Service of Indoor Plants

March 9th, 2017

Categories: City Living, Plants

Ficus turned

My father nurtured plants in my parents’ NYC apartment and I’ve welcomed foliage and flowers everywhere I’ve lived. I’ve written before about one of my great aunt’s Ficus trees that I have at the house. I think I successfully propagated a bit of it and the offshoot [photo above] lives on my city living room windowsill. [The tree is too big.] My aunt died in the early 1980s and the plant and its connection to her, [her windowsills were filled with plants as well] have special meaning for me.

Same with my dad’s Dracaena, the mother plant of which dates from the 1960s. I have quite a few of its relatives at the house and one [photo right] seems to thrive in the Manhattan light, dust and irritants where its great grandfather once prospered some two miles north. A clipping of dad’s asparagus fern isn’t as happy in its overheated city digs. I have my fingers crossed it acclimates.

Michael Tortorello wrote: “FOR MANY PEOPLE, houseplants remain stuck in the 1970s, when it was entirely common to macramé a hanger for your 14th Boston fern while listening to Mac Davis 8-tracks and sipping Riunite on ice.” The approach of his Wall Street Journal article irked me. Its title and subtitle were: “Houseplants That Stand in for Art… Indoor greenery can make rooms appear bigger, function like art work, contribute character without adding clutter. Here, house-plant design strategies you’ll want to cultivate.”

I don’t think of plants as art. They’re fun to cultivate; I love it whenDracena plant 2017 turned they grow. The Steinbergs gave me my first orchid six or seven years ago. It thrives and blossoms on and off as do most orchid gifts from my husband and other friends. [I’m still waiting on a few to stop staring back at me with healthy green leaves and no flowers since they arrived in store-perfect blossoming glory.]

My husband isn’t such a plant fan but even he is pleased to detect an orchid bud that promises to open like the collar of an ornate royal brocade jacket, to display enchanting colors, shapes and patterns.

Certain things should not be subject to fashion, like plants, recipes, cats or dogs. You like them or you don’t and trends be dammed! Do you agree?

orchid in bloom feb 2017 turned 

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14 Responses to “Service of Indoor Plants”

  1. Phyllis Stier Said:

    I think there’s two camps:either you’re a Gardner or you’re into the everyone’s got an orchid,so me too camp,( also goes for designer cats,& the current trendy dog breed). True Gardners such as yourself ( me too)just love having flowers,plants around them. And Gardners truly share all their knowledge,clippings,extra plants,etc…unlike a chef with all their ‘secret’ recipes & ingredients…
    Just sayin’…

  2. ASK Said:

    Oh my, I saw that article and didn’t read it. Must have been a slow day…slow on the writer’s inspiration, that is.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m with you! If you want to watch a person beam, admire their mixed breed dog, especially one with unusual, quirky physical traits.

    I’m not a real gardener, but I love to watch things grow. Someone gave us a plant when they came to the apartment two years ago. It went through a bad period and then suddenly just before Christmas, it blossomed! I enclosed a photo in their card [I know, most people send photos of their kids, pets and themselves…..]. Years ago, when I lived in a large apartment, a whole section of my living room was filled with a gaggle of giant plants. An interior decorator friend and my [then new] husband were appalled. I called them my “green children.” End of discussion.

    I’ll never forget a friend of a friend who I am convinced left out a crucial ingredient in a recipe I’d asked her for. I tried it several times and it never turned out. She’d served it at a dinner party. Her magnificent poached pears with a sweet glaze that made them beautiful and yummy were spectacular. If you don’t want to share, don’t!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m giggling. Do you hear me?

  5. Martha Takayama Said:

    I work with art, but don’t think of plants as art, although they may well be artistic. Nature does have incredible color and design skills! They’re also fun to cultivate. Although I don’t have much luck or sunlight for cultivating plants I love them.

    How can anyone confuse living plants, budding flowers with the style of their containers? The objects used to contain and display plants and their placement in any environment can reflect any era or style. It is terribly silly to declare them in or out of date. Particular preferences for flowers, plants or bushes may vary as may color schemes, but it is hard to resist the magic of watching things grow. We have a single Christmas cactus which occasionally and unpredictably produces a flower or two. My husband and I never tire of watching it change from day to day during its brief life and look forward to the next surprise.

    Recipes, health issues aside, should be what you enjoy eating. It is frustrating to have to choose between odd parts and combinations simply to indulge the caprices of a would be star chef’s desire for recognition. There is nothing unattractive about classic cuisines and dessert. As for dogs and cats, how can they be in or out of fashion unless they are used as a decoration or movie prop!

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Do you add Miracle-gro to the water when you feed your Christmas cactus? A little of the blue powder about every three weeks might help produce more than two blossoms. Our Christmas cactuses come out when they feel like it–sometimes at Thanksgiving, even at Easter. I’ve not paid much attention. When the most ordinary geranium produces blossoms, [I have always loved them], I’m happy.

    I have known people who spend so much time trying to see, eat, read, wear, mouth and surround themselves with all things trendy that it’s exhausting and boring to be around them. They don’t seem to have an iota of originality. Mind you, I love creative new things and I’m grateful when my dentist or eye doctor use the latest and least painful gadget thanks to technology…but that’s different.

  7. hb Said:

    I sure do agree with you when you write that “certain things should not be subject to fashion, like plants, recipes, cats or dogs.” Why don’t you add to your list art and architecture including interior and exterior decoration, clothing, food, literature and language usage, music, manners, politics, healthcare, religion and so forth.

    I’ll make it easy for you. If I like it it’s fashionable, if I don’t, it’s not.

  8. Deborah Brown Said:

    Like anything for sale, trends and fads will come and go and there will always be “the ‘in’ thing.” Remember Ficus trees? Even dogs have trends. Sometime ago I had a Standard Poodle that is sometimes known as “blue” or “silver.” One time when we were walking in Central Park a woman approached me to say she had just returned from Paris and offering that he was the “hot Poodle color: “Charcoal!” Now, I read white hair for women is “in.”

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Not sure I agree with you about clothing. Changing styles is the only way manufacturers can make money.

    But then you saved even clothing with your final comment: “If I like it it’s fashionable, if I don’t, it’s not.” It’s a viable concept!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Had she said the color of your precious poodle was NOT in fashion I trust that you would not have turned him in or dyed his fur. When I was a teen I remember seeing a male tween in the neighborhood who looked as though he wanted to melt into the sidewalk when taking his mother’s standard poodle for a walk. His Mom had dyed the poor pooch’s fur bright pink–about the color of his face.

    I knew a woman who had paid a hefty supplement for her apricot colored poodle who, when she grew, was no more apricot than I am. The woman loved the puppy when it became clear she wouldn’t turn into the color du jour and didn’t return her. Made sense to me.

  11. Lucrezia Said:

    Wake up! Wake up! Everything has been subject to trends for centuries! Pets, baby names, foods (remember those awful meals which cost a fortune and yielded only a few (not always tasty) bites? Whether something should or should not be a candidate for fashion may be argued into the night and beyond. Trends are a way of life, especially for those whose main purpose is to keep up w/Jones/Kardashian or whatever other icon lights up the scene.

    Without trends, the economy could well go flat since it would pull the rug from out of a retail market which relies on new styles to coax money out of the public purse.

    There’s nothing right or wrong with trends — they don’t bite!

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’ve followed trends on behalf of clients for ages and have taken advantage of many to help promote their products but plants and pets? I don’t think so. I feel sorry for the plant or pet that ends up in a home simply because the owner thinks that the ivy, kitty or pooch is trendy. Both–especially pets–take too much work and I worry that neglect might result.

  13. kathleen Said:

    Don’t laugh, but we brought three house plants down to Florida with us! We do have someone occasionally water our cactus plants, but thought these might suffer in a warm apartment. They are thriving. . .I think they know they’re on vacation! Plants are like children in a way. Some folks swear that talking to them helps them grow. They definitely should not be considered fads.

  14. jmbyington Said:


    What lucky plants! Wonderful. I grew an enormous, happy, flourishing geranium in my home when stationed in Minot, ND when I was an Air Force wife. Our next station was Turkey so I had to leave behind my plant. I still envision it. I wasn’t even able to salvage a clipping although I’ve never successfully propagated a geranium truth be told.

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