I’m decluttering my plant collection

Plants on a shelf

I am, once again, committing to a plant declutter. No, really, I’m going to minimize my collection and stop bringing in plants. I know that this is a refrain I’ve been singing over and over again, but it feels more definitive this time around No. More. Plants. 

Well, at least no more impulse buying plants, and no more bringing in one plant without bringing another one out!

I haven’t bought plants in nearly a month since the week before my birthday when I visited Poot’s Nursery. Compared to the thrice a week garden center outings at the beginning of my plant parenthood journey, I consider that a win.

Plants by a window

Why I’m decluttering my plant collection

I don’t want to treat my indoor gardening hobby like it’s a disposable fad, but I do find merit in keeping my collection manageable. Not to be *that* person, but my houseplant habit was a coping mechanism event before the pandemic hit, thank you very much! Though I’ve never reached the “living with 500 plants in a tiny apartment” level of plant obsession, my under 50 (pretty sure it’s under 50…) collection still feels absolutely unhinged. And I don’t mean that to be derisive if you *are* a 500 plants in a tiny apartment person. It’s just not for my lifestyle at the moment, and I’ve succumbed one too many times to my habit of relentless hoarding during an emotional crisis.

Money is definitely a major reason why I want to limit my collection. At some point last year, I started treating many new plants (cough, calatheas and alocasias, cough) like long-lasting flower bouquets, using them to add beauty to my space for as long as they’d stay alive. While I’ve never had much of a palette for expensive plants, the gradual onslaught of $6 and $10 plants dying left and right does add up over the years. When the heat wave hit hard this summer and started knocking out a slew of greenery, it was time for me to slow it down with plant collecting. In earnest. 

Time is another factor. Between caring for the dogs, picking up new hobbies, and working, it’s been hard to do more than the bare minimum for my plants. Other than watering soil, there’s the matter of repotting plants, staking down gnarly stems, picking out fertilizers, cleaning out the humidifier, pruning unhealthy foliage, and organizing supplies. Plant chores can easily take up a whole day. 

Quality, of course, is the most important reason. Instead of having 100 stunted and perhaps even actively dying plants, I’d rather have maybe 20 or 30 healthy plants with exciting growth! Having a smaller collection would give me the opportunity to be a more involved plant parent; 

I’m hoping to do deeper research to get my hoyas to flower and my calatheas to stop crisping up!

Marble queen pothos

How I’m minimizing my plant collection

So, how am I approaching my plant declutter process? Here are a few ways I’ve been minimizing my plant collection the past year:

  • Listing plants for sale at local plant swaps and through online avenues 
  • Integrating plants into the outdoor landscape
  • Cutting down roots and leaves to fit big plants into smaller planters
  • Sharing plants with foliage buddies
  • Letting my plants play survival of the fittest 

The last two have been my go-to’s as of late. I’m pawning off plants slowly and letting them decide whether or not they’ll survive with the care that I have the bandwidth for. The latter does feel wasteful, but it’s an approach I take with plants that are on the verge of death, such as my alocasia! 

Rubber plant

Which plants I’m decluttering

Years of plant collecting has made me more aware of which plants I genuinely enjoy and which plants can actually soldier the mercurial weather I experience in northern California. Right now, I genuinely don’t have the bandwidth to helicopter parent every plant that I have, so something’s gotta give. 

The plants that I’m actively enthusiastic about include my pothos, yucca cane, philodendron micans, monstera, and aloe. 

The plants that I’ve been decluttering include:

Most of these simply no longer spark joy. 

Plants on a shelf

How to avoid hoarding plants (and hoarding in general?)

  • No shopping during moments of emotional highs and lows: Yes, it’s taken me years to admit it, but I do partake in *gulps* retail therapy. While I will continue to be like a squirrel collecting tchotchkes, I’m trying to be more cognizant of impulse buys that won’t stay in my home in the long run.
  • Curbing my intake of plant content: Just as with fashion or beauty content, I find that plant content can make me feel like I’m actively missing out on something. I’ve mostly quit watching plant content on YouTube because it will make me want to run to my local Home Depot for new plants!
  • Engaging in low-cost, slow hobbies: Although I will always have a spot for indoor gardening in my heart, I’ve definitely picked up on other fun activities as of late, including knitting and crafting. There’s definitely an immediacy to plants – once you have a plant, you have it! But what I’ve failed to realize is that I need to care for a plant and integrate it into my space in the long run. With craft projects that take longer to complete, I’m less tempted to shop for new foliage. And do you know what else is slow and virtually cost free? Borrowing books from the library to read. 
  • Being mindful of my space: My biggest motivation for keeping my plant collection small is space. I am a lover of stuff, a maximalist racoon hoarder in my heart of hearts. But I do like a tidy space and being able to place my belongings. Having half of my space canopied by foliage is nice in theory, but it also takes a lot of vacuuming and stacking and wiping to keep everything clean and pest free. 

And so, I say goodbye to my green loves. With this plant decluttering endeavor, I hope to gain a deeper appreciation of my foliage friends instead of solely using them to fill an unfillable void. She’s in her intentionality era, folks, and self-control is paramount here. 

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