’t let the aphids bite!
Apartment Therapy: What are your easiest to take care of plants?
Darcie Tashey: Honestly, every single plant in the front room with the south-facing window are the easiest. Unless you’re an extremely lucky individual, there’s no plant that you can plop anywhere in your house and have it just “be easy.” Plants placed in a spot that gives them what they require from their environment (humidity, light, etc.) makes them happy—which in turn makes your job easier! I’ve found most plants, at least the ones I’ve had, are pretty content with bright, indirect light, which is why the ones in the south-facing window with sheer white curtains are so successful. (Find a full list of all the plants in Darcie’s home at the bottom of this post.)
AT: What are the hardest to care for plants?
DT: Any plant in a pot without a drainage hole is very difficult to care for. It needs the perfect amount of water; enough so it’s not too dry, and not too much that it’s sitting in a puddle. It can be months before you realize you’ve been overwatering it and it has died of root rot. My sister recently helped me solve this issue by introducing me to the world of glass and ceramics drilling! It’s a slow and steady process, but totally had me drilling holes in all my pots one summer. (Tile/glass/ceramic drill bits can be found at your local hardware store.)
AT: What was your first plant?
DT: My very first plant was a cutting of an Eastern White Pine tree when I was 5 years old (hey, you said first!). Our kindergarten teacher gave them to everyone in the class and showed us how to propagate. As soon as the roots were strong enough, I sprinted outside and planted it in the middle of the yard, much to my mother’s dismay. Fast forward 30 years and that tree is still standing over 10 feet tall!
AT: Most recent plant purchase?
DT: My most recent plant purchase was a Peperomia Caperata “Ripple”, and a matching one for my sister, Amanda. Sometimes I like to surprise her with matching sister-plants from my favorite plant shop: Plant Shop Chicago. I love this little guy—it has thick, rippled, heart-shaped leaves, and in the summer blooms narrow spikes of white flowers.
Darcie’s favorite tools/products to take care of your plants:
And without further ado, here is a full list of plants:
- Philodendron Brasil (7)
- Spider Plant (4)
- Golden Pothos (3)
- Monstera Deliciosa (3)
- Neon Pothos (3)
- Flamingo Lily (3)
- Christmas Candle (3)
- Indian Spurgetree (2)
- Bird of Paradise (2)
- Swiss Cheese Plant (2)
- Orchid (2)
- Variegated cactus (2)
- Pilea Peperomioides (2)
- Dracaena Marginata (2)
- Purple Princess (2)
- Marble Queen Pothos (2)
- Staghorn Fern (2)
- Heartleaf Philodendron (2)
- Philodendron Selloum
- Alocasia Dark Star
- Aloe Vera
- Red Orchid Cactus
- Fiddle Leaf Fig
- Chinese Evergreen
- Birds Nest Fern
- Mandrake (Ficus Bonsai for the muggles)
- Philodendron Bloody Mary
- Lipstick Plant
- Yucca Plant
- Sansevieria Lancia
- Red Cathedral Euphorbia
- Desert Rose
- Aloe Vera
- African Golden Candelabra
- Spreading Air Plant
- Ric Rac Cactus
- Gollum Jade
- Hoya Carnosa Tri-Color
- Prayer Plant
- Leopard Plant
- Silver Philodendron
- Pitcher Plant
- Alocasia Amazonica
- Ponytail Palm
- Stromanthe triostar
- Umbrella Plant
- Philodendron Golden Goddess
- Sansevieria Ballyi
- Sansevieria Manolin
- Peace Lily