Sunday, September 5, 2010

New Acquisitions

I have barely finished moving into my new dorm room and unpacking my suitcases and storage boxes yet I have already bought the first set of house plants to bring some greenery into the room. There is no way I could resist; all that empty window sill space just calls out for lots of potted lushness to fill the void. Alas, my acquisitions so far have been relatively modest and hopefully many more will follow in the weeks and months to come. My ideal plant-filled window would have something of a Henri Rousseau painting but I am still far away from that and my windows hardly offer perfect lighting conditions, so I am not sure how far I will get. That, however, is not going to keep me from trying.

A purple African violet (Saintpaulia ionantha) and red-veined prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura erythroneura)

Boston fern or sword fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) and velvet leaf philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum micans)

Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) on the bathroom window sill; I got another one for the living room

The plants I bought so far are largely ones which have worked well for me under challenging conditions in the past. African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha) have done very well for me in badly lit and even chilly dorm rooms for the past two years, despite the fact that in several attempts before that I had not even been able to keep them alive. The last two years I bought double cultivars with blue and blue-and-white flowers - both now continue on in my parents' house in Michigan - so this time I bought a single variety with plum-purple flowers. Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) has also proven itself under dorm room conditions and the specimen that graced my window sill sophomore year is now many times its original size and grows and blooms almost continuously at my parents' house. This time I chose the more colorful red-veined variety (Maranta leuconeura erythroneura) instead of the normal species; hopefully it will be just as vigorous. Boston fern or sword fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) is a first for me at school but for years I had a specimen at home in Michigan that did very well. I had never bought it; one day it had simply sprouted from the practically soil-free pot of a small Dendrobium orchid I had bought at a Home Depot in southern Florida. Philodendron hederaceum is another plant that has done extremely well for me back home in Michigan, flourishing despite low light and occasional death-defying plunges off the window sill due to my cat's fascination with the long, trailing shoots, the overeager sucking of a vacuum, or my own clumsiness. I tried to get a hold of the species but the flower shops and Home Depot near campus only had the velvet-leafed cultivar (Philodendron hederaceum micans). It looks a bit droopy by comparison to the species but I hope it will perk up over time and prove to be similarly reliable. Finally I bought two young specimens - at $1.98 each - of that old standby, golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum). One stands in the living room while the other now lives in the bathroom, where I hope the extra warmth and humidity will make up for the even lower light provided by the frosted window.

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