Naming My Houseplants
Any houseplant person can tell you that their plants have personality. I’m not sure when I started dealing with my own on that level, but soon afterward, the dang things started collecting names. It started with Charlie, my Schefflera friend who was given to me by an old coworker that didn’t know what to do with him. He was leggy, temperamental, and drank water like a fish, but never seemed to grow! I’m not sure why that made him a Charlie, but Charlie he became, even after I gave him a new pot like a witch’s cauldron and a prune so he could get a bit more bushy. He’s still temperamental, but he’s doing better, and a trend was formed. My houseplants needed names so I could berate them for being dramatic or soothe them when the spider mite infestation occurred–I blame the store-bought basil that’s been relegated to the garden–or talk about them casually like they’re pets… which they are.
Some of the names are multi-layer puns or references, like the Parlor Palm that became Palmela Beasley, which got shortened to Beasley. The Burros Tail became Donkey from Shrek… and then when it divided itself, it became Donkey’s Dragon Children. The pothos in the kitchen is Nestor, named after the tropical storm that crashed our wedding day, at which the pothos was being used as a small decoration on the guest book table; note, this is better than naming my as-yet unborn first child after the storm, as was suggested by my maids of honor.
Others are named based on their common names. Like the ZZ plant I’ve had since 2016 who is now dubbed Zara–named after a character in one of my favorite book series–and her daughter (an offshoot I potted out) Zuri. Zuri is not pictured as she currently resides on my desk at an office I haven’t visited in months, but my coworker has said she’s looking great and gives her a watering now and then. Even so, I’ll be picking her up soon because I trust no one to tend my plants for longer than a week without accidentally killing them.
Still more are named after characters that only vaguely relate to their names or characteristics, like Zane the snake plant, thus named because of a snake-shapeshifter in yet another series I’ve long loved. There’s the Fire Red Haworthia named for Ygritte because she too is kissed by fire. The ice plant succulent is called the Night King, for what seems like an obvious reason. The mixed pot with a variety of echeveria succulents has a name tag that sports a list–Dany, Drogo, Rhaego, Viserys, Jon, and the dragons. There’s a plant for each in the pot; the black one represents Drogo, the tippy ones closest to the window are Dany and her dragon children, Rhaego is the small white one to the left, a mix of his parents in a way, whereas the Targaryen men are closest to the back. The two spider plants, Arya and No One, will soon be back in the same planter after being divided many years ago. When I repot them, I’ll need to put some drainage holes in Arya’s pot, as she’s struggling due to water remaining in the soil too long.
Finally, there are the Dryads, the mix of plants as different from each other as can be, in the Fairy garden. There’s Eddie the lithops, or living rock succulent. He seems strong, but he’s got a heart of gold, and keeps on growing and growing! And last, but certainly not least, Alfred, the string of pearls, and his young clone, Fred. One of them is quite fancy, and the other is very much not.
I have a few plants that remain nameless–a Peperomia, a Jade, cuttings of Nestor that I’m propagating still, and a Green Pagoda–but they’ll show me their names soon, I’m sure.
One added benefit of giving my plants names, and their name tags–I made room on each to track the last time I watered, fertilized, and repotted them. As you can tell by the pictures, I last fertilized so long ago, I can’t even remember when it was. And repotting has been put off too long for most of the plants, but now that I recognize that, I can rectify it!