They’re like the red-headed stepchild of the gardening world… the lonely little houseplants. Completely dependent on us for survival they come and go as seasons change and generally receive less attention, and respect, than their outdoor counterparts. But once a year, thanks to one man, the potted underdogs of the plant kingdom get their time in the sun (but follow care instructions, not too much sun) with the demarcation of January 10th as Houseplant Appreciation Day.
So just who is this houseplant appreciating gardener who decided to set aside a special day each year for the Spider Plants, Rubber Plants, Aloe Vera, Bamboo and others in his life? His name is Bob Matthews, owner and operator of Gardenersnet.com, and here he fills us in on the history of Houseplant Appreciation Day and how everyone can take part.
Doityourself.com (DIY): Let’s start with the natural first question that most have when hearing about this special day; why did you decide that a day should be set aside each year to appreciate houseplants?
Bob Matthews (BM): There are many reasons. I'm a lifetime, avid gardener. Many of us get so wrapped up in the holidays, we forget about our houseplants. Then, we look at them in early January, and realize they have been neglected (forgotten). We then water, feed and otherwise pamper them. For an avid gardener, it helps us bide the time until it's time to start our indoor transplants. I used the word "appreciation" as there are so many good benefits of having houseplants in our homes, schools and businesses.
DIY: What do you personally like about houseplants the most?
BM: That's a tough one... lots of reasons. I think my top reason is the joy of gardening and watching things grow.
DIY: What is your favorite houseplant?
BM: It changes. My favorite at any moment in time is a new one when I grow it. At one time it was Aloe, which is a pretty neat plant. I loved the Avocado plant I grew from a pit a dozen years ago. I loved Cyclamen, until an insect infestation caused me to plant it outdoors. Who doesn't love African Violets? My all-time favorite is Spider Plants. Ironically, I do not have one right now.
DIY: What would you say is the most common misconception about houseplants or their care and maintenance?
BM: New growers think a houseplant is going to grow at a rate it does outdoors, or in summer months. You really want houseplants to grow ever so slowly. If they grow too quick, they outgrow their pots, and don't have the sunlight and support system to remain lush, green and healthy looking.
DIY: And what will you be doing this January 10th as part of your celebration of Houseplant Appreciation Day?
BM: Spending time with them. I'll check each one, and give it some fertilizer spikes as a special treat. They haven't had any in a while. Then, I'll give them a drink. I might start some chives or basil. With a little luck, they will be harvestable before spring arrives.
And here is Bob’s full list of Ways to Celebrate Houseplant Appreciation Day:
- Start by making sure the houseplants you already have, are well watered
- Next, give them a special treat today... a little fertilizer. See Jobe's Fertilizer Spikes
- If you don’t have any houseplants, or just have a couple, buy a new houseplant (or two)
- Learn more about the benefits of houseplants to your health
- Stand by your houseplant and breathe in the air! It's giving off oxygen... just for you!
- Teach your kids about growing and caring for plants. See Kid's and Gardening
- Give a houseplant to a friend, especially the elderly or shut-ins
- Talk to your plants. Yes, people believe plants respond positively when you talk to them
- Most of all, have fun enjoying a long winter day spending quality time with your houseplants!