A year and a half ago, when I started working at Berkeley Hort, I had zero houseplants. I didn’t understand the appeal. Why bring a plant inside? How rude! Plants live outdoors, where the soil is. In the earth. Right? 

But Berkeley Hort changed me. At last count I had 67 of the little beauties in various stages of growth.

tradescantia - illustration by Helen KrayenhoffIt started innocently enough. A scrap of Tradescantia zebrina that fell to the floor during a houseplant delivery. Poor plant, I thought, maybe I can save it. Into a damp paper towel the scrap went. I brought it home in my empty lunch container and put the ravaged end into a glass of water. Well, it didn’t take long to root, and that easy success spurred me on. I couldn’t wait till the next delivery day to see what other bits broke off in transit!

A fat lobe of Hope (Peperomia), a String of Tiny Turtles (also Peperomia), a Hobbit toe (Crassula ovata), pieces of Pothos and Philodendrons…whatever scraps I found on the greenhouse floor became experiments in my plant lab (aka, sunny windowsill.)

I heard you could grow a Sansevieria from a piece of leaf. No way, I thought. A scrap of leaf can grow a whole plant? So when a damaged leaf had to be removed I cut a 2” piece off, took it home, and buried the bottom half in soil. That little scrap sat and sat, and I had little faith anything would happen. It took 4 months but a shoot finally appeared, and now I have a small Sansevieria zeylanica of my own. I’ve learned that patience and faith are paramount when propagating.

Now it’s plants inside, everywhere! Plants liven up my windowsills, tables, cabinets, bookcases and shelves. I cheer on the little sprouts when they pop up from the soil. I patiently watch new leaves as they slowly uncurl. Having plants inside means I start every day with joy and hope, grateful for nature and life. Watching plants grow is awe-inspiring. If you haven’t tried gardening indoors, consider bringing a small plant into your home. But be warned, you just might get addicted, too.