Can you have too many house plants? If you are asking yourself this question, you are probably thinking you might have a problem. On the one hand, questioning your shopping habits is a healthy way to keep control on spending. Then, there’s the space issue – plants take up a lot of space so there will come a point when adding more plants becomes unfeasible.
The sad part is when you start feeling overwhelmed by having to care for too many plants. What used to be a joyful activity becomes a source of stress. Even the thought of going on holiday can cause mild anxiety, wondering whether any plant will die while you’re away, even if you have asked someone to water your plants.
Collecting House Plants Is A Hobby That Escalates Fast
It all starts with one cute plant you see in a garden centre or even at the supermarket. You get a little surge of happiness owning it. Like most pleasurable things, it’s only human nature to want to repeat a pleasurable experience again.
It’s easy to start getting slightly addicted to getting a little “fix” so you start collecting plants. Plant swaps become a regular activity to feed the habit when the budget doesn’t stretch to purchasing more specimens.
It’s good to have a hobby but collecting plants seems to get out of hand quite quickly. We can blame social media for it. You may start following accounts that focus on plants to learn about plant care, but over time you start lusting after what you don’t have.
Some plant influencers have commented on social media that they often receive unsolicited requests for plant cuttings. This is bad form in social media etiquette among plant hobbyists and collectors.
Having an impulse to contact someone asking for a cutting when you see an interesting plant on Instagram that you don’t have may alert you to the fact that your hobby is starting to get out of control.
You may also be mindlessly entering plant giveaway competitions, just because they’re there, luring you in with gorgeous plants you haven’t got and that are outside your budget. These competitions can be irritating for your friends, because they often ask you to tag friends in the comments to a post. In fact, your friends may alert you that you are developing a slight plant obsession by the number of times they get tagged in a week.
Basically, when buying or acquiring plants through swaps (or entering endless giveaways) becomes an obsession, it’s time to slow down and re-evaluate.
Plant Obsession: Take the Quiz!
A quiz just for fun with no scientific backing whatsoever! Yes = 1 point. No = 0 points.
1. You find an excuse to go to do the food shopping just to check the plant section.
2. You buy a new plant to cheer yourself up.
3. You justify buying an expensive plant because it’s on your wishlist.
4. Your Instagram feed is full of plant pictures.
5. You spend more time talking to other plant lovers on social media than to real life friends.
6. You grieve dead plants and often fill that void with a new plant.
7. You can barely move around the house because plants are everywhere.
8. You have organised many plant swaps.
9. You get a thrill from buying plants in the reduced aisle section of a garden centre.
10. You justify spending money on plants and accessories as essential expenditure.
Score 1-4 You appreciate plants but they are not the centre of your universe. Caring for plants gives you a sense of peace.
Score 5-10 You are obsessed with plants. It’s great you have fellow plant friends that understand you, but check your spending before it gets out of control.
Plants Come With Accessories
To add to the expense of acquiring plants, we must not forget that each plant will require a pot (and if you have a specific aesthetic you may want to have matching plant pots throughout the home), compost, fertiliser, plant stands and hanging baskets when space is at a premium.
You may catch yourself buying a plant accessory, specifically decorative plant pots, to cheer yourself up after a bad day. You may justify this expense as non frivolous because plants are living beings. Whichever the reason for buying extra stuff, the bottom line is that you are spending money.
When You Can’t Look After All Your Plants
You probably have too many plants when you don’t have enough time to care for all of them. You may focus on your current favourite plants and practise some “helicopter parenting” on them, observing them from every angle, while neglecting others.
The problem with neglect, whether voluntary or involuntary (life can get too busy and plant care can take a step back), is that it opens up to plant disease. Irregular watering can damage the roots and weaker plants are more prone to insect damage.
Trying to remedy these issues is time-consuming and it can be irritating. What had started as a pleasurable hobby transformed into work, but not only that: it’s unpaid and unrewarding work.
Of course, some people enjoy the challenge of rescuing plants but for the average plant hobbyist having diseased plants means having to throw them in the bin for lack of knowledge, time or patience. Some plants just can’t be rescued so even experienced gardeners have casualties.
What Can You Do?
If you can bear the thought of downsizing your plant collection, start selecting plants that you don’t want anymore and offer them to friends, without asking for a swap. If you feel that giving away plants could be turned into something more charitable, enquire whether a local office or shop may be interested in having some greenery.
Don’t get tempted to fill the empty spaces in your home with new plants. If you keep track of your spending, check how much you save each month by not buying plants. Maybe this could be the incentive you need to have a manageable plant collection.